HALE (High Altitude Liquid Engine) is a multi-year, interdisciplinary, student-led project aiming to build a rocket that reaches an altitude of 100km by the end of 2021 to compete in the Base 11 Space Challenge, and is currently one of six finalists in the challenge. The team is currently moving towards development focused on the final launch in December 2021. The Computer Science capstone team was tasked with assisting in the adaptation of the rocket test stand's control panel for the Vertical Test Stand to be used in the final launch by recreating the front end of the LabVIEW graphical user interface in Python. The GUI was built with the Tkinter Python library and consists of three panels run by the same program, which allow the team to monitor the state of the engine and test stand during test fires and launches to ensure safety and collect data to improve the performance of the engine.
The center panel, shown in the thumbnail image, is the main command panel and has buttons for fuel and oxygen valve control, engine control, data transmission, and test stand control, as well as indicators for the valve states, water suppression, cold flow, and ignitor, and a message box for alerts. The left panel is the indicator panel and it displays a piping and instrumentation diagram with live-updating sensor readings for pressure, fuel, oxygen, and nitrogen, and is supplemented by several relevant indicator lights. The right panel is the engine display and contains live-updating graphs showing the tank temperatures, chamber pressures, and thrust pressure respectively, as well as a small diagram of the engine, indicator lights for the fuel and oxygen main valves, and a firing countdown timer. The new Python code was delivered to the Avionics subteam as a preliminary GUI with the appropriate documentation for them to develop its full functionality by integrating it with the existing infrastructure, including the backend data processing code that handles arrays of sensor data, and the API that allows the front end GUI to communicate with the sensor hardware.