Project thumbnail image
College of Engineering Unit: 
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Project Team Member(s): 
Kevin Kott, Sam Wagner, Camden Robustelli and Jesse Fretz
Physical Location at Expo: 
Memorial Place
Project ID: 
Project Description: 

Our group designed and built the High Altitude Liquid Engine Rocket Team’s communications system, which sets out to establish a communication pathway between the ground station and flight vehicle. The communications system operates as a real-time uplink/downlink tether allowing data transfer between the ground station team and the in-flight vehicle. 

Our project is split up into two subsystems, the rocket-mounted subsystem, and the ground station subsystem, both of which are comprised of five subsections. Each subsystem contains a power supply module, two microcontrollers, two transceiver modules, code to modulate/demodulate between data and radio frequency (RF) signals, an enclosure, and an antenna system. In an attempt to simplify the dataflow within the system, each site has a dedicated transmitting and receiving microcontroller, each of which is attached to its own transceiver module. The receiving microcontroller at each site stores received messages within a queue and waits for the main site’s microcontroller to become available.

The ground station subsystem is set to listen for incoming messages from the rocket by default, only pausing this operation if the user inputs a command. The rocket subsystem is set to transmit real-time avionics data on a loop, only pausing this operation to send a confirmation message in the event a user command is sent from the ground station. The system communicates between sites using RF which is split up into two channels: one for uplink, and one for downlink. To eliminate the possibility of co-channel interference, each channel is isolated to its own RF band. For uplink communication to the flight vehicle, both sites use the Very High Frequency (VHF) band, operating between 144-148MHz. For downlink communication from the flight vehicle, both sites use the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band, operating between 420-450MHz.

Our group’s goal with this project can be summed up into three main takeaways; to develop a communications system that the ground team can use to monitor the HALE rocket’s performance, to confirm in real-time that targeted milestones have been achieved, and to provide a means of remotely sending commands to the flight vehicle.

Project Website(s): 
Project Communication Piece(s): 
PDF icon Project Documentation that includes subsystem designs, interface properties, and verification, 78.59 MB
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