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Posts in category DARE

My Time at DARE- CanSat Launch 2

After a well-rested summer, the CanSat team embarked on
another launch! However, this time, we had to build two more launchers from
scratch since a couple were being sent to the IAC launch in South Africa.

So, in the nick of time, with the same procedures as before,
the CanSat team managed to build two more launchers and we were ready for the

This launch went considerably better than the previous one
in June.

For one, the launchers actually lifted off (we had the
correct sized engine nozzles this time!). However, it also came with its flaws.

As it turned out, Barry and my design for the fins turned
out to be a disaster since the two layers of aluminium delaminated and the
rocket had a rather unusual trajectory (the stability was hindered due to the
warping of fins). Moreover, minutes before the launch window was closing, we
were having some trouble with the electronics of the parachute bay.

The situation was such- the servo only worked for one of the
doors, either the parachute or the CanSat bay. This, by the way, happened to
the launcher who’s launch I was supervising. Just my luck. In order not to let
the high schoolers disappointed with yet another cancelled launch, we decided
to let the servo only operate the CanSat bay doors and let the launcher crash
land (no parachute door working). We were hoping this last minute decision
would save us. But as the launcher fired up, it turned out that the servo
jammed and not even the CanSat doors opened. The launcher just crash landed
with the CanSats. It was quite disappointing and all in all not a very good day
for DARE and especially the CanSat team.

However, I had learnt a lot in that year, more than I had in
my time with the SRP. I didn’t think that would be possible but being in DARE
is a steep learning curve!

I wanted to continue with the CanSat team for the following
year, but, due to lack of communication for months, this didn’t happen. I found
out too late!

But, another year is beginning soon. Maybe then!


Tot Later

My Time at DARE- CanSat Launch 1

On a sunny June morning, the CanSat team, along with other
DARE members, set off to ‘t Harde. It was a strange feeling, in a good way of
course, since this time I was going to the launch site as a more experienced
member of DARE and as part of the CanSat team.

Once we reached there, the same procedure followed with
unloading our things at the lodging and then going straight to the launch site
to set up the launch tower and prepare the launchers. The launch, as usual, was
to happen the next morning. We set up the tower, and then made our way back to
the lodge.

Back at the lodge, after a hearty meal, we proceeded to
either look for firewood, or again work on the launchers. Most of the CanSat
team worked on final touches on the launchers. I, actually, didn’t partake in
that much. Too many cooks spoil the broth, you see! But I tried to poke my nose
in a few times to help.

Sun down, bonfire set, guitars ready. We had a fun evening
and hoped that the launch the next day would go well!


The lovely launcher during preparation 

In the morning (quite early), we cleaned up our things and
made our way to the launch site again. The launch site had a different
atmosphere compared to the previous year’s SRP launch. The most significant
difference being that the canopies were full of different high school teams
with their respective CanSat’s.

I, along with a couple friends, made sure to check out some
of the CanSats. They were pretty innovative and I was amazed at the amount of
work the high-schoolers had put into it. They were dressed in funky team
tshirts and had their own tables and were enthusiastically explaining and
describing their Sat’s to whoever asked!

Then, it was time for the launch. The first launcher was
prepared, the team was briefed, and subsequently placed on the launch tower.

Count down ’10…9…’. Lift-off! Wait what?

Yep, it lifted off maybe about 5 feet and didn’t even make
it off the tower! We were quite puzzled.

Later, after an inspection, we found out that the engine
nozzle had been designed for a different motor than the one used on the CanSat
launchers. Dammit!

This meant we had to ground all CanSat launches for the day.
It was disheartening to see the disappointed teams who had put in all the work
for their CanSat. It was also a little humiliating since it was our job (us
university students and members of DARE) to make sure the launch would happen
smoothly. But we failed at that part due to a stupid technical fault that cost
us a lot in the end.

A new date was set for September, and we’d have to fix our
mess and make sure to give the high-schoolers a decent launch for their

More on the September launch later!

Stay tuned

My Time at DARE- CanSat Design and Construction

CanSat team formed, time for some brainstorming and design

The first thing to do by the team was to make transport
boxes for the launchers. The launchers are quite big in size and consist of 3
stages (motor, payload and nose cone). In order for convenient transportation
of these to and from the launch site and construction area, we’d need some
decent transport boxes.

So we headed off to the hardware store (Gamma) to buy
material for these. We ended up constructing some pretty decent and sturdy boxed
with wheels so that that transportation would be a lot smoother than the
previous designs!

Once that was done, it was time to get briefed about the
design of the launcher. We’d be using Othaniel’s design from the previous year.
Geert Henk was open to suggestions though.

Then, came the long wait. For about three months the team
didn’t do much with CanSat. Little did I know though, that this time was spent
by Geert Henk and Barry in ordering parts for the launcher (which take forever
to arrive). Finally, we could start with construction.

The construction would take place in the DARE workshop in
Stevinhal (a refreshing change from Frankenstein’s dungeon). During this time I
learn how to work with various power tools including that oh-so-lovely laser
guided electric saw that DARE possesses. It was a very big learning experience
and I thank all my teammates, especially Barry and Geert Henk for showing me
the ropes! From drilling, to sanding, to grinding, to preparing the engine
modules with epoxy, I had learnt so much! And I loved it!

It wasn’t an easy job and took weeks of toiling to complete.
But once we were done, we could breathe a sigh of relief. We were done with the
construction a little bit in advance but the final touches (painting  and preparation of the payload bay etc) and
electronics were being done till the evening before we were to leave for the
launch! This was usual.

Before we departed for a launch we had a check by NAVRO
(much like the SRP) and Barry and my new design for the tail fins (instead of
the old wooden ones we suggested aluminium ones reinforced with glass fibre)
was met with some scepticism. We carried on anyway and after a dizzying and
tiring last night of work we were ready to depart for the launch.


Final Check (the parachute bay)                                   Standing tall with the ‘finished’ product 

More on the launch of the CanSat coming up later!


Tot Later!

My Time at DARE- New Beginnings with CanSat

My second year at DARE, 2010-2011. As I had expected, after
an inspiring and eventful first year at DARE, I had to stay on. My old SRP team
had disintegrated. A couple members had left DARE while one had joined DAWN (a
new hybrid motor team). I wanted to stick to building actual rockets, and the
best option was to join the CanSat team.

The CanSat team of DARE builds launchers for the Annual
Dutch CanSat Competition
. The competition comprises of competing high-school
teams that build mini soda can sized (hence the name CanSat) ‘satellites’.  

The launchers (depending on the number of satellites) have
to successfully carry 6 CanSats to an altitude of 1km and deploy them. Then,
they are supposed to successfully return back to ground via parachute
deployment. Pretty straightforward and nothing fancy right? Well, in its
synopsis the mission seems similar to the SRP, but it’s on a whole new level.
Trust me.

I would look up to the old CanSat team (Pleun, Othaniel and
Geert Henk) in Frankenstein’s dungeon when I’d be working on my own SRP rocket
and they’d be working on the CanSat launchers.  It looked like serious business and I couldn’t
wait to begin!

Come second year, I got an email with an invitation for an
unofficial interview and meet for the preparation of the new CanSat team.
Meeting went well, I was in! There would be a few changes to the team. Othaniel
(the brain behind the epic design of the launcher) would not be part of it and
so wouldn’t Pleun. It would be led by Geert Henk and a few fresh and not so
fresh faces. So the new team comprised of Geert Henk, Maurits, Johannes, John
John, Jeroen, Jorgis, Barry and of course me.

A new year at DARE and new beginnings. I was excited!

More on my second year at DARE later!


Tot Later


My Time at DARE -The SRP Launch

It was time leave for the SRP launch.

DARE’s official launches happen at a Dutch military base in
t’Harde.  It’s located in the quaint
sleepy countryside (apart from the yearly blast of rockets that DARE and others
launch every year).

My team and I, along with other DARE members and first time
SRPers drove down to the launch site on a sunny Thursday afternoon. The wind
was uncharacteristically shy and it didn’t look like it was going to rain. Perfect.

We reached the military base by late afternoon and proceeded
to set up DARE’s custom launch tower. Not the most exciting part of the launch
but it was cool to see and work on some of the vital yet unnoticed details that
go into getting a successful launch. Once the tower was up and some preparations
done, we headed to a camping lodge kind of area close to the base where we’d be
accommodated for the night. No wonder we were advised to bring along sleeping

The lodge was basically two sizeable halls connected to each
other spotted with a few couches and a few long tables. The teams and other
DARE members placed their respective bags inside and proceeded to make some
final last minute upgrades to the rockets.  Ours required some adjustments to the servo
motor that would eventually help in the parachute deployment. The electronics
guys at DARE tried their best to make it work perfectly. But there was
something abuzz outside the lodge.  

There was a bonfire set up! It was quite cool. Members had
gathered wood from nearby and had made a pretty decent bonfire. We all sat
around it and talked and drank. There was more fire to
come, though this time of a different kind.

A fellow DARE member and future president, Wouter, surprised
everyone with a dazzling display of fire dancing/breathing. Yes, that kind. We were quite blown away and
late in the night decided to rest for the launch that was going to happen the
next day.


Perfect Pre- Launch Day                                                                                 Wouter with some entertainment 

Friday morning couldn’t have been different from the
previous day. It was cold, wet and misty. Not the perfect conditions for a
launch but we powered on anyway.

After breakfast we headed to the base and proceeded to
prepare our rockets for the launch. The final preparations included fitting the
DARE SRP solid propellant and properly folding the parachute into place. After
neatly packing the parachute and motor in place, it was time.

As our team was called upon, we made our way down to the
launch site to place our rocket on the launch tower. We posed for a few
photographs and placed the rocket on the tower. After that we made our way to
the viewing area which was about fifty metres away from the launch tower (you know,


The Contenders                                                        PRS+Meat52                                                  Martin and the Ruins

It was a tad crowded so I climbed up on to an ancient and
rusted military tank (probably from the second world war). Then the count down
began. This was it, what we had worked for in the past year. The rocket lifted
off quite nicely and made its way up. I lost track of the apogee due to the
slight drizzle and clouds and was hoping for the parachute to deploy and our
rocket to come down safely. That’s when I heard Martin’s laughter. It’s uncannily
distinct and unforgettable, and very
characteristic of him. He had spotted the rocket’s descent. And as I had feared
it came crashing down. So much for the safe landing. It was more of an omelette.

We then got back the ruins of our rocket. The egg was no
more, though the smell was there. The body tube had been pretty much shredded
to pieces and the parachute was still packed the way I had left it. It was anticlimactic,
but a god learning experience. We laughed it off and then my eye caught
something shiny. The fins! They were completely intact and only one of them was
slightly bent. I took solace in that and waited for some of the other teams’
rockets to lift off.

Not so surprisingly, two teams did pretty damn well and had
their eggs completely intact! Damn electronics, if only. J

When the launch was over, packed up the launch tower and
other equipment and headed back to Delft.  

I was satisfied with the years’ experience and watching our
rocket lift off quite well (though coming down was a problem).  I wanted to stay on.

What was next? Maybe CanSat?


Tot Later!



My Time at DARE -The SRP Design and Construction

The TU has quite a few options of joining teams or groups to
further expand your engineering and designing skills in real world
applications. One of these teams or societies that caught my eye was the Delft
Aerospace Rocket Engineering, or simply DARE.

The first time I had heard about DARE was in January 2009,
when I was still in the preparation stages of ending high school. I was looking
into the TU Delft as one of my first choices and that’s where I got acquainted
with DARE. To me, a naïve high school kid, DARE seemed like the ultimate place
to be. So I gathered some courage and waited till I was actually at the TU as a
student to go any further.


Once at the TU, I was surprised at how accessible DARE was.
Up until then I had always pictured DARE as an ultra-genius elite club whose members
became members by somehow passing the rocketry equivalent of the Spartan baby
test (you know, from 300). But that was not so. As it turned out, most of the
members, if not all, had actually acquired most of their hands on rocket
building skill after becoming a member of DARE. Being a rocket/space guy, I had
to… and I mean HAD to get me some DARE.

As the name suggests, DARE is a student society that pretty
much builds rockets. But if you’re a first time member, then in the first year
you have to take part in the Small Rocket Project (SRP) competition. This lovely
competition involves forming a group (with first timers) and designing and
building a rocket that would reach an apogee of about 1km and then safely land (preferably
with parachute deployment). Oh yeah, there’s one tiny detail. The rocket is
supposed to carry an egg (a raw one of course) and the egg has to be intact
after the rocket has landed. Piece of cake, right? NO.

So I formed a team along with my current roommate Antanas,
and other friends Martin, Swathi and Stefan. We named our team the Paranormal
Research Society (PRS). You know, since the competition was called SRP, we were
PRS. Creativity was running low back then. Our default team name was ‘Team 25’ before
we changed it to PRS. So, naturally, we named our rocket ‘Meat 52’ (a not so
jumbled up version of ‘Team 25’). I know, we should get a Razzie for naming.


A typical Design evening- Martin and Antanas                           Our preliminary draft                              Shopping for parts  

Putting together our feeble young minds, we met week after
week, wide eyed and excited to build this thing. First there was the design
phase. We decided to build a rocket with a body using a PVC tube of 80mm
diameter. The nose cone was supposed to be made using foam. And the parachute
deployment mechanism was supposed to be done with the help of a servo motor attached
to an arm that would push off the top section and deploy the parachute. The
design seemed pretty fool proof.

Then came the time for the fun part, building the damn
thing. We did this in the basement workshop of the EWI (Mathematics, Computer
Science and Electrical Engineering) building. I like to call the basement
Frankenstein’s birthplace. It’s ominously dark and we were building potentially
dangerous machines in there.


We need bulkheads! (at Frankenstein’s dungeon)                        Almost there- Team PRS

The building process was the most fun part and with the help
of our mentors we learnt how to properly use power tools and perfect our
rocket. Designing, and redesigning the ‘egg section’.  We were almost done. The only thing left was
the fins. We were having some trouble when I (I’d like to think it was me since
I love aluminium 7075) suggested using Aluminium 7075 as the material for the
fins. Everyone agreed and we ‘borrowed’ some Aluminium 7075 from the Aerospace

After building and designing the fins, it was time to paint
it. Antanas was our unofficial paint guy but decided to sit the paint session
out. The rest of us then took a shot at spray painting the rocket. I believe it
turned out pretty well.


Before                                                                                                                 After 

Finally, the launch day was inching closer. But more on that
the next time.

Tay tuned to find out more about DARE!


Tot Later



© 2011 TU Delft