Frequently Asked Questions about the PerfectFlite StratoLogger Altimeter CF
Q: Is this altimeter approved for use in the TARC competition?
A: No. Not yet, at least (as of May, 2010). It is something we'd like, but it has to go through a formal approval process to be certified for the TARC competition. See the official web site of TARC to find out if it has been approved for use. Please ask them to approve it, don't ask us -- we're doing our part already. But in the mean time, it makes a great practice altimeter for your first test flights.
Q: How Do Altimeters Work?
A: The barometric altimeter measures the air pressure surrounding the rocket. Air pressure near the ground is greater than air pressure high in the air (remember, air pressure decreases with altitude, until you reach the vacuum of space, where there is no air pressure). What the unit does is to compare the pressure it senses during flight, to the air pressure on the ground. Using a simple formula, it automatically computes the altitude difference that caused the change in pressure.
Q: Do you sell any type of ejection charges that could be used with the device on this page?
A: No. The ejection charge is always made from loose black powder. Because black powder is regulated by the government, you have to purchase it from a gun store (one that specializes in muzzle-loading supplies). You also need to be at least 18 years old to use loose black powder in this manner.
Q: Does it matter what elevation the launch field is?
A: The altimeter samples the air on the ground, so it knows the altitude of the ground level. So when you set it to deploy the main chute at 500 feet, it will know that is above ground level. It doesn't matter where you start.
Q: How easy is it to set up dual-deployment?
A: To be honest, it is not a beginner-level operation. For starters, you have to design your rocket with two separate parachute compartments. This is detailed extensively in the book Modern High Power Rocketry 2. We highly recommend this book if you are new to large rocket or dual deployment techniques.
Q: How Does This Recording Payload Work?
A: This PerfectFlite altimeter payload works by sensing and recording the altitude and interpreting the velocity of the rocket. It records the altitude as such that you can download the data to your computer after the flight and see exactly what went on with altitude, temperature and battery voltage - acceleration and velocity are derived using the downloadable software. The amount of data recorded in an altimeter of this price range is phenomenal - you won't need another! Besides being able to download the data, the altimeter also beeps out the peak altitude and other data points so you can write it down on the fly when you don't have your computer with you.
Q: How does it detect a launch?
A: While the unit is in stand-by mode, it is constantly monitoring the outside air pressure. As soon as the air pressure starts to drop, it figures something is happening. It starts recording information, but will discard it until it senses a pressure difference that equals 160 feet in altitude gain. If the pressure drops this amount, it considers a "true launch," so it stores all the information it has recorded.
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