AltusMetrum Launch system

Discussion in 'Ground Support' started by 8thPaladin, Mar 14, 2019.

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  1. Mar 17, 2019 #32

    Ez2cDave

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    One instance occurred on June 30, 2018 involving a friend of mine, Matt Johnson. He was at a WSR "Wright Stuff Rocketeers 703" launch. He was hooking up a rocket , when the wireless launch system ( likely a "home-brew" using eBay-obtained parts ) fired the model in his face . . . The incident was reported to Steve Lubliner on July 1, 2018.

    Yes, there are pics and video . . .

    Dave F.




    Wireless Launch System (2).png


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  2. Mar 17, 2019 #33

    Steve Shannon

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    That’s simply not relevant to a well designed wireless system using secure bidirectional communications wrapped around a reliable control protocol, but I understand.
     
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  3. Mar 17, 2019 #33

    cwbullet

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    Absolutely true. Armageddon switch is rarely used and when it is it is for all low power launches. If you have seen the system, you would this switch is not easily used and in our club, you have to complete disable the system to hook it up. You are comparing homebrew systems to commercial ones. There is no comparison.

    Homebrew experimental systems have not been tested like the WilsonFX and other commercial products.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  4. Mar 17, 2019 #34

    DaveW6DPS

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    Our club uses a Wilson F/X system with a customized launch control box. I don't think we have finalized the range layout for NSL this year as yet, but probably close to 64 pads. We have been very happy with the Wilson system.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2019 #35

    caveduck

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    Totally agree, system design matters a lot. The Wilson systems are pretty good, and a fair fraction of HPR clubs now have them, though some are the wired version. Given their design experience, the Altus Metrum system is also likely to be very good, and resolves the issue of proprietary HW and SW in the Wilson systems.

    [update] never mind, that does look like a phone in the other guy's hand.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  6. Mar 17, 2019 #37

    Ez2cDave

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    Steve,

    What about the "Armageddon Switch" incident involving a Wilson system, where a single-pad wireless unit, operating in "Armageddon Mode", fired every rocket on the range simultaneously, in 2015 ?

    Starting at Post # 50, onwards . . . ( Especially Post #57 )

    https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/wilson-fx.37109/page-2

    Dave F.
     
  7. Mar 17, 2019 #37

    cwbullet

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    We have used the Wilson FX for 5 years without a problem. Not a single incident that was not user error. This is pure conjecture or malarkey based on one incident where the system user failed to follow the rules. WilsonFX is like a computer. Typically, there are no computer errors, but there are a lot of programmer errors. In this case, it is user error and not programmer error.
     
  8. Mar 17, 2019 #39

    Ez2cDave

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    Brad Wilson spells out the incident pretty clearly in Post #57 at the link below . . . The "Malarkey" was reported by Vern Knowles in the same thread.

    Whatever the cause, this situation allowed a single pad controller to override the main system and fire every rocket on every pad simultaneously, without warning. Yes, this was 2015 . . . Yes, changes have been made . . . No, no one saw the problem, until it happened.

    https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/wilson-fx.37109/page-2


    QUOTE :

    Hello Wilson, Vern, and everybody else on this thread,

    I’m here to make an announcement as well as to answer the questions that have been raised about the Wilson F/X launch control system wireless and hardwired.

    Yesterday morning, the 10th of September, I popped onto this forum to see if there were any new posts on the Wilson F/X thread started by Chuck Haislip back in January of 2009. I was reading thru the posts and responses by and to Wilson Alness after he received his WFX single-pad wireless system.

    To my utter surprise, I read Vern Knowles post concerning the individual member’s use of his W-F/X single-pad wireless that unintentionally fired off several other rockets on multiple banks. I will admit that I’d like to have heard about this sooner and more directly than in this or any forum. I don’t know when it took place or the individuals involved. I am VERY glad that nobody was hurt.

    I had previously let the current owners know the dangers of using their single-pad wireless W-F/X controllers in Armageddon Mode at large launches like BALLS as this would trigger every wireless W-F/X pad-box that was on the field and powered up.
    My suggestion was that one of the clubs, like Tripoli Idaho, bring their LCU-64 and that each of the single-pad pad-boxes should be “taught” a bank and pad designation. The use of the LCU-64 controller would then eliminate any inadvertent ignitions of other W-F/X pads.

    But then the unthinkable happened. Vern Knowles reported the inadvertent incident at a Tripoli Idaho launch with an individual’s single-pad wireless WFX system triggering all the other wireless banks and pads when the individual used his single-pad controller in Armageddon Mode.

    There is no doubt that the individual’s LCU-1 single-pad controller was operating in Armageddon mode. The Wilson F/X controllers, 64-pad, 128-pad, and single-pad each have several different modes in which they are able to operate. Each mode has its own purpose, but Armageddon Mode is only one of the modes that are available for use.

    As Vern said, “these systems are starting to proliferate.” He's right. Our success has created this problem and it is a problem that must not happen again. When we built this system we did not intend for it to be anything other than a club system. Its only recently that we've been getting questions about buying a single pad system for an individual. This "new situation" has created this new problem. And the Wilson F/X team responds when there are problems.

    By yesterday afternoon, Dan and I were in conversation about what to do. We certainly have no desire to have any bad publicity out there about the Wilson F/X systems. And even more so, we desire that there be no repeat of the scenario that Vern reported. So by late last night, Dan and I got in the same room to ponder what we ought to do to fix the situation. We decided that the only safe solution is to separate the two major functions (single-pad and Armageddon) of the Single-pad controller into two separate controllers.
    The first controller will remain as the “Armageddon Switch” which will from now on only be available for purchase by clubs with Wilson F/X systems. For club’s that already own an Armageddon Switch, I will be sending them some new labeling in order to make it very obvious that what they have is an Armageddon Switch.

    The second controller will be the LCU-1 single-pad controller which will no longer have Armageddon Mode available. We made the changes in the software, got all of our current “stock” reprogrammed and tested to insure that it works like we want it to, and this afternoon I shipped “new” LCU-1 single-pad controllers to those individuals who already own W-F/X single-pad systems free of charge. And I will be sending return postage to each of these people so that they can return their original single-pad controllers in the same boxes and wrappings that they will be receiving their new and actually improved either on Monday or Tuesday of this next week.

    I know that some folks will be disappointed that their individual single-pad controller will no longer have an Armageddon Mode, but that is the price that must be paid to keep the “incident” from ever happening again. Wilson F/X is just growing too big to allow for the possibility to remain.

    Each LCU-1 single-pad controller will have its own unique designation so that when the owners teach their current single-pad pad-box who it is with their new LCU-1 controller that when they go into hardwired or wireless, no other pad-box will be able to respond to their controller. Certainly, every pad-box that you teach to respond to your controller will respond, but that should not be a problem.

    The PBU-1 single-pad pad-boxes can also be taught a bank and pad designation with any WFX 64 or 128 pad controller so that it can be used to augment a club’s Wilson F/X launch system. But we’ve also added a new feature that allows the user to “un-teach” his or her pad-box’s club system designation. It is mode three if you were wondering.

    Vern doesn’t seem to like the Armageddon Switch. And with what his club experienced, I don’t blame him. But this solution to the problem should alleviate his worries. Now only clubs will own Armageddon Switches, so no further placing of individual’s single-pad controllers in quarantine should be necessary.

    Vern Knowles and Wilson Alness did have one thing wrong, the former LCU-1/ARM had several modes in which it could operate. Armageddon Mode was only one of those modes. It could also operate in single-pad mode so that only pads designated by that controller could respond to that controller. And there was and still is, a dual-key function mode that requires a second “fire command” from a second LCO in order to fire any selected pad. But the earlier LCU-1 controllers were not automatically in Armageddon Mode.

    I will be sending instructions to each of the current owners of LCU-1/ARM controllers on how to reprogram their single-pad pad-boxes with their new LCU-1 controllers very shortly.

    I hope this clears up the problem. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Brad, the “Rocket Rev.,” Wilson
     
  9. Mar 17, 2019 #39

    RocketRev

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    I was just about to post to the Altus Metrum thread about their new TeleLaunch system when I was informed that this thread has been closed. What's up with a closed thread that's only a couple of days old?

    I was really hoping to hear some feed back from anybody who has actually used their new system.

    More than a little curious.

    Brad, the "Rocket Rev.," Wilson
    of Wilson F/X Digital Control Systems
     
  10. Mar 17, 2019 #40

    Chrisn

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    I was interested in hearing others first hand experience with the telelaunch, I read somewhere (must have been on the thread you mention) that it was already in use at someones local rocketry club. wondering how the interface works for selecting different pads. Looking at options to upgrade our clubs RF firing systems to a single multi channel system.
     
  11. Mar 17, 2019 #41

    rharshberger

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    RocketRev, I requested it being locked as it had become a violation of forum rules, we dont discuss someone elses products in a competing vendors thread. The thread had become more about your product than AltusMetrum's. And while you make a great product theirs is new to the market and will or could be competition for you.
     
  12. Mar 17, 2019 #42

    cwbullet

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    That was not a vendor thread.
     
  13. Mar 17, 2019 #43

    cwbullet

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    That will not happen unless you actively unhook the main control box and replace it with the Armageddon switch. We keep our switch stored separately. Most of the clubs who own the system know when and when not to use the switch and have safety protocol in place.

    To slam a system based upon a switch you do not have to buy or use is what I was referring to as malarkey. It is a safe system if you use it as designed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  14. Mar 17, 2019 #44

    cwbullet

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    Ok, I reopened the forum after some cleaning. Please stay on topic and avoid slamming a product if you have never used one.
     
  15. Mar 17, 2019 #45

    TonyL

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    While one can work very hard to make sure an incorrect fire signal is unlikely, what the real test ranges do is make sure there is no 'fire signal' at the igniter [which is what really matters]. What none of these systems seem to have, wired or wireless, is something integrated in the system that reasonably proves that there is no energy at the igniter leads.

    I have incorporated an isolation box for using with other folk's launch event fire control systems. It has a galvanometer [strictly electromechanical so no battery necessary to operate] and a reference voltage [9v battery] along with a safe/arm switch. With it I can prove the meter works and reasonably prove there is no significant signal on the igniter leads, all while acting as a simple pass through. It seems like an Estes rocket should not need this but it all depends on how much one cares. If one places it at a reasonable distance from the pad, chances of getting burned by an inadvertent launch can be greatly reduced.

    'sparking the leads' never seemed like an adequate method, but I like Stu's method of putting a ematch across the leads first. The only regret is that one still has the time between the test and connecting the igniter for a mistake to happen [like has been seen before].

    That an 'Armageddon' switch can even exist is a reason to not 'trust' a wireless system. That robust communication protocols can be implemented does not relieve the system from having safety critical software [instead it guarantees it], so where is everyone's software safety review board presentation? I do not really expect to see one. I am not bashing the AltusMetrum launch system, I expect it to be thoughtfully designed and built to reduce the possibility of issues.

    I am certainly not saying wired systems are better than wireless [I use both kinds], I am saying that one as an individual should not expect it [or any other fire control system] to protect one from mistakes, especially human error.

    br/

    Tony
     
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  16. Mar 17, 2019 #46

    cwbullet

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    Absolutely. You can build only so much safety into a system. Even a wired system can result in errors. We has an incident where a pad box was plug into the Wong spot and a high power rocket was launched when a low lower was expected. We have also has one with our old wired system where two switches were flipped. Certainly, this can happen with a wireless system, but these often was warning beeps to let you know of the errant activation of two pads.
     
  17. Mar 17, 2019 #47

    jderimig

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    I agree with this. I strongly believe in a 2 relay system, one (relay) that connects power to the igniter and another (separate relay) that connects power to the firing relay. Essentially a "2 key" system. We had this on our clubs 'backup' launch control system.
     
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  18. Mar 17, 2019 #48

    Steve Shannon

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    Dave,
    I have no experience with the Wilson F/X system. My statement is based on well over two decades as a Professional Engineer with significant experience using control protocols and incorporating wireless technologies. When designed correctly your concerns are addressed. The other part of the challenge is the user interface. A properly designed user interface reduces the probability of someone doing something inadvertently. However, as we used to say, just when you think you’ve made something foolproof, along comes a higher class of fool.
    I’ve been at numerous launches over the years where multiple pads have been ignited. In the cases I’ve personally seen (and I was not privy to the analysis afterwards) it appeared that somehow the user has placed the controller into drag race mode. That has nothing to do with being wireless and everything to do with user interface and user training. With a proper control protocol it’s not even possible.
    My local Prefecture has just purchased a Wilson system. We did not buy the Armageddon feature (I believe). I’ll know more in a few days after we have our first launch.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  19. Mar 17, 2019 #49

    cwbullet

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    You will love it. Our A Switch was free as a part of a deal to buy a 32 pad system.
     
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  20. Mar 17, 2019 #50

    Steve Shannon

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    I hope so, but typical of many engineers I always look at systems like that thinking that I could do better using my work experience. Unfortunately, I never got around to it.
     
  21. Mar 17, 2019 #51

    cwbullet

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    No an engineer, but physicians are similar. I am always looking to prevent or lower the risk of errors. Everyone is a safety officer.
     
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  22. Mar 17, 2019 #52

    Wallace

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    Typo? I hope...
     
  23. Mar 17, 2019 #53

    cwbullet

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    True, Nice to know, but we are NOT launching nukes.
     
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  24. Mar 17, 2019 #54

    mikec

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    "Likely?" OK, this happened, but was the root cause ever determined? FWIW, I've used some of these wireless relay boxes from ebay and they seem pretty robust as long as the relays don't fail closed. I think it's very unlikely that one can trigger on RF noise, as the ones I've examined use fairly long code sequences to fire. Always a good idea to touch the clips together and check for sparks if one has concerns about relays.
     
  25. Mar 18, 2019 #55

    Ez2cDave

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    I didn't "slam the system" . . . My concern is over the "Armageddon Mode" feature, justifiably so, by what occurred earlier in the thread.

    According to the Rocket Reverend, someone hooked up a single pad system, without attaching their box physically to the main system, and it proceeded to override the main system, since it was operating in "Armageddon Mode" and caused all the pads to fire. ( See my quote in Post #39, EXCERPT below ).

    QUOTE:

    Yesterday morning, the 10th of September, I popped onto this forum to see if there were any new posts on the Wilson F/X thread started by Chuck Haislip back in January of 2009. I was reading thru the posts and responses by and to Wilson Alness after he received his WFX single-pad wireless system.

    To my utter surprise, I read Vern Knowles post concerning the individual member’s use of his W-F/X single-pad wireless that unintentionally fired off several other rockets on multiple banks.
    I will admit that I’d like to have heard about this sooner and more directly than in this or any forum. I don’t know when it took place or the individuals involved. I am VERY glad that nobody was hurt.

    I had previously let the current owners know the dangers of using their single-pad wireless W-F/X controllers in Armageddon Mode at large launches like BALLS as this would trigger every wireless W-F/X pad-box that was on the field and powered up.
    My suggestion was that one of the clubs, like Tripoli Idaho, bring their LCU-64 and that each of the single-pad pad-boxes should be “taught” a bank and pad designation. The use of the LCU-64 controller would then eliminate any inadvertent ignitions of other W-F/X pads.

    But then the unthinkable happened. Vern Knowles reported the inadvertent incident at a Tripoli Idaho launch with an individual’s single-pad wireless WFX system triggering all the other wireless banks and pads when the individual used his single-pad controller in Armageddon Mode.

    There is no doubt that the individual’s LCU-1 single-pad controller was operating in Armageddon mode. The Wilson F/X controllers, 64-pad, 128-pad, and single-pad each have several different modes in which they are able to operate. Each mode has its own purpose, but Armageddon Mode is only one of the modes that are available for use.

    END QUOTE :

    With that said, let me say that I have much respect for Brad Wilson, even though we have never met. His "Rocket Reverend" segment, especially the part where he was working with the kids, was the BEST PART of the 2006 "THE ROCKET CHALLENGE" TV program . . . He is a man of Faith and it SHOWS !

    I am, however, still "gun shy" when it comes to wireless systems, whether they get slapped together for $30 or cost thousands of dollars . . .

    Dave F.
     
  26. Mar 18, 2019 #56

    Ez2cDave

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    As I understand it, the "wireless system" used components designed to convert a car to electrically-powered door locks. One theory is that someone's "key fob" might have been on the same frequency and launched the rocket, inadvertently, while locking or unlocking their car. Hard proof was not obtainable at the scene.

    After watching the video a few times, I believe that the unit might have gotten "stuck" and was transmitting continuously, since the motor fired immediately when the second igniter clip was attached. If it had not been a wireless system, I would have suspected a stuck relay or a defective launch button.

    Amen on touching clips . . . I carry a cheap Harbor Freight meter, personally . . . https://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-digital-multimeter-63759.html

    Dave F.
     
  27. Mar 18, 2019 #57

    jderimig

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    Why would you not suspect a stuck relay (the most common cause for failures like this)? Just because its wireless you jump to the less probable root cause? Where was the key fob when this happened? Somebody's pocket?
     
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  28. Mar 18, 2019 #58

    Wallace

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    While being informative I personally feel that is inappropriate. YouTube is the place for such..
     
  29. Mar 18, 2019 #59

    cwbullet

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    I have no idea what the set up is for the club that had the incident. I am not suggesting that the incident did not occur,

    Our WilsonFX system will not fire all the pads if you operate it in single pad mode because of how we operate. If we did use it, the single pad is all that is connected and it is connected with a wire. The LCU-1 is not wireless. The LCU-1 we have will only connect with a wire and it must be connected to the first pad box. If you connect the first pad box to a wireless unit, it would fire all the pads that are connected wirelessly. Without a transmitter connected to the first box, it can only fire the first 8 pads on the first. You cannot connect 64 pads to the main control unit and not a single one will fire if you fire off the LCU-1 without a transmitter in circuit with the LCU-1.

    There are many variants of the WilsonFX system. Our LCU-1 is always in Armageddon mode. It is a single controller that cannot choose a pad. That being said, it cannot fire a single pad unless it is physically connected to a wire running to a pad. I knew when I bought the system for the club that I would rarely use it. I also knew when and when not to connect it. It takes a conscious decision to connect it to the circuit with a transmitter or wire to fire anything.
     
  30. Mar 18, 2019 #60

    Cnorm

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    Guys, it doesn't matter how many facts you throw at him, ez2cdave made up his mind and he's not going to change it.

    This thread has gone way off topic.

    For those of us that have moved into the new millennium, the Altus launch looks interesting. How hard would it be to replace the lead acid battery with a lipo?
     
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