Featherweight Altimeters News and Updates, November 2021

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Adrian A

Well-Known Member
TRF Sponsor
TRF Supporter
Jan 21, 2009
Reaction score
Lakewood, CO
Some updates:
  • This is the first time I have been on TRF since January. There are some personal reasons for that I'll go into in the last bullet if you read that far. Thanks to Kevin for holding down the fort and answering questions. I'm planning to participate a bit more again going forward.

  • I have updated the way to get product support. The new email for all support questions is [email protected]. But you don't have to memorize it; just go to the featherweightaltimeters.com website and use the easier-to-find new contact form and it will generate an email to that address that will still come to me.

  • Part shortages: The bad news is that the worldwide electronics part shortage is affecting Featherweight Altimeters like everyone else in the industry. Prices of circuit boards, assembly, as well as the parts, have gone up by 50%-100% in some cases. Worse, there are several key components that are in Featherweight products that are out of stock through all channels, with no predicted date of availability. There is a chance that these parts will not become available in time to avoid running out of stock in the months ahead. The good news is that before the shortage got so bad, I had stockpiled enough parts to complete another production run of 500 Trackers, so we have some time to ride out this storm. Unfortunately, I will need to pass on the production cost increases from this run into the price of the products, though I'm not sure by how much yet.

  • In happier news, Featherweight Altimeters GPS Tracker technology is going to space! In August, Redwire Engineering Solutions (formerly Deep Space Systems), with the help of Featherweight Altimeters, delivered flight hardware incorporating Featherweight Altimeters GPS tracking technology, to NASA's LOFTID program to recover data from their flight experiment. Launch is expected in the second half of 2022. The inflatable heatshield that is the object of the experiment will re-enter Earth's atmosphere from a high elliptical orbit, while recording data onto the LOFTID data return capsule. After the hot part of re-entry is complete, the return capsule will be ejected and then will fall to the ocean, transmitting LoRa data as it falls, along with less-frequent Iridium satellite transmissions. The return capsule floats, and will continue to transmit from the ocean's surface for up to 30 days until it is scooped up by the recovery team. A high-altitude weather balloon will relay data from over the horizon just like the Featherweight GPS Lost Rocket feature, to Featherweight Ground Stations on the recovery ship. Using Featherweight GPS tracking technology this way for over-the-horizon ocean recovery has been demonstrated twice, most recently in June 2020.

  • On to the personal part: Some of you may know that for the last 6 years I have been commuting between Colorado, where my day job is located, and Palo Alto, CA, where Featherweight Altimeters, my wife Ann Dalton, and my kids, were located. Ann and I had been planning to move to a new home Colorado after my youngest graduated from high school this spring. However, in February, Ann passed away due to liver failure from alcoholism that she had been keeping secret for at least several years. Alcoholism is a disease that is responsible for about 95,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and it can sneak up on you. My own drinking had been creeping up over the decades too, until this happened to Ann. If you are hiding your alcohol consumption from your loved ones, please open up to them and get help.

    This summer I have been spending time with my two awesome daughters, moving into a new house and Featherweight HQ in Lakewood, Colorado, picking up the pieces from Ann's passing, and taking on a new dream-job project for my day job (designing and building all the core avionics for Firefly's lunar lander for NASA's CLPS program.) So thank you for your patience when I have had to put customer support on the back burner in the last months. Things are setting into a more workable new normal for me, so I hope to get back to flying rockets and growing Featherweight Altimeters going forward.
Wow, Adrian, that’s quite an update. Sincere condolences on your wife’s passing, I can’t imagine how hard that was for you and your family.

Thanks for filling us in on the status of your trackers, I’m glad to hear you have some in reserve, even if the price is a bit higher.

And congrats on the new job, it sounds very exciting and quite challenging. At least a bit of a good news amongst all the not so good stuff. And looking forward to hearing how the tracking and recovery of the LOFTID capsule goes, sounds like a great validation of the robustness of your hardware and a testament of your engineering capabilities.


PS: In the incredibly challenging times of Covid, drinking has become a big issue that as you say, has snuck up on a lot of us. Your post is a good reminder for each of us to self assess.
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However, in February, Ann passed away due to liver failure from alcoholism that she had been keeping secret for at least several years. Alcoholism is a disease that is responsible for about 95,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and it can sneak up on you. My own drinking had been creeping up over the decades too, until this happened to Ann. If you are hiding your alcohol consumption from your loved ones, please open up to them and get help.

I am so sorry for your loss.
Thank you for the updates, sincere condolences on your loss. That's got to be incredibly difficult, but thank you sharing the circumstances as it is an opportunity for others to learn.
Adrian, you are the best! Condolences on your loss. Thank you for your support in the past and looking forward to the future. Most mojo to you and yours for your heart, health and home.
My sincere condolences on your wife's passing Adrian.

Thank you for the Featherweight update. Cool to know all is progressing well both family and business wise. Having used my four trackers and two base stations, I'm a firm believer in your products and customer service. All the best sir
Terrible news about your wife. My sincere condolences.
Good to hear that you have been able to pull together the pieces of your life. Enjoy the time with your daughters and best wishes on your new job!
With great sympathy for the loss of Ann, your wife and the mother of your daughters, please accept our thanks for the great many contributions you've made, and are yet to make, to our sport and to our Nation's scientific endeavors. Your brilliant development of the magnetically-actuated altimeter switch touched my life by making possible the rocket design that recently helped me fulfill the dream of earning my NAR Level 3 certification. I much appreciate it, Adrian. Best wishes for the better days ahead.
Thank you for the update Adrian, and condolences on your loss. Best of luck in the future, which sounds brighter for you.
Adrian, Sincere condolences on the loss of your wife to you and your two daughters - may you you continue to gain peace and strength through each other.

God Bless!
Sorry to hear about your family's major loss. Look after yourself as you deal with everything.

Congratulations on working on the Avionics for the lunar lander. I am guessing it is a therapeutic distraction as well.
Adrian, good to see you post here my friend. Also equally good to see you and get some time to hang out and be at a launch together this year. I appreciate your help and time. Weve definitely missed you at the launches. As stated previously im very sorry about your loss of Ann. If ever i can do anything give me a shout. Awesome with all the other cool stuff youve got going on. Absolutely inspiring and incredible. Congrats my friend. Talk soon and here is to more rocket launches in the near future.

Take care of your daughters and yourself Adrian. I hope you find peace and purpose going forward. So very sorry for your loss and your daughter's loss. Losing their mom and a very big part of you...well I hope you can find moments in time when you are all there for each other.
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All the best to you and your family.

2021 has turned out to be a tough year for many of us so my “newly rewired heart” goes out to you. Here’s to continued healing for you and your family.

As for the necessary price increases, I totally understand as we’re seeing the exact same things at JPL in all manufacturing sectors. We’ll weather it together.
Wow Adrian. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I cannot imagine what you are going through. Hang in there; glad to see your post here, even if it is bittersweet.
Sorry to hear about your wife. May she rest in peace.

Sounds like a lot of stress in your life. Some good, some bad, but stress is stress. Please take care of yourself and spend time with the family you still have.

All that said, I do have a product update question: are you any closer to having Android compatibility? I was holding off on getting your tracker setup for this to be available. I don't want to be carrying multiple phones around like a drug dealer. Plus, I have other trackers, so justifying getting another system is harder when I'd need to buy other electronics to get it to work. But it looks like an awesome system...
Adrian, that's horrible - my best to you and your daughters as you fight through the healing process. I know it can be impossibly tough, but I can't imagine that pain. I'm sorry you all lost Ann.

We all love your rocket stuff, but definitely prioritize family first. Your kids need you more than ever. Enjoy Lakewood life on the front range!
I hadn't seen this before..
I am truly so sorry for your and your daughters loss..
Please know that she is at peace..
Ohh please,, I'm so sorry man...