- Jan 21, 2009
- Reaction score
- Lakewood, CO
- 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.