Featherweight Altimeters News, February 2022

Adrian A

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Ever since I founded Featherweight Altimeters in 2008, it has been a side business rather than my day job. I have always wondered what I could do if I worked on Featherweight full-time. We're about to find out! Starting very soon I'll be running Featherweight Altimeters full-time, including doing a lot more product development. For me it's a little scary, but pretty exciting.

First up on the new product front will be a successor to the Raven4 altimeter, the Blue Raven. I'll put up a Blue Raven product development thread with more details once I get a little farther along, but the basic idea is to cram a vast expansion of capability into the same small form factor of the Raven, and give it a Bluetooth 5.0 interface along with a brand new, easy-to-use custom app for both iPhones and Android phones. (yes, Android too; I'm not going to make the mistake of releasing on just one platform again) The Blue Raven will be capable of using Bluetooth to exchange information wirelessly during the flight with a separate GPS tracker that could be in another part of the rocket (e.g. the nosecone), and deliver it to your phone in real-time. And almost everything you could do in the Windows Featherweight Interface Program, along with some new mobile features, you will be able do on your phone without needing to connect to any other computer. I'll be powering up the first prototype of hardware this weekend, and then I'll spend the next several months on the software. The goal is to complete flight testing and have the first production run ready for sale before current stock of the Raven 4 runs out, which I'm projecting to happen in early fall 2022.

In more mundane news, I'll be unavailable to fill orders Sunday Feb 20 to Feb 26, so if you have been thinking about ordering and want it shipped before Feb 28th, please place your order tomorrow or Saturday.

Happy flying!

-Adrian
 
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Tractionengines

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Good luck, and best wishes for successful transition to full time business. [ Don't let it take up ALL your time. ]

Hope the electronics components supply chain gets itself straightened out. I just got a lead time of 101 weeks for some PCB mounted Relays that have never been longer than 2 to 3 weeks before.
 

rocketgeek101

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That sounds very very cool! Would this Bluetooth information exchange work with the existing GPS tracker (I just bought one). Also, not to derail this thread but do you have a timeframe for when you'll release the iFIP app on the App Store proper?
 

Dave A

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Exciting news. I really want a featherweight tracker but don't have an iPhone.
I chose the Featherweight Tracker for great features.
I have an Android phone but would not want to tie it up with rocket stuff then clients call me in the middle of the flight.
I bought an older IPhone 6s+ off FB marketplace cheap. No data plan needed, just an Apple account. Runs all the Featherweight stuff and all my rocket apps.
 

kjs

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For those that might wonder, I will have little to do with the Blue Raven mentioned above ==> but I fully support Adrian in this venture!

My 'day job' is still quite challenging and fun and rewarding (both mentally and financially). I would not be able to put adequate time into helping Adrian and don't want to be a hindrance in the development of the Blue Raven (which I will certainly buy from him when they are available...). He has told me some of his plans and, as he indicated, he will get a real phone app developer - instead of me learning it in my spare time! :) 👍👍 As far as the current iPhone tracker app, I will continue to keep it up to date and will either finally get it in the App Store for real, or his new developers will redo it 'right'.

I think we will all benefit from Adrian's focus and wish him the best of luck!!
 

Adrian A

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Hope the electronics components supply chain gets itself straightened out. I just got a lead time of 101 weeks for some PCB mounted Relays that have never been longer than 2 to 3 weeks before.

Yikes, 101 weeks is forever. I had to pay a premium for some key the parts for the first relatively small production run I’m planning, but hopefully it will get better rather than worse when I’m ready for higher volumes.
 

Adrian A

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That sounds very very cool! Would this Bluetooth information exchange work with the existing GPS tracker (I just bought one). Also, not to derail this thread but do you have a timeframe for when you'll release the iFIP app on the App Store proper?
I hope to make that exchange work with current trackers and ground stations, but it will require firmware updates to the current hardware that I don’t want to promise until I’m sure I can pull it off.

As for the Apple store release for the current app, I would still like to get that done but it will be up to Kevin to see if he can do that.
 

Sandy H.

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I am a fairly early Featherweight adopter, then fell off the planet, so I still fly my Raven 1 when I fly DD (rarely, but hopefully rectified sooner than later).

Back in the early days, you seemed like a really cool guy (various emails and giving me options for how to purchase since I was recently out of college and poor), so I hope this venture goes awesome, as you've earned it!!!

I look forward to being able to fly more and adding newer electronics as makes sense for what I fly and what is available. If you ever need some laser cutting time for prototypes, PM me and I'll take care of you like you took care of me back then.

Sandy.
 

Adrian A

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For those that might wonder, I will have little to do with the Blue Raven mentioned above ==> but I fully support Adrian in this venture!

My 'day job' is still quite challenging and fun and rewarding (both mentally and financially). I would not be able to put adequate time into helping Adrian and don't want to be a hindrance in the development of the Blue Raven (which I will certainly buy from him when they are available...). He has told me some of his plans and, as he indicated, he will get a real phone app developer - instead of me learning it in my spare time! :) 👍👍 As far as the current iPhone tracker app, I will continue to keep it up to date and will either finally get it in the App Store for real, or his new developers will redo it 'right'.

I think we will all benefit from Adrian's focus and wish him the best of luck!!
Thanks, Kevin, that’s very kind. Starting with the Featherweight Interface Program for the original Parrot altimeter in 2008, your software has been key to advancing the state of the art every step of the way.
 

Grant_Edwards

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Hope the electronics components supply chain gets itself straightened out. I just got a lead time of 101 weeks for some PCB mounted Relays that have never been longer than 2 to 3 weeks before.
Yep. We're redesigning a board because one of the microprocessors on it is now being quoted with a "99 week" lead time. I'm pretty sure that actually means "we have absolutely no idea when/if you'll ever get any, but the database UI only allows two digits in that field." Verbally, they say things like "sometime in 2024", but nobody pays much attention to that.

On another board, an FPGA that was $9-10 is now being quoted by secondary market brokers at $180 [it too is completely unavailable through normal distribution].

It's a good time to retire...
 

BrettN

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Congrats and good luck. I’m a big fan of featherweight products and look forward to seeing the new stuff!
 

thzero

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Thanks, Kevin, that’s very kind. Starting with the Featherweight Interface Program for the original Parrot altimeter in 2008, your software has been key to advancing the state of the art every step of the way.

Just don't try and use Flutter thinking to kill two birds with one stone.... Omg, what a pain
 
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Ever since I founded Featherweight Altimeters in 2008, it has been a side business rather than my day job. I have always wondered what I could do if I worked on Featherweight full-time. We're about to find out! Starting very soon I'll be running Featherweight Altimeters full-time, including doing a lot more product development. For me it's a little scary, but pretty exciting.

First up on the new product front will be a successor to the Raven4 altimeter, the Blue Raven. I'll put up a Blue Raven product development thread with more details once I get a little farther along, but the basic idea is to cram a vast expansion of capability into the same small form factor of the Raven, and give it a Bluetooth 5.0 interface along with a brand new, easy-to-use custom app for both iPhones and Android phones. (yes, Android too; I'm not going to make the mistake of releasing on just one platform again) The Blue Raven will be capable of using Bluetooth to exchange information wirelessly during the flight with a separate GPS tracker that could be in another part of the rocket (e.g. the nosecone), and deliver it to your phone in real-time. And almost everything you could do in the Windows Featherweight Interface Program, along with some new mobile features, you will be able do on your phone without needing to connect to any other computer. I'll be powering up the first prototype of hardware this weekend, and then I'll spend the next several months on the software. The goal is to complete flight testing and have the first production run ready for sale before current stock of the Raven 4 runs out, which I'm projecting to happen in early fall 2022.

In more mundane news, I'll be unavailable to fill orders Sunday Feb 20 to Feb 26, so if you have been thinking about ordering and want it shipped before Feb 28th, please place your order tomorrow or Saturday.

Happy flying!

-Adrian


Adrian, Hope your doing well my friend. Awesome news on the front for Featherweight. I like many others are a strong supporter for what you and Kevin have done. I remember many years ago when you first got started. The current offerings have been awesome and really looking forward to the next products, projects and all you do with it in the future. Let me know if I can ever assist. looking forward to hopefully seeing you at the launches this year. Good luck with all!!!
 

manixFan

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This is great news, I am looking forward to seeing the first new boards. I just hope all these horror stories on lead times and component prices and shortages are short lived, but undoubtedly there is some pain ahead.

Congrats on making the transition to full time. Some days it’s great to be the boss, othe days, not so much! But overall it’s nice being in charge of your own destiny. And there are so many online business tools now that life is so much easier than when I first started my business back in the early’90s. I don’t miss having to fill out deposit forms and waiting in line to deposit checks!

Thanks for the update and looking forward to seeing the new Raven.


Tony
 

kjs

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Thanks, Kevin, that’s very kind. Starting with the Featherweight Interface Program for the original Parrot altimeter in 2008, your software has been key to advancing the state of the art every step of the way.

Yes, I bought a Parrot and didn't care for the terminal interface and excel spreadsheet but saw all the commands and formulas were documented so decided I would use it as a driver to learn C#. In the end, it was a mix of C# (UI) and C (comm port) and I had to figure out how to get them to talk together.

The real irony is that I took my learnings from that and converted my C/C++ app at work to have a C# wrapper around it. That app continues to expand at Intel and is part of the reason I don't have any extra time now....

So ironically I don't have the time to help much now because I bought a Featherweight Parrot around 2008... :eek: ;)
 

Grog6

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Back in the 90's, I called burr-brown, spoke to their wafer scheduler, and got a wafer of the chips I really needed moved to the head of the line. we bought the whole wafer, but it was totally cool to have real humans in the process.
I got a nice bonus that year, so I sent her roses, anonyn, of course. :)
 

watheyak

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Yes, I bought a Parrot and didn't care for the terminal interface and excel spreadsheet but saw all the commands and formulas were documented so decided I would use it as a driver to learn C#. In the end, it was a mix of C# (UI) and C (comm port) and I had to figure out how to get them to talk together.

The real irony is that I took my learnings from that and converted my C/C++ app at work to have a C# wrapper around it. That app continues to expand at Intel and is part of the reason I don't have any extra time now....

So ironically I don't have the time to help much now because I bought a Featherweight Parrot around 2008... :eek: ;)

No good deed yada yada…
 

Hyak

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Ok, sorry to say I have a support question.... which I didnt figure out I needed answered till tonight (48 hours before I *was* going to fly it for the first time... so thats probably not happening!), but, I have a nice shiny new Raven 4, and its associated batteries.... but I cant figure out how to connect the battery to the Raven (looks like a super mini JST???) I need to purchase an cable of some sort?

Hey, by the way, any idea when the screw switches will be back in stock?

Thanks!

Oh and your GPS units are completely AWESOME! They work great!
 
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