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Flying Rockets with Free Hardware and Free Software

Time:11:30 - 12:15
Day:Wednesday 20 January 2010
Location:Ilott Theatre (Town Hall)
Project: TeleMetrum

Amateur rocketry incorporates many different disciplines in one hobby, from mechanical design and aeronautical engineering to chemistry, electronics and software. The electronics and software become increasingly important as the rockets get larger, fly to greater altitudes, and carry more sophisticated payloads.

A little over a year ago, Bdale Garbee and Keith Packard agreed to collaborate on a new, completely free hardware and software amateur rocket flight computer called TeleMetrum. This is a tiny embedded system with simple sensors, GPS receiver, a digital radio transceiver, and the ability to ignite small explosive charges used to deploy parachutes.

This talk will explore the free software tools used to develop the hardware and firmware, including circuit design and PCB layout, C compiler and in-circuit debugger. The design and operation of the TeleMetrum hardware (licensed under the TAPR OHL) and AltOS software (licensed under the GPL) will be described, punctuated by photos, video, and data analysis from numerous flights of the completed system.

Bdale Garbee

Bdale first contributed to Free Software in 1979, has a long history of involvement in the Debian distribution, and is Chief Technologist for Open Source and Linux at HP. He is President of Software in the Public Interest, and serves on the boards of the Linux Foundation, the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum, and Open Media Now. Bdale's primary hobby seems to be turning all of his other hobbies in to open source projects...

Keith Packard

Keith Packard has been developing open source software since 1986, focusing on the X Window System since 1987, designing and implementing large parts of the current implementation. He is currently a Principal Engineer with Intel's Open Source Technology Center. Keith received a Usenix Lifetime Achievement award in 1999 and sits on the foundation board.