Monday, March 2, 2015

Excellent Pressure Test

Excellent test last night: internal email to my crew pasted below:

"Hi all, thanks to a lot of checklist development, suit modifications, repairs and basic labors, last night we had one of our best-ever tests. I am writing up a brief to record it, but basically we had good pressure, minimal leaks, good arm mobility with no glove-creep due to new and completely functional longitudinal expansion prevention cables, good comms, excellent function of helmet hold-down cable clamp, and AK got his C02 numbers again so that after three more tests w/out C02 scrubbers we will start using C02 scrubbing medium and knock down those levels. With the new flexibility allowed by the arms I was able to manage all gas settings etc myself, with no help from outside: that includes operating the helmet hold-down assembly, which is a big step ahead. Excellent work, guys!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fundamental Exploration Technologies

In 1997 I was lucky to be asked aboard John F Haslett's sailing raft expedition, replicating native Ecuadorean sailing vessels of the first quarter of the 16th Century AD, as described by Spanish conquistadores. I was put in charge of designing and building the sails, 742 square feet of native cotton reinforced by heavy hemp bolt-ropes around the perimeter, and hand-stitched at various stress points with massive needles and artificial sinew. Here we were replicating and then sailing, for nearly 1,000 miles up the coast of Pacific South America, one of humanity's fundamental exploring technologies, the sailing vessel. Today, I work on a rather different fundamental technology, one that allows even exploration by humanity beyond the boundaries of the Earth's atmosphere. Drawing posted here shows essential designs, I will be releasing larger, high-res versions of these through the Spring and into Winter.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Intensive Sleeve Work Week

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Tonight worked on checking out the balloon burners for their overhaul; very interesting, I don't know anything about metal, but will enjoy learning how to work with it! First, a good cleaning with metal cleaning compound, then an inspection by magnifying lens for cracks, other signs of fatigue etc., pressure and flow testing and finally an FAA airworthiness inspection and certificate. Also today new potential team member Tanner sat in the capsule simulator using the new communication system, a grip-button Push-to-Talk that finally gives us flawless communications; I walked him through a few of the electrical systems while talking to him on the radio from down the street; all clear comms at long last! We also finished epoxying in lines (gas, comms, biomedical, electrical) into a new abdomen port and a new helmet port. Pressure test some time this week! Tomorrow morning a radio interview, I'll post it here when it airs.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Currently-configured suit with Mark II home-built convolute elbow section on the left, and on the right (in black/yellow) the off-the-rack, industrial hosing convolute elbow section (already tested on the sleeve testbed, but not yet on the suit under pressure) that is lighter, cheaper and simpler. SO suit Mark I was the essential suit without convolute elbows that gave essential function but limited mobility at operational pressures of up to 3.5psi: Mark II was same suit but with the home-constructed (on left) heavy convolutes that gave significantly better mobility at operating pressures; Mark III will be same suit with both lighter, cheaper and simpler convolutes (black/yellow) to give even better mobility at high suit pressures. Mark IV will be an entirely new suit with either these new elbow sections, or a different variety under construction & testing at present. We'll only give that new approach another month or so, then make the decision and build Mark IV; to make a flight at the end of the year, we have always to move ahead, even if only a little, every day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Open House!

Our first Open House of 2015 was a lot of fun, with lots of visitors -- just a few shown in the photo above (click to enlarge) -- from Portland State University's Aerospace Society and Portland State University Rapid Prototyping Group. We also had a visiting marine historian from the Explorers Club (he's dived to over 13,000 feet in Russian submersibles) and a couple of people simply walking by the porch saw the interesting devices inside, and came in to see what was up. Great fun!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cold Chamber!

Last summer we had some good test experiences in a cold chamber, testing the suit and its Life Support System at -20F. We'll be back in there this coming year for a more controlled test, which will be written up as a technical brief. The three technical briefs so far written can be found here. Photo by A. Magruder.