Modeling Space Hack Chat

Bringing space down to Earth

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Bryan Murphy and Sam Treadgold will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, October 4 at noon Pacific.

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We're going to go out on a limb here and guess that a fair number of Hackaday readers went through a phase of model building growing up. To further push out that branch, we'll further guess that some of those models included spacecraft, both real and imaginary. And with good reason -- you don't get to space without some interesting engineering, a lot of which is reflected in the design of the vehicles intended to get there. Rockets are cool, satellites are cooler still, and if you can't actually go to space yourself, or at least be the person building the actual hardware, at least you can build a model and dare to dream.

But while a model on a stand or hanging from the ceiling on fishing line can certainly stimulate the imagination, wouldn't it be better if a model did something? Bryan Murphy and Sam Treadgold think so, which is why they've been working on the "ISS Mimic," which we recently featured. The 3D-printed 1:100 scale model of the International Space Station is equipped with servos that move the station's solar panels in real-time based on publically available telemetry. It's way more engaging than a static model, especially for kids just getting into STEM and related fields.

Bryan and Sam will stop by the Hack Chat to talk not just about the ISS Mimic, but about everything that has to do with modeling space. Who wouldn't love a desktop version of a Martian or lunar rover keeping pace with its full-scale counterpart? And wouldn't it be great to be able to visualize just how far away Voyager is right now? If it's out there, we should be able to bring it home, at least in model form.

  • Hack Chat Transcript

    Tom Nardi10/04/2023 at 20:17 0 comments

    Dan Maloney  3:00 PM
    OK, here we go! I'm Dan, I'll be modding today along with Dusan as we welcome Bryan Murphy and Sam Treadgold to the Hack Chat. I've seen Bryan, is Sam there too? Also maybe someone else?
    Dusan Petrovic  3:00 PM
    Welcome to the Modeling Space Hack Chat! We are thrilled to have you all here for this exciting event.
    Bryan  3:00 PM
    Yes! Sam is right here with me. We'll both be responding. Assume all good responses come from Bryan.
    Dusan Petrovic  3:01 PM
    Let's get started!
    Bryan  3:01 PM
    We are very excited to be here!! [joy emoji here]
    Dan Maloney  3:01 PM
    So maybe kick us off with a little about yourselves and how you came to build that sweet ISS model?
    Bryan  3:02 PM
    Sam here - I work on the ISS Meteoroid / Orbital Debris team and have been with the ISS mimic team since 2014 .
    Pete Willard  3:03 PM
    Nice Credentials!
    Bryan  3:03 PM
    Bryan - I really need to stop letting Sam go first since his job is so cool. I also support ISS - dynamics and control systems - robotics-ish.
    Bryan  3:04 PM
    B: we both supported ISS for a while, and got to see behind the curtain at all the cool data coming down. NASA released some of that streaming data publicly, and we knew we had to do something with it.
    Bryan  3:04 PM
    We wanted something that *everyone* could access - something tangible responding to all that yummy data. We wanted it to work for space nerds, students, and teachers.
    Bryan  3:05 PM
    So, "mimic-ing" the ISS seemed like a good way to go.
    Dan Maloney  3:06 PM
    Data wants to be visualized...
    Bryan  3:06 PM
    For those who haven't already read the HAD post (shame), here's a vid from Joel Telling interviewing us in July:
    Bryan  3:09 PM
    Bryan  3:09 PM
    S: here is one of our telemetry visualization screens
    Boian Mitov  3:09 PM
    Cool! :-)
    Bryan  3:09 PM
    featuring the infamous urine tank quantity that has recently gotten a lot of attention
    charlotte  3:10 PM
    What are each of your favorite parts of the project?
    Dan Maloney  3:10 PM
    Our coverage, ICYMI:
    Dan Maloney  3:10 PM
    Dan Maloney  3:11 PM
    Urine tank? Interesting -- I was working on a "recycling water in space" article, maybe I should dust that off and start working on it again
    Bryan  3:11 PM
    B: My fav is supporting teachers by giving them something interesting to work with. I love that schools can build these and have them tangibly-connected to ISS. And love all the skill-building along the way.
    Tom Nardi  3:11 PM
    I remember years ago looking through some of the telemetry data in a mobile app that NASA had released, love this evolution of the concept.
    Bryan  3:12 PM
    Our github hosts two pages that show all of the public telemetry coming down from the ISS: and the cooler:
    Pete Willard  3:13 PM
    The fact that they still remember to *share* with us is great!
    Dan Maloney  3:16 PM
    Just wondering -- does ISS telemetry come down through the DSN? Or is the station close enough that they don't need the really big ears?
    SimonAllen  3:16 PM
    Any ideas how to build a visual tracker for the ISS so that a video can be taken. I've tried this with a Canon handheld, but I cannot keep the ISS in view.
    Bryan  3:17 PM
    Great question - ISS transmits all the data through the Tracking and Data Relay System Satellites (TDRSS) in Geostationary Orbit which then forward the data to ground sites around the world (Guam, White Sands, Maryland) and then to JSC
    Read more »

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