Rocket Blog

Portland State Aerospace Society is a student aerospace engineering project at Portland State University. We’re building ultra-low-cost, open source rockets that feature some of the most sophisticated amateur rocket avionics systems in the world.

Meetings take place almost every Tuesday at 7pm at PSU. Come join us anytime!

Check back here or add this blog to your RSS reader for updates about the group. You can also follow us on twitter, github, and youtube.

Recent Posts:

  • Nov 2 Capstones Everywhere

    It’s official! We’re now sponsoring the FIVE capstones this year. Not only a record number for us, but possibily a record at MCECS?

    • CS department: DxWiFi drivers and chipset support
    • ECE department: CubeSat 0 command, control and power board
    • ME department: Carbon Fiber team 1: Nosecone and fincan process and construction
    • ME department: Carbon Fiber team 2: module windows and surface treatment
    • ME department: Liquid fuel engine small-scale prototype

    Wish us luck, it’s going to be an awesomely productive academic year!

  • Mar 31 Quick Update

    It’s been a while since we’ve updated the blog – we’ve switched mostly to Twitter these days. But here’s a quick update:

  • Dec 30 New COTS GPS

    During tonights meeting Andrew brought in a new off-the-shelf GPS unit. It’s a tiny Venus638FLPx chip on a breakout board that spews out NMEA messages over serial.

  • Nov 18 4 Capstones This Year

    We’re going to be running 4 capstone projects this year! First, a bunch of team updates:

  • Nov 4 We Hit Our Goal!

    We’re excited to announce that we exceeded our $10,000 goal, receiving a total of $10,100 in donations, about $2,000 of which arrived within the last week of the campaign. We are very grateful to all of our donors!

  • Oct 29 We’re almost there! Only 3 days left to get the last 20%!

    We’re over 80% of the way to our $10,000 funding goal, and there’s only 3 days left. Thanks for all the amazing support so far, you guys are really rather awesome. Now we need your help to push us over the top! If you haven’t donated, please consider doing so now, and please forward our request to all the engineering and space geeks in your life. Help support your local space program!

  • Oct 28 Tuesday Meeting Notes

    Space news

    In space news, the record for a high-altitude human parajump was beaten. Also, the Antares ISS resupply mission from Orbital Sciences exploded just over the launch pad.

    General updates

    Public relations: We gave an Intel presentation last Thursday (10/23) as a crowdfunding reward; it was supposed to go an hour, but it went 1:45, and was a big success. We showed up to the Portland Farmer’s Market and got a great reception. We also raised $75 cash!

    Fundraising: The crowdfunding campaign is at $8,125, with four days left to go. It’s time to push through to the end so we can make our goal. We also created a video for corporate donors which is now on our YouTube channel and on a landing page at For crowdfunding appeals, we should still use

    New Home: This Friday, the EPL is moving to their new room, and we can move into the old EPL.

    Opportunities: Chris Hadfield at Powell’s, 11/7 ECE Grad Student lecture: Robust and Adaptive Control with Aerospace Applications, 10/31 at 2PM, in EB 103

    Project Updates:

    Senior Capstones: Capstones are gelling, with a surplus of students available. Students are excited about aerospace and we have our pick of students who want to participate in the PSAS capstones.

    Liquid Motor Study Group: We’ve developed a curricula for learning more about LM design, which we’ll be starting on next week. Last week we did simulating to run the numbers and get estimates for motor size as a part of parameter analysis.

    Launch Tower Computer: The hardware-specific Git repo (launch-tower) now has a real issue list, with a few issues migrated over from launch-tower-comm. Also, we’re planning an intro to the LTC hardware meeting 11/9.

    Yuri’s Night: OMSI can’t run the event in April; we could, but we’d have to rent out the space. We could contact Oregon Space Grant about getting support.

    GPS: Board needs to be fixed to be fully compatible with SPY.

    Balloon: Working on getting a funding request in.

  • Oct 25 PSAS the Farmers Market

    PSAS will be at the PSU Farmers Market this Saturday from 8:00am to 2:00pm. We need your help at the the PSU booth talking to people about rockets! See signup below.

    Please sign yourself up for a slot:

    • Time slots:
      • 8:00 - 8:30 (setup): Theo, Will, Baker
      • 8:30 - 10:00: Theo, Will, Baker
      • 10:00 - 12:00: Theo, Will, Baker
      • 12:00 - 2:00: Theo, Will, Baker
      • 2:00 - 2:30 (teardown): Theo, Will, Baker
  • Oct 21 Tuesday Meeting Notes

    Crowdfunding update: Including a $2,000 donation from the Oregon IEEE, we’re made over $7,000 of our $10,000 goal! There’s 11 days left to raise funds, and we’ll be working on getting out a corporate fundraising video to solicit funds from Garmin and Boeing.

    Project updates:

  • Oct 15 Crowdfunding Update!

    The month of October is Portland State of Mind here at PSU. As part of the celebration many of the engineering clubs, including PSAS, are running crowdfunding campaigns.

  • Sep 29 Some GPS Success And Some Visualization

    We’ve had a couple more weeks of GPS study group meetings and slowly we’re starting to catch up on how GPS works.

    Notably we’ve taken our test data source and updated Jamey’s old GPS FFT cross cross-correlation code and successfully “found” several satellites in the noise!

    We spent last Tuesday meeting discussing how to use cross-correlation between the noisy radio recording a crafted ideal GPS signal to “look” for the hidden GPS data in the recording. This is based off of Andrew Holme’s GPS FFT work.

    In addition Nathan has started doing some visualizations of basic GPS encoding:

    GPS BPSK Visualization

  • Sep 13 PSAS at OMSI

    PSAS will be at OMSI’s Mini Maker Faire this Saturday and Sunday, (September 13-14), from 10am - 5pm. We need your help at the PSAS table in the PSU tent – come to OMSI and help us chat up people about PSAS! See the signup below.

  • Aug 26 Dave Gets His L3 And The Power Goes Out

    We had a very short meeting this evening - the facilities people were testing the back up generators in FAB at 8pm so we left FAB before then just in case we got caught in a blackout. Some quick updates:

  • Aug 26 GPS Study Group Meeting Notes

    It’s important to know that I may or may not have followed along correctly so these notes are just for reference. I hope they’re helpful!

  • Aug 18 Update on PSAS' "rocket room"

    As many of you know, PSAS’ “rocket room” located in FAB 84-16 has been, well, demolished. That space is being renovated for the “Center for Interconnected Devices”, which is the second incarnation of the Electronics Prototyping Lab (EPL) that’s currently in FAB 60-10. There’s good news and bad news here:

  • Aug 12 Meeting Notes

    This week Nathan showed off a couple of new results from vibration analysis from Launch 11. The carbon fiber team has decided that if they buy COTS parts for the missing pieces of the rocket they can make a late September/early October launch.

  • Aug 12 LV3 Test Flight Meeting 2

    Forty-six days to go! We’ve authorized buying a fiberglass nose cone. We made progress on the oven controller, the rail buttons, and more scheduling with each other. See below the jump for details.

  • Aug 12 GPS Study Group Meeting Notes

    We started off the study group with Jamey giving his presentation: The 20,000km view: How GPS works.

    Our plan is to meet every Tuesday except the 1st Tuesday of the month at 6pm before the PSAS meeting. We’ll meet through December 15th and we’re open to the public! We’re going to explore how to write a software-based GPS receiver using the raw data we get off the JennerGPS open source GPS RF front-end.

  • Aug 11 RasPi Onboard Video

    We posted our raspberry pi onboard video!

    Watch video on youtube

  • Aug 5 Tuesday Meeting Notes

    Just a few people showed up to our intro meeting at 6pm that Nathan led. And then everyone showed up at 7pm for the regular meeting. Some updates:

  • Aug 5 LV3 Test Flight Meeting 1

    PSAS had a mechanical engineering capstone team this past year that designed and built us most a new carbon fiber airframe for Launch Vehicle 3. Since PSAS is putting up the LV2.3 on Sunday, September 28th in Brothers, we gathered a pile of mechanical people to see if we could, in about fifty-five days, prepare the carbon fiber airframe for a test launch with minimal electronics on Saturday, September 27th.

    The short answer was yes, with teamwork and sufficient dollars.