UBC Rocket Team is a student team based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and are focused on developing a rocket for the Base11 Space Challenge. The rocket is a single stage rocket propelled by a liquid bi-propellant engine. In early July 2019, the UBC Rocket Team had their first engine hot fire, making UBC the first Canadian student team to hot fire a liquid engine. With their permission we have shared some of their results, images and direct feedback on our LabJack devices and accessories.
A core focus of the team is propulsion development as they are constructing their own engine in-house; this is where LabJack's DAQs help gain insight into the performance of UBC's engine designs. About a year ago, UBC Rocket was looking for DAQ system which could meet requirements of high data rates, flexible input configurations, and networking capabilities, all while being within the budget of a student-led project. LabJack supported UBC by sponsoring a LabJack T7 which was integrated into the engine test stand (see below image). The engine test stand is a mobile facility where UBC evaluates different engines or sub-components. The test stand is mainly comprised of an electrical control box, engine mount, fuel and oxidizer tanks, and supporting plumbing for pressurant systems, propellants, and pneumatic controls. The UBC team have sensors throughout the test stand for logging pressure, force, flow rates, and temperature. One of the most important parameters measured is the engine's thrust, recorded with a load cell that uses an LJTick-InAmp for excitation and amplification. They also have nearly a dozen pressure transducers throughout the plumbing. These provide critical data for their design process as they help predict flow rates, measure pressure drops between components, and understand combustion efficiency. Finally, UBC rocket uses have about a dozen thermocouples to monitor engine, fuel, and oxidizer temperatures.
At the time of publishing the UBC Rocket team is currently in the process of running short duration tests of both engine and igniter systems. The ultimate engine tests will run for up to one minute. It is important that the engineers are able to capture data at kilohertz (1 kHz) rates to gain the maximum insight from a test - this is one of the critical roles that the LabJack T7 fulfills. UBC's first control box had a single T7, but as their requirements have grown we have seen the addition of two CB37 expansion boards, the MUX80, and their next big step is the implementation of a T4 for dedicated high speed logging for thrust and key pressures. The ability to expand UBC Rocket's DAQ system is something that they have found particularly useful in the T7's support for expansion cards. Another feature that UBC Rocket team have found extremely useful is the software support for the T-series, the online documentation is "immaculate" and LJM library support across multiple languages is also helpful as they are able to easily work with many Python packages for data analytics.
You can follow the progress of the UBC Rocket Team on their website or social media links, they are very active and post great content!
Drop them a note of encouragement at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you have any sensors, fittings or other rocket related equipment for donation please consider helping them out. They also accept used hardware that can be repurposed and/or refurbished by their capable engineers in training.