From January through April 2017 the Perlan team kept a low profile while working on upgrades for the Perlan 2. Here's a partial list of improvements that are ready for Campaign Two in Argentina. Probably most significant is the ability to seal the cabin for pressurization while in flight. This allows air circulation with cooling and drier air during the hour-long tow from El Calafate. Now the desiccants can easily keep up with the increased humidity from two pilots wearing insulated cold weather flight suits. Jim developed the concept and Andrew Oullet designed the hardware. John Kregl from Automated Metals manufactured the parts for the new system, and Greg Scates installed and reinforced the new latches. Hangar testing went very well. The good news is that it worked flawlessly on the first test flight from Minden.
The next upgrade was a zoomable tail video camera. This allows the pilots to see the tow plane much better. Jim usually flies with eyeballs and the co-pilot can use the video "game" for tow. This was a new model that again worked the first time it was used in flight. Greg had to make a modified top of tail tip. It also houses a new 360 degree camera. We did find that both of the new cameras did not operate at -40 degrees. (Celcius equals Farenheit around -40) Thus, Morgan designed a heat option for both cameras. It will be installed and tested in Argentina.
Morgan also designed a heat system for the regulators for both air and oxygen bottles. That worked well on the test flight from Minden. We also applied heat to the battery on a temperature sensor and a controller. This heat requires more battery power.
A new company from Reno Battle Born Batteries sponsored us with 2 custom batteries with internal temperature sensors.
For the atmospheric scientists we decided we needed a much more accurate temperature probe which was very responsive.
Elizabeth recommended a contact of hers, Patrick Arnott to design and make the probe. Greg installed it under the wing near the intake/exhaust air probe for the cubesats in the science bay. We were very pleased with the performance and reporting of the new sensor.
In addition to working on the glider, there were two significant improvements to support Airbus Perlan Mission II. Tim Gardner spent many hours working on the Perlan 2 Simulator.
When intern Alec Guay came to visit Minden he also helped Tim on the sim. It was ready and available for SoaringNV wave camp participants to enjoy. In April we had a Perlan board meeting with Airbus participation in Minden so lots of the team could try out Tim's work.
Elizabeth wanted to have weather balloons launched from Argentina. This took a real team effort. Sandra used her contacts in Argentina to find what rules would apply. A NOTAM was required to notify airmen that these balloons would be flying near El Calafate and to high altitudes. Osvaldo helped get the NOTAM to right people. Ed got the required parachutes for the balloons. Sandra got the helium for them.
Another exciting upgrade will be the Virtual Cockpit. In near real time you can see on the website a moving map with glider position.
There are guages for altitude, lift rate (Vertical Velocity Indicator), airspeed, wind speed and direction, remaining percent of oxygen, and remaing percent of battery. The newest feature will be the ability to post real time infomational messages on the web page. Loris Gliner is the developer and he is our newest intern in Argentina.