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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

K2GXT: The RIT Blimp

On Friday January 18, 2008 K2GXT RIT Amateur Radio Club flew a remote controlled blimp during the RIT vs. Sacred Heart hockey game. This is the first time the blimp has flown in about five years. The blimp was constructed in conjunction with RIT Aero Club and students (including K2GXT Members such as KC2LLT).

The RIT amateur radio club decided to resurrect the blimp and fly it during the hockey games again. We practiced flying before the game and planned to operate during intermissions between periods. The 12 foot blimp has roughly 3 oz of lift when filled with helium and has a 20 minute battery life. The batteries are recharged during the game when we are not flying.

When we first flew the blimp it was a great success, people absolutely LOVED it! The blimp was flown around the Ritter Ice Arena in a counter clockwise fashion, occasionally flying close to the ice. We apparently had fun "buzzing" Stu, the Zamboni driver after the game who had just about as much fun himself. While flying, we had some unexpected trouble that we did not experience while practicing. During the game, the air conditioning system was on and every few minutes our blimp would be thrown around by the air currents. This made flying the blimp very difficult during those times, especially with the turning and elevation control delay inherent with blimps.

We will be continuing to fly the blimp in future games and possibly other events around the RIT campus. We have plans to install amateur television equipment (ATV) and provide aerial video of the game, possibly down linking the video feed to ESPN Sportszone. K2GXT is committed to being an active club that benefits the RIT community with its actions.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Year Enrichment Project

My second quarter First Year Enrichment (FYE) teacher posed a nice challenge to us electrical engineering majors. We need to come up with an idea for an "Imagine RIT" display/idea for the upcoming festival in May 2008. We were not required to sign up for the event, rather complete proposals and if we want to, create a display for the festival.

The group I am in has decided on an idea that hit me over winter break as a technology that could be implemented at RIT. I have always had a keen interest in renewable energy and resources, so the idea benefits RIT and the environment in some way! I do not want to go into it with too much detail until our project is completed and we decide if we want to go further onto the festival.

We will try to propose to the RIT community on a way to use a solar based renewable energy source to provide a vital resource on campus with much more efficiency than is experienced now. Whether we go to the festival or not, we are taking it serious and have already contacted faculty to provide information needed to complete the project. If we do decided to build a small prototype to demonstrate the concept at the "Imagine RIT" we will seriously try to gain support and a backing to implement the technology.