TeleLaunch — Multi-channel Wireless Launch Controller System

TeleLaunch is secure radio-controlled rocket launch system capable of operating up to 792 pads from a single controler. A typical TeleLaunch system consists of one LCO board and one or more pyro boards.

TeleLaunch uses a two-way digital radio communications system for positive indication of all operations. The communications link is secured with AES CBC-MAC to prevent accidental or intentional operation from unauthorized transmitters.

TeleLaunch operates in the 70cm amateur band at low power using Altus Metrum's proven modulation and coding schem to avoid interference with any rocketry electronics or other communication devices.

All boards in the TeleLaunch system are easily configured using USB for parameters like operating frequency, callsign, cryptographic key, and in the case of pyro boards the designated bank number.

Launch Control Boards

All launch control boards in the TeleLaunch system are designed to use a lithium polymer battery that can be recharged over USB. They support distinct arm and fire switches, continuous indication of igniter continuity, and have super-bright LED indicators for remote arming, continuity, and RF link quality plus an audible indication of arming.

TeleLCO

TeleLCO controls up to 100 TeleFire banks, comes packaged in a rugged case, and is typically placed on a table for use by the designated LCO.

  • Large 1.36 inch LCD display for selected bank and pad

  • Rotary knob for pad selection

  • Packaged in Pelican 1170 orange box

Note that while the photo of the prototype above gives a good feel for many of the system features, production units will have several changes. We're moving to a bright orange Pelican box, instead of separate knobs for bank select and pad select there will be one knob with in-built push button, there will be 8 continuity LEDs instead of 4, and the choice and placement of switches is changing.

In production versions, drag races are supported with a separate normal/drag mode selection switch, drag mode LED, and select pushbutton. Channels that are included in the current drag race selection have blinking continuity indicators.

The TeleLCO hardware design is available from git.gag.com in the project hw/telelco.

TeleLCOTwo

A small LCO board capable of handling up to two TeleFireOne pyro boards, or one channel each on TeleFireEight boards. TeleLCOTwo is ideal for individuals or clubs that have an existing launch control system but want to use TeleLaunch for an "away" launch cell.

TeleLCOTwo is configured in advance by USB to know which two pyro channels it should interact with, and then a simple rocker switch selects between the two during use.

TeleLCOTwo comes packaged in a weather-sealed polycarbonate box with switches on one face, and BNC antenna connector and USB connectors through the box walls. It can be placed on a table, but is typically hand-held during operation.

The TeleLCOTwo hardware design is available from git.gag.com in the project hw/telelcotwo.

Pyro Boards

Each pyro board in the TeleLaunch system uses FET technology for lowest possible resistance paths, allowing maximum current to be reliably delivered from the power source to the igniter leads. TeleFire boards can be powered by any 10-15V supply. This would typically be a 12V lead acid battery, but 3-cell lithium polymer packs used in RC aircraft are also suitable.

Each board features:

  • Continuity Detection. Igniter continuity uses a low-current sensing system which sends only 100µA through the igniter to prevent false ignition.

  • Super-bright LEDs for continuity, arming and RF quality indicators.

  • Strobe and Siren. TeleFireFour has two 12V medium current (5A) outputs to drive a siren and strobe light when the launch system is armed and ready to fire.

  • Local arming switch. When in the safe position, power is completely disconnected from the igniter circuits to prevent any possibility of the LCO accidentally engaging firing circuits during rocket preparations at the pad.

  • Each board is designed to fit in a standard Hammond weather-sealed polycarbonate enclosure with weather-sealed rocker switches for power and arming plus cable glands for DC input cable and igniter output cables. Alternatively, boards can be configured to mount in the user's choice of enclosure, such as a metal ammo box or larger NEMA enclosure with space for the user's choice of external connectors.

TeleFireOne

TeleFireOne is a pyro board supporting a single igniter circuit. This makes TeleFireOne ideal for individuals, launch trailers, or for "away cells" at larger club launches.

All high-current connections are made on the board using standard 1/4-inch spade lugs, with screw terminals for the siren and strobe. This allows for easy packaging and quick board swaps.

The photo above is of an early prototype, the design has changed slightly since then. It is still possible to package the board as shown in a Hammond polycarbonate box, but metal ammo boxes are a credible alternative. The two switches are for power on/off and safe/arm. The two cables are for DC power in and igniter leads out.

The TeleFireOne hardware design is available from git.gag.com in the project hw/telefireone.

An alternate load of the TeleFireOne including support for data logging sensors from a rocket motor test stand is available as a separate TeleStatic product. A TeleStatic board can be used as the equivalent of a TeleFireOne when not in use with a test stand.

TeleFireEight

TeleFireEight has eight igniter circuits, making it ideal for use at club launches. Larger clubs or launch site setups can use multiple boards to organize the site into multiple banks with up to 8 rockets each.

All connections are made on the board using 1/4-in spade lugs for eash packaging and quick board swaps.

The above photo shows the unpopulated circuit board for the first version of this design, it will be replaced with a photo of a packaged version when we have a prototype completed. In the meantime, see the photo of a packaged TeleStatic board for a rough idea of what we're planning, except that there will be 4 AC outlets with flip-lid covers on each long face of the ammo box with per-pad LED continuity indicators in the top cover.

The TeleFireEight hardware design is available from git.gag.com in the project hw/telefireeight.

Documentation

Not written yet.

Software

TeleLaunch firmware is part of the larger AltOS suite of software.

Availability

Several prototype systems have been built and successfully deployed. Lessons learned from use of those systems are currently being incorporated into new board revisions, and general availability of the system for sale is expected in the first half of 2018. Watch this space for updates on price and availability.

Licenses

TeleLaunch hardware is licensed under the TAPR Open Hardware License

TeleLaunch software is licensed GPL version 2