The last and final week came to a close. We had a short week of only two days. Monday was a nervous one as we had a our first poster session where I and all the other engineering REU students at UNL came together to present our posters. This was the first time that I have ever done anything like this, but it went smoothly. Tuesday came around and it was much more relaxing as we did the big poster presentation with all the REU students. This finished off our summer as we had an exiting party with the entire lab. It was nice of the professors to get us some food and bring everyone together one last time. This was a very exciting summer and I am sad to see it come to a close, but am ready for the next adventure, or school. Thanks to NIMBUS for a great summer.
The poster sessions are approaching as we near the tenth and final week. I put the finishing touches on my poster on Monday and sent it off to print at the Pixel Lab on campus. Then it was time to start my first research paper. It was tough getting started and finding the motivation to write, but once I read a few papers and started writing it became easier. I continued to work on the paper for the entire week and was able to finish a rough draft by the time Friday came around. On Wednesday all five of us REU students gave a presentation of our poster to Dr. Duncan to get some feedback on our poster along with our description of the data that our poster portrays. We now set out to the final week where we have a poster session on Monday for the engineering department and a poster session on Tuesday for the entire Summer Research Program.
The final week is approaching, which means that the poster presentation is almost here. I spent the week starting and finishing my poster that I will need to present during the last few days of the summer. It was a week of reflection and realization. I was able to look back on the summer and how quick that it went along with realizing how much I was a part of. It was a summer full of testing and problem solving. I enjoyed my time, and it was fun to be able to put all that i have done on a poster. I am excited to visit with people about the research that I was a part of, along with some of the work that I was able to witness by being in the NIMBUS lab. Now on to work on my research paper.
This was a big week. We were able to make it to Colorado last Friday to begin the week of flying as we profiled the atmosphere for a better understanding of the production of storms in the San Luis Valley. On Saturday, we had a media day at a small local airport just outside Alamosa, Colorado where the people of the valley had the opportunity to come and see all the unmanned aerial vehicles that were going to be flying around the valley. They were several schools here all with their own design of vehicles, whether it be a fixed wing aircraft or a multi-rotor aircraft like the vehicles that we took. The design of the housing that we put on the Matrice M600 interested a lot of people not only because of its very distinct appearance, but because Ashraful, a graduate student in the lab, designed it in such a way that reliable data could be collected on the ascent and descent. This differed from most designs on multi-rotor vehicles as they had to disregard the descent data due to mixing of the air. Moving into the week we flew every morning from Sunday through Thursday. It was a lot of fun and exciting to see the effects of the summer’s work in action even though the mornings became extremely earlier and earlier throughout the week. We began on Sunday by leaving at 6:30 in the morning to leaving at 4:00 in the morning on Thursday. The week flew by and we were even able to fit a little hiking in on Thursday and Friday. We hiked up four miles to a little lake that is buried in the mountains on Thursday, and it was worth all the pain I still feel in my legs as it was a pretty amazing site. Safe to say, I slept pretty well Thursday night and turning around Friday morning and early afternoon we all went on another hike in the sand dunes that formed near the mountains. This was a very interesting hike, and I learned that the straightest path is not always the easiest or best one. Overall, it was a great week filled with a lot of learning and fun times.
This was a busy week. Ashraful was out in Colorado presenting on his invention of the the housing that is going to be attached to the M600 Pro DJI drone that we are going to use to profile the atmosphere. This housing is used to prevent mixed air from running over the sensor to get the best data possible. I spent the week putting the rest of the four housings together along with testing the second matrice that we need to profile in Colorado along with the spare drone that we are taking. We also packed up hardware and spares of everything possible. We spent a few late nights packing up the truck to make sure everything would fit. With all the work throughout the week and the few long nights we were able to get the truck packed up to the max and taken off by Thursday. Time to fly!
Another big week is done and in the books. Colorado trip is only a week away for us and less than that for Ashraful, the mechanical engineering graduate student involved in designing the housing and such for the sensors. He is leaving this Monday as he is going down to present at the conference that is, as I have understood it, related to this testing. We have been getting ready to go all week, as I have been working with Ashraful on building the arms for the housing, by cleaning off a lot of 3-D prints and painting the materials that he has printed. I also worked with Amy to work towards using a cheaper sensor to replace the XQ or XQ2 sensors since these are very expensive. She took care of all the wiring stuff and figured out some code to read them and I drew up a very simple little piece to hold it on SolidWorks and then printed it, but I think the expensive sensors might be worth the money. This Wednesday was also the 4th of July, so I ran back home to Cozad for the festivities with my family at the lake. I then brought my motorcycle back on the fourth and barely beat the storm on my way. Coming in Thursday we continued to prepare and got ready for the test day on Friday. Ashraful spent a full night putting together all the pieces and we spent all day today, Friday, in the field. We set up as we are going to in Colorado, and went through making checklist and such to make the procedure fool proof and very organized. We had several challenges and mishaps but we are ironing out the problems and I feel much more prepared to travel out and collect data.
This week was a push towards getting ready for Colorado. Ashraful leaves on the 9th leaving us one more week to get everything ready for the big trip. We want the flight out in Colorado to not be controlled by a pilot so I looked into a few apps on tablets to see if any of these would have the ability to control the flight. I first looked into an application that a former grad student, Evan Beachly, made while he was here at UNL. This was a very user friendly program and worked great for flying the drone and mapping out a path, but for the job that we wanted done this application was not going to work. I then turned towards a DJI app called GS Pro. This did what we needed to as I could set a path for it to fly directly up and then turn around at any height up to 500 meters. This seemed to work perfect for what we needed it for even thought it was not the easiest application to use. I created a few missions on this app and we tested them on Thursday and it seemed to work pretty well. Along with getting the drone to be flown by an iPad, I began to start helping Ashraful build the rest of the fleet that we are taking out to Colorado as each drone needs two ‘arms’ that will hold the sensors that we are going to use.
This was a very eventful and quick week. I finally learned enough of ROS to be able to apply it to something useful. I was able to use ROS to read, organize, and store the data from a sensor that measured pressure, humidity, and temperature along with the GPS coordinates. Also, I used it to read a sensor that measured wind speed and temperature. This was a fun experience because on Friday, Ashraful downloaded the code that I had written and used it on the drone to do tests in the field. It was not as smooth sailing as I had hoped as my code had a few bugs in it because I found out that I did not completely understand the transmission that was coming from the sensor. Ashraful was able to find and fix the problems and at the end of the day it seemed to work. With our summer research program kids, we took a trip to the Omaha Zoo this weekend and then visited the Old Market downtown. It was a very fun weekend and was a great time to meet the other researchers better. I am very excited to see what this week is going to bring.
Getting into the second week of the summer, our group of five undergrad students began to work towards starting our piece of a project for the summer. We met with our faculty advisers at the start of the week and they gave us an idea of what we would be working on. I began to work towards a better understanding of ROS and the ability to apply it towards the modeling of the atmosphere project. I am working on being able to take data from several sensors on the drone that will be going up to 3000 feet and compiling and organizing the data to make it useful for the scientist that need it. Towards the end of the week, I finally was able to write a code that did nothing useful but was a start towards being able to use ROS to do a job that I need done. The best part of the week was that Amy, another REU student, and myself were able to join some graduate students to the field and observe them testing out their projects. We were also able to fly the large hexacopter, which was very stressful but was found to be easier than I expected as they were much more stable than the Hubsan drones.
Week #1 (6/4 – 6/8)
My name is Jason Finnegan, and I am a Nebraska native. Born and raised in the small town of Cozad, NE which is about two and a half hours west of Lincoln. Our town is most proud that we are built almost directly on the 100th Meridian. I grew up on a farm run by both of my parents as we grew corn and soybeans. I was a very stereotypical Nebraskan as I spent my weekends and summer in a tractor or in a field. Following high school I went to college in Hastings, Nebraska and attended Hastings College which is a small Liberal Arts college. I am majoring in physics with a minor in mathematics. I am very excited this summer to be a Husker and be able to work in the NIMBUS lab here at UNL. I hope to be able to apply some of the skills I have learned through my education along with learn new ones that will help me later on as I try to become an engineer.
The first week of the Student Research Program here at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln went by fast. Every morning was filled with informational meetings ranging from the programs on the campus to Title IX to what graduate school is like. All these got us ready for a safe and enjoyable life here this summer on the campus. We entered the NIMBUS lab which is better known as the Drone Lab. We learned about the basic parts of a drone and how these parts are utilized to make these machines fly. We then continued and strengthened our knowledge by building a drone ourselves from a prepackaged kit by DJI. After constructing the drone, software was downloaded onto the computer, PixHawk, of the drone. This software was obtained through a program called Mission Planner that we downloaded directly from the internet. After using this software to calibrate the drone and make sure everything was assembled and downloaded correctly, the ex-Navy helicopter pilot, Adam, of the group took over and tuned up the drones to allow for a smooth flight. Along with this, I had a very tough time downloaded ROS onto my computer as AJ said that it was because I made the mistake and use Windows. I was able to get it to finally work, with a lot of help from AJ by running Ubuntu – Linux on Virtual Box and putting ROS on this virtual hard drive. Finishing up the week, I am studying and going through tutorials of how to use ROS.