AltOS - Building Amateur Rocketry Software

05/03/2013 - Keith Packard

Amateur rocketry enthusiasts build rockets somewhere between Estes and NASA sizes. Operating as sounding rockets, flights range from 1000m to more than 30km and are generally passively fin stabilized. Two of the significant challenges are deploying the recovery system components (generally parachutes) and providing tracking to locate the rocket after flight. Altus Metrum is a project building hardware and software for amateur rocketry, and AltOS is the suite of software running in the rocket avionics and on the ground to track and analyze the flight.

This talk will discuss the unique system challenges presented by rocketry, including high acceleration and speeds, automatic control of explosives and other flammable materials and the wide range of technical skills of the participants. Included will be a presentation of the hardware components used in the system and how that has driven the architecture of the AltOS flight software over four years of development. About the speaker Keith Packard has been developing open source software since 1986, focusing on the X Window System since 1987, designing and implementing large parts of the current implementation. He is currently a Principal Engineer with Intel's Open Source Technology Center. Keith received a Usenix Lifetime Achievement award in 1999 and sits on the X.org foundation board