HIGH-SPEED TEST: Bloodhound project director Richard Noble (centre) with pilot Pierre Gouws and Bloodhound’s IT manager Sarah Covell after the high-speed comms test at Hakskeen Pan. Images: Newspress
HAKSKEEN PAN, Northern Cape - The Bloodhound Project officially started its 12-month countdown to its first land speed record attempt with a high-speed communications test at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa's Northern Cape province.
An L39 jet aircraft flew multiple passes over Bloodhound’s specially prepared desert track, synchronised with the new all-wheel-drive Jaguar F-Type R coupe driven by project director Richard Noble, and an XF sedan. The jet flew at closing speeds close to 800km/h - half the speed the jet-propelled Bloodhound SSC is expected to reach - the equivalent of R1000 miles per hour.
The cars carried the same equipment as will stream data, voice and images live from the Bloodhound Supersonic Car during test runs and record attempts in 2015 and 2016.
The event was attended by representatives of the Northern Cape provincial government, the project’s host in SA.
VIDEO: F-Type R, jet in high-speed comms test
The communications test saw Bloodhound take an important step towards fulfilling its ultimate goal: "to inspire a generation about science, technology and engineering by sharing a unique engineering adventure".
To that end, data from more than 300 sensors, plus three streams of video, will be transmitted live via a single channel from the jet and rocket-powered vehicle as it blasts across the bed of an ancient, now dry, lake in the desert during the test.
By way of comparison, a modern Formula 1 car transmits 150 channels of data over a single radio channel during a Grand Prix weekend. Each run by Bloodhound SSC will generate information equivalent to 125 MP3 music tracks played simultaneously.
4G LTE NETWORK
Beaming data at more than 1600km/h will push available communications technology to the limit. To meet the challenge, MTN and Poynting Antennas, the projects partners, created a 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network for the project.
The 800MHz signal is highly focused, rather than broadcast, to ensure the network has ‘link budget’ capable of streaming four Megabytes/second of data live from Bloodhound as it covers a kilometre every 2.25 seconds.
The signal was captured by Bloodhound engineers on the track. In 2015 and 2016, it will travel to the team’s Mission Control Centre and then be relayed to the nearest town, Upington, 130km away, to be uploaded online for viewing by schools, colleges and other audiences.
For the test, custom-made Poynting antennas with Sierra Wireless Air Prime embedded LTE modems were mounted on the Jaguar XF, replicating the kit which will be mounted in Bloodhound’s tail fin. Simulated Bloodhound SSC data and video from four high-resolution Stemmer Imaging cameras, equipped with unique lenses, was streamed live from the Jaguar XF during the high-speed passes.
READY FOR 2015
Driving in tandem was an F-Type Coupe carrying Emcom’s latest Digital VHF Radio technology, the equipment specially calibrated to ensure clear voice communication from the team to both driver Andy Green in the supersonic car and Jaguar’s two rapid response Vehicles. This ensured there were no frequency clashes across the spectra the team will be using across the 142 square km Hakskeen Pan.
Flying the full length of the track above the cars in the L39 Jet, Bloodhound’s IT manager Sarah Covell measured signal strength from the 60m tall solar-powered MTN mast 14.5km from the west of the track.
The test confirmed that the project’s entire radio infrastructure was now in place, ready for 2015 and the beginning of Bloodhound’s high-speed campaign. It was also testament to the outstanding support and expertise of Bloodhound’s partners in South Africa and the UK.
Cloick here to find out more visit the project's website.