Joe Barnard, amateur rocketeer and founder of Barnard Propulsion Systems (BPS), specializes in making flight hardware for others in the hobby, and is currently working on mastering propulsive landings for model rockets. This is the same principle that enables SpaceX to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets after boosting a payload to orbit. Thrust vectoring allows for control over the direction of a rocket’s engines during flight to change its trajectory and stabilize the vehicle, and Barnard is a pioneer in DIY thrust vectoring. Read more for two more videos (launch and landing).
In the beginning, Barnard had to teach himself not only the basics of rocketry, a complex mix of physics and chemistry, but also how to assemble hardware and write the software programs to control it, since he studied music in college. He said the hardest part was learning how to write the flight control software, which required him to learn programming languages like C++ and Swift.
“Barnard’s early flight computers were prototyped using off-the-shelf components and Arduino microcontrollers, but these days his flight computers consist of customized printed circuit boards with parts that are optimized for their task. Earlier this year, he launched his second iteration of the BPS avionics system, Signal, which he sells in thrust vectoring kits for $350 each,” reports Vice.