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 Post subject: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:52 am 
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Parachute Packer
Parachute Packer

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:57 am
Posts: 15
Location: Perth
OK, Lets try this Whooshtronics mentoring idea out a bit.

This project does not exist at the moment so its being built from the ground up. So here is the idea:

What I want to do is come up with an electronic gizmo that controls a parachute to return the descending vehicle to the launch point. The idea is that:

    1: The rocket is placed on the launch pad.
    2: The GPS Sytem takes a reading and works out where it is.
    3: The Rocket leaps into space.
    4: The parachute and device deploys.
    5: The system reads the then current GPS Co-ordinates and works out a course to get back to the initial point.
    6: The system uses a sail winch servo to pull two of the parachute shroud lines to "steer" the parachute on to the required course.
    7: Repeats steps 5 and 6 until the assembly touches down.
    8: Reduce the amount of walking that I have to do as, I have unfortunately developed arthritis in one knee and a foot.

In preparation for this I have already built the parachute. Its just a boring hemispherical chute with some interesting cut outs at the rear of the chute.

Image

These cutouts provide a reasonable amount of forward movement in the chute. This one has a 3:1 sink rate for the target vehicle and should move forward at around 5kmh on a still day.

If the winch servo covers the outer vents it should allow the chute and attached rocket to do a 360 degree turn in a 50 metre radius while sinking around 80 metres (Reasonable figures but need to be tested).

There are actually two reasons for wanting to do this. One is that it reduces the amount of walking that I do recovering a rocket, but the main one is that, I want to steer the rocket to a position 75 metres above ground and 25 metres downwind of the target touchdown site. At 75 Metres I want the parachute to turn the assembly into the wind with no further deviations in course. This should cause the vertical descent rate to slow, and the horizontal speed to be as low as possible (taking into account wind speeds on the day)

What this means is that the assembly will hit the ground at the lowest possible vertical and horizontal speed and cause the least amount of damage to the vehicle and whatever happens to be at the touchdown point.

Now, here is the problem. In effect, it is a guidance system on a model rocket but on the descent (unpowered) stage not the ascent which is contrary to a lot of guided systems suggested.

At the moment, my idea on going forward is to launch a vehicle with the new chute with a steering port covered and make sure that it comes down in a circular fashion with a forward airspeed and go onto stage 2 from there (Simple RC control).

What are your thoughts on this and would it be something that you would be interested in?


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:12 am 
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Rocket Flyer
Rocket Flyer

Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 11:49 pm
Posts: 83
Location: Melbourne
Nice idea, with practical uses too.

I have used a pocket kite as a recovery system for a lightweight low power rocket. No control, but a very nice spiral decent.

Might be worth a try if you want a better glide angle, can find a big enough kite and the extra horisontal velocity is not a problem.

Good luck!

_________________
Motors to the fore. Let the air through the rocket. Fins are a drag. The paint is the payload.


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:39 am 
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Engineer
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:19 am
Posts: 775
Location: Montreal, Canada
Hi Mike,

There's alot of merit to a guided recovery type rocket, saves the feet, saves the rocket and ensures recovery.

Most of our rockets on descent tend to spin / orbit around the shock chord, my assumption is it is the aerodynamic affect of the airflow (20 ft/sec) over the fins are spinning the body.

If the GPS and controls where mounted in the body of the rocket they may have a hek of a time holding a constant course ? The GPS would be attempting to input control movement to the chute to track to the required destination as well as attempting to correct for the spinning.

Regards,

_________________
Rob Winchcomb
QRS# 053
QRC# 052
TRA# 12746 (L2)
CAR# S1090 (L3)


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:00 am 
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Rocket Flyer
Rocket Flyer

Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 11:49 pm
Posts: 83
Location: Melbourne
Good point Rob,

Spinning would also be bad for the servo pulling on the control lines.

I know you already have the shute so try it and see. Maybe fix the control lines at first and see if you can achieve a slow spiral without spinning, then bring in the RC.

If spinning it is a problem you could use the kind of "flying air-bed" shute design that base jumpers use.

My pocket kite system had no problem with spinning, in fact once a horizontal velocity was established, the whole assembly was very stable, tracing out a nice wide helix. A good thing about the controllable kites is that there are only two lines - simpler. If you want you can spin them 5 times one way then unwind by going five times the other way.

The rocket stabilised the kite by being its tail, and the kite stabilised the rocket by giving is a constant slow air speed. As the assembly glided, the fuselage was at about 45deg, fins at the back of course.

One more thought, even if the rocket is always in range of the RC, it might not be visible enough to know if you are steering it the right way, so how about use a drone signal as a “come to Mummy” way to bring baby back in the right initial direction from apogee.

If you need a generic name for the system, how about (SS/LSLRS) Small Space / Limited Shoe Leather Recovery Systems? LSLRS may be enough for you, I added the Small Space because this kind of system also has potential for opening up launch areas which look more like a big clearing in a forest.

I have an interest in the small space idea since doing a rocket talk to as rover group (with great help from the forum), they had a 50m by 50m area for a demo (which did not happen), but I set a challenge to the LPR fliers at the last Rocketfest in Melbourne to design a suitable rocket and we got some very interesting results.

Let us know how it goes.

_________________
Motors to the fore. Let the air through the rocket. Fins are a drag. The paint is the payload.


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:12 pm 
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Parachute Packer
Parachute Packer

Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:57 am
Posts: 15
Location: Perth
For the "flying air-bed" shute design check out this guy: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mihawkler#p/u/9/MVVtZJjTmWw

This is a Ram air chute and personally one of my favourites. It has the downside that deployment is a little less straightforward than a hemispherical chute, so for now I will keep it as simple as possible.

The anticipated "Parachute steerer" is to be attached to the harness of the chute, not the rocket body. Spinning and tangling would be simply too large a concern. The rocket is attached to the harness through a swivel so it can spin as much as it wants and shouldn't upset things too much.

There is also an option of installing a spreader bar to separate the shroud lines into a left and right hand side bunch separated by say 50mm.

This parachute http://en.wikivisual.com/images/e/e6/USMC_Paratrooper.jpg has most of the components that we are discussing. You can see the steering vents, line grouping left and right and a spreader bar (the guys shoulders)


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:45 am 
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Engineer
Engineer
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:19 am
Posts: 775
Location: Montreal, Canada
Hi Mike,

The swivel makes sense !

I like the clip, especially the use of the feet in the packing process :D

You also answered my next question in that the weight of the rocket will be supported by the main shroud lines and then the steering mechanism will have its own shroud lines to control the chute 'venting'.

I look forward to seeing your progress - may have to dust of my RC gear as well.

Regards,

_________________
Rob Winchcomb
QRS# 053
QRC# 052
TRA# 12746 (L2)
CAR# S1090 (L3)


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:31 am
Posts: 597
Location: New Jersey, USA
Buzzard wrote:
OK, Lets try this Whooshtronics mentoring idea out a bit.

This project does not exist at the moment so its being built from the ground up. So here is the idea:

What I want to do is come up with an electronic gizmo that controls a parachute to return the descending vehicle to the launch point. The idea is that:

    1: The rocket is placed on the launch pad.
    2: The GPS Sytem takes a reading and works out where it is.
    3: The Rocket leaps into space.
    4: The parachute and device deploys.
    5: The system reads the then current GPS Co-ordinates and works out a course to get back to the initial point.
    6: The system uses a sail winch servo to pull two of the parachute shroud lines to "steer" the parachute on to the required course.
    7: Repeats steps 5 and 6 until the assembly touches down.
    8: Reduce the amount of walking that I have to do as, I have unfortunately developed arthritis in one knee and a foot.

In preparation for this I have already built the parachute. Its just a boring hemispherical chute with some interesting cut outs at the rear of the chute.

Image

These cutouts provide a reasonable amount of forward movement in the chute. This one has a 3:1 sink rate for the target vehicle and should move forward at around 5kmh on a still day.

If the winch servo covers the outer vents it should allow the chute and attached rocket to do a 360 degree turn in a 50 metre radius while sinking around 80 metres (Reasonable figures but need to be tested).

There are actually two reasons for wanting to do this. One is that it reduces the amount of walking that I do recovering a rocket, but the main one is that, I want to steer the rocket to a position 75 metres above ground and 25 metres downwind of the target touchdown site. At 75 Metres I want the parachute to turn the assembly into the wind with no further deviations in course. This should cause the vertical descent rate to slow, and the horizontal speed to be as low as possible (taking into account wind speeds on the day)

What this means is that the assembly will hit the ground at the lowest possible vertical and horizontal speed and cause the least amount of damage to the vehicle and whatever happens to be at the touchdown point.

Now, here is the problem. In effect, it is a guidance system on a model rocket but on the descent (unpowered) stage not the ascent which is contrary to a lot of guided systems suggested.

At the moment, my idea on going forward is to launch a vehicle with the new chute with a steering port covered and make sure that it comes down in a circular fashion with a forward airspeed and go onto stage 2 from there (Simple RC control).

What are your thoughts on this and would it be something that you would be interested in?


Buzzard,

This is a very interesting concept. It's something that I think is also very approachable. #1 - It not going to cost an arm and a leg to prototype, #2 - The electronics & mechanics should be relatively straight forward. In my opinion the real work is going to be done in the testing of software and guidance algorithms (which coincidentally is also the fun part!)

I've been thinking about this concept for sometime now - I work for a small aerospace company, Honeybee Robotics in NY (Manhattan) and so I have a relatively decent background in electronics and controls. There also happens to be another small aerospace company, Atair in NY (Brooklyn) that develops guided payload systems for the US military. If anything else, they've proven that the concept works .. watch their YouTube videos, they are pretty cool.

My opinion is that a guided parachute recovery system is, from a hardware stand-point shouldn't be all that complicated and it should also be a relatively scalable device. Bigger payloads means bigger parachutes and consequently bigger actuators, etc. The core avionics though shouldn't change much. Anyway, I've started to rough out my ideas and thoughts on to 'paper.' Below is a link to few slides that summarizes what I envision for the project. I would be very interested in to hear your feed-back.

http://www.mikepassaretti.com/Guided Parachute Recovery 23APR11 M.Passaretti.pdf

Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Rocket Crew
Rocket Crew

Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 3:52 pm
Posts: 215
We are shortly to do trials for AMSA with radio controlled chutes for our SAR loads and soon they will be GPS controlled the idea is we will drop loads from around 10000ft instead of 200ft like we do now. The chute controllers have been developed by AMSA with off the shelf components.


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 3:25 pm 
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Engineer
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:21 pm
Posts: 1278
Location: Noble Park, Vic, Australia
This is a cool looking chute:
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... duct=14284
And could be a good contender for steerable recovery :)

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http://www.therocketryshop.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 6:03 pm 
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Engineer
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Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:37 am
Posts: 803
Location: Hawkesbury Region, NSW
Mike et al,

Looks like a great project and indeed doable.

When time permits (next year ???) I'd love to build a system such as you've described as well.

Defintely a good thing to have for more valuable payloads.

CS


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 12:55 pm 
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Juicy Fruit
Juicy Fruit

Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:57 am
Posts: 400
Location: Perth, WA
Having done a huge amount of work with control theory and autopilot systems in the past 5 years, I thought I'd pitch in :)

Your rocket body is going to have to be at least 120mm wide to control for the 2m HK parachute, and your rocket will have to be at least 1kg. The biggest issue I can see being faced here is the chute itself. There are a lot of lines, so having it always come out untangled will be quite a feat I think. At the very least, you would want a dual deployment and avionics that can detect when this chute has come out buggered so it can deploy a regular chute.

The control theory for return to home is about as simple as it gets. It's un-powered which makes it even more simple - you just need enough angle of attack to be able to punch into winds. A very basic PID loop would do what you want, and be simple to tune and implement.

If you want to sell (sell, as in make profit of any kind) and have it available outside of Australia, I strongly suggest you consult a Lawyer. It may seem like a simple return to home device to us, however I call tell you it's not :) Things like this are in a greyzone on Arms Export Control. Thankfully our government is much nicer with this stuff than America and it's ITAR/AECA regulations.

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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:23 am 
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Location: New Jersey, USA
L3 aside, it's time to further the development of a guided parachute recovery system.

The goal I set for myself is to design and prototype a proof of concept guided parachute recovery system that increases the chances of recovering a payload within the boundaries of the designated launch field. The target will almost always be the 'center' or sweet spot of the launch field.

This weekend (at Scoop's) I started building the mechanism for electronically controlling a parachute or parafoil. The electronics design is being finalized, and a suitable GPS receiver is still sought. I'm also still evaluating a few different parachute/parafoil's. I will use the forum to post my progress, and also to seek input from those interested in assisting me.

In a nutshell, here is my approach - I will be using a standard 4" coupler tube as my mechanical envelope. There will be bulkheads at the top and bottom of the coupler tube to serve as end caps. The overall height of the cylinder will (likely) be driven by the stroke required to drive the parachute. The system will consist of the following key functional components:

1) Steerable parachute/foil - Custom parafoils, RC skydiving chutes, modified hemispherical chutes & parafoil kites.
2) 1 or 2 sail winch hobby servos - HiTec HS-785HB
3) GPS receiver - LOCOSYS LS2003x,?
4) Control board - TI MSP430 MCU, Baro sensor, servo drive, GPS r/w
5) Battery power pack, LiPo's
6) Mechanical structure, 98mm OD tube x 4-8"L

For initial tests, I will look for a "ride" on suitable 4" or larger airframes, altitudes >1kft. A simple 4" vehicle may need to be built. The GPR payload will be ejected and allowed to fall on it's own separate from the lift vehicle. Simple, light weight H or I class rocket vehicles are targeted to keep cost & complexity down. Target payload weight is <1lb, which will keep the size (and complexity) of the parachute/foil to a minimum. I fully expect it will take dozens of flights to tune the system. My hunch is that the biggest variables will be tuning and selecting the proper guidance approach (tacking vs. spiraling, etc.) as well as parachute/foil configurations for given environmental conditions.

Will post images/video of the mechanical assembly next weekend. The Grass Valley launch on Sept. 4 is my target for initial testing.

Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:32 am 
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The mechanical & electrical design of the GPR system is pretty well fleshed out. I'm waiting on parts to come in, but hope to test the functionality of the servo spool / steering linkage by this time next week. A GPS receiver (u-blox 5H core) has been ordered and should be in on Wednesday. The controller board parts should also be in next week or the following. The firmware for the board is taking shape, and should be fully roughed out by the end of the weekend.

Dave continues to allow me to work out of his shop as well as provide endless ideas and support. Steve stopped by today to pick-up White Trash, saw what we were doing, left and came back with a parafoil for me to borrow! Drew has graciously signed on to provide the GPR a ride at Grass Valley next month. His 4" Thug (w/ an added length of BT) will serve to push the system to approx. 1500' on an H180, and ~2500' on a I211. A Whoostronics uMAD will be used to push everything out at the top (PK doesn't know it yet but he just donated this to the GPR effort). The rocket booster, GPR payload and nosecone will all come down on separate parachutes. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) It decreases the possibility of tangling the payload with a tethered booster/nosecone, 2) The two unguided payloads (booster,nosecone) will use similar style parachutes and equivalent descent rates. The idea is for them to act as controls. Their landing positions will be recorded and compared to that of the GPR. Ultimately this will could be used to measure effectiveness and or success.

The controller will consist of the following components:
1x Microcontroller - MSP430F2132 (slightly limited program memory, but will still serve the proof-of-concept goals)
1x GPS Receiver Serial Port
1x Servo Drive PWM Output
1x External Memory - SD Card Slot (Whooshtronics - you rock PK)
1x Bosch BMP085 Barometric Pressure Sensor (on Sparkfun break-out-board)
1x 3.3VDC LDO Linear Regulator (logic supply)
1x 4.8VDC LDO Linear Regulator (servo supply)

I've fleshed out a simple 2D "heading control" algorithm. It does not consider relative elevation, velocity or distance to target. Instead it simply tries to keep the payload's heading as close to the target heading as possible (dead band defines acceptable error). The basic algorithm is defined as follows:

Actual Heading - measured by GPS receiver module [degrees]
Actual Position - measured by GPS receiver module [lat,long]
Target Position - measured by GPS receiver module or manually set prior to take-off [lat,long]
Target Heading - calculated from Target Position wrt Actual Position [degrees]
Dead Band Angle - Accepted deviation from target heading [degrees]. Manually set prior to take off
Error Angle - calculated difference between Target Heading and Actual Heading [degrees]

Heading: North = 0, East = 90, South = 180, West = 270 degrees (N-E-S-W direction is designated clockwise)

A steering command RIGHT results in a CLOCKWISE move
A steering command LEFT results in a COUNTER-CLOCKWISE move

Servo position fully clockwise is 1.9ms (or 90%DC)
Servo position neutral is 1.5ms (or 50%DC)
Servo position fully counter-clockwise is 1.1ms (or 10%DC)
Servo velocity (@4.8v) 1.68sec/360deg, 214.38deg/sec, 1.75rev * 1.68sec = 2.94sec
From Neutral position, the response time of the servo to full CW or CCW is +/-2.94sec.

Pseudo Code:

Read Target Position (fixed)

Execute the following code @ (~1/5 to 2Hz): {

Read Actual Position (available at 2Hz max)
Read Actual Heading (available at 2Hz max)
Calculate Target Heading
Calculate Error Angle

if (Target Heading - (Dead Band Angle / 2) > Actual Heading) //If true steer RIGHT
Servo Position = 1.5[ms] + ((Error Angle / 180) * 0.4[ms]) //Proportional gain only, Kp is essentially 1/180 but
else if (Target Heading + (Dead Band Angle / 2) < Actual Heading) //If true steer LEFT
Servo Position = 1.5[ms] - ((Error Angle / 180) * 0.4[ms]) //Proportional gain only, Kp is essentially 1/180
else if
Servo Position = 1.5[ms] // Neutral
} //end psuedo

I intend to test this algorithm (and others) by feeding the system actual GPS flight data, and observing how the servo (parachute) responds in real-time.

I welcome all thoughts and suggestions!

Mike


Attachments:
IMG_4098_.jpg
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50 Channel GS407 Helical GPS Receiver.jpg
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File comment: Steve's HobbyKing Parafoil
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File comment: Example of some wire rope that will be tested.
IMG_4104_.jpg
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File comment: The HDPE spool is necessary for a few reasons, but mainly because it is difficult to ensure the spool will work properly without line tension. Covering the spool will serve to constrain the steering linkage (wire rope)
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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:01 am 
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...
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Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:07 pm
Posts: 1684
Location: Perth
I reckon you really need an integral term in your control loop. It's the only way to compensate for wind drift. If you stick with the simplistic (Kp only) approach then you'll always have a heading error proportional to sin(theta).V whiter theta is the angle between the wind heading and your desired course. While you're there, you might as well add Kd.
Every time I do a control app and start with "I'll keep it simple and just use a single term" I always seem to end up with all three (and usually something to deal with integral wind-up, and a feed forward term too).

If it were me, I'd be using the first few launches to develp and validate a model of the control response. Eg, for a given descent rate, what's rate of turn do I get for 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% actuation. Then repeat for maybe 3 descent rates.
In these flights, the GPS is just logging.
Armed with this information you can now develop a model of your whole system and have a pretty good go at setting the gains.

Our take away message from the magnetometer experiments was that it's VERY hard to get enough flight time to tune the loops empirically.

Watch out for gps heading error too. Some GPS' give errors at low speeds. There are some cheap magnetometers that might help.
PK


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 Post subject: Re: Parachute Steering
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:20 am 
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Engineer
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Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:37 am
Posts: 803
Location: Hawkesbury Region, NSW
This might be a good case for a fuzzly logic implementation.


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