The iPhone Rocket: The Story (and Data) Of How An iPhone Hit 1300ft


Michael Koppelman – an iPhone developer and model rocket enthusiast – decided to combine his hobbies by launching an iPhone into the skies with his very own “iPhone rocket.” Mobile Orchard’s Dan Grigsby interviewed Michael on his experiment (see Flash video below or go to the video at Vimeo).

No video above? Watch the iPhone rocket video directly at Vimeo.

alt-chart-2.pngPowered by a Aerotech G80-13 engine, the rocket reached some 440m (1312 feet) in altitude (or 200m in relative altitude) before heading back to the ground. Michael developed an iPhone application that constantly polled the iPhone’s GPS and accelerometers, logging them to a file, as well as sending GPS data over the Web so that the unit could be easily located if it became lost.

f1_accel.pngMichael shares lots of interesting technical (and some less than technical) information during the interview, including:

  • how he polled the GPS and accelerometer
  • the lag between the GPS and the actual position of the rocket
  • how network access blocked polling – and how this affected the experiment
  • how the accelerometer only reported 3G (seriously!) instead of the expected 17G
  • and more..

Michael has written a prelude blog post that covers the motivation and the basics of the experiment. He’s also written a more in-depth post with a look at the data received from the iPhone while it was in flight – along with a 3D rendition of the GPS data and accelerometer information.


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