Signal Avionics Splash.jpg
Signal Avionics Splash.jpg

Signal Avionics


Signal Avionics

The Signal Avionics system is a modular platform that makes model rockets safer by ensuring straight flights, every time.

The Signal flight computer houses a number of sensors in order to ensure accurate state-estimation onboard the vehicle. With this data, the computer outputs course-correction commands to a pre-built thrust vectoring mount, and/or a controlled canard assembly.

Gimbaling accuracy up to 0.25°

Developed though two years of iterative design, and tested to it's failure points to improve reliability, the gimbaled motor mount can keep almost any rocket on course. The mount can reliably actuate within ±5° on each axis and is proven to handle up to 25N of force axially, though more powerful motors will be tested to better characterize it's structural limits. After an unintended shock test, the mount was proven to withstand a ground impact of at least 23 m/s.

An early prototype of the gimbaling mount

A static test of the Signal gimbal system with an Apogee F10 motor

Near-instant response time

Signal's custom built flight computer and software allow for a control loop specifically catered to keeping flights on course, with minimal amounts of asymmetric forces and drag experienced by the vehicle. Active stability also allows for a more reliable prediction of apogee during flight, as weather cocking is prevented via control surfaces and/or the vectoring mount.

The last iteration of the "Fetch" flight computer, decommissioned after the wiring scheme it required became a safety hazard to the vectoring mount and comm reliability

Other features

The Signal flight computer carries 4 solid state pyro channels, multi-flight data-logging, altimeter with an asymmetric air pressure manifold, along with state indication LEDs and buzzers. The computer and subsequently all mechatronics are capable of being powered by 7.4V and up, though a 9V source is recommended. Documentation regarding total current draw and operating time will be known and drawn up once the final PCB design is complete. The Signal flight computer does not carry any GPS equipment. This is done in order to avoid confusion or concern about point-based guidance. The computer only aims to keep the rocket stable, and without GPS, cannot target a specific location.

Top-down view of a scrapped design for the Relay vehicle


Designs for the actively controlled canards are still in development and have not moved to testing yet. No concrete data on their capability or limits is known yet, but will be updated here as it becomes available. If development of the canard assembly begins to delay an otherwise on-time release of the kit, a version of the Signal Avionics system may be shipped with limited capability, only featuring thrust vectoring. That said, delays due to canard development are not anticipated. 


The Signal Avionics System is not yet for sale, as development and testing is still in progress. The system will be available in three varieties - thrust vector control, canard control, or both. A flight-ready kit will likely be available for purchase by the end of August 2017.

For general questions about the system, I can respond fastest via Twitter @joebarnard.

For business inquiries regarding partnership or otherwise, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of the About page.

Mid design of an older revision for the Signal flight computer's main housing

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