An Intro to SHC

What is TwoMonth?

TwoMonth is SHC's introductory project for new members. A small team is tasked with building a balloon payload that meets the requirements of their given mission.  Teams can be asked to design anything from gliders to radiation detection payloads.

TwoMonth has its benefits. It teaches you valuable skills that you'll use later in SHC and later in your academic career. In addition, it strengthens your resume as a relevant hands-on project. It's also a short term project that lets you experience SHC without a big commitment.  

TwoMonth Timeline

A lot can happen in two months

TwoMonth Kickoff

At the beginning of the school year (typically around late August), we introduce new members to Space Hardware Club and the TwoMonth project

Team Selection Day

A few days later, we hold the team selection meeting. Teams are typically between 4-6 members, and every team has a current club member as a mentor. You pick your team! But don't worry if you don't know anyone, or only know 1 other person, etc. Each year we have multiple teams of strangers, so you're not alone for long. 

TwoMonth Classes Begin

While the project may seem like a daunting task, we help you through it by hosting classes on programming, electrical, and mechanical design. In addition our mentors work hard to give you feedback and answer any of your questions. 

Block Diagram Turn In

Within a couple weeks, you will submit the block diagram for your payload. The block diagram is like an essay outline, but for electrical componenets. You turn it in, then a team of mentors reviews it and gives you feedback. This makes sure you're on the right track before it's too late. 

Preliminary Design Review

About halfway through, you present your design to the club. This allows club members and mentors to check over your design and make sure it will be safe and effective. For many teams, this is also the first time programming, electrical, and mechanical designs come together. 

Schematic Turn In

If the block diagram is the outline, the schematic is the essay. In a schematic, you will go in detail about which components you selected, and how you're going to connect them. A mentor team reviews this too, to check if the components you're ordering are going to function in the way you've set them up. Don't worry if you don't know what a schematic is, we teach you in the classes.

Final Assembly

Once your schematic is passed, it's time to bring the entire payload together. Your team will be soldering components, duct taping chick-fil-a boxes, and debugging code until everything works. This is often the most time consuming phase of the project, and always teaches life lessons in system integration. 

Final Check 

Before you go the the launch site, your payload will be checked to make sure it meets the project requirements and is safe to fly. The tests typically include a pull test, a vacuum chamber test, and a visual inspection. 


After all your hardwork, it's finally flight time. Everyone gathers in the designated field and begins prepping the balloons. When night falls, we release the balloons and everyone cheers as they watch their hard work in action. 

Post Flight Review

Now that the hard part is over, you just have to sit down and analyze your flight data (or why you don't have any). You create one final presentation to summarize your payload and the results, and the things you would do differently if you could do it again. 


You've finished TwoMonth! Now that you've seen SHC operations, you can decide to move onto the next project or focus on other priorities. Either way, your resume is stronger for having a hands-on project. 

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