Towing test

Georg writes

While all the others are writing on the Documentation for the critical design review which has to be finished tomorrow I am trying to keep you up to

Mario & Mikko running facing the Parachute in the pickup

date on what happened during the last couple of days.

And the most important thing was probably the towing test. On Wednesday last week more or less the whole team gathered to do a drag test at Tierp Airfield a bit north of Uppsala. The goal of this test was to investigate the deployment of the parachutes and to find a working folding technique.

Gustav is adjusting the RIG

In order to be able to do the test we all had a busy Monday, Mario and Gustav built a rig to mount the FFU onto the car and I had to produce something to attach it in different angles. Unfortunately the mounting device from bent aluminium wasn’t as stable as I expected it to be.

However, after some starting problems with broken swivels and opening problems a couple of runs worked out quite well, the chute deployed when it was mounted with the attacking wind. The two tested folding techniques seem to work equally good and parachutes seem to work fine.

There is already another towing test being planned in order to refine the results a bit, I hope this time the attachment will work a bit better…

Model rocket launches at Barnens Ö

Jacob writes

Back in April, David and me from SQUID and Johan and Erik from LAPLander headed out to Barnens Ö with Nickolay. It’s an island some distance from Stockholm, and in the summer it hosts camps for kids from the city. This time however, it hosted a camp for kids interested in astronomy held by the Egna Vingar foundation. We went there to talk about our projects, while Nickolay talked a bit about space weather. We got a lot of appreciation, and were even asked if we could come present more in the future. 😀 We also met a fellow space-blogger, Frida. Visit her blog at Frida och Stjärnorna (in Swedish)!

Erik had built two model rockets for the event, and we saw it as a great opportunity to try out our little shock-proof HD-camera. I’ve had the video for a while, but I thought it was high time I uploaded it!

The second rocket has an absolutely huge motor, and it was a pity it was so foggy. Erik estimated it might’ve reached an altitude of a 1000 meters!

I wanted to do the launches in slow-motion, but Windows is woefully ill-equipped for video editing and I didn’t have time to hunt around for better programs. 😦

Motors delivered and tested

Last week our motors for the SCALE system was finally delivered. As many of you may know I’ve been rather involved with trying to get our motordriver to work. At first we made a first version which we after some weeks of testing and tuning finally got to work.

Motorstyrningskretsen som den såg ut i version 1

Motordriving v.1

However during the tests we noted that there where plenty of parts in the circuit which could be simplified. So after some final test, that proved that the first version worked  with a similar motor to ours, we decided to make a new version. The new version in its turn where acctually quite delayed mainly becaus a simple mistake when reading the specification of the comparator used in the circuit.

Motordriver v.2

Motordriver v.2

About two weeks ago I finally  made it work, just in time for the delivery of the new motors. So now we’ve tryed the motors both with the new driver, proving that it works, as well as with the older version of it, which we have in two copies enabling us to actually run the motor since it makes use of two motors.

Two motors

The new motor, which we're actually going to use, to the lest and the old one, which has been used for testing to the right

Untangling the rat's nest

Mark writes

Over the past while Nickolay and I have been making the finishing touches on the SMILE board and running some tests and modifying the firmware of the previous LAPLander model. With the SMILE board is just about ready for production, the focus has shifted to my other responsibilities in SQUID, namely the SMILE interface board and the Uniprobe/EFP board.

The completed SMILE board

As Mónica has mentioned previously, the components have been placed and after much deliberation we have settled on the positioning of the external and internal connectors. This is quite critical because it affects the physical structure of the ebox and also the placement of components on the boards, so we have had to play tennis with Jiangwei to decide what is possible and what is not.

Only a few more connections left to route.

Even with this decided, I soon discovered the uniprobe board was incredibly packed and shifted the FPGA and memory up to the SMILE interface board, requiring yet another connector between the two boards. This freed up quite a lot of space although, as you can see, it is still pretty tight. There are over 2500 connections in SQUID and it seems like more then half of them are on the uniprobe board alone. It is an incredible challenge to get everything routed while doing one’s best to stick to good design principles, but it is also a lot of fun. Of course this will need some iteration to get it just right, but we’ll get there.

Team SQUID Del 10 – Linus Ericsson

Now George joined and working hard on the mechanics, but the SQUID needs further care. Linus Ericsson joins the team for helping out with the electronics and software inside the medium sized metal can.

Linus on skitrip to the Esrange area (always these vacation pictures)


Hello Linus! How old are you, and where are you originally from?

I am 26 years old and from Gothenburg, a city on the Swedish west coast.

What is your role in the SQUID project?
I am going to take responsibility for the electronics and software of the project, that is, make the more or less intelligent parts to work as wished.

Right now I’m trying to help Gustav in the struggles with the videocamera, and tries my best to get an Atmel ATTiny circuit emulate button pushes on the camera with electronics, and to be honest, I am a bit worried over the strange battery solution that is chosen for the camera. There seem a lot of unexpected problems in a project like this.

What did you study at your previous college, and what are you studying now here at KTH? What made you choose to study here?
Even though Gothenburg has the great Chalmers University of Technology, I decided quite early that KTH was the university for me, and here I am. Maybe I am one of the first persons that KTH recruited only through the web, since I was searching for a lot of programming things and seemed to only find KTH pages over and over again. I reasoned it was probably a good idea to be there IRL as well!

How did you come to join the SQUID team?
Gustav sent out a message to the brus-listan, a humoristically named mailinglist hosted by the students electronic lab at KTH, Elab. I thought that a space related project was way too cool to miss (there are like huge possibilities for space), and after some mailing I went to Alfvénlab to meet the project group.

Where and with what do you hope to be working in ten years’ time?
I seem to have like an internal idea generator that works on high speed for almost all the time. Maybe I would work as some kind of inventor. I would really need someone who took care and refined my ideas, though.

Worst space movie ever?
I usually forgets bad movies, but there was one with this guy on mars that was really strange because he hade breathed to much bad Martian air and got his lungs filled with siliconfibres or something. I love Barbarella.

Time for electronics and software

MONICA writes

Congrats to the mechanic team they are doing a great job in the workshops and impressive CAds.
In electronics we also have advances, finally we defined the number of PCBs we will use, as well as their position inside of the ebox, we spend quite some time defining the interconection between the boards. Once the design of the SCALE system was finished we were allowed to locate the position for connectors to external world and antennas for GPS, Satellite transmitter and Radio beacon.

Boards in the ebox

But definitely Nickolay, Mark and me have spent many hours in the placing of components, some boards are very populated and the routing becomes a bit tight, but we can see the difference in the boards and now they look just amazing!… lets wait for the soldering it will be very funny, fortunately next month Gustav will take a course of soldering in ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, The Netherlands) and I will take one in DLR (German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen,Germany), although we have been practicing a lot I think the courses will be very good to make it perfect!! ….

PCBs layout

But not everything has been schematics,layouts and soldering…many things are running in parallel, we count now with a new member Linus, he is helping a lot with the camera circuit to control it. Gustav is working with the umbilical connector, doing tests and concluding the design. Also I am preparing tests for the ADC of sphere circuit. And last but not least, the software is coming along with the tests. So, we all have plenty of tasks but when something is working it feels just great!!

Something about space weather

The main objective of the SQUID project is to develop and test a relatively cheap plataform for the study of the earth electric and magnetic field. We have all seen a lot of times the typical image of the earth as a magnetic dipole (the earth with a magnet inside, with the magnetic field lines comming from the south pole to the north pole). However, the sun is constantly releasing plasma (called solar wind) which has its own magnetic field. When the solar wind arrives to the earth, it deforms the eartsh magnetic field giving it a tear shape.

The solar activity is very variable, and the intensity of the solar wind is changing constantly. The sun has a 11 year cycle, in which its activity changes from low activity (right now we are on a “quiet” period of the sun) to high activity. A higher activity involves a higher number of violent phenomena happening on sun, such as solar flares or CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejection), which produce a sudden and violent increase on the solar wind speed and plasma density.

When this “high density” plasma reaches the earth magnetosphere, it deforms it, inducing a so called magnetic substorm. These phenomena are extremely complex and there is a lot of research happening on the scientific comunnity to investigate and explain how they work.

One of the most known phenomena induced by the magnetic substorm are the auroras. When the high density plasma reaches the magnetosphere, it flattens the magnetotail, in such a way that magnetic field lines with opposite directions touch each other, inducing a phenomena called magnetic reconnection. When this happens a big ammount of plasma is ejected from the reconnection point towards the north and south poles at an extremely high speed, and when this plasma “falls” into the atmosphere auroral activity occurs.

Auroral activity occurs at altitudes above 100km, and those altitudes are “easily” reachable with sounding rockets, making squid be a very useful platform to provide useful scientific data to learn more about our magnetic field.

Finally! The SCALE System is Ready

Jiangwei writes

After several weeks’ struggle, the scale system is finally hammered out, hahaha :D, at least it shows what the scale system is and how it works.

Here are two pictures showing the inner structure and the profile.

The Scale System Explosion View

This explosion view shows a lot of details inside the a single scale system, hopefully you could figure out how it works 😀

The Scale System Outprofile

Now it looks really cute~ Exactly a cube of 60×60×60

During the design, quite many engineering and modelling challenges bothered me a lot, as well as other mechanical guys, but eventually, after meetings and discussions, things become clear as if we saw the dawn. For instance, how to mount the scale system? Originally it was supposed to be mounted on the side surface of electrical components box, but now there’s no space for that.Hence, our final decision is simply mounting these scale systems onto the buttom disk, pretty good for saving the limited space. In addition, how to discard the protective door? Due to its “one-way trip”, we shouldn’t make it complex, otherwise, we are more like going to discard a bunch of money in the sky. So a “double-locker” solution was unveiled, which only uses two lockers to constrain the door, and releases the door after lockers activated, thus, the door could be manufactured simply as a disk, no hinge any more.

Here is a brief assembling of the Squid main structure, including the E-box (electrical components box), four scale systems, and the lower disk.

The Brief Assembling

This assembling includes the E-box, four scale systems, and the lower disk.(To me, it looks like a space battle carrier, ready to deploy fighters,yahhhh)

Lots of problems were solved and finally the design come into details, now when I am looking back to these old versions once modelled before, I can easily feel promotions in the current version, and satisfied a lot.

SQUID army

Frame and top cover

There is something happening down in the basement, but what is really going on in the workshop?

Well, as the drag test is coming up it would be cool to have two fully functional prototypes in order to prepare one while the other on is being tested. So I started to produce another prototype and be sure, there are more coming.

However, as the prototypes need to have a functioning cover they will get a top frame and a cover according to a design from Mario.

More SQUID prototypes

Unfortunately the manufacturing of the frame doesn’t seem to be as easy as everyone thought. At first cutting the inner part out just using a jigsaw felt right, but cutting aluminium with a jigsaw is no fun.  So I am back to milling again. I just hope this works out without any incidents this time.

Streamer testing, or…

… driving fast on small country roads.

The testing this weekend went pretty well! As always though, there were some obstacles along the way.

The testing was done on Visingsö, where my family has a country house. There are many straight and open roads there, with little traffic, so testing like this could be done safely.

It was very windy on Saturday, with gusts of wind in excess of 5 m/s, the tip of the waves breaking on the lake Vättern. As I didn’t have a wind speed meter (d’oh!), I had no idea of the exact wind speed. Since I didn’t know yet whether I would have time for more tests, I decided to have a go anyway. I had a number of streamers, and we decided to drive both with and against the wind with some of them. I had streamers 4, 6, and 10 inches in width, 8, 10, 12.5, 15, and 20 times as long, and in a number of different materials from airbag cloth to nylon and even super light mylar plastic film.

The test were carried out by attaching the streamers directly to a dynamometer (which measures force in Newtons) stuck to the end of a pole, then sticking it out of the window of a car. Our little high-def camera was mounted on the pole to film the readout and streamer. I was lucky enough to have access to a convertible (a Saab 900 Aero nonetheless! What else to do aerospace research in?), which I thought would make measuring easier, but it was way too windy to work with the roof down so it didn’t matter in the end.

I ran though the tests on Saturday with all the streamers, but I wasn’t very happy with the windy conditions. Luckily, Sunday was nearly completely calm so we ran some tests at different speeds that day too.

Our tough and rugged GoPro HD Hero serving as extra data recorder in the foreground. That camera capturies 60 frames per second in HD, in wide-angle to boot!

I’m really happy that I got all that data out of the testing, but I haven’t had time to draw any hard conclusions yet. However, the weight of the material makes a huge difference. A heavy streamer provides a LOT more drag than a light one! I’m sure we can now make one that can help deploy our parachute just right