Day 3 ….. Vibration test….and much much more

After a lot of stress and quick assembling and disassembling of the experiment we finally managed to put everything together after a few changes on the top plate ejection system (which by the way will keep us busy for a few weeks in order to test a new design deeply). One of the problems of vibration is that the screws fall down extremely easily and we have to make sure that all of them are properly secured with a special adhesive, which makes even more difficult and specially time consuming the assembly of the system.

Unfortunately, when everything was ready we found that something was not working as it should as we couldn’t manage to insert properly the umbilical connectors (probably because of a sudden change on the usual assembly procedure) so we were unable to have communication with the experiment, which would basically mean that the vibration test would only allow us to test the structural integrity of SQUID, which in any case was scary enough, specially after the problems we had both with the top plate ejection system and the FFU ejection system.

The next step was to assemble the experiment together with the magic hat in the shaker and place the accelerometers in the different interesting components of the system in order to get the response of the vibration. The test consisted in three different ‘steps’, first a sine sweep, which is basically a sinusoidal excitation of the experiment that is used to obtain the eigenfrequencies of the system without introducing high loads, then the random vibration, which is the real and tough test, as it simulates the vibration levels on the launcher and finally,  a second sine sweep, in order to check if something was broken inside the experiment, as if something got damaged during the random vibration test the responses from the first and second sine sweeps would differ.

As usual we had bad luck. The first sine sweep showed that around 500Hz there was a resonance between the shaker and the FFU, meaning that the signal or the vibration of the shaker would be amplified in the FFU. The worse thing was the magnitude of the amplification, as on the sine sweep seemed to be of 10 times, which was everything but funny. Fortunately, the random vibration test went very well (we didnt see any parts of the experiment flying) and the resonance was finally as bad as expected (the signal was ‘only’ amplified by a factor of 3)  and the second sine sweep was the same as the first one.

The test did show however a couple of minor problems. After the shaking we tested the electronics and the SCALE systems. The electronics were working perfectly, but when we tried the deployment of the SCALEs we saw that one of them was failing. The reason seemed to be that the screw holding the driving gear to the motor shaft went loose during vibration, probably because  the adhesive we were using for the screws was not suitable for plastic (the cogwheels are made of Delrin). Also, and when we removed the e-box we found out that the clamp of the steel wire of the FFU was deattached from the bottom plate (it was originally glued), which means that we will have to make some minor changes on its design in order to be able to screw it to the bottom plate instead of gluing it. In any case, and after all the problems we had during the previous days the test was quite successful.

Mario Valle

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