SED v.4

As always the SQUID team is working late but we’re finally ready so for you curious people out there here is the lates version of the SQUID student experiment documentation



The battle is won but the war is not yet over.

Today SQUID had it’s EAR (Experiment Acceptance Review) which is the last review before delivery. We pushed through limited time, stressfull days, missing components, late workshop evenings, burning electronic boards, short circuited batteries, system failures, moodswings etc. and finally got through the EAR with positive results.

Mikael Inga was visiting us from the Swedish Space Corporation to carry out the EAR and most of the team was present to discuss and demonstrate the experiments current functionality. The day started of at 9:30 in the morning with a check through what has been done on earlier comments recieved from REXUS and what tests we have performed since last IPR.  Just before lunch we started of by demonstrating the functionality and workings of the experiment interface electronics and after lunch followed a more thorough experiment functionality demonstration in which we let the system run through parts of the intended operational phases finally leading to the moment of thruth, the decision. SQUID has passed EAR but as always there are comments and things to care about but nothing came up that we weren’t already aware of.

Next up is delivery and the team will now take the weekend off to recuperate from the last two weeks of battle because on monday we need to pick up the pace even further. Systems have to be fully tested, fligh boards assembled to the ebox and tested, assembly of a second FFU has to start and everyone should be happy and prepared for hard work (at least us slaves have to be) otherwise the big boss will come after us with his grand master-whip which he talks so much about nowadays 😛

The importance of documentation

In technical projects it is always important with documentation. Many people are involved and the only way to know what’s really going on is to make sure everything is down in writing. This is especially true in the aerospace industry, where the technical systems are very complex and the machines may never be reachable for an inspection. One of the best examples of this is the development of the Airbus A380; all the documentation produced during development, if printed out, would weigh more than the plane itself!
In a REXUS project like SQUID, we mainly deal with three kinds of documentation; Meeting minutes, checklists during the launch campaign, and finally the Student Experiment Documentation, SED.
The SED is a document which describes the whole experiment and the team and organizations involved in it. It details the hardware, the software, the team, the planning behind the project, the procedure at launch,the outreach/PR activities and all the tests and processes during the development. The document is updated constantly, and new major revisions are produced and sent in to the REXUS/BEXUS group at ESA 5 times during the project. Our latest version can be found just a couple of posts down!
Version 1 is sent in for the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in January. It details the preliminary design of the experiment, and states the objectives and requirements that are to be met.
Version 2 is prepared for the Critical Design Review (CDR) in June. The requirements and objectives are already fixed, and focus is on producing a detailed design of the experiment for manufacturing.
Version 3 is written for the Integration Progress Review (IPR), which usually occurs 6 weeks after the CDR. Focus is on addressing the issues raised during the CDR, and adding more information in preparation for the launch campaign. This is the step SQUID is currently at. The document, with all report appendices and schematics, already weighs in at over 350 pages!
Version 4 is submitted a couple of weeks before the launch campaign when the experiment is shipped off, following the Experiment Acceptance Review.
Finally, version 5 is sent in 3 months after the finished launch campaign. Here the results and any lessons learned are documented.
But how does a team of almost ten people manage to work together on a single document?
Well, we’ve gone through a couple of different methods.
Google Docs: We started off using this web word processor, which had some advantages; No program installation was needed, everyone was always in sync, a few people could work on the same document simultaneously, and commenting could be done in real-time. However, the hassle of having to copy paste and reformat all the text into the SED template Word document was way too much for each new revision, taking several hours even when the document was much shorter than it is now. It also requires a working internet connection, and this was not always the case, especially when team members were travelling.

LaTex: This is quite a different way of writing documents, more akin to programming than traditional word processing. It’s easy to use templates and numbering of figures, elements and references is automatic. It’s also easy to merge changed documents together when collaborating. The generated documents also look very good. However, we never got around to adding all the formatting code and such to our previous versions.
Word & Dropbox: We ended up using the merge feature of Microsoft Word, combined with sharing folders in Dropbox. That way the individual word documents are always up to date. It’s not as easy to comment anymore, but this isn’t as important now that everyone has a pretty good idea of their respective areas. However, as Mario can testify, merging is far from flawless!
So, if you want to know everything that’s worth knowing about SQUID, just have a look in the SED.

StudentExperimentDocumentation v.3 finished

So right now we’re in the middle of preparing our selves for the drop test which is to be taking place next week in Kriuna. In the mean time please check out our documentation which where finished last night. The SED, as it is called, covers the whole experiment including background, planning, design, tests and more. So if you’re interested in how our experient works, please check it out!


CDR and Sightseeing in München

Some time has passed, Midsummer is over and reasonable part of the team is on vacation. I myself just came back from hiking in Lapland, but the things I want to talk about lie a bit further back in time. It’s about the days from the 7th to the 9th of June 2010, we spent in Bavaria in order to attend the CDR (critical design review) and present our project progress. As München had been my hometown for about three years during my earlier studys I had the honour of guiding the major part of the SQUID team through the streets of the Bavarian capital.

Well, everything started with a far to early flight from Stockholm to München. Having checked in in our hotel next step was the search for food, which ended up in a traditional restaurant having “Schweinshaxn mit Knödel” (knuckel of pork with dumplings) for lunch and of course not to forget the beer.

Now that everybody was well-fed I said something like “we could walk to the technical museum” and “We’re not in Sweden they’re gonna have opened longer than till 5”. The truth in the first one seems to lie in the eye of the beholder, however I had overestimated the distance compared to our lack of sleep and the amounts of food. However it turned out that the museum closes at five when we where entering, at four. And I really was convinced they would close later in the evening.

Eventually day 1 was completed by having dinner and some beers together with the FOCUS team in the Augustiner Braustuben, a place I can really recommend cause of their prices for good food and beer.

Next day we mainly visited the inner city of München, visited the cathedral “Frauenkirche” and took a look from its top.  In the afternoon we took the S-Bahn to the place where we would sty that night in order to be near Oberpfaffenhofen the next morning. On the way there we met the MBEAM-team and after having dinner with them  we ended up sitting around with most of the people from the review panel. After that we were not totally confident with our presentation and did some late-nigh quick fixes.

On Wednesday we were the first team to present our progress and defend the documents we had delivered until then. The experts from the review panels had some concerns they wanted us to address but all in all it felt good, and they appreciated that we had already started with some of the tests. We are at the moment trying to address all these concerns and tomorrow we are going to deliver a new document so at least the missing parts and obvious mistakes are fixed.

After CDR we spent far too much time in one of the beer-gardens having lunch and we entered the aviation part of the technical museum again one hour before it closed. I am still sorry guys, but you seemed to enjoy the beer-garden as well.

So much about our trip to Bavaria in beginning of June, we are really glad that CDR is over and in the whole everything went smooth, after all we were doing the trip for the project.