SQUID PASSED EAR!!! (Hurray :D)

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 😛

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Busy night before EAR

So today has been busy as always. The day started of with that I (Gustav), Jacob and Amer (from the RAIN team) visited Bergtorpskolan, just north of Stockholm. There we held two lectures which where really well visited. During the first one we had 33 pupils listening and during the second one we had as many as 47 pupils listening on how our project works. This was actually some kind of record for us, we’ve never had as many pupils listening to us during a school visit and of course we loved it! The pupils where all very quiet, seemed interested and asked plenty of question so it was a rather success.

However the main thing about this blog post is not the school visit but instead the much more worrying Experiment Acceptence Review which will be taking place here at KTH tomorrow. The whole team is really fighting to get everything to work in time, and as it looks right now most things will actually work tomorrow. Something which however seems to be a huge problem is the reliability of the SCALE. In the future we hope to be able to deal with it by using more standard parts but since some of the has yet to be delivered they have been custom made in the inhouse workshop. This has led to that the two different SCALE systems really seems to have different personalities and most of the times at least one of them have problems when being run. When it comes to the rest of the mechanical parts they however seems to be on place, and the electronics and software also seems to be in a working stage.

So to end this blog post I beg you all to wish us good luck for tomorrows challenge!

The first launches of SQUID: Spring and RID testing

Yesterday the rocket interface disc, RID, finally arrived. This is the piece that actually mounts the free-flying unit, FFU, to the rocket. The custom made wave spring that will eject the FFU arrived a couple of weeks ago, and now we could finally mate them together.

The rocket interface disc (RID) with the ejection spring

However it soon became apparent that the spring had a tighter fit in the spring gully than we had expected, and to determine whether this would affect the ejection or not me and Mikko carried out some spring testing.

Soon half of the team had gathered around to watch and help out as we covered a sturdy table down in the workshop with foam and devised a clever way of holding the bottom plate of the FFU down against the spring. An unlucky Mario was selected sit under the table and cut a rope going down through a hole in the bottom plate and rid, and down through the table where it was hooked up to a tightening mechanism. To document the ejection we borrowed a Casio high-speed camera from the department of mechanics.

We did two “launches” today, and while the launches weren’t as straight as they could have been the results seem positive, especially since the weighted-down bottom plate was not perfectly balanced. However, since the radius of the spring is slightly lower than expected the very top part of it easily gets jammed between the bottom plate of the FFU and the RID. More testing will be done soon, but until then enjoy the fancy high-speed videos! Sorry for not having turned them right way up, but this would decrease the video quality.

The flickering is due to the flourescent lighting in the room,  and the towel in the first video was an attempt at catching the falling plate. 🙂

The SCALE system is spinning

During the past week we’ve finally done some real progress on the SCALE system . For those of you who are not totally up to date with that the SCALE system is please check out these posts. To make a long story short, the SCALE system is probably the most central part of the whole experiment, it’s a complex mechanical structure which has one task, to deploy and retract the spherical probes which are used to make the measurements of the electromagnetic field. Due to the drastic changes we had to perform on the landing system the SCALE system where somewhat overseen and tasks which should had been performed much earlier during the project still remained when the team gathered after the summer. However due to great efforts performed by mainly Malin and Mario the system is now finally running and we now focus on optimizing the functionality of it. Below are two videos which displays the system and how it works.

 

busy, busy, busy

I just realized, it seems we were too busy to actually inform you about all our problems and the work that has happened on the structure and especially on the deployment system during the last couple of weeks.

When we started to put the SCALE-system together about six weeks ago we found out, that we actually had some pretty big problems with friction, and where not really able to feed out the cable at all. The main problem here was the feed through mechanism of the main cogwheel where the cable is supposed to glide through easily. Now after a lot of trial and error and some help the system is working and it’s amazing how much better the feed-through works now.  So much about summing up the biggest problem we had recently. However I hope Malin finds some time soon to fill you in on the more detailed progress on the SCALE.

Then more recently we thought about panicking on Friday, because the M-Beam

– Team from Austria called us in order to get some more space. There experiment is going to sit right below ours in the rocket and we had discussed how much space they need, but for some reason it got bigger anyway. After some discussion it seems to be the easiest if we just raise our experiment a bit. Still we got kind of shocked and M-Beam seemed to be pretty desperate at first. I just hope we don’t experience any more problems due to that issue.

Fortunately there is something going according to the plans  (at least almost) and the manufacturing of the flight versions of some different parts has started. The first flight frame is finished, David is working on the first set of walls, which seems to be difficult, but with some training I am sure he will manage to bend them in a way so the fit “perfectly”. Then for next week it is planned, that all parts for the RMU are finished, and with some luck we will even have the outer housing of the first FFU done and finished.

Messages from the workshop

Actually I should have don this post two weeks ago and I do have a bad conscience because I left id undone, but as I am leaving for Munich on Sunday bad conscience is disabled for  next week.

Still I have to bring my excuses up, to assure you, I wasn’t only twiddling my thumbs. While I spent the last week getting familiar with the simulation task and working on the camera box the week before that was taken by redesigning the Rocket interface disk (RID) so we could finally order it.

As you may know from earlier entries we are producing some of the things we are using stuff ourselves. The prototypes for the drop test where manufactured in house, the boxes for the camera and the NSSB are produced here as well as the pusher ring and some other small parts.

I was working down in the workshop during the last week quite a lot in order to get the camerabox ready, and as you can see something has happened. You wouldn’t believe how much much swarf one can produce from 100mmx40mmx40mm block when you have to make a box of it. Unfortunately it’s not finished yet, but it’s on a good way! At the same time the battery clamp had to be bent and using a hammer and some tape I produced one that works, in order to make a flight one however there will be some more practice involved.

The Scale System – progress

For the last couple of weeks I have been, amongst other things, working on the scale system. We have received some more parts from the manufacturer, but there is still a lot to be done before we finally can assemble the whole system. The good thing is that we actually start to see what it will look like and get a feel for the different parts. I have added some pictures of the scale system as it looks so far.  We are still waiting for some parts to be manufactured and some of the parts we will manufacture ourselves in our workshop.

So far I have made one of the cylinders in the workshop. Some smaller adjustments had to be made afterwards to be able to assemble the scale system but it was all within reasons. It was quite some time since I worked in a workshop so it always takes a day or two to get adjusted and to learn where all the tools are. I look forward to continuing the work when I get back from my vacation.