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 autumns first real team meeting

So yesterday we finally had the autumns first real meeting. After a long summer (with lots of SQUID related work) it was finally time for a proper team meeting. For the evening we had actually planned to have two meetings first one ordinary team meeting and then a second one regarding the SCALE system.

During the team meetings we generally discuss through all sub porjects, this was also the case yesterday. A large difference now from the spring meeting was that we all where able to see that all subsystems are coming together.

During the SCALE meeting the focus naturally changed to the SCALE system which we now have most parts for. The largest reason for this meeting was to discuss some problems regarding friction when feeding the wire. More details about the progress of the system will be available shortly in a separate post written by Malin.

Planning the summer

So it’s finally time to write my first project management post in english. For those of you who have read my earlier posts in swedish it should come as no surprise that I’m using ganntproject as the primary planning software.

During the spring the Gantt chart started to grow to such size that it really became impossible to not forget tasks in the process when I where updating the status of the project. It was also hard to really get an overview of which tasks had been added in between the different subprojects. I therefore choose to  tackle the task of planning the summer and autumn from another angle then before. This time I started with writing a document containing lists for each subproject with the tasks that had been identified. To simplify the identification of all tasks i created a numbering system, this also simplifies discussions between different members in the team since it clarify which task is being discussed. The document is easy to overview when printed which makes it excellent as a material for group discussions this really made wonders for the connection between the planning and the reality.

After I had written the document I synchronized it with the Gantt chart as well as with Basecamp (for those of you who are not familiar with it, it is our internal communication platform made by 37signals). When adding the tasks to the gantt chart I took the opportunity to start setting dates for the tasks, this is a process which isn’t ready yet since it really takes a loth of time. The gantt chart still has some great advantages when it comes to planning the timeline. The software gives a great overview of the availability of different recourses (group members) which really comes in handy during summer since we’re all spread out around the world during different times. A great challenge has been to try to plan for the drop test in the end of the summer, we have a loth of larger/smaller tasks which needs to be completed to be able to go through with the test. The plan for the drop test will be more further detail during a later post.

This was all I had in mind for now but please do not hesitate to comment on my posts since I really would appreciate getting some new ideas for the management part of the project.

CDR and Sightseeing in MĂŒnchen

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 MĂŒnchen 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 MĂŒnchen. 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 MĂŒnchen, 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.

Project development during end of may and beginning of june

Some time has passed since we last wrote a blog post but don’t think that we have just been sitting around. In fact there has been some major development in the project and we’re deply sorry that this has not yet been covered in the blog. However we’ll try to make it up to you. In this blog post I’ll be summarizing most of the development and during the coming weeks we’ll try to write some more detailed post about each of these events.

First however, as you may know the competition KTH on the inside is over and we’d like to thank you all for your support during the competition even if we did not make it during the second part of the competition. Since our blog suddenly where closed down by KTH on the inside we’ve now moved the blog to wordpress.com and it is available directly on our homepage.

So what has really happened during the last weeks? Well, the last blog post covered our first towing test for the parachute solution that we’re developing for the system. The first test proved that the landing system worked in the most advantageous situation, with the SQUID probe facing backwards along the wind. To really prove that the system works we decided to do a second test which where carried out in a similar way as the first one but now with the FFU in a less advantageous situation where the FFU where facing straight upwards. For the moment we’re not able to show these videos on the blog but they can be seen directly at youtube, see links below.

Working principle

Tow test 1

Tow test 2

The rest of the project has also been moving forward. During the last days of may the team wrote the CDR version of the SED which is the final document describing the design of the experiment for the REXUS board. The document where sent in to the REXUS panel early morning june 28:th.

During the early days of june I  my self (Gustav) where away on a soldering course at ESTEC Nordwijk. I will cover this more in detail in a later post, for now you will have to satisfy your selves with this picture.

During the second week of June the team went to DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen for the critical design review. Since we had planned to be there for three days, while the CDR only lasted for two hours, we used most of the time in Munich. I’ll post some further pictures below but a more detailed story will be written later on.

During the last weeks we’ve also been joined by two new members in the team. First Mikko Laukkanen joined us. He will mainly work with the electronics and software and has already given us some useful help with developing a control circuit for the camera.

The second team member has just joined us. Her name in Malin Paulson and she will be working with the SCALE system development. A further description of them both will fallow in later posts.