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.

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!!