Friday, June 23, 2017

DanK Blogs

Memes has to keep a blog while he's at his fellowship!

Keep up with his research and give him lots of supportive comments.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Too Many Dans on the Dance Floor

We've been all about getting together a fully functioning GOAT.

We've spent more long hours in the machine shop with Spencer.

We've tackled all of our "Road to Greenbelt" tasks and added more.

With so many people leaving for internships we've added an "intern" of our own. Here he is greasing the vacuum chamber without gloves as a form of hazing. 

The big push lately has been getting the "GOAT guts" all wired together and ready to roll. We've been trying to get an absolutely completed version of the GOAT for thermal testing. It's been a bit of a slog. Late supplies, new plot twists, low personnel and issues during testing have been challenging.

The GOAT is a fully sealed metal box with no hinges so you can imagine that it's a pain in the patoot to put together. We were hoping to weld some of the nuts onto the brackets so that you could put the thing together without being an ethereal octopus. It became clear that the zinc coating was going to make that impossible.

It was pretty exciting the day we got the whole thing together and finally weighed it. After months of staring at it in various it was! This lifted our spirits quite a bit. 

It's sometimes frustrating but things are getting done. The catchphrase on the team when something goes horribly wrong is, "We're learning."

But that's the truth. Every time something fails, it doesn't really, we're learning. This is why we test things and when the test doesn't work it means that we've prevented a disaster on launch day. Then we just troubleshoot the problem, improve the design and learn!

One day we even reached critical mass of Dans. 

And another day we reached critical mass of doughnuts! 

And then finalllllly after two weeks of preheating the incubator, we got to do some thermal testing with the real rig at 50 degrees C. Our early tests show that everything keeps running (yay!) but that the seal on the BABI starts to fail as things heat up. Also, our voltage regulator kicks out a troubling amount of heat.

We've also figured out the best ways to test our sensors.

You can seal a match in a beaker and make enough sulfur dioxide to see some readings on the sensors.

And a Bunsen burner with natural gas will make byproducts that will test all of our sensors at once.

The last thing we did was to test our GOAT in vac in the incubator. It wasn't the best test because it was like a Russian nesting doll of heat. BABI inside of GOAT, GOAT inside vac chamber, and chamber inside of incubator. It took a long time for the heat to get from the incubator into the GOAT. Our pump continued to perform so we're happy about that.

We are going to make some changes to BABI before we move on with more endurance testing. We're down to a small crew, summer is getting busier and time before MINI is limited. 


We're learning.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tuesday we did a little experiment to make a custom, DIY vac chamber with wire pass throughs out of a tamale pot.

It didn't work. HAHAHAHA....but our vac pump does a great job.

Handsome Dan also does a great job. Folks, I would like to introduce you to GOAT!

After staring at this for so long in applications and Solid Works it was so exciting to see everything hanging out where it goes....and it all fits! Wooooooo! 

We're also pretty excited because Ryan got Phoenix Closures to send up some sample peanut butter jar lids. YAY! 

AND THEN Seth came in to 3D print the dongle box for us. 

Oops. Something is scaled wrong. The space dongle is not the size of an ant.

Seth has left HASP to focus on the Helping Hands Project and FLOW and we're excited because he was just elected the president of Helping Hands.

We met with Spencer in the machine shop and he figured out a way to tighten the gaps in GOAT.

Today Dan has been cleaning up the dongle box, Dan is programming, Kieran is soldering, and Ryan and I are doing thermal testing in the huge incubator. 

As you can see the white board has a lot of things checked off our list and new stuff is being added all the time. We're hindered right now because our new vac chamber (not DIY) that we had rush ordered to be here today is stuck in limbo because the college closed early. We don't know if it is here and if it is here we don't know where it is. It's frustrating because we were counting on the long weekend to give our wire pass through ample time to cure, now we won't be able to do any solid vac testing until Thursday at the earliest. Ryan will be at NASA Headquarters by then so he'll miss some of the larger tests that we were hoping to do.

Still....we've made a ton of progress this week and it's been a very good week for tUR GOAT HASP.

I don't know if anyone reads this who doesn't also read my Facebook, but JUST IN CASE please consider donating to our GoFundMe. We're so close to our goal.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jurassic Park with DJ Khaled

Now that classes are out for the summer we have the luxury of working on HASP almost full time in the GEL lab. We’ve been able to spread all of our materials out on every surface, set up work stations, bring in power tools and focus on building and testing the payload.


Seriously, we are having the best time. We clock in every morning, set up the tasks for the day on the white board, make some coffee and then get to work. We have made a ton of progress in a very short period of time. Some of the younger folks on the team have gone home for the summer (but are still working remotely) and some people can only pop in as their other schedules allow. The leads have been coming in unfailingly almost every day and have set up a rhythm in the way they work. These few weeks have really cemented my love of this work and my appreciation of this team.

We had a glorious conference call with SPEC Sensors where you could feel the creative energy crackling over the speakerphone (unless it was just a bad connection). We’ve been really happy that they’ve agreed to work with us and have even made some tentative plans to do more research for them. HASP 2? Maybe?

After Spencer made the plates we set up a testing rig for the pump and the BABI and ran some endurance tests to see if the rig would survive running for hours. We’ve been very impressed with our SparkFun Pump and have been putting it through the paces in vac and out. It had no issues during our endurance tests (although we all grew tired of hearing it successfully chugging along). Since that went so well we decided to move on to some ground based ambient thermal testing. I made a janky little test rig one day (so much fun) out of scrap aluminum that we dubbed “SHEEP” and we lined it with mylar, threw bunch of sensors into it, and ran it for a few hours. It got pretty hot! We’re going to do more of that with the real GOAT to try and see what other issues we can find.

While tests are running Memes is wiring up the spine, Ryan is getting EVEN MORE donations, I’m trying to get our travel forms square, Jimmy is soldering the wires on BABI, and Handsome is drilling. We’ve all gotten used to wearing ear protection…and some of us even employ it as a tool to add focus when things are too raucous and words need to be written.

When tests go well we learn something.
When tests go poorly we learn something.

Thursday night as we were closing up shop we gathered in the lab next door so we could talk without yelling over the pump and outlined what we needed to do to be prepared for mini-integration and thus, integration. It is a long list but we’re feeling pretty good about our ability to realistically get all of this done.

Jimmy was the first to leave and headed out for his internship last Thursday. Ryan’s last day is this Friday. Memes will stick around until next Friday.

We tested the pump in the -80 degrees C freezer on Monday because the rest of the supplies were tied up. GOAT and SHEEP were disemboweled so we improvised with my vintage tin Dark Crystal lunch box, lined with mylar.  We were skeptical about the pump’s ability to survive the cold trip up and down. Well. The thing worked like a champ. It was still running when we took it out and unplugged it hours later. This means that we primarily need to focus on managing excess heat and will spend less time fiddling around with tiny heaters.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The GOAT, the bad, and the ugly

A guest post from Handsome Dan:

I put together a prototype GOAT with the panels that Spencer made for us.  Here's my first reactions

The Good: Bolt up construction for the entire payload took less than an hour.
The panels fit well together assuming well manufactured corner brackets with 90 degree angles..
The No 10 Bolts are also a great fit.  There's about .01" of wiggle room, which is a good thing.
The hull is a freaking tank.  We could throw it down a flight of concrete stairs and nothing would move.

The Bad
The McCorner Brackets from McMaster are indeed McCrud.  They had to be made with large tolerances because there's even inconstancy between some of the brackets which exacerbates spacing of the panels (below).  Once tightened, the brackets flatten which creates about a 1/8" gap between top/bottom and the side panels.  Only good thing is that the gap is consistent along all the edges.

We will definitely have to spot weld hex nuts to some of the brackets.  It can be just the lower brackets for two panels, but there's no way we will be able to put the last panel on without them or without finding someone with 10 cm arm circumference and tiny, strong fingers.

If we can't find brackets that are made with tight tolerances then we can use the McCrapster brackets.  Shaving them down isn't an option because of the amount of material that would have to be removed, but we could adjust the mount hole placements by 1/8" to compensate.  Not all of the angles of the brackets are exactly 90 degrees which causes warping (see pic below) so we would have to adjust them with a little elbow grease.  It'll be somewhat time consuming but doable.  Plus we would have brackets very specific to this hull.  Not ideal, but an option.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to Make a Ginger Snap

As our time runs out in the semester we are having to think critically about how to get everything done in time for Integration. One of the things that we've been itching to do is to actually build the GOAT hull.

We were able to gain access to the Durham Tech machine shop so that our consulting machinist would be able to cut and punch the panels for GOAT.

The initial fabrication process took about 12 hours and the machining shop is not too invigorating if you're not allowed to touch anything. So we had to make our own fun while Spencer did all of the hard work.

OK actually it was still pretty cool.

Even though the hull is essentially just an aluminum box, it's a box we've spent a long time looking at in Solidworks, so it was gratifying to see it in real life after all this time. 


Look it works! It caught a jar of peanut butter!