Saturday, July 8, 2017

DSBF Locked and Loaded

The second round of the PSIP was due this week so in addition to our normal testing tasks we were challenged to try and get some important bits out for the report. 

It's been a rough two weeks of testing, not because our tests have been going poorly...just because our tests haven't been going. We had a hard time getting last week's test to run, and, after a day of debugging, shoved the whole thing in thermal overnight only to find out the SD card failed the second we got in the car and the Bluetooth disengaged only a few hours in.

Undaunted, we set up another round for this week once the 4th festivities concluded. 

(I turned off all of my NASA related alerts and spent the weekend in the sunshine.)

Wednesday we were ill prepared for testing because our Terrible Testing Toshiba (T3) was in Raleigh with the SD card case...and we were not in Raleigh. 

Noah spent some time crying...

While he tested onions for sulfur outgassing. Turns out, after a quick Google, and after a few hours of the lab smelling like subway in August* that oh, yeah, onions outgas sulfides but not Sulfur Dioxide. So...yeah. Way to go sulfur dioxide sensor. Way to only sense sulfur dioxide and not let us trick you.

Can we take a second here to talk about the things we've learned on this project that have nothing to do with our scientific mission? Or even technology?

Like, for example, peanut butter jars. They are all different. Some of them are proprietary. It is hard to buy them sans nut butter unless you want a pallet load. Not every lid matches every jar. I've spent time in the peanut bar aisle counting the number of threads. At first we thought Great Value was, as the name implies, a good choice for the money. However, further thermal and vac testing indicate that for your non-Space-Grant-funded-$$$ you're better off with a Food Lion jar because it will hold shape and not diminish a pressure delta due to flex and warping in high heat. These are things that the average consumer needs to know.

Grapes. Grapes are often shipped with pads that off gas sulfur dioxide to keep them fresh during transit. These are mostly sold overseas and you can buy them but only if you have special handling certs. You can also sweet talk a produce manager into giving you some if:
1. They haven't chucked them.
2. You're not too desperate about it. They smell fear. It smells a lot like sulfur. Oh wait. That's brimstone.

(Huh. We talked about using magic but we haven't tried summoning a demon. A BABI shoved into a GOAT wrapped in a pyre seems like a good start. Maybe more chanting is needed.)

Dried fruit ALSO typically has sulfur dioxide in it, unless it's organic, to keep it fresh. It doesn't seem to be effective for bump testing.

Burning coal is not as easy as you want it to be.

You know what IS effective? Matches. They smell like sulfur on accounta all the sulfur. And speaking of grapes again, there's a whole sort of sulfur obsessed wine making rabbit hole you can go down. From extra long sulfur wicks to dissolving sulfur tablets. 

Wednesday night I spent some time in the car driving to Raleigh to get the worst laptop in the world and the $1 SD card case that has the very specific, very unreliable 2GB SD card that we love the most. It's like when your baby has a stuffed binky that it WILL NOT sleep without. You'll go to ridiculous lengths to get that thing. I knew we'd lose valuable testing time if we didn't get the T3 and the magical white SD card so it was worth it.

We set up the T3 so that it would never, ever, ever turn off and set to testing GOAT for 24 hours at 55 degrees C. (About 131 degrees in normal person units.)

I won't say that it went smoothly...but I will say that it was finally a real endurance test for all parties involved.

Our Bluetooth connection had some challenges at first but then DanK Memes said, "Have you tried turning it off and back on?"

No. Argh. No.



It works.

The SD card spectacularly and unsurprisingly failed like, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE...but whatever...we left Thursday night with a happy test set up that we would check first thing Friday soon as the teleconference was over.

The teleconference went well, which is to say that it did not go poorly for a change. It seemed sad to do it in the conference room with just the two of us at DSBF so we sat in my office. I am pleased to say that I got to listen to all of the beeps when everyone hung up. Finally.

Then we went over to the microbio and HUZZAH the T3 was still chugging, data still data-ing, and it seems like the pump still works. 

Yay.  Final temps around 63 degrees C in the GOAT. (145 degrees F! Toasty.)

After that we packed up all of our tools, supplies, accessories, paraphernalia, dribs, drabs, tchotchkes, bric-a-brac, and byssus into our HUGE, ORANGE, ROLLING suitcases and prepared for Mini-integration which is finally upon us.

I would be sad to see the lab so diminished after all of the bustle we've had this Spring but I pretty much didn't have time between discovering our luggage doesn't fit in my car and trying to fling the PSIP out the door. You've heard about herding cats? These reports are like bathing a cat. If you concentrate hard enough you can wrestle it into success but you're not going to make it through the process unscathed. 

Sunday we're taking a large crew to Goddard to join Abandoned and Space Viking to test some more for Minintegration. Finally! I can't believe it!

*And a Subway in August.

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