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Chapter Four: The Cliffs We Reach For
6 min read
Before we could realize it, the end of the year is fast approaching! Here’s a quick recap of what our teams were working on previously:
Electrical Power Systems (EPS): onboarded new members, revised task checklist and onboarding documentation, and finalized firmware architecture.
Command & Data Handling (CDH): onboarded new members, refined device drivers, and implemented core pieces in the software architecture.
Communications: finalized version 2 of the RF frontend board, refined structures and reassessed budgets for components, and tested the CC1120 drivers, which worked successfully.
Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS): finalized the assembly of the initial ADCS PCB board, concluded the multiplicative extended Kalman filter (MEKF) algorithm alongside the first iteration of the magnetorquer winding mechanism, and began simulation development.
Mechanical: onboarded new members, worked on more chassis machining, and underwent vibration testing.
Payload: improved the onboarding system for new members as they welcomed many new recruits, and worked on customizing the camera software.
Weather Balloon: onboarded 5 new members successfully, and a new and improved layout was finalized for their payload.
Business: received funding from MEF and WEEF, continued preparing for the ActInSpace Hackathon with SEDS-Canada, planned a team movie day as a refresher, held a Wix portfolio event, presented at the Student Design Teams Showcase and 2 UW Orbital Info Sessions to recruit new members.
Let’s see what Orbital has been doing these past 3 months!
Shortly after recruiting and assigning around 8 new members in both firmware and hardware roles, EPS completed their solar panel board and continued working on the battery management system (BMS) board schematic until it was finally completed in October. They also carried on with testing plans for the remaining boards as well as made significant firmware progress on the Can-Dev board.
On 26 Oct, the team had an amazing time presenting at the Critical Design Review (CDR) in Ottawa where the EPS team made good progress on the BMS, load switch, and solar panel boards! Currently they are working hard on designing the layout for the BMS and load switch boards.
The CDH team began September by welcoming 4 new members onto the team and completing a working version of the microSD card device driver. By the time October rolled out, driver development for the current sensor, real-time clock, eFuse, and ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) was underway. They had also finished routing, reviewing, and ordering the OBC Revision 1 PCB plus finalizing its testing plans, all that is left now is its assembly!
Last month, they continued working on improving the overall continuous integration (CI) pipeline alongside assembling and testing the OBC Revision 1 PCBs and device drivers for the current sensor and eFuse.
After finalizing the revised RF frontend (RFFE) boards, the Communications teams followed through with its assembly and tested the signal amplification functionality, receiving a 6-8dB gain. The team also finalized the selection of the CubeSat patch antenna and reworked serial peripheral interface (SPI) implementation for our custom transceiver CC1120 drivers.
Targeting a gain of 30dB, the team continued testing the RFFE V1 throughout October. They progressed with stitching together the different software modules in the network stack and also successfully created a GNU Radio program to enable receiving on the SDR, the ground station hardware.
During November, the subteam worked on developing the RFFE V2 board and ordered a complete Custom Transceiver Rev 1 board. While testing, they were able to successfully send a “hello world” message between the CC1120 onboard transceiver prototype and our SDR ground station prototype.
3 months ago, the ADCS team developed foundational blocks for the Simulink model and began work on the overall controller algorithm. Simultaneously, they worked on the iterative design of the magnetorquer wire gauge and wire length, all while making sure that the new maximum core length is met.
Targeting to combine blocks to create the full system Simulink model and work on the magnetorquer PCB development in October, the team dedicated their efforts into learning the fundamentals of controls engineering along with MATLAB and Simulink.
They have also been experimenting with different forms of attitude determination algorithms. A custom implementation of QUEST is still getting refined and various sensors and environmental effects are being modeled to increase the reliability and complexity of the high-fidelity satellite simulation.
Like other subteams, Mech onboarded many new members in the beginning of the fall term. The growing team conducted FEA and thermal simulations for the CDR. They also held a CAD sprint for chassis design and mounts as well as completed the full layout model of the cubesat with all the parts from other subteams. Most importantly on September 30, the mech subteam attended the vibrational testing at Christie Digital not just passing the testing requirements one, but twice!
Following the vibrational testing, the team presented at the CDR at Telesat Headquarters in Ottawa with amazing feedback from the judges. Post presentation, the team decided to hold an informal team social to relax and have fun. Soon enough, everyone was back to work, beginning the new chassis design sprint, testing complete thermal simulations on the full layout model, finalizing the layout, and redesigning the deployment switch mechanism.
By November, the team was planning to work on FEA unit testing, improving thermal and FEA simulation parameters based on the feedback the team received at the CDR, working on the integration of the deployment switch, and lastly focusing on meeting the December deadlines for CAD, FEA, and thermal works.
In September, the payload team began their work on porting camera drivers and laser beacon firmware to the RM46 board alongside completing the assembly and testing of the prototype sent from QEYnet. As they were planning out the progress with the camera driver, laser beacon firmware, and remaining optics work for October, work was slowed down due to waiting for feedback from the CDR in order to plan better.
Post CDR, the team is fully engaged in laying out future works on the payload pointing mechanism, named STEVE, plus working on camera firmware. In parallel, they’re improving the calculations of the laser parameters at different elevations and angles above the horizon.
The weather balloon team announced around the end of September that the chassis is almost complete for assembly with potential launch in November.
During October, the team worked on finishing the payload and the container. The camera view was magnificently displaying the goose placed on the extruding arm of the structure. Unfortunately by November, the weather took a turn for the worse, so we are postponing our plans to launch until spring.
In the meantime, we gained a new sponsor, Nav Canada, and since we now have more time until launch, the team is planning to add the comms antenna onto it plus an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and an additional payload component into the weather balloon!
Over the last 3 months, business applied for the EngSoc fund and WEEF and wrote for the Dean of Engineering proposal. We were able to receive further funding of $2860 from WEEF by October. The team continues to apply for more funds and grants as they prepare for the winter term.
As for the events the business team hosted, the team committedly prepared the logistics and promotions for the upcoming ActInSpace Hackathon hosted with SEDS-Canada plus the fireside chat with a guest speaker from Canadensys.
Our biggest achievement this recruitment season was successfully holding a booth at the Student Design Teams Showcase, Waterloo University Student Association (WUSA) Clubs & Societies Day, and our termly recruitment info sessions for interested students. The three events resulted in a whopping 300+ students attending our booths and sessions.
The business team continuously worked behind the scenes to keep the teams running by attending, photographing, and recording all the events, making promotional and marketing content for the socials before the day of the events, and updating Orbital’s website with the latest information!
That’s all for Chapter Four. Hope you had a great read and please look forward to Chapter Five coming soon!
This was News from the Orbit – now signing off!
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