After testing, we discovered that our location for the helicoils didn't allow enough space for the rollers to function. So, we removed the 3 helicoil corner locations and instead made 8 locations along the bioreactor circumference.
The modifications can be seen on the new printed model.
Magnetism tests show that motors are within limits for magnetic field readings. 4 tests measured the field from all directions, 3 cm from the motor.
NOTE: A more detailed report containing multiple orientations is now available on the Gallery page of the site.
On Monday, Mrs. Westover was able to visit the class and observe our progress in the project. She sat through our presentations and asked necessary questions. Her visit was very insightful because it provided assurance for some designs and she also brought up new concerns to consider.
Below is a summary of our presentations to Mrs. Westover and her inputs:
A minor problem that we previously faced was a choppy rotation of the bioreactor. In order to fix it, we readjusted the bolts on the bottom. Now, we have a smooth-running, speed-adjustable rotation.
As is custom with projects of this nature, we need to anticipate problems that may arise. Once the experiment leaves our hands for the International Space Station, most likely none of us will have contact with the bioreactor again. Therefore, it is vital that our teams create procedures in order to fix future issues.
These procedures must be extremely concise and clear so that a random worker with no prior knowledge of the project would be able, for instance, to replace the transportation lights. We have to think about anything that could go wrong during the experiment's journey.
Hopefully, none of these procedures will be implemented. However, with our months of work and dedication that has been put in the experiment, we'd rather be safe than sorry.
A photo taken from the on-board NESI camera of the bioreactor.
As of today, our latest designs have been submitted to CASIS and Nanoracks for review. The final models are in the process of being printed and we are getting closer to deciding on a final design to be sent into space. We are extremely excited because we just finished one of the most vital components of our project.
Now, the class is working on how to assemble the whole project and get it off the ground. For instance, we are figuring out methods to integrate battery-powered lights into the cube in order to keep the algae alive during transportation. We need to find a way to ensure that these lights keep the algae alive and will turn off once the module is plugged in to the Nanorack on the ISS.
A screenshot of one of our SolidWorks designs for the Chlamy bioreactor (above)
One of the greatest aspects of this class is that we are getting a taste of the professional world of engineering. We use a multitude of programs and services that help us understand the great world of engineering in our futures. For instance, the hardware team and many others from the class use the SolidWorks CAD program in order to design new objects. With these 3D models, we then are able to print the models with our 3D printer. The experience with this program is so vital to our futures in engineering because countless companies need engineers with CAD experience.
Also, we use MPLAB X IDE to program the NESI board. This developer's environment program allows us to write and manipulate code which will be send to the circuit board. Thanks to this program, the software team has attained experience working in C. Additionally, the software team has used video conferences in order to collaborate with engineers at Texas A&M.
The science team has utilized precise chemistry equipment to conduct their experiments. Their work with such technical tools will aid them in the future when they need perform accurate labs.
Moreover, the outreach team has used professional skills and planning to schedule meetings at local middle schools. Communication is key for any job, and the more skills with cooperation will help everyone in their future.
Overall, this class not only has us learn new aspects of life and challenge our minds, it also provides us with a taste of the real world of engineering. We are gaining experience with the actual programs that engineers use and are preparing for our careers.
The 3D Printer builds Chlamy's module with elite precision (above)
Much progress is being made regarding the CASIS Project. Currently, the science teams are conducting another refrigeration experiment (redundancy never hurts) and as for the hardware teams, two designs are still in the works. Physical models are printed, refined, and perfected using a spectacular piece of engineering: a 3D printer. This printer has allowed us to create extremely precise and accurate models to use. Also, the hardware teams are finishing up the labeled designs. Moreover, integration with the circuit board has occurred. We have tested many of the hardware creations with the NESI board and we mounted the board into the lid of the space cube.
Every new week provides great encouragement to the project. Students feel a sense of awe and pride when every week, we are getting closer to finalizing the project. It's breathtaking to think how, a few months ago, we were brainstorming bioreactor designs and the software storyboard. Now, plans have come into fruition. Countless experiments have been conducted and a plethora of data has been collected. Actual physical models have been created. The NESI circuit board has been programmed and soldered. We have physical proof of our months of hard work. And to think, one day, our creation will be sent into the never-ending void called space and quite be able to produce life and fuel. It's very humbling.