Computer, Magneto-Spear, Solar Cells

So I haven’t written a post for a while, but that’s only because nothing particularly interesting has happened for a while. (That and because there’s some old pictures sitting unloved and unuploaded on my other camera at home.) But interesting stuff is starting to happen again, and this is the beginnings of it.

First we got some really cool new solar cells last week. They’re small and efficient. They also have a composite balsa wood–hex cell frame that weighs approximately nothing.

BLAST’s computer box is also finished now, as Pedro (our summer student) and I did a bit of machining yesterday. The shop gave us a bad heat sink. It was wrong in two ways, but one of the wrongs allowed us to fix the other. Handy. The cute folded aluminum box contains two computers each with a BLASTbus PCI card, power switching circuitry, two ethernet switches, and a watchdog board that swaps control between the computers. We use solid state drives, so the whole thing is unpressurized.

Finally, cables are being made and stuff is getting attached to the gondola. We want to be able to point BLAST in a couple weeks. This is a very exciting phase, with lots of tedious work that needs doing. Excitement is winning over tedium—for now. And I say this having made over 1000 solder joints this morning.

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