Palestine, Texas Day 12


The shell after applying a second layer of extra white paint

Day 12 in Palestine was beautiful outside.  Low 60’s (°F), a little breeze, plenty of sunshine.  It was the perfect day to paint outside.  And that’s exactly what Sarah and I did until 4 pm.  In the morning we had to cut a band of insulation to fit onto the midsection of the shell.  Since it was fiberglass insulation, the two of us had to keep as much of our bodies covered as possible in order to avoid the annoying itch that results from handling the material.  This meant despite it finally being warm out I was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants.  Even though it was worth it in the long run, it was very uncomfortable in the moment.


Do you really need a caption to see that these are cats?

After trimming the insulation to size, we took a break for lunch.  I grabbed lunch with James at a nearby Italian restaurant.  When we exited the restaurant I learned that Palestine has a large population of wild cats.  Two of them were waiting for us outside, begging for food.  On our way back to the hangar we made sure to gather more painting supplies.  Upon my return, Sarah and I applied a layer of extra white paint to the paper side of the insulation.  After that, we added a second coat of paint to the shell and played a little bit of soccer while we waited for the paint to dry.  About an hour after applying the quick-drying paint, we administered another coat of paint to the insulation and a few touch-ups to the shell.  It wasn’t until I stepped back inside that I realized how bright the paint actually was.  As soon as I entered the hangar I could see practically nothing.  My eyes had adjusted to the extra whiteness of the paint and could no longer handle being in a normally lit room.  It took a few minutes to adjust.


Brian configuring one of the black box data recorders

During the time Sarah and I spent working outside, everyone else had their own jobs to do.  The work Brian was doing on our black box recorders continued.  We are still deciding whether we will power the recorders with non-rechargeable batteries or with power siphoned off from one of the power sources we will already be using.  Brain needs to have the black box recorders prepared for either decision.  James kept himself busy with the time-consuming task of preparing the flight cables as well as configuring the charge controller.  Pierre-Simon analyzed the data from the night before and noticed that something seemed off.  Robert suggested that the issue may be with the tracker board and therefore he reconfigured the tracker board and changed the default configuration variables of the FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) firmware.  This allows us to reduce noise in the strips.  Pierre-Simon will analyze the data from this after a new test has been run.  More importantly, Pierre-Simon helped move the spare bottom shells and in the process ripped his pants.  He had no choice but to rush over to Walmart to buy a replacement bottom shell for himself.  I’m pretty upset I missed Pierre-Simon’s exploits, but the rest of the team was more than happy to fill me in on everything.

-Matt Collins


Categories: Palestine, Texas

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