Palestine, Texas Day 15


James configuring his wires on the gondola while Brian looks on

The 15th day in Palestine started with the long-awaited delivery of the gondola that will hold our payload.  It’s construction was delayed due to a delivery mishaps.  Instead of shipping two long, aluminum plates to CSBF in Palestine, they shipped them to the University of Delaware in Newark.  The second piece of aluminum actually arrived the day the truck left.  If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll remember that the truck also got delayed.  If the truck had arrived in Delaware on time, the long chunk of aluminum would have been left behind and the gondola would have been delayed still more.  It’s kinda funny how things work out in the end.  Either way, John was very happy to finally have the gondola in our possession.  Almost immediately, James began putting all of the hardware he had been putting together for the past week onto the gondola.  That in and of itself was no small undertaking, but all of his hard work preparing the relay box had clearly paid off.  On a down-note, this was Robert’s last day in Palestine.  He rode off at into the high noon sun, heading back to UCSC.


The pulse generator on the left and the oscillocope on the right.

Later that day, Robert’s young Padawan (Sarah) aided James with finding the leak in the vacuum pump.  Once they found the source, Sarah spent the next few hours measuring the leak rate of the various hoses and other components of the vacuum pump.  While she worked on this, Paul worked on solving the issue with the tracker board from earlier.  Since Paul was the one who coded all of the software being used originally with AESOP-Lite, he was easily the most equipped to handle the problem.  He spent all day modifying and debugging the software in search of a way to fix the matter in a controlled manner.  Pierre-Simon, of course, took another ride around the loop that is his job of analyzing data.  Once or twice during the day he shouted and did a little dance in this chair.  The rest of the time he stared at his computer, typing in despair.  When his task was finally complete, he and I took the first steps in calibrating the PHA (pulse height analyzer).  I saw first steps, but it was more like first step.  We hooked a pulse generator up to the portable oscilloscope and measured the amplitude of the incoming waves.  We were only checking for linearity in the pulse generator.  Basically making sure that when you turn the dial up to increase the amplitude of the pulse, its amplitude actually increases the correct amount on the oscilloscope.  That was the last thing we did that day.


Sarah cutting herself a piece of cake

John, on the other hand, stayed a couple of hours later.  He was busy with documentation from morning to night.  Filling out form after form from the time he walked in to the time he walked out.  Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit, he took breaks here and there; helped others when need.  For the most part though, his day was occupied with paperwork.  Thankfully, one more thing to the table.  A cake to be specific.  It was called a King’s Cake.  It’s apparently a Mardi Gras tradition.  There’s supposed to be a plastic baby, symbolizing Jesus, hidden in the cake.  Whomever’s piece of cake has the baby in it has to host the party that year.  However, John wouldn’t let us put the baby in the cake because that’s a major choking hazard and CSBF emphasizes safety heavily.  With one more week done, there was one more weekend to work through on the horizon.

-Matt Collins

Categories: Palestine, Texas

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