February 2018 Monthly Update

Newly constructed chassis of the NUMBAT Mars Rover.

Welcome to our February monthly update, its been another busy month at BLUEsat UNSW. As well as an amazing o-week, our teams have made massive progress across the board. Highlights include our Balloon Team’s launch on the 3rd of March, and major progress in the construction of the NUMBAT Mars Rover.

RoverNewly constructed chassis of the NUMBAT Mars Rover.

From the Mechanical Team

The mechanical team has been busy this Month assembling the chassis and drive systems of our rover.  We have also been conducting training of our new members, teaching them how to use different CAD packages as well as manufacturing techniques such as laser cutting, 3d printing and CNC routing.

Thomas Renneberg, Robotics CTO & Mech Chapter Lead

From the Software Team

The rover software team have been preparing for BLUEsat’s orientation day. We have an Arduino workshop prepared for the day. The weeks following will also contain some introductory workshops to how we operate, including a seminar or two on the Robotic Operating System (ROS).

Meanwhile, we have continuing development on a number of key rover systems including the GUI and embedded ROS. In addition, we received two new members (Yubai & Daigo) and are looking forward to even more with the start of the new semester!Altium render of the NUMBAT Rover side module board

Simon Ireland, Rover Software Chapter Lead

From the Electrical Team

The electrical team has made progress in a few projects. We received two new members and introduced them to the society. With their help we’ve also fixed some components on our old Mars Rover BLUEtongue 2.0 so that it can be driven properly. The last major PCBs for the NUMBAT Rover – the side module board – has been designed and is being reviewed. Assembly is scheduled to take place in around 2 weeks.

We’re also starting the work on testing and programming the generic PCB, which will be an priority task this semester. After the electronics induction, we expect to get more of the members working on it.

Jonathan Wong, Rover Electrical Chapter Lead

Rover Electrical Team Lead Jonathan Wong with a new member and the BLUEtongue 2.0 rover, conducting repairs.

From the Chief Pilot

The rover was run each week. Some range testing was attempted, but no conclusive derivation was possible. The team has started debugging the arm. The schedule for the rover training and testing is in the works and is expected to come out soon.

Sajid Anower, Rover Chief Pilot


From the CTO (Satellites)

The satellite team this month have been busy crafting an exciting program for the new 2018 BLUESat member Intro Day. With activities spanning across the fields of engineering, science, and operations, the satellite team should be proud of themselves.

Timothy Guo, Chief Technical Officer – Satellites

From the High Altitude Balloon TeamDisassembled High Altitude Balloon Payload on a desk in UNSW's Willis Annex.

February was a fairly busy month for the HAB team. Rigging and parachute configurations were finalised. Tracking systems were tested and found to be working perfectly with some tweaking. An APRS transmitter, which updates GPS location over the amateur radio network, a commercial SPOT GPS tracker, as well as an old mobile phone, running a live GPS tracking application, are all being used on the launch. A launch date has been set for the 3rd and 4th of March, and final preparations, as well as integration testing, are currently taking place. Stay tuned for the outcome of the mission in the next update!

Adithya Rajendran, Balloon Squad Lead

From the Green Sat Team

GreenSat is moving forward, designing an temperature-controlled incubator for biological samples. We are also building a sensor suite prototype to test the electrical system. The biology team is aiming to get into the labs soon to begin working on cynobacteria samples.

Ben Koschnick, Greensat Squad Lead

From the Satellite Power TeamA dumy load used by our Satellite Power Team to test their designs.

Satellite power team has recently finished work on an electronic dummy load. We are planning to use it to test a battery charging design and a maximum power point tracker also developed by the team in the coming semester.

We also prepared for orientation day, with a complete introduction to electronics planned. New members will get a taste for electronics design by making a range finder. They will prototype the circuit, design the PCB and then manufacture it all over two weekends.

Declan Walsh, Satellite Power Squad Lead

From the Groundstation Team

Groundstation has opted to shift towards Software Defined Radio (SDR), which employs the use of USRP receivers and software demodulation. The original setup consists of radio transceivers and the various equipment needed to operate them.

This new setup offers the following advantages:

  • Better control of the demodulation stages
  • More options for processing of data
  • Easier to interface with computers

The use of SDR has been explored by some current members in the past. However it is a foreign concept to the majority of our team. We plan to place a greater focus on SDR starting with the training of new and existing members.

Joerick Aligno, Groundstation Squad Lead

From the ADCS Team

The ADCS team has been working on finalising the designs of the support PCBs to be manufactured in the next few weeks. Initial electrical and mechanical designs for the reaction wheel PCB are also in the works.

Mark Yeo, ADCS Squad Lead

BLUEsat Operations & Exec

The BLUEsat UNSW o-week stall, you can see a mars rover wheel and a satellite reaction wheel on the table.

Secretary’s Update

February has certainly been a busy month for the society. O-Week was a massive success with over a 150 new sign ups, many of whom will hopefully be attending our orientation day on the 3rd of March! A big thank you to everyone who helped at our o-week stall. All of the teams have also been preparing workshops for our orientation day.

In other news our last social event was a big success with many people attending and our regular blog posts have been going well! I’m looking forward to expanding the media team in 2018, and am looking for people to help with our outreach program and website.

Harry  J.E Day, Secretary

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Author: Harry J.E Day

Harry J.E Day is a long term member of BLUEsat, with a keen interest in robotics and distributed systems. Harry has been involved with BLUEsat UNSW for four years, primarily as part of the Off-World Robotics Division including two and a half as the rover software team lead, as well as a year as the society's secretary. Harry studied B Computer Science at UNSW Sydney.

Author: Timothy Guo

Timothy Guo is a Telecommunications and Commerce undergraduate at UNSW Sydney. He has previously lead BLUEsat's groundstation squad, leading a team of engineers to provide communications to UNSW's satellite, the EC0. He now endeavours to lead BLUESat's satellite tribe towards even greater plans.

Author: Thomas Renneberg

Thomas Renneberg is a 4th-year Mechanical Engineering student at UNSW. Thomas assumed the Off-World Robotics CTO position after a year of being the mechanical team lead and laying the foundation for BLUEsat's new rover. Aside from developing BLUEsat's new rover "NUMBAT", Thomas enjoys cooking and maintaining his vegetable garden.

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