July 2018 Monthly Update

BLUEsat's Numbat rover with PCB lights

It had been a fantastically busy month at BLUEsat, with conferences, orientation days, new members and great progress in all our teams! Among other things, the NUMBAT Rover is almost ready to compete in the European Rover Challenge (ERC), the Groundstation team has made progress on a transceiver for the SDR, and new battery charging boards have been developed by the Satellite Power Team.


From the Rover CTO

BLUEsat's NUMBAT rover with PCB lights
BLUEsat’s NUMBAT Rover in the dark, with the PCB lights showing

The Off World Robotics team is finalising our preparation for the European Rover Challenge in September, having just completed our promotional video this past week. There is a lot left to do, but the team is getting excited to compete.

Thomas Renneberg, Robotics CTO & Mech Chapter Lead

From the Software Team

Over the last month, the arm has been attached and is now operating, though we are looking to get it fully integrated into the CAN bus system.

The ROS over CAN is nearing its final stages, with testing of a driving module yielding very positive results. In the lead up to the competition, we will be finalising and testing a whole range of systems across the rover.

Simon Ireland, Rover Software Chapter Lead

From the Mechanical Team

The mechanical team has been completing the remaining systems required for this year’s competition as well as preparing new projects for next year.

PCBs on a reflow oven tray
PCBs on a reflow oven tray

In particular, we have just finished modifications to the older BLUEtongue rover arm that allow it to be used on the NUMBAT system as well as increasing its range. Planning has begun for a new version of the mechanical arm as well as new wheel systems.

Thomas Renneberg, Robotics CTO & Mech Chapter Lead

From the Electrical Team

It’s been a tough month for the team with some members being away during the break. After the exams we jump-started some intense testing and debugging for the Generic PCBs and successfully got 5 boards working, which sufficed for all NUMBAT modules. Following the arm assembly, Jessica Li and I passed the advanced amateur radio test along with several other BLUEsat members and earned our radio licenses for the ERC. With the completion of wiring and the finalisation of the radio communication system, we are clear to start our last and biggest round of PCB production before our trip.

Jonathan Wong, Rover Electrical Chapter Lead

From the Chief Pilot

Rover training has started with the new NUMBAT rover, with people getting familiar with crab steering. BLUEtongue has been retired.

Sajid Anower, Rover Chief Pilot


From the Satellite CTO

BLUEsat's new Member Intro Day for Semester 2 presentations
BLUEsat’s new Member Intro Day for Semester 2 presentations

The Satellite team has entered Semester 2 of 2018 and officially welcomes two new team leads; Rajiv Narayan and Olivia Yem. Already our new team leads and existing leads have demonstrated outstanding leadership through our new member Intro Day for Semester 2, resulting in a great success and receiving praising from both faculty and students. Well done to the teams and supporters.

Timothy Guo, Satellite CTO

From the Groundstation Team

The Groundstation team has been making progress working on developing the Transceiver for the SDR. Currently we have placed the Receive and Transmit modules together in the same program and have a temporary ‘Push-to-Talk’ solution in place. This temporary solution has allowed us to Transmit only when the ‘Push-to-Talk’ is activated and Receive otherwise. The current solution is only temporary as the functions used will become deprecated in future versions of GNURadio. We will have to find an alternative solution to this over the coming month.

Joerick Aligno, Groundstation Squad Lead

From the Satellite Power Team

The power team has been testing out the newly manufactured battery charging boards. The results are promising; they are able to fully charge a depleted battery up to near full charge. The small kickbacks are that they are not charging to full capacity nor at the desired speeds. This is likely due to limitations in the testing environment which were designed for speed and flexibility rather than reliability and accuracy. Further testing will be done with better equipment. The testing of batteries have also seen the first real use of the power team’s dummy load testing apparatus, which can simulate loads at different currents and voltages. In the following month, we will see the manufacturing and testing of the new battery monitoring boards, as well as an infrared sensing array and a solar tracker being completed by the power team’s newer members.

William Chen, Satellite Power Squad Lead

From the ADCS Team

This past month has been a transition period, with a new team lead and new team members, and some delay due to the holidays. There has been an emphasis on the organisation of the team and on the introduction of new members.

There has been progress in developing a single axis magnetorquer, with team members working on designing the PCB and beginning the code to control the magnetorquer. The PCB requires custom footprints, and code has been written to acquire data from our sensors.

Olivia Yem, ADCS Squad Lead

From the GreenSat Team

The GreenSat team has been working on further developing its plan for its incubator; incorporating a software component to it for easier data analysis. The mechanical side has also started doing some thermal analysis which will be incorporated into the first prototype of the payload.

Rajiv Narayan, GreenSat Squad Lead

From the High-Altitude Balloon Team

The HAB team is working towards building a high-altitude platform to carry a Synthetic-Aperture Radar payload. This month, the project is getting under way as our thesis students (Adithya and Jeffrey) meet with their supervisors and clarify mission parameters. The project is now well-defined, with a clear idea of who will be responsible for each major component. Stay tuned for monthly updates and blog posts on this exciting project.

Adithya Rajendran, Balloon Squad Lead

Operations & Exec

Secretary’s Update

It has been a very eventful month at BLUEsat, despite the holiday break!

BLUEsat's President, Raghav Hariharan.
BLUEsat’s President, Raghav Hariharan. Photo taken by AYAA

Early in July, the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) held a fantastic CubeSat conference which involved talks from various people in the industry, networking opportunities and talks from some of BLUEsat’s members too!

Several members held a dice kit workshop for Nura Gili, where students learned to solder and make a small PCB that replicated the function of a die using LED lights. Later in the month, several of our members had the amazing opportunity to attend the Aerospace Futures conference in Canberra, where they listened to talks, networked with incredible people in the space industry and leaned about the different ideas and applications of space engineering.

As the holidays came to an end, BLUEsat members spoke to new and returning UNSW students about our aim to help students learn through our various projects at an Orientation Day stall.

As mentioned before, we had a major New Member Intro Day on the 28th of July where new members gained a better understanding of the society with presentations about the teams and practical workshops.

BLUEsat is also looking into doing more outreach activities to help high school students and perhaps other demographics become more excited about engineering!

BLUEsat is having its first showcase event on the 10th of August, with an introduction to the society, presentations, demonstrations of our projects, stalls, and free food. If you’re interested in coming along, head over to Eventbrite to register for your free ticket.

Anita Smirnov, Secretary

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Author: Anita Smirnov

Anita Smirnov is a second year Mechatronic Engineering student with an interest in combining her passions for robotics and art. Before her role as Secretary of the society, Anita was and still is involved in the software team of BLUEsat's Off-World Robotics Division, as well as helping manage BLUEsat's social media.