October 2018 Monthly Update

BLUEsat members at the Tech Connect Networking event
BLUEsat members at the Tech Connect Networking event

We’ve had an exciting month this October, with much more to come in the following weeks! A lot of future planning has been done on the technical side of things, as well as several fun events like an Optus Satellite Tour, dice kit workshops, showcasing our projects at a networking morning event hosted by UNSW Tech Connect and more! 


From the Software Team

The Off World Robotics Software team has been in planning mode this month in preparation for the work required on many major systems over the coming year. While little programming has been done, due to theses being due and upcoming exams at UNSW, we have (re)organised the squads for the following major projects: the updated arm for our rover; simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM), the navigational foundation for our autonomous endeavours; and ROS over CAN bus, the backbone for the inter-module communication system on the rover. We’ve also been utilising the feedback from our post-ERC design reviews to set up various smaller tasks to help with other systems, such as our front-end GUI.

William Miles, Rover Software Chapter Lead

BLUEsat rover team members in our room
Some of our rover team members in the BLUEsat room

From the Mechanical Team

A quiet month from mech team since exams are coming. Though, the team has made strong progress. We have some ideas for the new wheels; with the most potential design being airless tyre wheels. The team will conduct further research into this in the following month or two. We have also discussed strategies on reducing the weight of the rover, namely, how we can make the suspension system and the arm lighter.

Quoc Trung (Alex) Vo, Rover Mechanical Chapter Lead

From the Electrical Team

The increasing coursework has been a considerable distraction for our team members, however, we still managed to proceed with a few tasks. Following a couple of technical review sessions, we have finalised the task list for the coming year. This includes upgrades on most of the systems such as the battery module and the science module, as well as some new designs. The coming month will see us enter the next design phase, and we can’t wait for another great journey!

Jonathan Wong, Rover Electrical Chapter Lead

From the Drone Team

The Drone Team made more progress in the design of the first drone prototype and a list of required equipment has been created to start the building of the prototype by the beginning of next year. A permanent team structure has also been settled between team members.

Nahid Alemi Kermani, Drone Squad Lead


From the High-Altitude Balloon Team

The High-Altitude Balloon Team has yet ­­again had an eventful month. Following the previous balloon launch in September, team members Adi and Jeffrey have been busy working on their thesis A projects which revolve around stabilisation and system integration on a high-altitude platform of a large scale. They have been analysing kinematic and atmospheric data from the launch to strengthen their understanding of the behaviour of the system and thus allow for the development of systems for their thesis B.

Several BLUEsat members at the UNSW TechConnect Networking Breakfast Event
Several BLUEsat members at the UNSW TechConnect Networking Breakfast Event

The team has also been quickly preparing for an upcoming launch on the 10th of November as part of the UNSW Tech Connect FlashBuild. The team feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to represent BLUEsat in front of many external parties. Alongside this launch opportunity, team members attended a networking breakfast for the Flashbuild event and had an opportunity to showcase the many projects that we’re currently working on. BLUEsat was well received by all that were in attendance which was very pleasing.

Hamish Clark, Balloon Squad Team Member

From the CubeSat Power Team

The power team has had some recent setbacks. The battery monitoring board has been having trouble communicating over I2C, which may be caused by soldering issues rather than design issues. The same can be said of the second power regulation board, which grew unbearably hot very quickly. The first board seemed to be working, until some minor Li-Ion battery troubles. It is a sobering reminder to respect the power of Li-Ion batteries.

William Chen, Satellite Power Squad Lead

From the CubeSat ADCS Team

The ADCS team has focused on troubleshooting components of the physical design of the magnetorquer. The PCB designed for the single axis magnetorquer didn’t fit one of the components, so it was redesigned. The testing board is still being designed, but we’ve begun designing tests to improve the design for the triple axis magnetorquer.

Olivia Yem, ADCS Squad Lead

From the CubeSat GreenSat Team

Progress has been slow recently. The Satellite CTO, the lead of BioSphere and I had a small discussion with our new mentor. We have outlined a plan for the prototype test tube that will be placed inside the pressure vessel.

Rajiv Narayan, GreenSat Squad Lead

From the Groundstation Team

Despite the many setbacks caused this month by heavy rain, the Groundstation team has worked hard to finally get the station back up and running! The team has installed and calibrated the new rotator and antennas just in time for ACSER to record the final weeks of the EC0 Cubesat. However, the team did encounter a brief safety breach during reassembly where an unsecured antenna was left dangling from its mast due to heavy winds. Work has now shifted back towards replacing any leftover rusted components, and in recontinuing our existing projects for extending the groundstation’s capabilities.

Victor Tse and Steffany Synge, Groundstation Squad Leads

Secretary’s Update

In classic BLUEsat fashion, we’ve been pretty busy this month with several exciting events. We held two more dice kit workshops in October, teaching high school students how to make electronic dice for the Taste of Electrical Engineering day at UNSW. Later in the month, we held our first of many joint events with AIAA UNSW; a tour around the Optus Satellite Earth Station in Belrose. On this tour, several lucky BLUEsat and AIAA members learnt more about past Satellites that have been launched and had an exclusive look at the way a satellite groundstation works.

BLUEsat and AIAA members at the Optus Satellite Site
BLUEsat and AIAA members at the Optus Satellite Site

During our board games night on the last Saturday of the month, we spiced things up with a brownie making competition, judged by our President Raghav Hariharan and ex-president Helena Kertsz! We’ve also had a website redesign as you might have noticed, with plans to continue work on it in the following month.

On other news, we had our AGM for the year, where Bohan Deng was elected as the new Rover CTO and Steven Watts took Bohan’s previous role as Arc Delegate, with the other executives remaining in their positions. With exams on the horizon, work at BLUEsat slowed down a little but we’ve got several exciting events coming up and plans for the summer holidays and the coming year. 

BLUEsat members at the Tech Connect Networking event
BLUEsat members at the Tech Connect Networking event

The main events coming up for BLUEsat this November involve our collaboration with UNSW Tech Connect on their Flashbuild. As mentioned previously, several of our members including myself attended the first of many events leading up to the Flashbuild. Next week, we will be holding a workshop for some children in the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Hospital, where they’d get to build a ‘space tower’ which would be placed in the payload box for one of the balloon’s we’re launching on the 10th of November! 

Anita Smirnov, Secretary

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Author: Anita Smirnov

Anita Smirnov is a third year Mechatronic Engineering student with an interest in combining her passions for robotics and art. Before her role as Secretary and Media and Events Coordinator 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.