What tasks have you been working on so far?
The electronics team has the responsibility of integrating all the electronic components. This includes mounting, wiring, and making watertight connectors to peripherals. We also design and build our own printed circuit boards. For example, this year we have made a new version of the PCB that we call the power distribution board. This is one of the most important components in the system as it converts the voltage from the batteries into a set of voltages that the different systems require. We have also made a fail-safe PCB that is responsible of stopping the ASV if something goes wrong. To communicate with the ASV, we use radio communication, and we are responsible for setting it up. Another very important task that we have spent a lot of time on, is making our own battery packs that should power the ASV.
What are you working on now?
Right now, our main focus is to assemble the el-house on the ASV, as it has to be finished before easter. The el-house has been in the plans for a while now, as we want it to look good, while being practical and safe. There is a lot of components that needs to be connected and we need to make sure it is done right, which is why it’s taking some time.
We are also in the finishing stages of making the batteries that are going to power the ASV. This has been a long process of planning and assembling as we want to make it as safe as possible. None of our members have a lot of experience in building batteries on this scale, so we’ve taken good precautions and have learned a lot of new things.
Besides working on the ASV, we also have some work on the AUV, Beluga. We are installing a pressure sensor, a control system for the pneumatic system controlling the gripper, as well as a circuit that will ensure our main computer is given a stable voltage, preventing it shutting off when getting short voltage drops. The latter has been a problem for a long time, and it is a difficult problem to solve, so we need to use all our engineering power to find a good solution. Without a solution we risk the computer powering off mid operation, and that would be unscrupulous.
What is the most exciting and fun parts?
Working in the electronic team involves a lot of problem solving, and while sometimes they are difficult to solve, the most fun part is solving them and getting it to work. Our work sessions always consist of fun and humour, sometimes it feels more like fun than work. We recently had an amazing evening together consisting of board games, karaoke, and partying. Which sweetens the deal even more!
What are you most proud of achieving so far?
We are very proud of the new PDB design and the fail-safe circuit that we are going to use on the ASV. The PDB is a circuit board that converts the battery voltage to four different voltages. As its designed to be versatile and easy to use, used in both Beluga, the ASV and maybe future projects. The fail-safe is a very important part of the ASV as it ensures that the thrusters power off in case of any unplanned activates. That could be if we lose contact with the ASV in any sort of way.
What are the goals this semester?
The goals this semester is to make Beluga more robust and fix all the issues that weren’t working properly last year. When it comes to the ASV, our goal is to have a drivable boat which we can communicate with, while also having it read all the sensor data to make it autonomous. This will also be a good platform for further improvements in the future. One other important goal has been to improve the documentation on all the work we are doing. We’ve had bad practices during our earlier work, which has proven to be very frustrating at times, we’re making changes to our workflow to improve this further down the line.