July 4, 2018 UpdateThe amount raised through Wefunder was a total of $169,397 from 200 investors. After paying various fees, we received a total of $164,315 that was wired in during the last week of May and the first week of June. We immediately put your investment to work by outfitting our laboratory and office space and getting it ready for our summer interns.
Below is a photo of the fifteen foot long electronics bench, with CEO Randy setting up a dual Xeon computer for use as a compute server and storage server. We’ll use the server for running mechanical finite element and thermal analysis, as well as electrical circuit simulation. We already had the server, so we didn’t have to spend any funds on it. In the background is co-founder Sean’s personal vehicle, which is a diesel utility truck. Barely visible behind our spacecraft model is our solder rework station, which we'll use to solder and de-solder tiny surface mount components on our circuit boards.
We knew in early May that the fundraising campaign was successful, and we immediately started the search for summer interns from top notch engineering schools. We had a number of great applicants, and we wish we could have had more than just two interns.
Shown below are the two interns we hired. Phil, on the right in the blue T-shirt, just finished his junior year in aerospace engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He started in mid-June, and has already contributed a lot to the mechanical re-design of our space telescope. We wanted to change the spacecraft structural design to make it quicker and easier to assemble and disassemble, and Phil made some finite element and thermal analyses that verified our new approach should work. He will continue working on the mechanical design with co-founder Sean over the next few months.
Intern Jack, on the left with the neatly trimmed beard, started work only two days ago. He just finished his junior year in Electrical Engineering at UC San Diego, and he is the president of SEDS, the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space organization. You can see a video of the test firing of their 3D printed rocket engine here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2ylImcGjDY. Jack will be working on our optical communications test bed, designing circuitry for the laser transmitter and optical receiver, running circuit simulations, and doing the schematic capture and printed circuit board (PCB) layout. Our goal for him is to be able to order the PCB by the end of July, and to start testing in August.
Shown below is CEO Randy at the electronics bench, using our “new” 1 gigahertz Tektronix oscilloscope that was purchased on Ebay. Our optical communication circuits will send and receive optical pulses that are 5 to 10 nanoseconds long, so it’s important to have a fast oscilloscope.
Here’s Phil taking measurements of our old spacecraft model. We are changing the old design because replacing an internal part or making an adjustment to the optics required taking almost the entire spacecraft apart. The new design is much more modular, and should take only a few minutes to access, remove, or insert internal sub-assemblies. We “splurged” and bought a 55 inch TV with 4K resolution to use as a computer monitor and virtual whiteboard -- it was only $250 at Walmart.
Here’s Phil again, at the bench that's used for 3D printing. The 3D printer is large enough to print all of the parts of our spacecraft model, including all of the panels.
Co-founder Sean has finished his initial optical design of the main telescope, and is sending it out for review by our optics partners. We will be very busy over the next few months designing, building, and testing our space telescope, and we’ll keep you informed of our progress and plans.
Randy Chung, CEO, SpaceFab.US