Monthly Archives: August 2015

ASTC’s interesting fact of the week.

We think of the selfie as a relatively new conception with the growth of the smartphone era …… well it’s not! The scientists, engineers and explorers of the Voyager mission took the best ever selfie in 1990 – a long time before camera phones, never mind the smartphone.

The Voyager probes were two satellites launched by NASA in 1977, their mission was to take advantage of a favourable alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune and they are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere

Having completed its mission of the planets of the solar system, Voyager, in 1990, turned its camera back towards the sun, from a distance of 6 billion kilometres, and took the portrait (selfie) of the solar system.

The first ever selfie

Carl Sagan not a poet, artist, or philosopher but an ENGINEER wrote this of our finest selfie ever….

Here we are!“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Kind of makes you feel both big and small at the same time. The endeavours of mankind have achieved so much in terms of science to take this picture but there is still so much to be achieved.

Image Caption

Top: The solar system selfie

Bottom right: If you look closely enough you can see us, a little dot!

Set Designer teaches Runner a thing or two

This week we have finished assembling all of the whiffletrees and are brushing up on our artistic skills by giving them a lick of paint – Set Designer, Steve, seemed to take a more supervisory role when the team had an afternoon painting session on Tuesday. This is so parts of the plane and the rig are clearly distinguishable. The whiffletrees have been welded and placed on our strong floor meaning they are becoming ever closer to being ready for the plane.

We have also just had final confirmation of where all the strain gauges are to be placed on the plane for testing – it has been decided that there are to be extra sites for the gauges to be situated on the plane so a little more prep has had to be done. The goal for the rest of this week is to start getting the gauges onto the fuselage and wings.

Shane has been assembling and welding the fixture that will be used to flip the whole plane over. See our The Big Flip blog post for more details about this.

Back in the office, we’ve been working on a project plan of when we think everything will be done and time is really flying by, no pun intended.  It’s exciting to see how far along in the project we have come.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


A big thank you

IMG_4030_We’d like to say a special thank you to Paul Ridgen and all the AMRC apprentices based at the Knowlegde Transfer Centre (KTC). They have been a huge help to us  in the last few weeks, manufacturing and  modifying parts for the whiffletree – often at short notice!

So, on behalf of all at the ASTC – THANK YOU!!!

Image Caption: The AMRC apprentices who’ve been working hard to manufacture parts for the whiffletree

The whiffletree takes root

IMG_1122This week Jake’s been finishing off the prep on over 300 metres of cable for the strain gauges. Each cable contains eight wires so that a massive 2.4 kilometres of wire in total! On to the end of each of these wires Jake has attached a very fine lead wire that will eventually connect to the strain gauge. The wires are very fragile so Jake’s been very protective over them and won’t let anyone else touch them.

IMG_1124We’ve also started painting a few parts of the whiffletree structure. As we mentioned last week, we’ve decided to paint the whiffletree so that people can identify that it’s not part of the structure of the aircraft.

Our most exciting development of the week is that we’ve started constructing the whiffletrees! We’ve been making sure that everything fits together and moves as it should, one or two of the parts have been a little tight so we’ve been easing them with grease. IMG_1126The whole concept of a whiffletree is that it’s flexible; however this is causing us a few problems when we try to mount it on the strong floor – as soon as we pick it up it all moves! We’re currently trying to square the whiffletrees up and then we will hold them together (so they can’t move when we lift them!) using unistrut that’s tack welded on. We’ll then mount the whiffletrees on the strong floor. There are three whiffletrees in total; two big ones, fixed to the wings, and one smaller, fixed to the horizontal stabilizer of the tail; so this will keep us busy for a while.

In other news, the plane (well our plane’s identical – but better looking – twin) has now done over 30 hours of flying.

Image captions

Top right: Over 300 metres of cables that have been prepped by Jake.

Middle left: Parts of the whiffletree painted blue.

Bottom right: The first, and smallest, whiffletree in full and held together using unistrut.

The Big Flip

shutterstock_123022126One of the more immediate challenges we will face with the plane is flipping it so that we can mount it on the whiffletree – it will sit on the rig upside down. There was some talk of using man power to flip it but Shane’s got another plan!

Here’s how we hope it’ll work….

The bearing that’s fitted to the engine mount, that’s mounted to nose of the plane, has had a hole drilled in it so we can fit a rotating turn buckle inside. The rotating turn buckle will be lifted using the crane.

At the back end of the plane we’re going to make and mount a bracket that’s got a centre hole in it, again with a turn buckle inside. We’ll need to arrange some more lifting equipment to then lift the plane from the back end too.

The plan is then to lift the plane up at either end to a height of about 4 metres – remember the wings will also be mounted by this time too. Someone will hold one wing so as we’re lifting the plane up they’ll walk the wing through and ultimately flip the plane. The first ever barrel roll inside the ASTC!

We’ll keep you updated on how this pans out! We’re hoping the big flip will happen in early September.

Strain gauges and the strong floor

Strain gauges measure surface strain at different points of a test piece – in this case of the plane the strain is a measure of how much something has stretched in relation to its original length, in engineering terms e÷l (e = extension, l = original length, so strain= e ÷ l).

The aircraft manufacturers’ engineers have been up this week to mark out where the strain gauges need to go on the plane – there’ll be 17 in total. Jake has then been removing the paint and preparing the surface of the plane where the gauges will be located. The two Steve’s are on holiday at the minute but when they come back they’ll bond all the little strain gauges on to the plane’s surface.

We’ve also been working on getting the strong floor prepared to ensure all the mounting points are correct. Last week we set up the first mounting point as a datum (a standard position or level that measurements are taken from) and then we’ve measured all the other mounting points from that. We’ve marked some datum lines on the floor – there’s a datum line and a central line – and everything we’re doing is referenced from these points using triangulated measurements – this will make sure we’re millimetre perfect. It the fits not right we’ll not be able to assemble the plane on the mounts. It’s all been checked and double checked and even checked again and we’re bang on (hopefully!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


A little help goes a long way

20150811_143647_resizedThis week we’ve had a delightful work experience student working with us.

Olivia Tomlinson, is 17 and from Retford. She’s just completed her AS-Levels in Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and General Studies and is hoping to go on to study Aerospace Engineering at University after achieving her A-Levels next summer . Olivia’s also an air cadet.

Olivia found out about the AMRC when doing some research online and got in contact to see if she could come and do a work placement. She’s been here for 8 days in total but started off in the composite centre, however after spending an afternoon working with us in the structural testing centre, she decided she wanted to stay with us for the rest of her placement.

She’s been prepping lots of wires for the strain gauges that will be mounted on the plane and has also been helping Shane mark the strong floor out for the plane’s rig. We’ve definitely been keeping her busy.

Olivia’s also picked out a nice colour for the plane’s frame – we’ve decided as the frame is so nice we should paint it. Painting it will also show it’s not part of the structure of the aircraft. She’s gone for blue so watch out for the colour on future photos!

We’ve loved having Olivia working with us, not only has she been a great help but we’re always happy to further encourage young people into engineering – especially women!

Olivia is due to get her AS-Level results on Thursday 13th August – Good Luck Olivia and stay in touch!

Image Caption: Olivia Tomlinson prepping some wire while on her work placement at the AMRC.

ATSC’s interesting fact of the week.

On the 11th August 1999, there was a total eclipse in Cornwall – it was the first over mainland Britain since 1927 – the next will not be until 2090.

Can you also remember when Zola Budd ‘tripped’ Mary Decker in the women’s 3,000m final at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. It was 31 years ago this week.