Back to the ‘bot

15 10 2009

This morning I completed the last of the training and refresher courses which each team member needs to have gone through to be permitted to work in the Dry Valleys (survival in the field, environmental and helicopter procedures). So, I’ve finally gotten down to the old Incinerator building which is our staging area this year to start working on prepping ENDURANCE. A few problems have appeared after ENDURANCE’s long storage.

Chris and I tested the battery stacks which were left here over the southern winter. It turns out they are in pretty bad shape. Their power has dropped to critically low levels, and they may not be usable, or at most a few of the cells will be recoverable.

The insides of the housing for one of the old battery stacks.  The stack is about 1 m long.

The insides of the housing for one of the old battery stacks. The stack is about 1 m long.

Luckily, we already got funding at the beginning of the year to replace the old battery stacks with a new set that holds more power, so the old batteries would only serve as backup, anyways. However, the new batteries are as yet untested in ENDURANCE—Bart and Chris still have to finish verifying all of the connections and plugging them in—so we’re crossing our fingers that they’ll work. “Why so much worry? I change batteries in my electronics all the time,” you may say. However, ENDURANCE’s battery stacks are very sophisticated devices. Each has a small computer and banks of relay switches and other circuitry which regulate the charging and power draw on each of the 14 rather finnicky lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells to make sure they are all used evenly and under as ideal conditions as possible. It also makes sure that there are no extreme spikes in current either coming in or going out of the batteries. Without this, the cells would hardly last for a single charge, and might even catch fire or explode. So “changing the batteries” really isn’t as easy on ENDURANCE as it may be in your digital camera.

Rachel removes the leaking thruster while Bart and Vickie discuss the placement of the e-stop (emergency stop) switches for the new batteries.

Rachel removes the leaking thruster while Bart and Vickie discuss the placement of the e-stop (emergency stop) switches for the new batteries.


Rachel also found a small oil leak coming from one of the thrusters. This may have started because a seal dried out in the last 10 months or somehow due to the chilling and re-warming when ENDURANCE was transported causing things to expand or flex, we’re not sure. We do have a spare, and can probably fix the leak and re-fill the oil, but it does mean additional work.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

2 responses

15 10 2009
Heath

The Battery Stacks are huge!! Then again, the ENDURANCE ROBOT is itself much bigger than I expected. I guess I had always imagined a robot about the size of R2D2. So seeing how big it really is was pretty cool.

16 10 2009
Maria Richmond

Good luck with all of this!! I miss our daily calls, so it is very good that I can look at your log every day! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: