Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High School Intern Update

 It’s been an interesting week for the high school intern team. We began by creating a successful NXT robot to navigate the course created for the resident summer camp, a 3-week Lego Mindstorms lunar rover challenge. You can see our robot tackle the course in the video below!

As you can see, we have kept ourselves busy with various coding projects: 
Jordan modifying NXT code
Nick creating a Fourier series program
Sean solving a statistics coding challenge

Several weeks ago, the pyrex tube on the plasma machine shattered. Now that we received a replacement part, we have redirected our attention toward this project.  Jordan and Nick designed a Plexiglas shield for safety, and Sean helped to install it.After that, we reassembled and evacuated the tube. Unfortunately, the O-Rings that we were using failed to create a viable seal, so we made new ones from sheet rubber. With the new ring in place, we got the tube down to 15 mTorr, but unfortunately the required breakdown voltage was too high for us to safely generate a plasma. The next day, we went at it again, but this time using Argon gas, since it has a lower breakdown voltage. However, this lead to a new problem. The leak valve on the Argon gas cylinder prevented us from lowering the tube pressure below 150 mTorr, so we are currently awaiting a new leak valve.  We hope to begin experiments, using the LabView code  that Emily has written, in the near future. 

Working on the plasma tube
We have also been assisting students from Professor Scott Robertson’s lab with the stepper motors project. These motors will be used for both the LEIL table in the beamline, and Professor Robertson’s lunar wheel experiment. You can see our current setup in the picture below. Until next week… 

The stepper motor setup

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