Monday, 1 January 2018

As a new member of Electronics at DARE Stratos-III

Engineering is about inspiration, problem solving and building great things.

Hi, my name is Amitabh Yadav. I started my masters study in Computer Engineering in September 2017 and I am an electronics engineer at DARE since November 2017.

Joining DARE was an utmost agenda for me as soon as I came to Delft. This is because of two reasons. The first reason is that, the idea of ‘space’ excites me. DARE was the place where I could start investigating this interest into designing realistic rockets and find a place for my field of study. The second reason is more exciting. Designing rocket electronics systems is a critical challenge that is still not solved completely, even in the 21st century. Space and Space systems engineering is a frontier that requires extreme precision and dedicated collaboration among a wide spectrum of engineering disciplines. We learn from a number of subjects throughout our study but testing all these concepts in an extreme environment such as a rocket launch is really as exciting as it could get!

I signed up for an interest meet of DARE Stratos-III project in mid-October where for the first time, I got to see the work of DARE team – more specifically Stratos-II+ team. At this point, a concern was always there – being a full time master student and working part time on Stratos-III will be hard to manage. But I knew I had to join the team. Soon after, I received a call for interview from the chief electronics, Jos and got selected for Stratos-III electronics team.

Happiness is… working with great people!
Team Meetings are necessary to stay in touch of work, even better with pizza. I met with the Stratos III electronics team for the first time on one of these Tuesday meetings. That day I got to know about DARE, as a complete organisation and how Stratos-III project is in itself, a separate entity.

My first task was helping Jillis with the PCB designing of Recovery Board on Altium Designer. Before DARE I had used Altium once for a simple 1-sided PCB design of an interface. Altium is not too hard to figure out and Jillis was also there to help. It took about a week and I learnt using Altium in no time.

The second task for me was a bit tricky. The chief electronics wanted me to help Maurits with coding on ARM microcontroller. I say this tricky because at the time I was not aware of the ARM Architecture and I did not have much prior experience in coding for ARM MCU. It was quite a challenge yet an opportunity to get my hands dirty with firmware writing. Thus, I am learning C programming (again) for ARM. In the meantime, we also started soldering the second main control unit PCB – which is again, very cool!

It is your responsibility to make things happen.
Back in India, I had tried making simple rockets using solid mixture of potassium nitrate and sugar. It was good enough to fetch my rocket to an altitude of 1-1.5k feet. But Stratos-III is decades ahead of that. A great thing about DARE is collaboration among teams. Even being a team member of Electronics I have access to some communications of other sub-teams. One such occasion allowed me to volunteer to help in casting of the solid fuel for Stratos-III test engine. That time, getting my hands dirty (literally) with casting was fun!

To be completely honest, working at DARE and managing full time master study at TU Delft is often challenging and often you could face situations of not being able to give sufficient time to one. But for me, it is the right choice. I chose engineering because it is about application and rocketry, well, it’s awesome! It inspires me to break boundaries.

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