Help Wanted

posted Apr 23, 2020, 7:23 AM by Doug Sinclair

We are looking for an Accountant and Office Manager for the Toronto lab.  If this is of interest, please see the Rocket Lab posting here.

Strange Days

posted Mar 23, 2020, 4:39 PM by Doug Sinclair   [ updated Mar 24, 2020, 6:44 AM ]

Today we looked through our strategic reserves, and donated more than a thousand nitrile gloves to the local hospital.

We have been told that non-essential businesses must close tomorrow at midnight.  But the list of what is and is not essential will not be released until some time tomorrow.  I expect some last-minute scurrying either way.

Edit: It looks like we are essential after all.  We will keep all of our equipment running, but drop down to the barest of skeleton crews.  Only one person is allowed in any single room in the lab.

Moving up to Bigger Things

posted Mar 16, 2020, 1:05 PM by Doug Sinclair

I have signed an agreement to sell Sinclair Interplanetary to Rocket Lab.  I will stay on in an engineering role, and I look forward to spending more time in the lab as others take over the day-to-day running of the business.

It's a good strategic fit for everybody.  Rocket Lab gets access to Sinclair components for its Photon platform.  Sinclair Interplanetary gets access to Rocket Lab's scale to help us build for larger constellations.

A nice round number

posted Feb 20, 2020, 11:41 AM by Doug Sinclair

A quiet milestone was reached some months ago, and has only just been tallied up.  Doug Sinclair has now built hardware for exactly 100 satellites that have launched from the Earth's surface.  A small handful of that count are launch failures, but most made it into orbit!

Another 2 Star Trackers On Orbit

posted Dec 6, 2019, 9:27 AM by Doug Sinclair

ALE 2 launched today, on Rocket Labs' 10th Electron vehicle.  It carries two more Sinclair Interplanetary star trackers, bringing our total in space up to 57.

This brief video shows the spacecraft, with the two star trackers mounted to the top surface.  Each aperture is covered with a remove-before-flight baffle cap.

RW4-1.0 GEO Wheels Use Less Power

posted Nov 30, 2019, 9:52 AM by Doug Sinclair

The first RW4-1.0 reaction wheels are getting ready to ship out.  This is an evolution of the earlier RW3-1.0 wheel, built rad-hard and intended for long-duration GEO missions.  Recent vacuum testing confirms that the power consumption of this wheel is greatly reduced compared to its predecessor:
  • At 0.2 Nms momentum, power is 1.4 W instead of 2.4 W
  • At 1.0 Nms momentum, power is 5.3 W instead of 15.1 W
  • Torque is +/- 100 mNm instead of +/- 50 mNm
This wheel will run cooler, and give the satellite greater agility, than ever before.  We can expect that, after successful flight demonstration, the RW4-1.0 will make the older RW3-1.0 model obsolete.

[For those who are interested: in this revision of the motor design I paid careful attention to the fringing magnetic fields from the rotor.  Where possible, aluminum radiation shielding in high field areas was removed and replaced with carbon-loaded PTFE.  Where the aluminum was required for thermal reasons, it was covered with a thin layer of high permeability nickel-iron alloy.  The skin depth in this alloy is very small, and prevents eddy-current formation in the aluminum substrate.  That's all it took to reduce the drag losses to 1/3 of their original values!]

Free to a good home: BGA-100 Microscope

posted Oct 8, 2019, 12:13 PM by Doug Sinclair   [ updated Oct 9, 2019, 11:02 AM ]

We now have a surplus BGA optical inspection microscope.  Let us know if you want it!

Edit: Snapped up within hours.


posted Aug 10, 2019, 6:25 AM by Doug Sinclair

Another successful Smallsat conference has come and gone.  We are indebted to the organizers and volunteers who continue to make this the most important event in our calendar every year.

Our paper on scaling up for mass manufacture is available in the conference proceedings, and also here.  Thanks to Julia Gibson for the very well received presentation.


posted Jul 24, 2019, 6:23 PM by Doug Sinclair   [ updated Jul 26, 2019, 5:18 AM ]

We are very glad to see the amazing pictures of the successful solar sail deployment on the LightSail 2 Cubesat.

Sinclair Interplanetary built the momentum wheel for this project.  It is a custom 60 mNm-sec unit, with the motor specially wound to achieve full speed with only a 7 V power input.

Free to a Good Home: DC/DC Converter ICs

posted Jul 11, 2019, 9:01 AM by Doug Sinclair

We build radiation-tolerant hardware, meaning that we buy industrial/automotive ICs and then lot-screen them for radiation performance.  Sometimes parts pass, sometimes they fail.  When they fail, we're left with a lot-buy of scrap.

Over on the Free to a Good Home page we have a set of DC/DC converters (components and dev kits) that failed 50 krad TID testing.  If you have a use for them, please let us know!

We had two other lots that passed the test, and that inventory we will retain.

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