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.

Offerings to the god of Laser Power

posted Jun 21, 2019, 7:50 AM by Doug Sinclair   [ updated Jun 21, 2019, 7:52 AM ]

Burt Munro famously kept a shelf of burned motorcycle pistons with the label "Offerings to the god of speed".  In that vein, here are just a few of the MEMS fine-steering mirrors that we have destroyed in the development of the Darkstar laser downlink terminal.  Unsurprisingly, optical power must be massively derated when working in vacuum.

NSP Software Library

posted Jan 12, 2019, 8:25 AM by Doug Sinclair

NSP is the software protocol used by equipment made by Sinclair Interplanetary, the Space Flight Laboratory, the Deep Space Industries (now Brandford Space) Comet propulsion system, and possibly others.  Robin Lilja has kindly posted his NSP software library here under a BEER-WARE license.

30 mNms Wheels for Immediate Sale

posted Jan 11, 2019, 5:51 AM by Doug Sinclair   [ updated Apr 9, 2019, 8:05 AM ]

We have four brand new 30 mNms reaction wheels on the shelf, available for sale.  Details here.  They were built for a customer who sadly had to back out of their order.  The wheels are currently configured for ASYNC interface, but can be changed to I2C by a simple code load.

Edit April 2019: These parts have been sold.

Remembering Tim May

posted Dec 15, 2018, 5:03 PM by Doug Sinclair

I note with sadness the recent death of Tim May, reported here and here.  Before I was a spacecraft engineer I was a Cypherpunk, and Tim was at the core of it all.

During his time at Intel, he discovered the source of Single-Event Upsets (SEUs) in DRAM as alpha particles from natural radioactivity in the IC ceramic packages.  This contribution is deeply relevant to all of us in the space community today.

I will mostly remember him for taking me aside at an early Computer, Freedom and Privacy conference to tell me that my jacket with a dozen pockets stuffed with tech, which young me thought was desperately 1337 and tactical, looked kinda goofy.  I don't think I ever wore it again.  In certain circles, Tim was the arbiter of cool.

A busy week

posted Dec 3, 2018, 12:08 PM by Doug Sinclair

Most of our satellite launches for this year have happened in the past week.  On November 29, Blacksky Global-1 was launched on a PSLV.  On December 3, Blacksky Global-2, SkySat-14 and -15, Landmapper BC-4 and Hawk A were all launched on a Falcon 9.

All together, this represents 9 star trackers and 22 reaction wheels on orbit.

Ruby Lasers

posted Oct 18, 2018, 2:54 PM by Doug Sinclair

Sharing this picture, because they are just so pretty.  These are flight-model ruby laser assemblies for the Darkstar laser downlink terminal.  They are not the main communications lasers (nor technically are they ruby lasers), but are low-power metrology lasers used to measure the attitude of the internal fine-steering mirror for realtime control.  The ruby operates simultaneously as an optical lens and as a mechanical pivot point.

Between these, the diamonds in the reaction wheel bearings, and the gold that coats pretty much every surface, this lab feels like a game of Splendor.

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