The installation of our new thermal vacuum chamber is slightly behind schedule but we are still on track to start testing the vacuum and thermal control system at the end of this month. New custom flanges for the old gate valve port are in the final stages of fabrication and finishing, the scroll and mag-lev turbo molecular pumps are installed and the control systems for the thermal plate are starting testing the end of this week.
TVAC#2 has water cooled door seals and chamber walls which means it will be capable of higher maximum temperatures than TVAC#1. We are also installing a thermal plate design we developed for a customer several years ago to achieve a very uniform temperature when using LN2 for cold temperatures and dwells.
There are also further re-designs from the thermal system of TVAC#1 which will be tested in TVAC#2 and will be used to upgrade TVAC#1 in the future.
Follow this blog for future updates or keep an eye on our test house page for when TVAC#2 is fully operational.
And we're back for 2018!
We have recently taken delivery of a new vacuum chamber which we have already started work on getting it ready for commissioning. Some of the new pumps and control units have arrived and we are currently populating and wiring the control/measurement rack units. This new vacuum chamber system will be TVAC#2 and features water cooling on the chamber walls and, importantly, the door seals, which means it will be capable of higher temperature testing than TVAC#1.
We have used the down time of the chamber in the last few weeks of 2017 to further optimise the PID control for the thermal plate in TVAC#1 which means it is now capable of reaching temperature faster and with negligible overshoot. We continue to see a high demand for bakeouts on TVAC#1 and we are working quickly to get TVAC#2 up and running to help with this.
We continue to develop our solar simulators and have a couple of product enhancements planned for 2018 for both our standard Unisim close match range as well as our Unisim Compact. For a free in-house demonstration of our Unisim Compact, please feel free to contact us.
We hope you all had a good break over the Christmas holiday and look forward to working with you over the coming year.
We are making our in-house Unisim Compact available for demonstration and testing. You are also welcome, without any obligation, to use our house Compact for a half-day to measure any of the cells on which you are currently working.
Urgent Test Requirements
While we do not recommend working under such conditions, we are sometimes asked to help with urgent test requirements with little time to prepare.
We were recently contacted with very short notice for a thermal vacuum test requirement. Less than two weeks after receiving the test procedure document we had begun the test and, even with the chamber not being configured how we would have liked it and the test procedure being altered by the customer 'on-the-fly', the test was completed on schedule. The results of the test were critical to the acceptance of a flight component and as such the customer was able to meet their deadline due to our rapid response.
Large Sample Loads
A customer requirement for baking out hundreds of thermocouples meant pushing the capacity of our TVAC chamber. The down-time between bakeouts gave us a week to measure, design, manufacture, clean and fit spool system for loading the thermocouples. We were constrained by our temperature controlled shroud, but we were able to fit the components in time and complete the bakeout.
Tricky Sample Loading
Our chamber can be fitted with a large a range of temperature controlled shrouds we have manufactured for it. However, we are able to manufacture new shrouds to accommodate samples which are more tricky to mount.
For this particular bakeout the samples need to be suspended in the center of the chamber. We were able to get a design to our highly skilled engineer within the day and continued the re-configuring of the chamber while the machining was being undertaken. Computer controlled DC power supplies were installed into the control rig and the PID software updated to take care of the temperature control of the multi-segment shroud. In a week we had the new shroud installed along with re-routed thermocouples, QCM and cold plate lines. The bakeout was then started on-schedule thanks to our quick turnaround.
Our test facilities for both thermal vacuum testing and ECSS-Q-ST-70-02 outgassing both continue to be in demand. We've recently overhauled our thermal vacuum test chamber (TVAC1) after the turbo pump failed early this year. We have stripped and cleaned the chamber and now have the new turbo installed along with UPS and automated shutdown for the pump and thermal system in the event of power failure. The thermal control has also been upgraded to use a custom built system using the NI CDaq units for accurate PID control of the hot and LN2 modes of the chamber. We've even gone so far as to give TVAC1 its own twitter feed for remote monitoring.
We are beginning a new build of our Unisim Compact solar simulators as our stocks are almost sold out. The latest model has the improved, sliding enclosure for all-round access to the optical enclosure as well as an IV measurement system with source meter as standard. Many of our customers are ordering these with the optional LED boosts fitted. This allows the simulator to be used as a 4-zone system using our 'N-Zone' technique covered on this blog.
If you have any interest in our simulators or test facilities, please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements.
Due to an increase in quote requests for our test services we have a new form for requesting quotes for vacuum testing which can be found here. Although we specialise in custom testing requirements, collating common test requirements using this initial form will help us get your quote out much faster.
We are also in the process of updating our standard outgassing test information to cover regular questions and problems we are asked regarding sample preparation. For our existing customers please note our outgassing charges will remain the same for 2017, so if you used us for your outgassing test work in 2016 and are looking to use us again in 2017, the prices are the same.
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