Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chasing the Dream

So, the majority of testing we do here at the wind tunnel is customer proprietary so we cannot talk about it.  Well, the last few months we have been beating ourselves with a major project and now it is public. We have been working on Sierra Nevada Corp's The Dream Chaser. This has been quite the undertaking with Texas A&M faculty, staff, graduate students and undergrad student workers all contributing to making this test a big success. The students involved in this have made major contributions in helping with this project from beginning to end and until now have not been able to talk about the really cool stuff they got to do. Never underestimate the ability of students. they can and do do some pretty incredible work and I very much enjoy and appreciate working with them. They know who they are.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alone, Cold and in the Rain

So, I posted earlier about letting the smoke out of our main drive motor 2 weeks before we had scheduled to replace it. I called Utilities and Energy management here on campus and asked them to come disconnect incoming power to the motor so we could start demolition. We went through a round of "are you sure? really? really sure?" questions and followed up with written confirmation that we are never going to run this motor again. They sent out a crew to disconnect and lock out incoming power.
As soon as they guys got here, it started to rain and get cooler as a cold front started through. Hence the title of the post, this motor that has given 60+ years of service to the Texas A&M University Low Speed Wind Tunnel after being surplussed from the US Navy, has finally met it's end.

Alone, Cold and in the Rain.

Magic Smoke

Most folks who work in electronics and or electro-mechanical systems know that everything runs on magic smoke. Once you let the smoke out, things stop working. Here at work we are prepping for replacement of the main drive motor. That is supposed to start in two and a half weeks.

Well, it starts now. Yesterday we let the magic smoke out of the bearings of the main drive system. Actually, the bearings came apart and that burned oil and that let out the magic smoke. This bearing is supposed to be smooth but it has shredded. Things went down hill quickly.

Not to mention the spacious work area. Trashed one set of clothes with the grease leftover inside the housing. Not to mention all the shavings of babbit that were floating all over with the oil smoke.


R.I.P., Jonathon Frid

Jonathon Frid, who portrayed Barnabas Collins in the original Dark Shadows has passed away.

I was going to make a snarky comment that he must have seen the trailers for the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp reboot, but then I read that he has a cameo in it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

BaG day purchase

Well, technical difficulties prohibit me from posting pictures at the moment. Will have to wait. First a story that starts with, last year my Mom passed. We're not rich but there would be some inheritance, if you knew our family you would understand that when we went on family vacations, we would never had gotten there if not for Dad and we never would have had fun getting there if not for Mom. She was a firm believer in feeding your whimsey on occasion. So, part of inheriting is the condition that goes with honoring the passed. That meant using the inheritance to pay bills and get things fixed around the house but keeping a little back for something fun. So, I set some aside for a new gun fund for something I would normally not spend that kind of money on. Then last month I took ill and spent some time in the local hospital and underwent all sorts of poking and prodding. Well, each person or group that does the prodding gets their own cut of the bill and we got hit with a series of bills and are still getting them. Just so happened that the amount was pretty much what I had set aside. So, the funds got sent to the hospital and various specialists and diagnostics companies.
Then misbeHaven steps in and informs me that I will be buying that gun. If we had to put other things on hold for a time so be it but I was going to get the gun I had been planning. Have I said lately how much I love my wife?
So, I called around after one gun store had been looking for the particular one for a while with no success and found a shop about an hour and a half away that had one on the shelf. The woman I spoke to said come at noon as that is a slow time and would be able to get the attention needed. So, I made the drive. Walked in and the first salesman I came across was busty with someone else as were all the sales people. If this was slow, I wouldn't want to be there when they were busy. Anyhow, the salesman asked if I was just looking or looking for something in particular. So I told him I had called yesterday and was told they had what I wanted on the shelf. I said," I'm here to get a Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD M O U S E R E S P E C T." He responded by turning and pointing at the rack behind him and replied, "Oh, that's right he...... wait, A WHAT?" After it sunk in, he pulled the rifle off the rack and handed it to me then finished with the customer that he was helping. In between steps helping the current customer he asked if that was really it and I told him, "Yup I'll take it." so he reached for a 4473 and said, "You're easy, now you need to fill this out and we'll get a check started." So, I dropped my CHL on the counter and replied, "Don't bother wrapping it, I'll wear it." You may get the idea now that I am a bit of a smart ass but the guy was having fun with it and so was I. Anyway, we finally got into the deal, the salesman went into teh back room and not only did they have the one on the shelf but had two more on the shelf in back in their boxes. Being the salesman, he asked about optics and such and I explained, I already had Badger mount and rings on order and a Bushnell Elite Tactical scope to go on it.
Since this is uncharted territory for me, I talked to my friend and neighbor who teaches at Rifles Only and we put together a beginners package that will fill the bill for my purposes. His professional opinion was that I could put this together to get the most bang for the buck and do everything I had wanted and more. And since I already have .308's and reloading setups for it as well I would be able to tweak as much as I liked without any additional setup needed.
When I have it all together I will get pictures. I already took shots of the bare rifle to add to the gun inventory database and put all that information in but need to get the finished ensemble together and take finished pictures. Then it is off to the range for break in, sight in / dope gathering and some serious learnin from the student side instead of as the instructor.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Medium Voltage Fun

So, some of you may think 15KV is High Voltage but in reality it is really Medium Voltage. This morning was all about lifting a 15KV 2400KVAR capacitor bank and a four place 15KV / 1250 Amp Trayer Switch into place All this is to control / feed a 15KV / 4160V step down transformer that will end up powering a 3000HP induction motor and variable frequency drive to power the main propeller of our wind tunnel. This will be quite the upgrade from the WW2 surplus 1000HP synchronous motor we are currently using. The existing was surplus when it was sent here and it has served well past it's expected lifetime. It is now past due for retirement. Add to that the ancient transformers that are in the low right corner of the picture. That is the original gear installed to power the tunnel and the crews that care for the power distribution here at the University are more than happy to see it all go away.