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Sherlock Ohms

Case of the Broken-Down Satellite

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William K.
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Broken down satellite tracker.
William K.   6/5/2012 6:17:06 PM
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This is a case of the unintended consequences of somthing that seemed like a good idea at the time. Shutting down the tracking system instead of sending an alarm message seemed like a good thing, although the leadscrew and gears could hgave lived for months without the lubrication spray. But somebody thought that it was more important to shut down the auto-tracking to preserve the gears.  Of course, if the protocol had been adequately documented the solution would have been clear much sooner.

akili
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Re: Broken down satellite tracker.
akili   6/6/2012 11:34:34 AM
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You are right William K.  With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, a lot of the technology on the early earth stations was overkill on a grand scale.  However, we had only just progressed from low orbit fast-moving satellites to synchronous satellites and many of the operators wanted to be able to track fast-moving satellites too, "just in case".  But I take issue over operating for "months".  As satellite technology improved and smaller dishes (5 to 7 metres) came into use they were often driven by bought-in electric actuators with so-called "sealed for life" lubrication.  This would be fine if they were operated at reasonable speed and over their whole travel to keep the lube grease distributed.  In fact they would operate for months just inching to and fro over only a small distance which then became dry and very worn and the unused leadscrew deteriorated.  Then when you wanted to move to another location it would sieze up and break the shear-pin and require complete overhaul or even replacement.  That was particularly a problem on the Caribbean islands with corrosive salty atmosphere that defied all but the very highest levels of IP rating.

bobjengr
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bobjengr   6/9/2012 11:23:41 AM
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I can certainly agree with tekochip on this one.  It would seem logical to test the entire installation over a period of days to ensure proper operation of all systems prior to going "live".  Then again, I've been there.  Management sometimes does not allow time for a complete "shake-down" and we end up bench testing complementary systems instead of testing the entire assembly.   This is one of the great frustrations design engineering types have with right-to-left program management.

bobjengr
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bobjengr   6/9/2012 11:52:34 AM
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I can certainly agree with tekochip on this one.  It would seem logical to test the entire installation over a period of days to ensure proper operation of all systems prior to going "live".  Then again, I've been there.  Management sometimes does not allow time for a complete "shake-down" and we end up bench testing complementary systems instead of testing the entire assembly.   This is one of the great frustrations design engineering types have with right-to-left program management.

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