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P3D Lab Visit 7/11 - 7/13/99

My family vacation took us to Orlando, Florida this year, and with the
cooperation of the XYL, I was able to spend three wonderful days at the
P3D Lab, as they prepared to send the spacecraft off to GSFC for the
spin test. Here follows my trip report:

In case you guys didn't know it, the Team at the Lab is really working
HARD to get this spacecraft ready to fly SOON. Whether it really does or
not...well that's a different matter. But the bird will be ready to fly
based on the effort I saw being put into it.

My first day was spent with Stan Wood getting a solar "barrier" for lack
of a better word, ready to install over two of the parabolic antenna
bases. The idea is that this substance prevents the sun's solar energy
being focused onto the antenna elements and literally burning it to a
crisp, yet is completely transparent to RF. Day 2 started by finishing
the installation. Next Stan had me giving the machine shop a THOROUGH
cleaning. (Hey, I'm not proud; I'd do whatever needed to be done just to
watch while the rest of the experts did the hard stuff). Everyone was in
a big crunch getting everything ready for the shake test. Most of the
final work seemed to revolve around getting the solar panel mountings
right. Next, I went on one of those proverbial parts hunting trips with
Stan and Lou. What an education. Turns out the part we needed was
stocked at a local hardware store, which was the 4th place we tried. Go
figure. Anyway, one of the travel topics was the test plan for the shake
test. I have experience with software and computer systems test plans,
and offered to help in that area. The existing plan had all the right
elements in it; the information just needed to be arranged in an
industry standard (IEEE) format. By the end of day 3, the plan was ready
to go, and so was the Spacecraft.

I didn't get to make it back for Day 4 (July 14th) but I'm sure that was
the day the Spacecraft got loaded on the truck and started on the long
trip to Maryland. Estimates were that the shake test would take about a

I'd highly recommend that if you are in the Orlando area, give Lou
McFadin a call beforehand and offer your services. They may have you
operating a vacuum cleaner most of the time, but it will be an
experience you won't soon forget.

Steve Diggs, W4EPI
Atlanta, GA AMSAT Area Coordinator

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