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Thread: An untidy first satellite.

  1. #1
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    An untidy first satellite.

    If young people think of electronic construction these days they will know it is very tidy from the layout of microchips to computer motherboards ect. But it was not always like this. Millions of radio sets in the 1930s, 40s, 50s were made with components connected straight to the valve holders and they looked like right birds nests. Well I have an old volume that suggests the first Vanguard satellites were going to be like this. (Operation Vanguard, Buedeler, 1957). A photograph shows a transparent model with resisters and capacitors wired up higgledly piccarty inside. It may be an anomally, my other book on the project indicates the three successful craft sent up in 1958 and 1959 were made more neatly. But I wonder if this model made it to the Air and Space museum or has been locked away.

  2. #2
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    Pls add pic.

    Cheers

  3. #3
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    I don't get exactly what you're pointing to. Vanguard had a bit wild wiring between its large scale modules (but with the extremely limited amount of wiring, I'm not sure there would have been any point in guiding everything with straps and tapes and brackets = extra weight. Essentially, it was just transmitter to antenna and panel to battery wiring), but on a component level it was all neat PCB on Vanguard-1 and als on explorer-1:

    https://ids.si.edu/ids/deliveryServi...S01&max_w=1000 (TV-3 after failed launch)
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...lectronics.jpg
    http://online.sfsu.edu/hl/Explorer-1.A-B.ad2.jpg

    So basically, it is like your PC: neat PCB's connected with loose cables. Unless you're one of those guys... ;-)
    On more recent sats, the amount of wiring is much larger and the wiring tends to be guided. Also, those wires often are on the outside of the sat, only covered by a layer of mylar. Big difference with Vanguard, where the wiring was inside of a metal sphere.

  4. #4
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    The book I referred to used images supplied by the United States Information Service so if this agency still exists an archive may be accessible. I think the model was made in 1955 or 56 by some company that supplied these things and the maker was asked to put some electronics in it. So he use the a household radio as an example. It is hillarious really. The wild wiring would have had to endure some spinning as the satellite was deployed. I wonder how much testing was done in those days? Just make it, see if it works when switched on then launch it!

  5. #5
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    According to Wikipedia, Vanguard was built by the Naval Research Laboratory. The Navy had some experience with electronics that could withstand high G forces -the proximity fuse- so perhaps the assembly wasn’t as willy-nilly as it looked.

    By the way, I did a little point-to-point wiring in my youth, and it was pretty rugged, if ugly.


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  6. #6
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    Some images of the Vanguard-3 satellite are here:

    https://airandspace.si.edu/collectio...-vanguard-tv-3

    Starting with picture 4 of 16, they show lots of "ugly" point-to-point wiring. It looks to be held together with "baling wire and string."
    Selden

  7. #7
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    Only compared to modern day technology.

    In the days before microelectronic circuit boards were perfected, made reliable, and micro-miniaturized, direct connections mean fewer joints to fail. It also meant less weight to loft into space.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    According to Wikipedia, Vanguard was built by the Naval Research Laboratory. The Navy had some experience with electronics that could withstand high G forces -the proximity fuse- so perhaps the assembly wasn’t as willy-nilly as it looked.

    By the way, I did a little point-to-point wiring in my youth, and it was pretty rugged, if ugly.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Quote Originally Posted by selden
    Some images of the Vanguard-3 satellite are here:

    https://airandspace.si.edu/collectio...-vanguard-tv-3

    Starting with picture 4 of 16, they show lots of "ugly" point-to-point wiring. It looks to be held together with "baling wire and string."
    My dad was an engineer on the Naval Research Laboratory team that built that satellite, and he told me that the one that was on the Vanguard that burned up in that first launch attempt was on the ground beside the launch pad and still transmitting. This was after falling through the fireball about 70 feet to the ground. That canister in the center is the casing for a radio beacon transmitter, and it probably took less of a jolt there than similar ones fired out of 5-inch naval guns. When one finally reached orbit 3 months later, he tracked it for the next 16 years until his retirement, monitoring the extreme upper atmosphere and the lumpy form of the Earth.
    Last edited by Hornblower; 2018-Jun-24 at 05:32 PM. Reason: Fix quote tags

  9. #9
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    It is nice to have a direct link to those days. I remember watching that launch on our little television back then. A first experience of how the television people will repeat a disaster again and again and again...And I remember my father saying "you see peter they did not any milk bottles large enougth". I think he was being sarcastic! My other book on the project (Vanguard: A history, Green and Lomask) says that Vanguard 1 operated for 7 years as it was the first craft yo use solar cells. And as it was launched during the International Geophysical Year it did just what they wanted, gave geophysical information about the Earth due to its high orbit. And it is still up there I understand. It would be nice to recover it but those aerials sticking out would be a problem!

  10. #10
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    Also note that a lot of what you see in Vanguard 3 is not point to point wiring but cables between subsystems. The are PCB's inside it as shown in my earlier post.

  11. #11
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    Now, I've heard it said that one of the reasons behind ALS/NLS, some of which were resolved by the EELV program--is that satellites in general relied on the booster electronics beneath them too much, and that a move was made to make any sat more independant. Anything to this?

  12. #12
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    Can you give a bit more context? What is ALS/NLS? What was resolved? For what tasks did they rely on the booster electronics and how was this solved?

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