Design and Construction of a Ferrofluid Kinetic Art Clock; Impacts of the Development of Environmental Suits on the Future of Human Spaceflight

Stutzman, Trevor, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Garner, Gavin, University of Virginia

Design and Construction of a Ferrofluid Kinetic Art Clock
Our capstone project is represented in a mechanical clock that uses motors to actuate magnets, which influence the organization of the ferrofluid particles. The motors are programmed through Spin, a computer programming language that effectively operates servo motors. A Propeller chip enables the commands to be run to the motors, as well as keeping time and allowing user input through an LCD screen attached to the side of the device. A power supply draws power from a wall circuit, and powers the motors as well as removing excess heat buildup inside the device. The actuation of the motors moves magnets closer or farther from the ferrofluid containers, the magnetic attraction causing the ferrofluid to assume the shape of the magnet in order to produce numbers ranging from zero to nine. Four motor-magnet arrangements provide the necessary structure to display time to a user, as well as six light emitting diode strips lighting up each digit, and the colon between the hours and minutes. The arrangement of the magnets will gather ferrofluid in a pattern to display time to the user.
Impacts of the Development of Environmental Suits on the Future of Human Spaceflight
The STS research concerns the development of spacesuits, specifically how spacesuit development could limit the exploration and commercialization of space. Spacesuit design is extremely costly, demonstrated by the cost of the Apollo spacesuit program. It also faces the barriers of safety in design, social support, and the technological integration required for a next generation system. Government space agencies have a fraction of the budget they did during the Cold War, and therefore lack the resources required to fund another large planned space mission without massive delays in current programs or pursuing alternative funding sources. Private spaceflight has been rapidly increasing in popularity, with companies such as Boeing or SpaceX now sending vehicles into low earth orbit, but without a large human component of spaceflight. Safety is a second major factor, where the age of the current suit body is considered, as well as the necessary safety features that must be included to protect future civilians and workers in space. Space tourism carries inherent risk due to the danger of the environment, and spacesuits must be designed with minimally trained civilians in mind. A third factor is social support, where investors, society, and the government may not want to direct funding to spacesuit design and testing when facing more dire problems on Earth. Many groups are opposed to spending money on human spaceflight, even with the financial benefit that could be gained from space exploration. Finally, the technological integration necessary for spacesuit design is complicated by the various government agencies, universities, and companies that are developing human spaceflight across borders and through language barriers. These groups fear loss of intellectual property or improper data, increasing costs and decreasing system integration for the future of human spaceflight. Spacesuit design must undergo rigorous testing before it placed in the environment of space, as a single failure could eliminate participation in human spaceflight efforts.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Space, Exploration, Spacesuits, SCOT, Paradigm

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Gavin Garner
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Conner Caruso, Christopher Fitzpatrick, Zachary Rosen, Alexander Rudin, Harrison Sublett, Eric Tang, David Xiao

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