It’s the start of our second semester at the University of Surrey and we thought that we’d have a look back at some of the things that we’ve been up to so far this academic year.
This semester we’ve had a large focus on developing our courses. We ran our annual Arduino course to introduce to members the basics of programming an Arduino. Spanning the course of six weeks, participants learnt to power and control various electronic objects including LEDs, switches and temperature sensors. The final lesson, where they programmed a line following robot incorporated with a traffic light system, solidified their knowledge of the fundamentals of Arduino code. A Python course was also run. Due to popular demand, we are currently running another round of Arduino lectures and we’ve uploaded the course to our new Blog site to allow anyone to take part in the course remotely.
This semester we’ve also started to move into Rocketry and to get lots of members involved, a single-day give-it-a-go rocketry event was organized in November. Participants were taught the basics of designing and launching a rocket, and were left on their own to build one from cardboard and tape. We didn’t provide a strict set of rules for them to follow, and so participants came up with various interesting and creative designs, including a rather worrying cluster rocket. The rockets were then launched in the afternoon at a nearby farm. Most of them reached great heights and speed and everyone had a blast. It was a day well spent and we look forward to organizing a similar event in the future.
As a society dedicated to assist members with their projects, the Shack is our main workshop. However, this year, collaborating with the Electronic Engineering Department and with generous funding from the University of Surrey’s Annual Fund, we opened a brand-new Makerspace and filled it with equipment including a brand new 3D printer, CNC machine, soldering irons, a pillar drill, oscilloscopes as well as various components and tools. Combined with the projector and sound systems in the room, the Makerspace has proven itself to be the perfect place to bring like minds together and projects to fruition. One of our biggest events of the year, ScraphEEp, would not be the big success it is without the Makerspace.
In ScraphEEp, participants are split into groups and are presented with a challenge, and must complete it by building something, usually a vehicle, from electronic scrap and control it to complete tests. This year, participants are tasked with building airships from balloons and controlling them from their phones using the onboard ESP chips. The test is to navigate the airship through an obstacle course in the least amount of time. With more than five hours of building time and aid from academics, the teams came up with simple yet varied designs, all functioning and intuitive in their own right. The vast amounts of fun the teams had flying their airships around was the icing on the cake.
Collaborating with UKSEDS, we helped run an Introduction to Amateur Radio workshop in November. This was a fun event where we demonstrated the basics of radio technology and its applications in both the space and hobbyist communication industries. Participants used makeshift antennas and hand held radios to locate a small hidden transmitter, learnt about the applications of Software Defined Radio in satellite communications, experienced some of the practical activities that form part of the Foundation license exams, and had the opportunity to speak to other amateurs on the air. While this required quite a lot of logistical and equipment support, it was a worthwhile event that should be considered again next year.
EARS now has its largest ever membership with over 150 individuals getting involved and we’re looking forward to creating even more cool things and attending fun events such as the UKSEDS NSSC for rest of the year. If you’re interested in finding out more about what EARS does and how you might be able to get involved, head to our website, surreyears.co.uk or send us an email at [email protected].
Article submitted by Jerry Yeung and James Lynn, Surrey EARS member