The engineering group, referring to both the builders and coders, makes up the bulk of SOLTA. Over the past few months, we’ve gotten the right people WHMIS and machine shop trained and we’ve worked on assembling and troubleshooting the electric components of the detector. The next step is to make a prototype of the detector and its housing unit.
With the recent arrival of some detector components from TRIUMF in Vancouver, we now have a few sets of PMT’s (photomultiplier tubes), scintillator paddles, and light guides: the crucial components for catching muons. Considering that these components make up the majority of the detector, we needed them to be able to start designing a housing unit for the detector. Once we received these components, their dimensions were known and we could finally start working on drawing blueprints.
There are some considerations to be made while drafting the housing unit blueprints. Being placed on top of a roof and kept there year round, the detector will be exposed to a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, so the housing unit must be able to keep the detector safe and secure. Moreover, the housing unit must be designed to be easily assembled on school grounds. We would like the high school students to make as much of the detector as possible in order to maximize their learning experience, but not all high schools have access to a full machine shop. Working within these constraints, each school will be provided with the necessary materials and thorough instructions on how to build the housing unit. Depending on the machining ability of each high school, some schools might receive pre-machined or pre-assembled units.
By the end of this week, the engineering team hopes to have a few sets of blueprints for the housing unit complete. Once a prototype of the unit is created, it will be fitted with the scintillator paddles, PMT’s, and light guides that we received from TRIUMF. With the rest of the electronic components mostly assembled and some code for taking readings from the detector written, we should have a finished prototype in the near future. Keep checking back for updates; things are just starting to get fun!