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Connector for satellite docking mechanism

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by cathal, May 19, 2016.

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  1. cathal

    cathal

    11
    0
    Nov 23, 2014
    Hi,

    I'm an aviation engineer and currently doing an extra thesis on spaceflight engineering. I have to design a system that allows two small satellites (really small 30x10x10 cm) to dock in outer space. the following link is an image of such a satellite:

    [​IMG]

    The docking mechanism has to provide fuel, data, power and load transport but i'm a mechanical engineer so my knowledge of data transport is very limited :) The current interface of the docking mechanism would be like the image shown below:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see i transport power by two electrical tabs. Now, I want to do data transport in the same way: a few electrical TABS to allow an I2C connection. Would that be possible? With this question I mean: would the data signal travel through the tabs or is the signal to small? Or are there any other problems?
    The reason why I don't just use a standard connector is because it would be impossible to insert the connectors of both satellites into each other. The positioning of the two satellites wouldn't be precise enough and the force needed to insert the connectors would just push away the target satellite (in space there's nothing that would keep the target satellite at his position).

    Thanks in advance!

    Cathal Clavie
     
  2. shrtrnd

    shrtrnd

    3,826
    520
    Jan 15, 2010
    Maybe an electro-magnet for coupling?
    You'll want to consult with an electrical engineer concerning signal strength and connection parameters.
     
  3. cathal

    cathal

    11
    0
    Nov 23, 2014
    Well i'm already using an electromagnet for soft-capture of the target satellite, but that's not really the problem. My problem is the connector itself. Perhaps I have to ask my question different;

    -Does the size of a connector influence the signal? (the connector will probably be relatively large to allow for misalignments)

    -Does the contact surface of the connectors influence the signal? again: if there's a small misalignment, will this influence the signal?)

    -Are there any other reasons why I shouldn't use a tab? (I've never seen a connector of this form. That's why I'm a bit cautious)

    Thanks for your answers!
     
  4. Alec_t

    Alec_t

    2,985
    811
    Jul 7, 2015
    I second the magnetic connector. Something like the Apple Magsafe.
     
  5. shrtrnd

    shrtrnd

    3,826
    520
    Jan 15, 2010
    Maybe you've got a mechanical vs. electrical engineer phobia?
    EVERYTHING depends on the signal parameters.
    The power-level, the frequency of the signal, the surface area of the connection, .....
    You really need to talk to the electrical engineers. I'll try to answer what you asked:
    1) The size of the connector can affect the signal. There are electrical formulas to evaluate how much & when.
    2) The contact surface area can affect the signal There are electrical formulas to evaluate how much and when.
    3) My computer didn't display your picture, so I don't know what kind of a 'tab' you're referring to.
    In summary. All the mechanical factors you're concerned about are completely dependent on the parameters of
    the electrical signal itself. I know you understand the value of your mechanical issues. Try to appreciate the possibility
    that the electrical parameters for signal transfer are just as important.
    (And don't forget to talk to environmental engineers you have. Vacuum, cold, and whatever else might affect the composites and metals you use to effect signal transfer)
     
  6. cathal

    cathal

    11
    0
    Nov 23, 2014
    Ok, thank you very much for your answer!
     
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