This category showcases projects I’ve worked on that involve product design and mechanical devices ranging from lock boxes to subsystems designed for NASA.

Robotic Hand for Prototype Spacesuit Glove Testing

My lab at NYU-Poly was a subcontractor on a Phase 1 NASA SBIR grant awarded to my friend and former fellow Eyebeam resident Ted Southern of Final Frontier Design. The idea was to create a robotic hand capable of systematically evaluating the stiffness of prototype spacesuit gloves to compare design iterations.

Precision Guided Parachute Systems

A former coworker from Honeybee Robotics, Paul Bartlett, is now VP of Engineering Atair Aerospace in Brooklyn where they design and manufacture precision guided parachute systems, among other things. I worked on new designs for their Onyx Precision Airdrop Systems and assembled a batch of a dozen Micro Lights. The Onyx ML (shown in the picture) can deliver 10 – 150 pound payloads from a variety of manned and unmanned platforms. These systems are basically smart boxes that can steer a parachute down to a target the same way a human would.

Electromechanical Lock Box

VocalLock was a startup company that designed products that combine a simple lock with a smart system. I worked on some early stage prototypes of a solenoid actuated lock box by combining off the shelf parts with 3D printed models of my CAD designs from Solid Concepts and Design Prototyping Technologies to make working prototypes in just days. These prototypes helped guide the initial design phases as well as impress prospective investors.

Everwarm Incubator

While working with Aniteal Labs, I helped iterate the design of the Everwarm Incubator for World Medical Technologies. I designed a spring loaded hinge lock that allowed the main support bar to collapse, and redesigned all of the main incubator parts to allow for manufacture by injection molding. I also worked closely with their electrical engineer to design easily removable and replaceable electronics modules with drawer slides and snap in features to minimize additional hardware.

Volatile Analysis of Polar Regolith (VAPoR) Sample Manipulation System (SMS)

As the project manager and systems engineer for the VAPoR project, I worked with a team at Goddard Space Flight Center to design a smaller version of the MSL SMS (below) for lunar exploration by an astronaut vs. Martian exploration by a rover. The challenge here was to design, fabricate, assemble, and test a working proof of concept model on a very small budget. Just before leaving Honeybee, I had successfully planned out a four year schedule that, with the help of some off the shelf components and minimal controls, allowed us to complete the project on time and under budget.

Sample Manipulation System (SMS) for the Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover

Curiosity successfully landed on Mars in 2012 with the SMS on board. The SMS accepts Martian soil sample from inlet funnels, rotates to deliver that sample to one of several analysis instruments, then raises the sample up to create a seal with a force between 150 and 300 pounds. This project spanned over 3 years and represents the bulk of the work I did at Honeybee Robotics. I was involved from the very early stages of concept development through final flight hardware assembly, integration, and testing. We used Autodesk Inventor software to design the model from concept through to final flight hardware detailed design. I also designed the twist capsule, completed 2D fabrication drawings, worked with vendors and machine shops to oversee fabrication, directed the assembly of the engineering and flight models, and assisted in all vibration, thermal, and lifecycle testing.

Ipod Charger

This idea was inspired by the Minty Boost project. Although a DIY charger was a great idea, my main problem with the minty boost was needing to remember a USB to iPod cable to charge my iPod on the go. I wanted a charger I could just keep in my bag for when I inevitably forgot to charge my iPod. So I bought the connector, ate a bunch of altoids, and a few wires and some hot glue later I had a portable iPod charger.

Inchworm Deep Drilling System (IDDS)

The IDDS concept evolved to allow for interplanetary deep drilling without the need for a large drill rig. The 7′ long drill has two “feet” that allow it to preload itself against a launch tube or borehole wall by extending radially, then use this preload to drill down. When the drilling thruster reaches the end of travel, the feet contract and inch farther down the hole, similar to an inchworm. I was in charge of the foot design. Three synchronized lead screws drive a custom nut along the axis of the drill, which acts on a wedge to push out three “toes” on each foot that exert force on the borehole wall. Because required drilling power expands with the square of the radius, the main challenge was keeping all the necessary hardware, wire harnessing, and switches within the target 4″ diameter.

Lunar Dust Tolerant Connector

NASA’s vision of a moon-based outpost is rapidly becoming a reality. The lunar dust tolerant connector was developed to support the connection of different components involved in lunar surface operations. The unique environment – the vacuum of space, the magnetic, highly abrasive properties of the fine lunar dust, the freezing temperatures – presents a unique challenge for an electrical connector. I was involved in the design of the connector and led the test effort to characterize the performance of the concept in a custom built vacuum chamber. This design won a NASA Tech Briefs award and was granted U.S. Patent 8,011,94106.

Smart Blast Cone Sampler

The robotic sampler was developed for a major mining client in Australia. I was deployed in late 2008 for a 4 month field support campaign to oversee the testing and characterization of the sampling system.