VTI St. Lucas HTEC – To Boldly Go……

Even in the age of the Internet and digital wireless communication, amateur radio is still loved by millions of enthusiasts around the world. At VTI Sint Lucas in Belgium, students have built an antenna using their Haas CNC machine tools and in Autumn 200

A student team of amateur radio enthusiasts at the VTI St Lucas (VTISL) technical school in Oudenaarde, Belgium is looking forward to taking part in a space adventure that blasts off in the next few days.

The team has designed a radio antenna capable of receiving a signal from the International Space Station (ISS), which is in Low Earth Orbit of approximately 350km. In September of this year they plan to talk to Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne, who will travel to the ISS for a 6-month mission, together with Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk. Their Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in late May.

To build the antenna, the 15-19 year-old Ham radio enthusiasts – all of whom are studying electrical systems and electronics – enlisted the help of their mechanical engineering colleagues who used the VTI St Lucas HTEC Haas CNC machine tools to make various, structural components for the 6 meter long assembly.

Patriek De Temmerman is electronics and telecommunication teacher at VTI St Lucas and is the leader of the VTISL – ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) project. He is also a personal friend of De Winne.
“We were granted permission by ARISS to make a radio connection with the ISS in the months to come,” he says. “We are going to make this connection with an antenna that our students have designed and developed. They’ve also designed the steering process for the azimuth and elevation movement engines used to orientate the antenna.”
The radio connection will last for about 8 – 10 minutes, in which time the ISS will pass East to West through northern European region; The exact time schedule for the link and the communication between the school and the ISS will be decided by NASA.
“The aim of this project is not only to establish the connection with the ISS,” says Mr. De Temmerman, “but just as importantly to allow students from across the school’s different faculties to cooperate: To create a project to which the whole school is committed. It’s great that students from the mechanical engineering school were able to get involved by using the Haas CNC machines in our HTEC facility. Younger students have also got involved by building models of the antenna and the ISS.”
The VTI St. Lucas HTEC was opened in 2008 and is supported by the Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) for Belgium and Luxembourg – A division of s.a van Waasdijk n.v.
The St. Lucas facility is supported by several HTEC Industry Partners, including: KELLER, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant and Schunk.

“HTEC VTI St. Lucas is a fine example to other schools and technical institutes in Europe,” says Mr. Peter Hall, managing director of Haas Europe. “Their project demonstrates how exciting and inspiring engineering can be, and how CNC machining has applications across all the engineering disciplines. We wish them well with their project.”

To add your company click here