Design of an electro-mechanical hexapod for accelerated life testing of optical fiber assemblies
The quantity and length of optical fibers required for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy eXperiment (HETDEX) create unique fiber handling challenges. More than 33,000 optical fibers will enable the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) to collect data on at least one million galaxies that are 9 billion to 11 billion light-years away, yielding the largest map of the universe ever produced [1,2]. The design advantages made possible by optical fibers also forms challenges to prevent damage to the fragile fibers that can lead to Focal Ratio Degradation (FRD) . Therefore, a life cycle test must be conducted to study fiber behavior and measure FRD as a function of time. This thesis describes the design and design methodology of an electro-mechanical test apparatus for accelerated life testing of optical fiber assemblies. The design methodology summarizes the development of functional requirements and constraints that drove the design. The test apparatus design utilizes six linear actuators to replicate the movement of the fiber system deployed on HETDEX for over 65,000 accelerated cycles, simulating five years of actual operation. The electro-mechanical test apparatus will provide insight into the effects of load history on the performance of optical fibers which published data has thus far been lacking. Performance of the electro-mechanical test apparatus will be demonstrated through simulation, modeling and calculations. The test results that will be generated from the accelerated life test will be of great interest to designers of robotic fiber handling systems for major telescopes.