Ladies and gentlemen, the Biax is now fully operational! We can now make earthquakes in our lab!
The main cause for the delay was this pesky guy below. The chassis is the component that handles the flow of all that data coming from the rig (10 strain gauges, 2 load cells, an LVDT measuring displacement, and anywhere from 1 to 4 transducers measuring the seismic signal) and going to the computer (for immediate feedback) and to the RAID (for short-term storage). Although the data all come in as basic voltage signals, the rate of data streaming for the different components varies, making it difficult, for some reason, to get the optimal combination of cards and cords for the chassis. While I was away, Heather worked with the manufacturer to get us the right combination. The card on the far left gets the signal from the BNC, the card protruding gets the high speed signal from the transducers, and the wide middle card is a built-in RAID.
It took a little while to get here, but we now are able to load up the sample and, by monitoring the voltage on the LVDT, watch it creep along until we hear the "Crack" and "Pop" of little earthquakes. Success! Now we get to start systematically varying things to be able to predict the onset of the earthquakes and, in particular, try to understand the transitional period that is believed to occur between the creeping and the earthquake.