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CubeSat Laboratory Requirements?

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CubeSat Laboratory Requirements?

Postby Unregistered User » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:04 am

I would like, if possible to have you inform me of what you think could be great for our team from to buy from your company or others, because you are closer than us to new stuff that appears daily.

Another thing please, if you have information or pictures about how a lab for this project should be, please send me any information that you have available about laboratory.

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Re: CubeSat Laboratory Requirements?

Postby aek » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:23 am

Off the top of my head, here are some of the items I feel are required for a basic lab to develop CubeSats:

  • Networked PCs with web access. Wherever possible, each PC should have one parallel (LPT) port for interfacing to the CubeSat Kit.
  • A Printer (one that can print larger than A4 / 8.5"x11" is very helpful).
  • An oscilloscope or two.
  • A logic analyzer is also very handy.
  • Soldering and desoldering equipment.
  • Voltmeters.
  • A binocular microscope for soldering and/or modifying PCBs with small components.
  • Software: For our CubeSat Kit you'll need one or more licenses for Rowley's CrossWorks for MSP430 (http://www.rowley.co.uk).
These are the basic things you need to get started with programming our CubeSat Kit and developing some basic user modules (e.g. with sensors, etc.)

It's also very helpful to have some basic tools to develop mechanical components like antenna mountings, etc. For that you might want to outfit a small shop with a drill, some metal-cutting equipment (saws, etc.).

In terms of more advanced software, you'll want to get as many simulator software packages as possible -- I see students using various programs to simulate orbits, power consumption, etc. I would suggest asking at the main CubeSat site (http://www.cubesat.org) as to what the other teams are using and where to get it, etc.

For your ground station hardware you'll probably need a PC, a radio, an antenna, and more software.

For the development of (electronics) modules for your CubeSat, you'll need some sort of CAD software for schematic layout and PCB design. Some of the cheaper PCB fab houses (e.g. PCBexpress) offer their own free software -- which is adequate for very simple designs -- but you can only build your PCBs with them. More mature CubeSat projects are likely to have their own CAD systems (e.g. OrCAD, PADs, Mentor, Protel, etc.) and they do all of their PCB design in-house, and then send the boards out for fab (e.g. at Advanced Circuits or PCB4U/Accutrace).

For the development of more advanced mechanical components, you'll want a real mechanical CAD system. We use SolidWorks. Pro-Engineer is another high-end product, and there are simpler programs as well (e.g. AutoCAD, etc.).

These last two items can represent a substantial investment in money and training, and are not absolutely required, but can make things go much more smoothly. For example, if you had a complete CAD model of your CubeSat, you would be able to test-fit things like user modules inside it without ever actually making anything -- all of your test-fitting would be done in the CAD model itself.

Finally, space-related test hardware (like a temperature-controlled chamber, shake fixture and vacuum chambers) are all nice to have as well. But students are often able to fabricate very inexpensive equipment to do this sort of testing, or they arrange to have their CubeSats tested at a professional organization's test facilities.


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