PongSat powered by Arduino – Build log


As it happens, almost by accident, while trying to understand what a CubeSat was, I found a free and fantastic program called PongSat.

A PongSat is a ping pong ball (standard 40mm diameter) that contains a scientific experiment. These balls are grouped in hundreds and sent free of charge by JP Aerospace to the edge of the space (up in the stratosphere at an altitude of approximately 35km) via a weather balloon with a special service structure (supports, tools, cameras, tracking systems).

At the end of the mission, when the structure through a parachute back to the earth, the payload is recovered and the PongSats returned to the single owners. The program organizes at least a couple of launches each year.

To me it seemed like a great thing, truly a gift: someone who gives you the chance to experiment the space for free! I immediately thought that I could organize an Arduino with my son Federico (just turned 14 years).

But what will never be able to enter into a ping pong ball? It is small! Well ‘not really, just think that the volume is 33.51 cm3.

I’ll tell you, episode by episode, the story of our first PongSat, which was launched on 26 October 2014 (Originally scheduled for 27 September 2014).

 Current mission status: Waiting for the Pongsat’s return 

  • Project objectives and constraints
  • Bill of materials
  • Choose the MCU
  • Integrating GPS
  • Integrating the IMU
  • Record the data
  • Measure the outside temperature
  • Measure the pressure
  • Debugging and signals
  • Powerup everything
  • Keep the inside components warm
  • Turning on and off
  • Final assembly
  • How to extract data
  • Ground test: Temperatures
  • Ground test: Battery Life
  • Packing and shipping
  • Follow the mission
  • Recovery
  • Data Extraction
  • Data Presentation

Do you want to improve my translation? Let me know…

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