Adafruit Forums user RocketScientist writes about their work with Low Earth Orbit sounding rocketry.
In LEO, we’ve learned that commercial electronics can do quite well, particularly for short missions.
The (Adafruit) Feather M0 version of the STEM version flew in sounding rockets over last few years.
Sadly … the LEO sat with a LoRa radio is more proprietary and not really documented for the public. But … we got 5 LoRa packets at 900 MHz from LEO despite iffy antenna problems on the sat before the orbit decayed.
The M4 is now incrementally running more sensors with our code base as we bring it up. Just had it running with CS811, BME280, LSM9DS1, TSL2591, and MLX90640 I2C sensors in a data collection loop. My fav sensor is a small, cheap gamma ray detector which can be tuned to be a gamma ray spectrometer for low energy gamma rays under 1 MeV with a bit of hacking. Of course, you have to get on my sounding rocket (or a HAB) to get above most of the atmosphere to really see stellar gamma rays. But then half the fun is getting there.
Software for S4Egg and S4 Arduino this package is written in C/C++ and is hosted on the Arduino IDE. A version in Python is in development for the S4Pi.
The sensor configuration varies for in atmosphere sounding rocket (or HAB) missions or LEO missions. Just as the packaging changes. For anything but space, a 3D printed PLA or ABS material works fine, but space requires a special space qualified 3D printed material. It is designed to fly science missions to answer questions about flight dynamics, Earth’s atmosphere (air pollution – the Adafruit dust sensor fits as a lovely backpack), Earth’s ground (multispectral imaging is possible), and space – that gamma ray sensor – as well as the mag sensors are naturals for LEO.
I’ve added a pic of a 3D printed prototype of the package and PCBs for the ItsyBitsy M4 version (though an M0 should work as well for a smaller data set of sensors).
This is the standard 1p PocketQube format. 50mm on each side, a 50% linear reduction in the 100mm CubeSat 1U standard. It takes 3 42mm square PC boards for processing, storage, sensors and power. It can be flown on earth in amateur rockets from G motors to O, in high altitude balloons, or with some modifications for power, sensor configuration and packaging from LEO. You can buy a ride for a PocketQube to LEO from Alba Orbital.
As a guy that likes to use the best I can find, I really like the ItsyBitsy.
You can read all about the programs in this PDF.
Interested in ballooning, rocketry, or space based electronics and sensors? Let us know in the comments below.