Near Space Engineering

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Current Design of Power Board
Sponsors NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium
Team Name Team... in SPACE!
Duration Fall 2015 - Spring 2016
Faculty Advisers
  • Alexia Doramus
  • Diego Hernandez
  • Sarah Munds
  • Gabe Pearhill
  • Daniel Schmalz
  • Jordan Scott
  • Joe Zabriskie

The NASA Ames Research Center is responsible for various cube satellites, suborbital experiments, and high altitude balloons. The goal of this project is to design a new revision of a circuit board that both enables a modem to connect to the internet and supports auxiliary equipment for NASA’s activities.

Problem Definition[edit]


Idaho Near Space Engineering teams work closely with NASA Ames to design and test satellites for suborbital missions. The aim of this project is to create a low‐power, general‐purpose communications and power management board for future space flights and high altitude balloon launches.


Design and program a power board. The board would at minimum support an Iridium 9603 data modem, a camera, and have enough general purpose output to drive other miscellaneous equipment such as a cold gas system.


The following table contains the specifications for both the new revision being developed and the old revision.

Current Design Specifications

Project Learning[edit]

Dip Trace Software[edit]

Dip Trace is used to design a printed circuit board (PCB) layout. A PCB electrically connects all the necessary components in a compact space.

Intel Edison[edit]

Originally this project was to use the Intel Edison as a processor for the telemetry board. It contains a high-performance, dual-core CPU and a single-core microcontroller that supports complex data collection in a low-power package. It will no longer be needed as a part of the power board.

Edison Circuit in DipTrace

Hardware Design[edit]


The purpose of this board is to be an efficient, low-power support device that performs maintenance functions while the rest of the satellite is sleeping. It has a central microcontroller in a web of low-power peripherals that can be activated at need but remain sleeping otherwise. It will have an Iridium short-burst data modem for communication with the ground and an xBee for gathering data from wireless sensors. IO expander peripherals are used when possible to leave the microcontroller’s pins and serial buses free for communicating with external devices

Iridium Modem[edit]

The Iridium 9603 is designed to be integrated into a wireless data application with other host system hardware and software to produce a full solution designed for a specific application or vertical market. For this board, it will be used to long range broadcast the data collected by the various sensors.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Iridium.JPG

Series 1 XBee[edit]

The XBee module requires minimal power and provides reliable delivery of data between devices. It will be used to locally broadcast the data collected by the various sensors.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering XBee.JPG

Battery Connector[edit]

The 9155 MOBO 2.5mm Pitch Right Angle Battery Connector is rated at 3 amps. The connector’s design is small and compact to minimize its profile yet functionally stable having a contact point at 2.20mm above the PCB.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Battery.PNG

Battery Charger[edit]

The LTC 4000-1 is a controller that converts many externally compensated DC/DC power supplies into full-featured battery chargers with maximum power point control. The LTC4000-1’s battery charger includes: accurate (±0.25%) programmable float voltage, selectable timer or current termination, temperature qualified charging using an NTC thermistor, automatic recharge, C/10 trickle charge for deeply discharged cells, bad battery detection and status indicator outputs. The battery charger also includes precision current sensing that allows lower sense voltages for high current applications.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering BatteryCharger.PNG


The ADS1118 16-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter with Internal Reference and Temperature Sensor component will be used to sample temperatures for two K-type thermocouples. Because the thermocouples are used to measure skin temperatures during orbit and reentry, large measurement ranges are important.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Thermocouple2.PNG

H-Bridge Motor Driver[edit]

The DRV8835 has two H-bridge drivers, and can drive two DC motors or one stepper motor, as well as other devices like solenoids. The output driver block for each consists of N-channel power MOSFET’s configured as an H-bridge to drive the motor winding. An internal charge pump generates needed gate drive voltages.

The DRV8835 can supply up to 1.5-A of output current per H-bridge. It operates on a motor power supply voltage from 0 V to 11 V, and a device power supply voltage of 2 V to 7 V.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering HDriveMotor.PNG

Buck Regulator[edit]

The BD86120EFJ is synchronous buck converters. The device integrates power MOSFETS that provide a each maximums current output current continuous load current over a wide operating input voltage of 4.5V to 18V. Current mode operation provides fast transient response and easy phase compensation.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering BuckRegulator.PNG

Solar Panel Connections[edit]

Solar panels will be mounted perpendicular to the board on all four edges. They will have bare copper pads, ground and power, running down the center. The power board will have spring-loaded connectors on each edge that will draw power from the pads on the back of each solar panel.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering SolarPanelConnections.JPG

Software Design[edit]


The software for this circuit board will need to facilitate a number of housekeeping and communication tasks. Our code needs to collect sensor data from the thermocouples, IMU, barometer, batteries, and solar panels. The software must then be able to broadcast the data via the Iridium (long­range) and XBee (short­range) modems. In addition to broadcasting the housekeeping data, the software must also be able to interpret incoming commands from the Iridium modem. These commands will include tasks such as disabling power outputs and temporarily delaying Iridium transmissions.

Summary of Existing Software

The software has been broken down into individual tasks that will need to be implemented. There is existing code for certain tasks that will be modified accordingly.

Planned Codebase

Task Management Loop[edit]

Subtask Description
Data Sample Tasks Gather readings/data from the following components:
  • Barometer measurement
  • IMU measurements
  • Thermocouple Readings
Data Logging Tasks Loop to handle dispersing data logging tasks appropriately.
Transmission Tasks Manages transmission of data via modem.

Battery Charging Monitor[edit]

Subtask Description
Monitor Solar Panel Voltage Log the solar panel voltage from all panels.
Monitor Battery Voltage Log the batteries charge state.
Battery Charge Control Manage overcharging of batteries based on charge readings.

XBee Communication[edit]

Subtask Description
Integrate Existing Implementation Gather existing open source implementation and modify.
Transmit Sensor Data Broadcast sensor data to other XBees in the network.
Receive Sensor Data Receive data from auxiliary boards, so that it can be transmitted over Iridium.
Design Protocol Design the packetization of data.

Thermocouple Data[edit]

Subtask Description
Gather Sensor Data Retrieve data from the sensor.
Data Logging Packetize sensor data.

Barometer Data[edit]

Subtask Description
Integrate Existing Implementation Integrate existing implementation and modify when needed.

IMU Data[edit]

Subtask Description
Modify Existing Implementation IMU code is partial but incomplete. Modify existing implementation and integrate into software system.

Team Members[edit]

Picture Bio Discipline
2015 NearSpaceEngineering Doramus.JPG
Alexia Doramus:

Alexia is a senior in Computer Science and is graduating in the fall of 2016. Last summer, she had an internship with Idaho Digital Learning Academy, helping to develop a program to track student progress. She is currently studying Network Security. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, and playing video games.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Hernandez.JPG
Diego Hernandez:

Diego is a senior working towards his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and will graduate in the spring of 2016. He chose the field of electrical engineering because growing up he has always been interested in how electronics worked and wanted to gain more knowledge about this field. He also enjoys playing videogames, watching sports, and listening to music.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Munds.JPG
Sarah Munds:

Sarah is currently working at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories as a software engineering intern and has had other internships in various disciplines, including as a journalist and as a machine shop tech. She enjoys oil painting, caring for and growing tropical plants, and making yummy homemade bread.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Pearhill.JPG
Gabe Pearhill:

Gabe is currently working with Idaho RISE and NASA Ames Research Center to create cheaper telemetry systems for high altitude balloons and small satellites. He is currently studying Compilers and will graduate this year.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Schmalz.PNG
Daniel Schmalz:

Daniel is studying electrical engineering and will graduate May 2016.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Scott.JPG
Jordan Scott:

Jordan is currently in his senior year at the University of Idaho and will graduate in May of 2016. Some of his Hobbies include: Playing basketball, watching movies, and hunting.

2015 NearSpaceEngineering Zabriskie.PNG
Joe Zabriskie:

Joe is a senior Computer Engineering Student here at UI. His interest in his degree began with and still comes from his interest in both electrical engineering and computer science. He loves tennis, Python, and sleeping.


Document Archive[edit]

  • Meeting Minutes (Fall Semester)
  • Meeting Minutes (Spring Semester)
  • Client Interview
  • Design Review
  • Detailed Design Review
  • Final Report