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BYOE: An Apparatus for Exploring Small-satellite Estimation and Control

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Bring Your Own Experiment: Experimentation and Laboratory-oriented Studies

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Bobby F. Hodgkinson University of Colorado Boulder

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Bobby Hodgkinson is an instructor in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences and has 6 years experience with the Aerospace Engineering hands-on curriculum at CU Boulder. His focus is in hands-on curriculum instruction, and the development, implementation, and maintenance of the hardware, electrical, and software aspects of the multitude of Aerospace hands-on experimental labs.

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Trudy Schwartz University of Colorado Boulder

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Trudy Schwartz is a senior instructor and lab manager in Smead Aerospace with 21 years of experience developing engineering experimental hardware for the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her focus is on sensors, instrumentation, embedded systems and design in hands-on curriculum.

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The primary motivation of the hardware is for the instruction of satellite control techniques through the usage of a common satellite actuator (reaction wheels) and sensors (rate gyroscopes). This demonstration features a single-axis rotating mock-satellite that can be used to allow hands on learning opportunities of satellite estimation, sensing, actuation and control. The platform allows for custom satellite control schema through the employment of a primary embedded satellite control board programmed with Simulink and a LabVIEW-based ground station. The small 6” x 6” x 4” satellite includes a Maxon EC-motor and controller, reaction wheel, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) used to sense one axis of spin rotation rate/angle, XBEE wireless transceiver to transmit and receive data, a custom interface printed circuit board, and an Arduino DUE microcontroller as the primary processing device. Clear acrylic satellite panels allow for observation of the primary components. The ground station includes a Maxon EC-motor, controller, and encoder, a vertical shaft supporting the satellite, wireless transceiver for communication, and a National Instruments myRIO for USB communication to a LabVIEW based graphical user interface (GUI) on a personal computer. An additional 3D-printed accessory can be installed for experimental demonstration of the principle of conservation of momentum.

Hodgkinson, B. F., & Schwartz, T. (2021, July), BYOE: An Apparatus for Exploring Small-satellite Estimation and Control Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36775

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