Thinsat Breadboarding & Development Tools



ThinSat Perfboard

The ThinSat Program provided the ThinSat spacecraft "bus" (i.e., vehicle) to participating schools, and required that they deliver only a compatible science payload for integration into the bus.  To ease the payload development process for our local ThinSat partner high schools, we (especially Kyle Ikuma, '23) independently designed and produced our own template payloads (above), each with an integral "perfboard" (similar to breadboard) pre-wired correctly back to the ThinSat bus.  These "perfboard payloads" enabled our partner high school student teams to easily place and hand-solder their sensors and electronics directly to a guaranteed-compliant ThinSat template payload, thereby removing the steep learning curves of PCB trace routing and surface-mount SMT soldering, and thus enabling them to focus on electronics integration and software development, which we considered more academically enriching at the high school level.



ThinSat perfboard with Teensy

To even further enable our partner high school teams' payload development process, we then developed a version of the "perfboard payload" (above) that also had a Teensy 3.2 (i.e., Arduino) microcontroller pre-integrated and pre-wired correctly back to the ThinSat bus (and to an externally-accessible USB diagnostic port), to even further enable the high school students to focus on sensor & electronics integration, and software development in a standardized Teensy/Arduino ecosystem. 



ThinSat Voltera Blank

Our next ThinSat payload development aid was an FR1 substrate pre-cut into a compliant ThinSat payload form factor (above).  These ThinSat payload "blanks" were stocked in bulk, ready to be printed and drilled in-house by a Voltera PCB printer (in the above image, the blank has already been printed and drilled with a specific payload design).  But the original basic outline pattern file was also usable as a starting template for a PCB design file intended to be milled by a PCB milling machine like our Bantam.  These development aids enabled our more intrepid high school students to explore the intricacies of more advanced PCB design, trace routing, and surface-mount SMT electronics.