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At MakerFaire NYC

Hi all,I'll be at the NYC MakerFaire this weekend (Sept 21-22), in case anyone wishes to join up...

Concepts For A CubeSat LARP

I am a firm believer that simulations improve reality.  If you want to launch a CubeSat, you...

Putting a TARDIS in Space?

I am used to odd looks when I say I'm flying a satellite to convert the ionosphere to music. ...

Who Can Launch a CubeSat?

In the half year since I wrote last September, the CubeSat field has greatly moved forward. ...

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Project CalliopeRSS Feed of this column.

Alex "Sandy" Antunes is the mastermind behind 'Project Calliope', a pico-satellite funded by Science 2.0 and being launched in 2011 by a mad scientist who is a space & music enthusiast. This... Read More »

While everyone panicked about NASA's arsenic announcement, TechDirt informs us that a TechDirt  brings word that "Woman Claims Legal Loophole Means She Now Owns The Sun...
A satellite as cute as a pumpkin, they are.  Ran into this neat post at NASAHackSpace about a Forbes report on Pumpkin Inc's pre-made CubeSats.  CubeSat itself is a specification, not a piece of off-the-shelf hardware, so Pumpkin decided to prebuild kits and sell them.  If you have your own rocket to launch on, for $7500 they'll sell you a CubeSat kit.  Although, to quibble, it looks like they're selling the variant mini CubeSat configuration, rather than the usual 10cm cubes.
The Nov 22 launch of the heaviest satellite known has everyone a twitter.   A Delta IV Heavy booster out of Kennedy put up NROL-32, a "classified spy satellite cargo for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office".
There's a neat piece on tweaking versus invention, written by two law professors (Kal Raustiala of UCLA and Chris Sprigman at UVA) over as a Freakonomics guest blog.  Their bit on Geeks, Tweeks and Innovation talks about how Tweaking is good, but the law is against it.

Pioneering = making something totally new.
Tweaking = making something better.
I finished building my test Picosatellite!  It's a working skeleton, using the real PCB boards but without the electronics wired in.  In short, it's 'real enough'.  Were I to put in half of the $264 worth of electronics I bought at DigiKey, and toss in a BasicX chip and the 2 radio parts, it would be flyable.
Just an anecdote for today.  With luck, my French connection will have 'the goods' for me shortly.  I will slip him payment, and 20 beauties will be mine.

Back when I fabricated my PCBs, I thought the next step was to buy the electronics.  What could go wrong?  Most components such as resistors and capacitors are ubiquitous and nearly fungible.  You can swap out manufacturers and minor specs as long as the main desired value (resistance, capacitance, etc) is fulfilled-- and as long as the part is the same form factor.  The latter means "it needs to fit onto your PCB in the holes provided."