Fake Banner
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. ...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Brian Taylor
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 »

Vitamin Store = Cheap Lab Gear?

One part of assembly is making sure all my circuits are properly shielded and not sending out interfering signals.  A decent magnetometer-- a meter to measure magnetic fields-- costs $200-$700 dollars.  While at the vitamin shop, I beheld a CellSensor, a device that measures and traces cell phone and power line RF (radio frequency) emission.  It has a range of milliWatts (for RF radiation) and milliGauss (for magnetic fields).  And it was discounted to $20.
I now own half a satellite... and in a way, you do to.  The Scientific Blogging "Project Calliope" satellite order has been placed!  Thanks to Hank's SB contribution, we have the 'science' half covered.  The other half of the satellite is up to the music community, and I'll let you know as soon as that's signed, sealed and delivered.

Half is crucial.  WIth half, we are 'go' for construction.  With our first half payment, we get:
  1. the actual hardware
  2. all the detailed tech specs
  3. a slot on the launch schedule
After wrapping up the minutiae of funding, we're finally entering the lab for Project Calliope.  Next week, I get to build a model ionosphere and replicate a spinning satellite to test what sort of music to expect.

In practice, this means rigging up a magnet to replicate ionospheric magnetic fields, putting a strobe for mimicking the Sun as seen by a rapidly spinning satellite, then seeing what sort of data my detectors spit out.
As much as our 'Project Calliope' satellite is a science project, it's also a music experiment.  We are, after all, flying scientific instruments on a picosatellite specifically to make music.  So it's worth pointing out another group that is doing neat things with music invention, in this report on Berlin Hackday

Their tag line is "take a weekend, and make something".  Quoth the article:
Just how much would you pay to go into space? $12000 for a satellite plus launch, like me? Or perhaps... $300 to build a high-altitude balloon camera?

Or, if $300 is too high, how about getting a couple of high school kids to do it for half that? Their 99EU ($144) high altitude balloon is a great achievement in engineering, science, cost reduction, and learning.

Their hardware specs are, alas, not in the article, but some MIT students replicated their work at the same $150 price point.

To space,

I ran into an interesting linguistic stumbling block.  I'll call it the "It's science, so it must be hard" frame of mind.  I wrote to some friends and family about this project, saying:
I'm launching a satellite for fun, to make music from space.  It's called Project Calliope, and I'm writing about it up at: http://scientificblogging.com/satellite_diaries/feed
It's pretty much just me, with some friends helping with different parts of it, and a couple of sponsors helping cover costs (hopefully). I'll be the first to admit it's unusual, but I've always wanted to be part of the space race.
And I received one particular reply of: