Captain’s Log, Stardate 12415.9

Time for another project update! Over the past few months, the KickSat team worked on finalizing the development kits for the Sprite Spacecraft. These kits were originally scheduled to reach backers like me in May. While the delivery date has slipped a little, enough work has been completed to give those programming their Sprite a place to start. The KickSat team released working drafts of much of the development kit material, stretching over the categories of hardware, software, and support.

A rendering of the current KickSat design

As of late May, the team is on its third round of prototype printed circuit boards (PCBs) for the development kits. The team built and tested many PCB designs during the past few months, and several sensors have been tested with them. Currently, the team is shopping around for companies to do a production run of the dev boards. Once the last design hiccups are worked out and and the PCBs are manufactured, the team will begin putting together the kits for shipment. Under this schedule, my development kit should arrive sometime between late June and late July.

In terms of software, much of the development material is available right now. The basic Sprite flight code and the driving code for various sensors is posted at the KickSat GitHub repository. Anyone can download this code for perusal. Currently, example code for a gyroscope and two kinds of magnetometers are included with the Sprite’s master code. There are also spaces for ground station documents, such as a GNU software based radio receiver for the Sprite, and development kit software, such as a compiler toolchain for the Sprite.

The KickSat GitHub provides many important support materials as well. Currently, these materials include a document outlining the Sprite’s transmission abilities and the Sprite EagleCAD files. Listed but yet to be added are bills of materials for the Sprite and the Sprite Deployer. Finally, the GitHub splash page links to the project wiki. Much of the how-to information is located here, including pages explaining how to program and debug Sprite boards with a TI MSP430 Launchpad and how to set up a development environment for the Sprite in Xubuntu. You can be sure that there’s more on those last two to come!

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