At the UK Space Conference in July 2013, Tranquility Aerospace and Uchusen announced a novel collaboration project for 2013-2015 around Tranquility Aerospace’s Devon One reusable rocket project. Uchusen’s latest in-house engineering work this year was presented, including original nanosatellite sensor boards development, a fully integrated autonomous minidrone prototype, and associated flight data from multiple low-level flight tests.

As Tranquility Aerospace finalises its first engine prototype, Uchusen’s role is to help develop high-precision flight control systems for the liquid rocket propulsion system, as well as nanosatellite sensor systems for future payload deployment into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). If all goes well, a first integrated hover test is currently planned for Summer 2014, followed with a trial launch in 2015.

About Tranquility Aerospace

Tranquility Aerospace Ltd. design, manufactures and assembly for the space industry and is currently developing its own launch vehicle, so as to provide a full turn-key solution to our customers. Website: www.tranquilityaerospace.com

About Uchusen

Uchusen is the world’s first dronesat systems developer, based in London and Berlin. We design, develop and integrate minidrone and nanosat systems for spaceborne activities. Website: www.uchusencompany.com

[image credits: (all images) Uchusen Company; (excl. bottom-right image) Tranquility Aerospace Ltd]

Finally printed Uchusen’s first fully-functioning home-designed Arduino-powered PCB board for an upcoming aerospace project. Naturally can’t give away too much at this time, but it’s clearly a step forward for Uchusen. Just under a year since I started this blog and experimenting with various electronics components, all the hard work has finally come together… and I realise how much more is yet to come!
Now that I have the foundation and ironed out all the kinks in the process, it’s time to work on a more fully-fledged system and get closer to the reality of a nano-spacecraft built from first principles.

Finally printed Uchusen’s first fully-functioning home-designed Arduino-powered PCB board for an upcoming aerospace project. Naturally can’t give away too much at this time, but it’s clearly a step forward for Uchusen. Just under a year since I started this blog and experimenting with various electronics components, all the hard work has finally come together… and I realise how much more is yet to come!

Now that I have the foundation and ironed out all the kinks in the process, it’s time to work on a more fully-fledged system and get closer to the reality of a nano-spacecraft built from first principles.

Draft PCB design... a work in progress Fritzing Advanced Arduino PCB Workshop Quick GPS and Barometer mockup

Working on a draft PCB design to be printed by the good Fritzing Fab people in Berlin. It’s been an eye-opener to use the Fritzing software properly: so much detail, so convenient and the learning curve is really not bad at all. The downside of the quick learning curve is you get frustrated when you dig into the detail: so it is fair to say I agree when it says on the tin that the software is still in “Beta”.

Otherwise, got a couple of components like the Locosys GPS unit and the barometer unit straight from Watterott, rather than buy in the US and pay just as much in P&P as for the units themselves. Ordered a couple of days ago, and hey presto DHL was on the doorstep!

The Fritzing advanced PCB workshop last week was great to put things in perspective, get my designs looked over and the opportunity to bounce ideas off like-minded people. My first serious contact with SMD components as well: the traditional through-hole 220-Ohm resistors look positively huge now in comparison to a resistor in a tiny 0805 package which is basically a 2mmx1mm box you can only manipulate with tweezers! Haven’t got round to soldering these but the time will come once the PCB is produced.

I do admit it is difficult to edit even the most basic of components in Fritzing (the old Parts Editor is buggy yes, but really not ideal) and when you switch between views sometimes you get these ghost connections breadboard-side that you have to double-click (?) to make go away. Or how you have to save the file to make rulers go away - that you’ve already deleted. Other things that caught me out today: if you copy-paste one component to create another identical item, it might come up in breadboard but not in the schematic/PCB views. Which is annoying when that piece is not available in the parts library and you’re trying to make do with “mystery parts” instead of the real thing. But hey, it works. After a few days at it (which includes soaking up the sun and street parties during the three-day Karneval of Cultures in Kreuzberg), I had a first draft… more than can be said about other PCB software I’ve tried!