Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Cube satellites, more commonly referred to as CubeSats, are small satellites that have become increasingly popular for academic, amateur, commercial, and scientific applications over the past five to ten years. These satellites provide a fairly inexpensive and compact platform for deploying many different types of equipment. While CubeSats do not allow for housing large, complex instruments, some organizations have begun to explore the possibility of deploying networks, or clusters, of CubeSats. Satellites in these clusters could theoretically be tied together via radio frequency communications to accomplish more than a single CubeSat could alone.

This report summarizes the preliminary design and development of a CubeSat software defined radio system for Harris Corporation. This system aims to facilitate communication between cube satellites using a compact, yet dynamic architecture. It is anticipated that the preliminary design of this project, described in this report, will be continued by future student design teams.

The preliminary design of this system has focused on two main components of the radio design. The first component is the electronic and programming design of the actual radio software and components. The second is the mechanical packaging that will encase the radio chip-set and mount within the satellite. The design and development of these components was performed concurrently.

Design of the electronic and software components included the design of two main subsystems: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter subsystem deals with receiving, modulating, and then transmitting incoming data. The receiver system involves demodulation, phase recovery, timing recovery, and error detection to then properly receive transmitted information. For this preliminary design, an image was captured using a camera and was then transmitted and received by the developed software defined radio system to demonstrate functionality.

Mechanical components for the radio packaging were developed to meet physical and thermal loading requirements. The mechanical packaging was designed to meet random vibration, shock, and equivalent dynamic loads. The thermal load requirements of the electrical components were taken into account to determine the thermal design needs of the packaging.

Expenses for this preliminary design fall well within the sponsor's provided budget of $10,000. Conceptual designs for the electrical and mechanical components of this preliminary design were completed during the first semester. Machining, programming, and testing took place during the second semester of the project.



Faculty Mentor

Jacob Gunther

Departmental Honors Advisor

V. Dean Adams

Capstone Committee Member

Don Cripps