ArduSat Open Source Ham Radio CubeSats


Australian Foundation radio amateur Jonathan Oxer VK3FADO is one of the designers of the two CubeSats ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X which arrived at the ISS on Friday, August 9 UT.

The Arduino-powered satellites were transported to the International Space Station by the Japanese HTV-4 cargo vessel along with the PicoDragon and TechEdSat-3 CubeSats and the HamTV transmitter.

The ArduSat’s will be deployed from the ISS by the Kibo robot arm sometime between October 2013 and March 2014. They are expected to have a lifetime of 7 months before burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

An article in The Register by Simon Sharwood says

Jonathan Oxer, one of the satellites’ designers, says serious science is one aim of the project, its main goal is “ is to inspire hobbyists and school students to learn about space technology, beginning with simple experiments using cheap Arduino boards in their classroom and then seamlessly transitioning to running those same experiments in space on a real satellite.”

That experience, he hopes, will see them take pursue studies in technical fields and over time address skills shortages.

Oxer hopes to release designs for the ASPPM.

“The design of the payload will also be released under the TAPR Open Hardware License, as soon as I have a clear path to do it without falling afoul of the laws restricting international arms trade [ITAR],” he told The Reg. “That’s actually quite a problem because satellite technology is classified as a weapon, no matter what its purpose is.”

Read the full Register article Open source ‘Cubesat’ set to soar at

Watch a video of Jon Oxer VK3FADO talking about the ArduSat CubeSats at

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) were introduced by the US Federal Government. ITAR threatens US radio amateurs with up to six figure fines or jail if they talk to non-US citizens about certain aspects of their amateur satellite hobby. These draconian regulations have stopped cooperation on amateur satellite projects between US hams and the rest of the world.

Read AMSAT Wants Amateur Radio Satellites Off US Munitions List

The amateur radio group TAPR developed the TAPR Open Hardware License (“OHL”) to provide a framework for hardware projects that is similar to the one used for Open Source software

Among the other radio amateurs who’ve been working on ArduSat are Jeroen Cappaert KK6BLQ and Joel Spark KK6ANB, both hold the USA equivalent of UK and Australian Foundation licences.

ArduSat Arduino CubeSat Technical Details

HamTV transmitter launched to ISS

Kibo Robot Arm CubeSat Deployment

Kibo Robot Arm CubeSat Deployment