Communications and Regulatory

Communications and Regulatory

The team is responsible for handling all communications between the cube satellite and the ground station here on Earth. This involves developing the hardware and software needed to give the cube satellite the capabilities to intelligently respond to commands received. The team will design and fabricate the motherboard and operating software of the flight computer.

Along with this, the team is in charge of all licenses and regulations CySat has to operate under. There is a multitude of strict guidelines set by NASA, NanoRacks (CySat-1’s launch provider), the United States Government, and international organizations.

Team Roster

  • Sam Ruhlin (Team Lead)
  • Arun Krishnan
  • Logan Anderson
  • Matt Paavola
  • Mani Bhuma
  • Samuel Hartman

Current State

The team is currently developing the software that will be running on Howe Hall’s ground station flight computer and creating a communication network within the cube satellite for components to interact with one another. Once this is complete, CySat-1 will be flight ready in terms of processing information and working with its various components to conserve resources. Communications is also leading all radio knowledge on the satellite with expertise in amateur and experimental radio transmissions and selecting the new radio to be on-board CySat-1.

As of December 2018, command lines for the ADCS system have been drafted and need to be converted into I2C code to be integrated into the onboard flight computer. With the assistance of advisers, this will be completed during spring of 2019 before the final hand-off to NanoRacks.

Documentation for the IARU and NOAA coordination has officially been processed and approved as of mid-February 2019. The satellite can now operate using amateur frequencies in space and will be accessible to all amateur radio users, worldwide. The team is currently working to complete the NOAA public release form.


  • Complete assembly of Ground Station
  • Compile and apply all information required for tracking of satellite and retention of data
  • Complete proper testing of radio to make sure it is mission ready
  • Complete all regulation documents and applications on time


  • A mission-ready ground station and radio
  • Completed documents ensuring legal entry into space

Team Goals

  • A flight-ready communications system by the end of the semester


This semester, the comms team has made a ton of great progress on its way to being a part of Iowa state’s first fully operational satellite. Thanks to their hard work, Cysat is now closer than ever before to being launch-ready. Some of this progress includes:

  • Recreating a working STK simulation of Cysat’s orbit for better visualization of our comms range
  • Status testing the radio and testing the radio with a dummy load for ensuring flight readiness
  • Testing the ground station by listening to, tracking, and pinging the ISS as it flies overhead
  • Creating a Stateflow chart of the ADCS system for the 488 team to reference while programming it
  • Submitted Cysat’s NOAA public summary and updated the satellite’s mass for ODAR

Looking Back

In reflection of this semester, there are several things that we could have done differently to improve our effectiveness. First, there was a general theme of the second half of the semester for all of Cysat of, “trust but verify.” If the comms team had taken this more to heart earlier in the semester, this could have prevented many communication issues that came up with both the ground station and radio. This leads to the next improvement that could be made, which was that the team could have done a better job communicating with third parties. This somewhat ironic pitfall in the comms team lead to testing of the ground station take much longer than anticipated on account of several people thinking that the station’s progress was at several different points.

What’s Next

Due to a final deadline of mid-July for finishing the satellite and falling behind, people will have to come in this summer to complete the satellite. For the comms team, this would include finalizing what little testing remains for the radio, and final integration.

In terms of the fall, depending on when Cysat is launched from the ISS, comms will be in charge of collecting data from the satellite as well as initiating collection of the data. If the satellite is not launched until next spring, the team will be focusing on working on finding a radio for Iowa State’s next CubeSat project.