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Many (many) moons ago, I did some pieces for Mondo 2000 magazine and The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog on microsats — basically homebrewed flying PCs and radios in a box that hitched rides on spaceships. I heard amazing stories of literally building these craft on kitchen tables and baking components (i.e. curing them) in home ovens, sats being tossed out of hatches of Russian spacecraft to “launch” them, guys in basements using early desktop publishing systems to bodge up professional-looking aerospace firm proposals to get contracts, etc. All very exciting, pioneering stuff.

The microsat movement is alive and well today, and you can even buy a nifty CubeSat Kit, built around the MSP430 chipset. Seems like buying a kit would take a bunch of the fun out of it, but I guess a lot depends on what sort of “fun” you’re after. It also costs $6,000, but it is, after all, a spacecraft.

Begin your CubeSat Mission with the CubeSat Kit [via ladyada's ranting]

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. cyenobite2 says:

    Mondo 2000? Gareth, your age is showing ;)
    I thought I was the only one old enough to remember that awesome zine!
    You have been bumped up on my idol scale now.

  2. St.Eligius says:

    Gawd, I loved Mondo 2000. I still have them in a box somewhere and the book Mondo 2000: A User’s Guide to the New Edge (first printing) is looking at me with puppy dawg eyes from the book shelf. I reread it every nine months, love all the shiny pictures too.

  3. Tim says:

    Mondo 2000 – The ephedrine/pumpkin pie diet was the best thing ever! What an amazing mag!

  4. The Oracle says:

    back on topic, what are people/schools doing with these things besides clones of sputnik 1? The best I can find by searching is “connecting sensors”.

  5. Gareth Branwyn says:

    AMSAT is the main org for amateur sat builders. There’s all sorts of info there about the various sats and what they’re up to:
    http://www.amsat.org/

    There’s also a community site for CubeSat-based systems:
    http://cubesat.calpoly.edu/