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Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois

IlliniSat-0 EDU Payload Support Board (PLSB)

What is so special about this board?

The Payload Support Board (PLSB) is one of the main components of the IlliniSat-Zero EDU and IlliniSat-0 CubeSat. This is the circuit board that allows for the rapid prototyping of payloads for the IlliniSat-0 line. Many other CubeSats have payload boards that are locked into one type of specific sensor. The PLSB, on the other hand, allows for a near infinite combination of configurations for off the shelf sensors, so long as they follow the Mikrobus form factor (one pair of 8 pins with set data line pins). Mikrobus currently provides over 1,200 sensors with many other companies beginning to adopt this form factor. The PLSB board can support a maximum of four small sensors, two medium and two small sensors, or two large sensors. The PLSB has a payload specific microprocessor that is programable with MicroPython. This microprocessor is responsible for payload data processing as well as communication with the rest of the satellite bus and onboard radio. Libraries will be provided to owners, so that a wide variety of users with varying programing skill levels can experiment with and use the PLSB for their missions in whatever capacity that they need to. With the use of these libraries, anyone who is even just learning how to program can quickly develop a payload interface. The amount of complexity and control over the payload will be left up to the end users. MicroPython is a microprocessor specific version of Python and was selected due to the popularity that Python has in the introductory computer science level, while also being a computer language which has a high skill ceiling. However the microprocessor could also be programmed in C or Rust if the user is feeling more adventurous. Finally, the microprocessor has the ability to run a real-time operating system (RTOS) if the experiment calls for it. Overall the PLSB is fantastic piece of developmental hardware, and in conjunction with the other hardware (Bus CDH, Radio, etc..) aboard IlliniSat-0, allows this multipurpose CubeSat to stand apart from others in the market.