Who we are

We are small group of researchers at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering University of West Bohemia in Czech Republic. Our field of study covers electronics systems and communication systems. Since 2009 we are interested in the technology of small satellites called CubeSats. In this area we were working between 2009 and 2011 on PilsenCube satellite togather with our bachelor, master and Ph.D. students. Several last years we are cooperating with VZLU company on their satellite. Our ground station (radio transceiver, directional antenna, antenna rotator) is used for operating the VZLUSat-1, part of international QB50 project.
Contact person: Ivo Vertat (ivertat@kae.zcu.cz)

What we do

For VZLUSat-1 project we provide the services of our ground station to keep the radio conection with satellite. For this purpose we develop a software for automatic radio contact control, satellite operating and data processing. All downloaded data are vizualized for the satellite operator and the procedure of radio contact can be automatically by software or manually by operators revised based on current data.
VZLUSat-1 also contain unique technology of partical detector with lobster eye based x-ray optics. For this equipment we develop an optical trigger, which detect the Sun as x-ray source in the field of view of detector optics.

What can you see on this page

This web page shows the interface between VZLUSat-1 satellite and its operators, which affects procedures of radio contact with satellite. Interface has a purpose to make easier the satellite control and decision of operators under many different data received from the satellite. All interface and data handling is automatized as much as possible. For example, memory content of satellite is compared with previously downloaded data and requests on download can be generated automatically for missing data as well as requests on deleting the downloaded data in satellite memory. Knowledge of the satellite memory status (STOR INFO) is very important, because limited radio data throughput do not allow to download all stored data, only the most important.

How to help us

Low power satellite radio use only low bit rates (2k4, 4k8, 9k6) and the amount of downloadable data from low earth orbit with one ground station is limited. If you are a radioamateur equipped for 435 MHZ band, especially outside the Europe region or close to polar circle, you can help us to download more scientific data from the satellite.
Our research group depends on support of foundation agency. Success of our project proposals is directly related to the amount of citation of our research papers. We have many papers from the area of small satellite development (solar panels and power supply, onboard computers, radio communication, magnetic stabilisation coils optimizing, optical attitude determination,...). If you want to help us in any way, feel free to contact us.

Photo gallery

Basic architecture of Pilsen ground station for VZLUSat-1. Software development environments and languages (PHP, HTML, SQL) for local ground station equipment, radio operators interface, scientific team interface and internet page data presentation are unified.
Operated satellite VZLUSat-1 with deployable x-ray optics focusing on particle detector. Satellite has also hollow retro-reflector array and radiation shielding composite materials.
Non-interactive mode of Pilsen ground station - radio (frequency tuning) and antenna rotator (azimuth, elevation) controlled by PC software, commands are send and evaluated by PHP script based on requirements of remote operators.
Prototype of PilsenCube main onboard data handling and control unit with two ARM controllers (main and back-up, firmware upgrade ability), hardware watch-dog unit and flash memory.
Prototype of deployable solar panel for PilsenCube satellite with small area solar cells. Solar cells create 4 separated blocks for higher failure and damage immunity. Inner layers of PCB contain a temperature sensor.
Our future vision of small satellite structure with simply scalable inner and outer shielded sections for less and more radiation tolerant devices providing reasonable total mass budget of satellite.
Pilsen Ground Station - Three directional antennas (VHF, UHF, S-Band) with two-axis rotator on the roof of Faculty of Electrical Engineering. Ground station has perfect visibility of horizon.
CAD model of PilsenCube inner structure. Blue parts are two cylindrical LiFePO4 accumulators supplemented by two Maxwell supercapacitors (350F/2.7V) solving the problem of fast eldering of accumulators on Earth orbit.
CAD model of S-Band and UHF antenna system on PilsenCube satellite. Also 88-108MHz antenna were considered for RDS receiver subsystem used as low power autonomous orbit determination.