SACubed - ZA4 , is the fouth ZA CubeSat Project.

This Project is our first CubeSat to fully comply with the COTS principle, and is thus constructed to adhere fully, to the original CubeSat design criteria.

With the experience gained in our first three CubeSat projects, we came to the conclusion that although we have had a lot of fun developing our own custom hardware, we also experienced a lot of frustration and delays in the process- it was clear that we we were ultimately missing a very important long-term strategy - building a cost-effective CubeSat  using commercially of the shelf components. 

A total of 14 SACubed-ZA4 base-kits have been supplied by the ZA CubeSat Team -Free of Charge (excluding Telemetry Modules, which we had to remove due to Radio Spectrum licensing, export restrictions).

With commercial CubeSat products and even complete systems now being produced by companies such as Clyde Space, ISIS and Pumpkin Inc, we have now decided to discontinue further development of CubeSats.


SaCubed-ZA4 is our first project using the Arduino range of microcontrollers and also our first CubeSat to take advantage of readily available modules. Initial tests have shown promising results using the new 32-bit Atmel ARM processor, and by basing our solution on open source, we believe this may open the door to many educational institutions or individual students who dont have financial support, or the backing typically required to get a CubeSat project going.

One of the most exciting options that is made possible with this new platform is the option of uploading new code to the CubeSat while in orbit, and the option of adding additional payload capabilites that can be enbled/disabled on request.



SOFTWARE - under active development


Design and build a cost-effective CubeSat based on original design specification
Evaluate the Arduino platform as the basis of a CubeSat
Implement Open source Ground Control System
Demonstrate system functionality
Conduct subsystems tests and analyse data


Adopted Frame, for complete launch integration


Weight:    <1kg
Size:         10cm*10cm*10cm


1 x Arduino Mega - Master Controller
3 x Arduino - Duemilanove/Mini (Payload controllers)
2.4MHz Tx/Rx for uplink/downlink Communication - testing

Sensors: Magnetormeter/Accelerometer/Gyroscope/Photon Flux/Spectrometer/Geiger Counter
vibration/Temperature/Light/Gas sensors
IR Camera Interface
VIsual Cammera Interface
Li-ion Battery and charging circuitry
Solar cell with sensors: Solar cell current, Battery voltage



A Major revamp of the Telemetry Modules have now been implemented in our SACubed-ZA4 Project:

As per our previous Telemetry modules, we again have opted to implement the ubiquitous AX.25 amateur radio data standard for Telemetry and Command Control.

The AX.25 protocol has been proven reliable and is received by thousands of amateur radio operators worldwide.

Two solutions were identified, with both proving capable in our test lab.

MIM Module (Micro Interface Module):
The MIM Telemetry module provides for multiple periodic AX.25 packets at 1200 baud AFSK, with different rates that can be set for the BEACON, Telemetry, GPS position and CW Identification.
The module has no internal Comand and Control capability, but we were able to add this in the lab with both CTCSS and DTMF receivers/decoder pairs.

1200 Baud TNC:
a Terminal Node Controller (TNC)  provides Telemetry, Beacon, GPS and CW ID capability in the VHF/UHF Radio Spectrum Band. Similiar to a MIM module, but provides full TNC DIGIPEATER and 4 channel COMMAND/CONTROL channel. With the full TNC, a complete digital communications transponder mission, such as PCSAT, can be supported. PCsat is just one of a possible constellation of student built satellites.