Getting started with the XK90 CubeSat kit

For all those who have purchased the XK90 kit, we have an on-boarding workshop scheduled, please see here.

YOU can build a satellite.  In your classroom / home / shed / maker space or even under a tree!  All you need is the XK90 CubeSat kit from XinaBox, and the information available from this page, which is presented in 6 sections:

  1. Connecting xChips
  2. The roles of the Ground and Flight stations
  3. Building the Ground Station
  4. Building the Flight Station / Constructing the CubeSat
  5. Powering up the instruments
  6. Going further  

And its a real satellite too: the XK90 is not an emulator or a toy.  With this kit you will build a CubeSat that is graded for space.  The following video (8.5 mins) explains what a CubeSat is and how XinaBox components ("xChips") can be used to build one.

You could take an off-the-shelf XK90, build the CubeSat, put it on a rocket, blast it into space and deploy it.  We did just that in April 2019: read about the 40 CubeSats we launched into Extreme Low Earth Orbit (ELEO - up to 250km).  We showed that it is possible to measure conditions in ELEO using (relatively) low cost satellites, then we put together the XK90 kit so that you can do it too.

But we did not stop in ELEO.  In February 2020 we went back into space and spent 3 months on the International Space Station (ISS), and now we are a proud partner with the US DoE on the exciting CTE CubeSat Mission

Everything you need to know to build your XK90 CubeSat kit is outlined in the following 6 sections:

1:  Connecting XinaBox components ("xChips")

To build digital instruments with xChips you need to know how to connect xChips together.  It will only take a couple of minute to learn, and everything you need to know is outlined here.

2:  The roles of the Ground and Flight stations

With the XK90 kit you build 2 separate instruments: a Ground Station and a Flight Station (which is the CubeSat). 

Read about the roles these instruments play in a remote monitoring project / experiment

3:  Building the Ground Station

To get the Ground Station up and running you will need to assemble it, flash code onto it then configure it..

Everything you need to build and set up the Ground Station is explained here.

4:  Building the Flight Station / Constructing the CubeSat 

The process of building the Flight Station and constructing the CubeSat is shown in the following video.  It took our co-Founder Judi just over 12 minutes to put hers together, slowly, explaining what she is doing as she goes along:


There is more information in this PDF, which discusses the BS01 and how to use this xChip to build PC/104CubeSat Bridges.

A key element of building the Flight Station is flashing code onto it, then configuring the LoRa radio in synch with the Ground Station.  The process of doing so is outlined in this 1 page PDF.

5:  Powering up the Instruments:

Once you have completed all the steps outlined earlier on this page your Ground and Flight stations are ready to use.  Before you launch the flight station anywhere you should test it first.

It is very easy to use the 2 instruments - all you need to do now is power them up.  This 1 page PDF contains some helpful information about what to expect, including why it may take a minute or so before all the data is displaying correctly on the Ground Station.

6:  Going further

Once you have built and tested both Ground and Flight stations you are ready to launch!

Unfortunately it is not always easy to catch a lift on a rocket into orbit.  XinaBox are currently partnering with the US DoE on the exciting CTE CubeSat Mission, which is open to schools in the US.  If you are not eligible for this program then get in touch with your local education department / space agency to see what programs they are running. And don't let them they tell you it is too expensive / too hard to put school-built CubeSats into orbit... it doesn't need to be!  Let us know too - you can contact us via our help-desk.

A wealth of extension and related information on the XK90 is available in the form of four 1-hour workshops, which were delivered to schools participating in the CTE CubeSat Mission.  This videos cover space science in general, and will help you get the most out of your XK90.

And once your satellite mission is over... did you know that with all the different xChips that you have in the XK90 you could build a broad range of other digital instruments too.  Why not have a look at our projects page for some ideas, and check out the 70+ projects Hackster too.  

And finally, please look for us on social media and tag anything that you post that includes our stuff.  We are @XinaBox across all the usual platforms.