MAST Cell for Wildlife Research

(M)iniature (A)rgos (S)atellite (T)racking Cell for Wildlife Research

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This open source wildlife tag uses the Argos system currently aboard 7 satellites to track any non-marine animal on Earth. This tag is specifically designed for use on small birds, but can be used on any terrestrial wildlife as well.

Current commercial solutions for bird tracking are bulky, heavy, and expensive. Certain trackers on the market can cost up to $3000 per tag. With this project, we aim to provide a cheaper and lighter solution for researchers around the globe.

CNES plans to have up to 25 nanosatellites with the Argos system onboard in orbit by 2023. These new satellites will give 15 minute location updates with accuracies up to 150m.

All project files are open source on Github. (

Warning: This transceiver is being developed and HAS NOT received certification yet from CNES.


- Less than 10g in total weight

- Up to 1 year lifetime

Target Use Case

Bird tag in image is not the tag in this project. This is simply a usage demonstration.

  • v0.1

    Daniel He07/21/2021 at 11:01 3 comments

    Commit 13a81ae

    First prototype. Based on the reference design provided by Arribada. RF traces are calculated with JLC2313 stackup. PCB manufactured by JLCPCB.

    Assembled board weighs less than 2g.

    What worked:

    - Microcontroller

    - Power regulators / switch

    What didn't work:

    - Solar charging

    - SPI flash

    Apparantly, the "optional" MPPC function on the solar charger IC was not so optional after all.

    I also messed up the symbol for the flash chip. The datasheet listed the BGA balls bottom-up, I assumed it was top-down.

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