High Altitude Balloon payload capable of streaming live pictures, gps coordinates, and data telemetry.

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CUBEX is a high altitude balloon payload with a camera, GPS, ISM band radio, lipo battery, solar cells, and charger/power management circuit. The payload is capable of sending downlink telemetry of its GPS coordinates as well as pictures it takes while in flight, all live. The solar charging circuit allows the payload to run for days as long as the balloon holds float. The payload made its maiden voyage at the Layerone hacker conference in Monrovia, CA on May 24th!

CUBEX is connected to any radio station (as simple as a RTL USB) listening at 434.460Mhz using only 10mW! Anyone within a hundred miles of the payload can download the images it takes during flight! Bringing nearspace to the ground!

Project Page:

Event Page:

HAB Tracking Site:

Major thanks to Anthony Stirk and Phil Heron for his many contributions to this project!

CUBEX is capable of the following:

- GPS flight mode acquisition 

- Position reporting using radio (70cm band) - RTTY, DominoEX, THOR

- Image data downlink

- Power management Unit: Solar charging / Lipo / Low voltage cutoff

  • 1 × Si4464 Radio Chip TX/RX
  • 1 × Ublox Max7 GPS Module
  • 1 × Adafruit Miniature TTL Serial JPEG Camera Camera module
  • 1 × ATMega328 Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 1 × LTC3536 Power Management ICs / Switching Regulators and Controllers

View all 6 components

  • Code and board/schematic released!

    arko06/24/2014 at 22:00 0 comments

    Hey folks, several people have been asking for code and board/schematics, so I've now linked the Github where it all lives!

    Huge thanks to Phil Heron, Anthony Stirk, and the many folks credited in the code for all their contributions!

  • CUBEX-1 Flight is a Success!

    arko05/28/2014 at 02:48 1 comment

    Hey folks! Finally launched CUBEX-1 on May 24th, 2014 at the Layerone Convention. The payload consisted of CUBEX-1 and a Leo Bodnar B tracker. CUBEX-1 transmitted SSDV images (JPEG) at 320x240 as well as tracking telemetry on 434.460Mhz 300baud 8n2. The B tracker was an APRS beacon. The payloads reached a maximum altitude of 33698m (110,560ft) and transmitted down 50 images during flight. After burst, the aprs tracker stopped and CUBEX-1 lost GPS, however, it continued to transmit SSDV images. As predicted, the estimated landing zone is the pacific ocean. 

    There is more info on the flight available here:

    Images from flight:

    More Images:

    Flight Path:

    Screenshot of capturing data:

  • Testing Complete

    arko05/16/2014 at 20:58 0 comments

    With testing complete it's time for CUBEX to enjoy some beer.

  • Full Flight Test

    arko05/04/2014 at 19:25 1 comment

    Ran a full flight test on batteries and added a quarter wave antenna. This was the first time the entire system ran on its own (no power supply, debugger, etc). Image transmission ran flawlessly for 4 hours, far more than what is required for flight.

  • CUBEX is fully functional!!! - TheHackadayPrize

    arko05/02/2014 at 04:39 0 comments

    Yes indeed! With great help from fsphil, CUBEX now transmits jpeg pictures (SSDV) as well as GPS data!! Here's a quick demo of it working!

    This video is for: TheHackadayPrize

  • It's alive!

    arko04/19/2014 at 01:46 0 comments

    CUBEX now has a working brain! It's currently sending out its name, packet number, time, lat, long, altitude, satellite count, error codes, and a checksum (RTTY 50baud 7n2 on 434.480Mhz). The next step will be to grab the jpeg off the camera and send it out at 600baud (ssdv). Special thanks to Upuaut and Fsphil for their awesome code and help!

  • This sucker is solar!

    arko04/11/2014 at 04:14 0 comments

    Attached solar panels which will now charge the LiPo battery! Connected are two 0.5V cells feeding to an LTC3105 energy harvester. Demo and info to come!

  • Parts have been populated!

    arko03/30/2014 at 07:28 0 comments

    Finally got around to populating all the parts for CUBEX today. Found a few issues, which I'll explain in detail in the next log. Nothing major, but I guess that's why we have prototypes :) In the coming days I will be doing software testing to assure all parts are functional.

  • Correct parts have finally arrived!

    arko03/27/2014 at 00:54 0 comments

    It's been a while since I updated, mostly due to finals. Now that I'm on spring break I've had some time to order the correct parts and begin assembly! Parts all arrived today! Should have most of it assembled and ready by the weekend.

  • Solar charging/discharging the battery is functional

    arko03/05/2014 at 18:44 0 comments

    Since a lot of my project time has been working on the Layerone 2014 Conference badge with charliex, I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on CUBEX. 

    Thankfully, I was able to ship a few boards to my friend Anthony Stirk from HAB Supplies in the UK who bought the parts and is now assembling and testing the board! He reported back today saying that the board was able to charge the battery using a power supply (since the UK doesn't really have a sun to test solar charging). He then placed a resistor load on the VCC and discharged the battery to the programmed 2.7v cutoff (done to protect the battery). So the power board is doing exactly what it was designed to do, charging the battery and cutoff the battery if the HAB draws too much energy preventing it from damaging the battery. As a side note, the battery will be reconnected automatically as soon as it has been filled up to a safe voltage. It's always a good feeling when a design works as intended! Huge thanks to Anthony! 

    My parts from digikey/newark should arrive sometime early next week, so I can finally get this project going on my end.. launch is 3 months away!

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Enjoy this project?



Valery DJONDO wrote 11/01/2023 at 23:36 point

Great Radio application from someone who doesn't fear using all the features he can add to it. I see it could be of some help in case of an Emergency #4NatBox project could benefit from this experpience.
FG4TL You didn't tell if you need to have a special permition to emit from a ballon as it's is forbiden for radio to emit from the sky.

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NOPenopE wrote 12/05/2016 at 04:49 point

Is this like a cubesat or nanosat?

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RX HMP wrote 10/03/2016 at 19:51 point

Amazing. Im just getting into quadcopters. Could you put in your instructions pics of the parts with links? id like tobuse some but not all. Could you help me with Custom fpv flight controller for racing?

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greenaum wrote 12/03/2015 at 13:58 point

Nice! An expansion, if you don't mind a suggestion, might be a higher-res camera, saving photos to SD card, if the radio limits you to only sending lower-res pictures. 

Impressive you only need 10mW TX power too, you've had no problems with such low power? Would higher power help? I admit RF is something I don't know much about. 

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star_holden wrote 09/02/2015 at 17:07 point

Will this work with a RFM22 ? Instead of the SI4464 ?

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Karan wrote 07/03/2015 at 08:39 point

Can you describe me some applications of the project..?? As it is not useful as the balloon floats anywhere according the wind direction. It gives useless data..??? Then why do you need to make such a device..?? 

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Whjas Huanh wrote 04/27/2015 at 11:08 point

Thanks for sharing. If you have any PCB design need to be manufactured, our company pcbway can provide a online quote as well as  free universal boards. Thanks !

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adlard.matthew wrote 12/25/2014 at 18:46 point

Could see these being good for global weather communications and planning, having these positioned around the planet and all both linked hive wise and web wise for all to use.

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 08/15/2014 at 19:03 point
Hello arko, you should review your project details to give it the best chance of going through to the next round of The Hackaday Prize.

By August 20th you must have the following:
- A video (Check)
- At least 4 Project Logs (Check)
- A system design document (I can't see them here)
- Links to code repositories, and remember to mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project. (It would be good if you put them in the External links section, or listed in the details).

You should also try to highlight how your project is 'Connected' and 'Open' in the details and video.

There are a couple of tutorial video's with more info here:

Good luck!

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J Groff wrote 07/08/2014 at 16:59 point
Does this use the CUBESAT architecture?

  Are you sure? yes | no

arko wrote 07/11/2014 at 00:59 point
Although the shape is a cube and the boards are stackable, the design isn't based on any specific CUBESAT architecture.

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Michael Brand wrote 06/29/2014 at 18:49 point
This is badass! Do you have a temperature sensor on board? Just wondering what temp it gets up there

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arko wrote 07/11/2014 at 00:56 point
There isn't a dedicated temperature sensor IC, rather I used the temperature sensor built-in the Si4464.

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 06/17/2014 at 00:32 point
Hello Arko, we're so glad you have submitted this to The Hackaday Prize. I think your project is the one that has got the closest to space so far!

We are starting community voting soon, so if you have any updates, now is the time to add them. Making it really clear in the description how the device is 'connected', and why it's a great THP entry will really help the judges.

Any questions, just holler. Good luck.

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arko wrote 06/24/2014 at 22:42 point

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samern wrote 06/16/2014 at 17:25 point
I would love to launch this on a sounding rocket and then let it transmit from the payload (a compact sailplane)....don't suppose you have a how-to somewhere?

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arko wrote 06/24/2014 at 22:02 point
Just released the code/board/schematics, no how-to available yet.

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jakaruni04 wrote 05/11/2014 at 09:21 point
I will follow you to make this project it would be awesome , Tutorial please

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tsiu wrote 04/29/2014 at 04:50 point
Hello, are you going to post some of the schematics online or is this project closed source?
Also as I see you don't really care about the weight where I have seen and read this type of stuff needs to be as light as possible for the balloon, except if you have a lot of spare gas ;)

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arko wrote 06/24/2014 at 22:30 point
Schematics, board design, and code are now available at:

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Mike Szczys wrote 03/04/2014 at 00:22 point
Hey Arko, are you using your DIY test chamber to test this out during development or was that chamber for different hardware?

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Mike Szczys wrote 03/04/2014 at 00:23 point

  Are you sure? yes | no

arko wrote 03/04/2014 at 01:08 point
Yes! I will be testing it as soon as it's ready for environmental testing. Hopefully in the coming month.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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