Author Archive for Graham Looney

Vibration Testing at the Canadian Space Agency

This summer, the UVic ECOSat Satellite Design Club attended the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge in Ottawa Ontario, where they had the pleasure of attending the David Florida Research Laboratory, the primary testing facility for the Canadian Space Agency.

ECOSat vibration-tested their satellite alongside many other universities, including École Polytechnique from Montreal, UMSATS from the University of Manitoba, and ORBIT from the University of British Columbia. ECOSat is thrilled with the results from testing, which focused on a new “backplane” internal component layout.

Moving forward into the next round of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, The UVic Satellite Design club is seeking new members from all disciplines to join, design, build and test the many systems that will be essential for the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, as well as other projects including an armature radio ground station and an even smaller satellite!

If you are interested in joining the University of Victoria Satellite Design club, please check out the “get involved” page at

-Graham Looney


Manager’s Summary: Back-plane Stack Design, ECOSat III

The ECOSat team will be vibration testing the third generation of their satellite, ECOSat III at the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) in June of 2016. As a part of the CSDC teams are required to vibration test their satellite designs to ensure that they will hold up during launch, and will not become a liability for the launch vehicle.

ECOSat III has adopted a new design for it’s stack layout. A traditional PC104 stack, simply put, a stack of printed circuit boards that contain the various components for the on board computer, including communications and power.

IMG_0043Fig 1. Traditional  PC104 Stack Design: ECOSat II Prototype

Traditionally, vertical cubesat/nanosat stack layouts usually employ rigid PC104 plus stack connectors to connect each PCB in the stack which can be cumbersome and physically inefficient, especially in regards to the usable space in between each printed circuit board.


Fig 2. Traditional Pin Connector

ECOSat III looks to solve this problem by employing a back-plane stack design. Similar to the way that graphics cards or other components are mounted in a Personal Computer, the back-plane is mounted vertically, and all other component PCB’s slot in to the back-plane at different levels.


Fig 3. NEW ECOSat III Backplane Prototype

Advantages: The back-plane design increases the usable board space on each PCB, and allows us to more effectively manage the volume between each PCB. This will enable ECOSat members to design more versatile component designs, especially concerning battery mounts. Moreover, the backplane design will allow students to more easily disassemble, test,  and make modifications to their stack layout prior to finalization. Finally, this design is also more affordable and will allow for more prototype designs to be created by students.

Drawbacks: This design has not been tested in space, and the back-plane may be susceptible to vibration damage during launch.

Future: To increase flexibility in stack spacing, height and strain relief, ECOSat hopes to use a rigid-flex PCB back-plane design.


Prototype Equipment Design Open House 2016

UVic ECOSat was invited to attend the open house at Prototype Equipment Design (PED) in Victoria. PED is a local company that specializes in precision design and manufacturing, and has been a sponsor of the ECOSat club for many years. Staff from PED gave ECOSat members a tour of their facilities and showcased some of the amazing work that they are doing for customers and sponsored grouped such as ECOSat.

Currently PED is working from ECOSat’s designs to manufacture the structure for the third generation ECOSat satellite which will be tested at the Canadian Space Agency in June.

ECOSat is extremely grateful for the continued support of companies such as PED and looks forward to showcasing and testing our design at the national level.

The focus of Prototype Equipment Design is to provide complete solutions to individuals and companies looking for smart solutions to their engineering needs.

The focus of Prototype Equipment Design is to provide complete solutions to individuals and companies looking for smart solutions to their engineering needs.

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