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


Importing SPICE models into Keysight ADS

At ECOSat, we do all our own electronics design, RF included. The granddaddy of all RF design suites is Keysight’s Advanced Design System (you’ll find Keysight on our sponsors page). ADS is an extremely powerful tool, but using it can be daunting for a novice.

The first thing you need in an RF design is some fundamental analog devices: transistors and diodes. ADS comes with a library already, but it’s not incredibly comprehensive. Many vendors offer ADS-specific models for their devices, but others may only provide a SPICE model. These SPICE models are normally a device model embedded in a subcircuit that also accounts for parasitic effects. Ensuring these parasitics are imported is crucial for RF design.

It turns out you can translate SPICE models for use in ADS simulations, but the process is a little convoluted. Here’s a quick guide.

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.

         IMG_9729 (1)IMG_9726 (1)



ECOSat at Victoria techtoria 2016

A big thank you to everyone that stopped by our booth February 19th at Discover Techtoria 2016. We had a great time talking with everyone and having the opportunity to showcase what we have been passionately working on for the last few years. On display we had the engineering model of ECOSat-II along with some of the updated systems that will be going into the final version along with information of the upcoming ECOSat-III satellite mission, ECOSat-II’s mission and information about our club.

techtoria2 Techtoria1

ECOSat at the 2016 BC Tech Summit

On January 18th ECOSat had the pleasure to display our work at the 2016 BC Tech Summit ( Many amazing organizations where on display from industries including medical, entertainment, aerospace, and many others. It was great to see University of British Columbias team UBC orbit attending the summit along with us and promoting what Canadian Universities have been working on with micro satellites.

We would like to thank all the amazing people that stopped by to talk with us about ECOSat and the work of students at the University of Victoria. We are currently working on being able to once again display our work at the up coming Discover Techtoria ( in Victoria, so if you have a chance please stop by and say hello.


Information Session, January 2016


Thursday, January 14th, 2015, 17:00 – 18:30, ECS 108


Hello everyone,

The team will be hosting an information session on Thursday, January 14th in ECS 108 at 5 pm. The session is targeted towards any students (undergraduate or graduate) interested in aerospace who may be interesting in learning more about the project and joining the team.

Ground Station Status


The ground station for ECOSat-II, responsible for communication between the ground and the satellite, is in its final stages of completion. The antenna being used is a large Yagi.  Yagi antennas have very directional radio propagation that we can use to our advantage by pointing at the satellite.


Yagi Propogation [1]

That is why the ground station is equipped with an elevation and azimuth rotor that will be able to track any satellite that passes overhead. Satellites do not pass slowly though, and in a low-earth orbit (which is what ECOSat-II will be in), they travel around 7km/s. While their orbit is far enough away (~800km) that our rotor can keep up with them, another problem arises. Communication with satellites at these speeds will be heavily affected by the doppler effect. As they approach the frequencies get higher and after they pass they get lower. This can shift the incoming frequencies from 3kHz in the 2m band to 9kHz in the 70cm band [2].


Hello everyone, Welcome to the new website.

While content is still being developed for this website on our end, take a look through our past success and news articles in the media.




UVic ECOSat team’s winning satellite design could be the next big thing in space travel

July 4, 2014 – It looks like a tiny black office tower with an antenna, but when this unassuming shoebox-sized nano-satellite is launched 800 kilometres into space, the University of Victoria engineering students who built and designed it will be experimenting with what might just be the next big thing in space travel: diamagnetic propulsion….

UVic engineering team wins satellite design challenge – Design Engineering

June 25, 2014 – A team of University of Victoria engineering students have won the latest Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC), a nation-wide competition…

University of Victoria students’ tiny satellite aims for the stars – Times Colonist

June 24, 2014 – A tiny satellite about the size of a shoebox has earned a team of University of Victoria engineering students a prestigious national award that will help them launch their project — and their careers — into orbit…

University students design self-healing satellites – The Globe and Mail

March 3, 2014 – In one such “what if” scenario, engineering students at the University of Victoria will use their ECOsat Design Challenge entry to experiment with adjusting the altitude of a satellite using magnetic fields…

University of Victoria satellite builders in top spot – Victoria News

October 10, 2013 – A team of students from the University of Victoria are sitting pretty heading into next spring’s final round of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge…

Busy Days For Teams Participating in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge – Ottawa Citizen

October 18, 2013 – It was a very busy few days for teams participating in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge during the week of Sept. 23 to 26. In addition to the Solar Panel Workshop, more representatives from each team travelled to MDA in Montreal to give Critical Design Review presentations on their cubesat projects…

Students one step closer to sending satellite into orbit – Martlet

December 13, 2012 – After placing third in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) on Sept. 29, UVic’s Experimental Cosmic Ray and Diamagnetic Scientific Satellite (ECOSat) team is now focused on the second iteration of the CSDC, in which the winning nanosatellite will be launched into orbit in the spring of 2014…

UVic enters the space race – Victoria News

November 02, 2013 – A blue glowing laser light draws the eye to mechanical gizmos and circuit boards, all crammed into a rectangular metal frame about the size of a loaf of bread.

Students aim to send satellite into space – The Ring

October 17, 2012 – The university’s extracurricular ECOSat team was one of three finalists out of 12 university teams competing in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, which wrapped up Sept. 29 in Ottawa with the announcement of a second offering of the competition with similar parameters.

Radio Interview – CFAX 1070

Recentely the UVic ECOSat teams’ Chief Engineer Justin Curran was interviewed by CFAX 1070 radio host Frank Standford, about the teams recent 3rd place success in the inaugural offering of the CSDC. Below is the recorded radio interview.

UVic students’ work could land in space – Martlet

March 03, 2011 – Sending half a shoebox into space could allow a team of UVic students to accomplish some firsts in the Canadian space industry. But to do that, they need to beat out 12 other student groups from universities across Canada participating in the first-ever Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC).