The ArduLab – powered by Atmel’s versatile ATMega 2560 microcontroller - is a highly capable experimentation platform ready for space right out of the box. Designed by Infinity Aerospace, ArduLab can be programmed just like an Arduino.
The next ArduLab launch is scheduled for September 17, 2013. Although this particular mission is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) on an Antares Rocket/Cygnus spacecraft developed by the Orbital Sciences Corporation, the ArduLab is fully capable of operating on a number of suborbital launch vehicles and parabolic aircraft.
“There are multiple [reasons] why we’re doing exactly what we’re doing [with ArduLab]. One is that space is usually not inclusive of all the people around the world,” ArduLab co-founder Manu Sharma recently told DIY Space Exploration. “I wanted to create products that enabled people across the globe… [to] make cool experiments and do anything they want.”
According to Sharma, the ArduLab crew will be launching pretty much every day for the next few years.
“[So] it probably won’t be as hard for [someone] to come up with an idea, ‘I want to see how fireflies fly in space,’” Sharma explained. “And he could program this thing and do any of those experiments. That was the real reason why we went to open hardware because it allows us to go beyond borders and find people to work on it very easily.”
Sharma also noted that ArduLab ultimately wanted to create a community of space hardware hackers.
“We’re launching our forums and our community page where people can just hang out, share their experiences, and share knowledge about experiments that they’re doing and things like that. We really want to create a new committee of people and we need those people to [renew] possibilities of what we can do with ArduLab and future products,” he added.
Interested in sending your experiment to the ISS and beyond? The Space Explorer Program includes ArduLab 1.0, an additional ArduLab board for experimentation development, launch slot to space and an Infinity Aerospace basic payload support for $4,995.
You can also customize your Explorer Program for an additional fee, while the Space Conqueror Program ($34,995 yearly subscription fee) offers unlimited flights to space, 3 x ArduLab 1.0, ($250 for each additional ArduLab 1.0) and a “Getting Started in Space” lesson with Infinity Aerospace engineers. Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out Infinity Aerospace’s official page here.
As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s ATmega2560 is a high-performance, low-power 8-bit AVR RISC-based microcontroller equipped with 256KB ISP flash memory, 8KB SRAM, 4KB EEPROM, 86 general purpose I/O lines, 32 general purpose working registers, a real time counter and 6 flexible timer/counters with compare modes. Additional key specs include a PWM, four USARTs, a byte oriented 2-wire serial interface, 16-channel 10-bit A/D converter and a JTAG interface for on-chip debugging.
The ATmega2560 is capable of achieving a throughput of 16 MIPS at 16 MHz, while operating between 4.5-5.5 volts. By executing powerful instructions in a single clock cycle, the device achieves a throughput approaching 1 MIPS per MHz, neatly balancing power consumption with processing speed.
Interested in learning more? See the infographic below which details just what ArduLab is capable of doing for your experiment.