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  • Publication
    Development of the Ground Segment Communication System for the EIRSAT-1 CubeSat
    The Educational Irish Research Satellite (EIRSAT-1) is a student-led project to design, build and test Ireland’s first satellite. As part of the development, a ground segment (GS) has also been designed alongside the spacecraft. The ground segment will support two-way communications with the spacecraft throughout the mission. Communication with the satellite will occur in the very high frequency (VHF) and the ultra high frequency (UHF) bands for the uplink and downlink respectively. Different modulation schemes have been implemented for both uplink and downlink as part of the GS system. Uplink incorporates an Audio Frequency Shift-Keying (AFSK) scheme, while downlink incorporates a Gaussian Minimum Shift-Keying (GMSK) scheme. In order for the spacecraft to successfully receive a telecommand (TC) transmitted from the ground station, a framing protocol is required. AX.25 was selected as the data link layer protocol. A hardware terminal node controller (TNC) executes both the AX.25 framing and the AFSK modulation. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) framing software was developed to allow data to be accepted by the TNC. A software defined radio (SDR) approach has been chosen for the downlink. GNURadio is software that allows flowcharts to be built to undertake the required signal processing of the received signal, the demodulation of the signal and the decoding of data. This paper provides a detailed account of the software developed for the ground segment communication system. A review of the AX.25 and KISS framing protocols is presented. The GNURadio flowcharts that handle the signal processing and data decoding are broken down and each constituent is explained. To ensure the reliability and robustness of the system, a suite of tests was undertaken, the results of which are also presented.