Cube Satellite – Thermal Management


My team needed a heating element in order to keep our battery warm in space. We needed an efficient solution that would spread heat evenly and fit the dimensions of our battery.


After lots of experimentation, I decided on using nichrome wire because of its high resistance. To shape it to my desired shape, I used a 3D printed guide to bend the wire. The challenge was creating this guide in CAD so that when you bend the wire, the wire never requires overlap. Basically, I needed a continuous, uninterrupted wrap. After wrapping with the guide, I neatly covered the coil with Kapton tape, which is thermally conductive but also acts as an electronic isolator. This tape kept the wire in place, prevented a short circuit, and spread the heat evenly.

Control Circuit

The objective was to design a boost converter circuit that will boost the 3.3 volts of our onboard battery to around 16 volts in order to control our heating element. The circuit must be variable, so we can change the voltage based off our desired temperature. We will have temperature sensors built into our control circuit to record temperature, and change the voltage based off the temperature of the battery. All these functions will be controlled using an Arduino.

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