Introduction: Arduino Dust Study

What would it be like to live on Mars? Is the air breathable? Is it safe? How much dust is there? How frequent are the storms? Ever wondered the answer to any of these questions?

Step 1: Introduction

Our names are Christian, Brianna, and Emma. We have covered many topics during our time in our physics class. We have learned about electricity, different types of forces, rockets, robotics, programming, motion, and much more.

Our goal for this project is to create a functional CubeSat, or a miniaturized satellite for space research, that contains a programmed dust sensor, in order to learn more about the dust storm patterns on Mars.

This CubeSat has to be able to withstand the atmosphere of Mars. To test it's durability, it endured a shake test to make sure the CubeSat is strong enough.

Our main constraint for this project was the size requirements of the CubeSat. We have lots of pieces and wires, and it was a difficult to fit them all inside. Another constraint we had was time. We had many components incorporated, such as building the CubeSat, programming, and coding. Keep reading our Instructable to learn more!

Step 2: Materials

For Arduino & Programming:

1. Dust Sensor

2. Arduino Uno

3. HDMI Cord

4. 2 Wires

5. Pins

6. Computer for Programming

7. SD Card

8. SD Card Holder

9. SD Card Reader

10. Battery Pack

11. Battery Cable

12. Bread board*

13. Capacitor of 470uF*

For CubeSat:

12. Popsicle Sticks (at least 120)

13. Hot Glue Gun

14. Velcro

15. Dremel Tool

16. Sandpaper

For Testing:

17. Paper Towels

18. Coffee Filters

20. Large Glass Breaker

21. Gloves / Oven Mitts

22. Lighter / Matches

Step 3: Tools Needed and Used and Safety Practices

- The first tool we used was a hot glue gun. It was used to adhere our popsicle sticks together while building our CubeSat. Be very careful to not get any glue on your hands or touch the nozzle of the gun, as it will be very hot.

- We also used wire cutters to cut a hole in the CubeSat, so that the dust sensor could collect data. This tool worked well with the popsicle sticks, and was easy to use. When using this tool, be cautious not to pinch your finger or otherwise trim something you don’t mean to.

- Another tool we used was sandpaper. After cutting the hole in the CubeSat, it was essential that we smoothed out the sharp edges. This tool doesn’t require any special safety precautions, but will likely create a bit of a mess for you to clean up.

- We also used a Dremel tool. We used it to quickly sand off the wide corners of the CubeSat. Using this tool requires extreme caution, and it is essential you wear eye protection. Also, it will make a mess of dust and small pieces, so make sure you clean up your workspace!

- The final tool we used was a lighter. We used it to light coffee filters and paper towels on fire, to create dust and smoke for our Arduino to sense. While using this tool, make sure to tie hair back, avoid wearing loose clothing, and wear eye protection. Make sure to always keep a close eye on the flame to ensure it stays contained. Also, it would be smart to have adult or teacher supervision!

Step 4: How to Build a CubeSat

About 120 Popsicle sticks are needed to build the Cubesat. The video up above demonstrates how we stacked the sticks on top of each other hot gluing each stick to make sure they will not break..

The cubesat has 1 shelve and a top. The shelve and the top are just six popsicle sticks hot glued together.

In the bottom the battery and the SD card are Velcro in. On top of the shelf the breadboard is held in by Velcro and the Arduino sits on top of the breadboard.

For the Dust sensor, use the wire cutters to cut a hole in the side of the Cubesat for the dust sensor to fit into. We used some duck tape to hold the Dust sensor in place.

Lastly use Velcro to secure the Top on to the Cubesat.

You can see our final design sketch up above.

Step 5: How to Wire an Arduino and Dust Sensor

  1. To wire the dust collector and arduino
  2. Take a wire and plug it into the ground (GND) pin by the 5v pin.
  3. Now take the other end of that wire and plug it into the BLACK wire on the dust sensor
  4. Take the other wire and plug it in to the 5v pin
  5. Now take the other end of the wire and plug it into the RED wire on the dust sensor
  6. Next take the pens and put them into the Digital pins: GND, 13, 12,~11, ~10, ~9, 8
  7. Plug the BLUE wire into the pin at 13
  8. Then plug YELLOW wire into the pin at 8

Code for tthe Dust sensor (code from



Step 6: How to Make the Arduino and Dust Sensor Portable

For our project we needed a way to gather data when our cubesat and dust sensor when in motion.We decided an SD card would do the trick. Here is the SD card wiring and code.

How to wire an SD card if needed (*note the coloring of the wires did change in the photo and the extra pins are not needed)

  1. Theblue wire in the dust sensor goes to any place on the bread board
  2. The red wire on the SD card reader (VCC) goes any place in the same row as the blue wire on the bread board
  3. now take an extra wire (white wire in photo), plug that into the same row as the blue and red wires and the other end of the wire plugs into GND on the Arduino
  4. The orange wire on the dust sensor attaches to A5
  5. The green wire attaches to digital pin 7
  6. Thepurple wire on the SD card (CS)attaches to digitalpin 4
  7. The black wire on the SD card (MOSI) attaches to digital pin 11
  8. The orange wire on the SD card (MISO) attaches to digital pin 12
  9. The blue wireon the SD card (SCK) attaches to digital pin 13
  10. The yellow wire on the SD card (GND) attaches to a ground pin (GND)
  11. Put the capacitor into the bread board
  12. The red wire on the dust sensor attaches to the bread board in the same row as the short leg of the capacitor.
  13. Finally take an extra wire (red in photo) and plug one end in the same row as the long leg of the capacitor and the other end of the wire goes to 5v.

Code for the SD card and dust sensor

Step 7: Results and Lessons Learned

*Cubesat was evaluated and checked off by Mrs. Wingfield (teacher)

Demensions and Mass

Mass: 2.91kg.
Width: 110mm. on each side

Length: 106 mm. on each side

Preliminary tests:

Flight Test- Complete

During this test the Cubesat stayed in tact

The Sensor faced our "Mars" for half the time and side ways the other half of the time.

Vibration Tests- Complete

We did these vibration tests to establish confidence that the satellite can withstand the launch environment and still be able to function after.

Results of vibration tests

.12 seconds per shake

Period- 2.13 seconds per cycle

All of the electrical connectors stayed connected and secured. The cubesat was not able to fit in to the box, so we used tape to secure the cubesat down. The dermal tool and sand paper were used to sand down the Cubesat's sides to fit in the box and that fixed the problem.

Final flight results

Frequency- 0.47 cycles per second

Velocity- 3.39 meters per second

Acceleration- 9.99 m/s ^2

Centripetal Force- 29.07 kg/s ^2

Length of string- 1.26 m.

We learned that the dust sensor picked up smoke made by fire and gave us the best data. We also learned how to problem solve

Throughout this project, we all learned many valuable lessons. The real life lessons we learned was to work through everything, even if it gets hard to do. We worked with a cubesat and a dust sensor. The easier of the two was the cubesat, designing and building it in a couple of days. The cubesat was a really good design used to hold all of our sensors. The dust sensor and Arduino was very hard to compute with. At first, the code was not working, however, while we got the code working, the wiring turned out to be incorrect. A couple of teachers came to our rescue to help with both of those to help us find our data. With learning life lessons, we also found out new things about cubesats and sensors. Before, we did not know what a cubesat was, nor did we know how sensors and wiring worked. Throughout this project, Brianna became an expert with wiring and coding, while Emma and Christian became amazing buildings while also learning new information about coding and wiring as well. All in all, we learned so many new things and had fun while doing it. Thank you to Mrs. Wingfield for designing this project for us to do and being a teacher that genuinely loves teaching and having fun with her students.

Step 8: Dust Sensor Data

The graph on the right is the data the dust sensor received. The photo on the left is what the graph should have looked like.

The sensor was having troubles gathering great data.

If anyone has more knowledge of the dust sensor and how to get the proper data please comment on this intestructible.


Arduino Contest 2019

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2019