Introduction: Microphone Sensor With Arduino and Cubesat

Mars is an awe-inspiring planet, and it is up to you to discover what is out there!

We are Radiance Inc.- the team compiled of four high school physics students here to inform the world on the audible waves surrounding Mars. Our names are Becca, Kylie, Malia, and Olivia. In our physics class, we set a goal at the beginning of the year to get from Planet Earth to Mars (figuratively, of course). We have studied how to get aircraft off the ground ranging from airplanes to rockets, and now it is our responsibility to get our Cubesats in orbit!

Our goal was to successfully orbit a Cubesat around "Mars", and collect data regarding the sound waves in Mars' atmosphere. We are doing this through a Microphone Sensor and an Arduino in our Cubesat. Our makeshift-Mars is a hollow metal ball, and our Cubesat will orbit using a string connected to a fan to create circular motion around the object. We will create factors such as wind or sound for the Arduino to collect the data, recognizing it as sound waves.

The Cubesat must be 10x10x10 centimeters, and cannot exceed 1.33 kg. We had the majority of fourth quarter to complete this project, and deadlines came fast approaching.

Step 1: Supplies

Listed below are all of the supplies and tools that you will need to build your CubeSat and wire your arduino.


  1. Around 80-100 11 1/2 centimeter popsicle sticks to account for the few that might break when you cut them down.
  2. 1 inch aluminum hinges that you can find at your local hardware store
  3. 1 pair of wire cutters
  4. Dremel 200 tool (to smooth the edges of the CubeSat down after all of the popsicle sticks are cut and the CubeSat is put together)
  5. Goggles (for safety purposes)
  6. Scissors
  7. 1 foot of yarn or string (for tying the CubeSat door closed, securing the arduino, and attaching the Cubesat to the ceiling fan, which is how it orbits around “Mars”)
  8. Hot Glue Elmer's
  9. Duct tape
  10. Wood glue
  11. Spray paint (to make the CubeSat look beautiful)
  12. Carabiner clips*

*You only need these if you are going to be following our project demands or requirements.

CubeSat supply links:

Link for popsicle sticks:

Link for the hinges:

Link for wire cutters:

Link for Dremel Tool:



  1. Arduino Uno
  2. Cable kit (wires)
  3. Double sided USB cord
  4. Mini Breadboard
  5. Small LED lights
  6. Big Sound Sensor
  7. SD card
  8. Micro SD Card Adapter
  9. Battery charger cord
  10. 9 volt energizer battery

Arduino Supply Links:
The majority of these supplies can be found on the Arduino Store website.

Link for Arduino:

Link for Cable Kit:

Link for Double-Sided USB Cord:

Link for Mini Breadboard:

Link for Small LED Lights:

Link for Big Sound Sensor:

Link for SD Card and Micro SD Card Adapter:

Link for Battery Charging cord:

Link for Battery:

Step 2: Building Part 1

During the building process, there are multiple steps, so bear with us! First, cut the Popsicle sticks to their necessary lengths:

9.4 cm- 9 Popsicle sticks

9.8 cm- 13 Popsicle sticks

9.9 cm- 13 Popsicle Sticks

10 cm- 40 Popsicle sticks

Full length Popsicle sticks (about 11.5 cm)- 4 Popsicle sticks

When cutting the Popsicle sticks, it is critical to trim both sides to prevent curved edges (except for the full Popsicle sticks). This is to enforce the 10x10x10 cm size restriction, and straight edges around the cube. You also need to cut the sticks using wire cutters shown in our video and use a pen/pencil to show where the cut is going to be placed. ______________________________________________________________________________

Now that all of the Popsicle sticks are cut, it is time to assemble. For the 5 side (top and 4 sides NOT the bottom) the cross image should be made. Place down two 10 cm sticks on your surface vertically. Place 2 more 10 cm sticks horizontally to make a square. Glue these in the 4 corners using the wood glue. For the inner cross, glue two 10 cm Popsicle sticks horizontally (side by side) first then 2 more 10 cm sticks side by side vertically to create the look above. Repeat 4 more times. This image is labeled “Cross Design” for reference.

For the bottom, you will need all of the 9.9 cm Popsicle sticks. To assemble: place 3 of the sticks vertically about an inch and a half apart each. Begin by gluing the other 10 horizontally beginning from the top continuing side by side until the end of the 3 vertical popsicles (using wood glue again). This image is labeled “Bottom Design”. The bottom of this image is labeled “Bottom of Bottom”.

Once this is complete, you should have 5 sides with crosses and 1 side fully covered in popsicle sticks.


I know it’s a very long process, but it’ll be worth it. Now your cube gets to come together! The square completely covered in popsicle sticks is your base. Place this on a flat surface with the 3 bottom pieces on the surface (image “Bottom Design”) . Now, chose one of the squares with the crosses as a side piece. Place this side directly next to the bottom square and glue with hot glue. This should be standing upright not laying down to make the square shape. Repeat this on two of the 3 sides. DON’T do the fourth or the top, we are saving these for another step. You should now have three sides standing up, glued to the side of the bottom piece and one open side.


Take the 4 full popsicle sticks, you need these now. These are going to be the holders for the shelves. For the bottom shelf, hot glue two of the four sticks. One will be on top of the bottom piece of the two sides (the sides already glued down). They will go horizontally. For the top shelf, take the other two full popsicle sticks and mirror how you completed it at the bottom. Glue with hot glue. This step is confusing so please view the images. They will show the placements of the sticks if this is confusing to you. The images are labeled “bottom shelf attachment placings” and “top shelf attachment placings”.

The bottom two sticks will hold the first shelf and the top for the second. The bottom shelf is glued in so add a little glue on 2 of the 3 sticks (at the bottom of the shelf) and glue it to the popsicle sticks. Once again, view the image because this step is difficult to describe. However, the top shelf is NOT going to be glued down but it is going to be able to slide in and out but it should be quite snug inside the walls for safety reasons. After this step, your shelves should look like the final picture above labeled “Shelf 1, Shelf 2” in yellow writing.

Step 3: Building Part 2

Welcome to part 2! The inside should now be stable and built so the next step is the hinges. We purchased a pack of 1 inch metal hinges from a Home Depot nearby (the specific name: 1 in. Zinc Plated Non-Removable Pin Narrow Utility Hinges-2 Pack). First, we didn’t use the screws attached with our purchase. Next, we chose 1 of the 2 cross-designed popsicle stick squares left over and placed the other to the side (you still don't need the last square just yet). Let me explain this a little better. You have an opening because you already glued down 3 of the 4 sides. Where the opening is, this is where the door goes. The hinges will be on the left side of the door. Glue the right side of the hinge on the door (not the one already glued to the bottom) but above the popsicle sticks going horizontally through the middle (this is your cross symbol). The right side of your hinge should be glue but the left side shouldn't be. Before you glue the left side, mirror the same idea down to the bottom hinge. The right side should be glue BELOW the horizontal sticks. You should now have the hinges glued on the door ONLY with the left side unglued to anything.

Now, place your door up to the opening meant for it. It should be right up against the other sides and close the the bottom. Place hot glue on the left sides of both hinges and quickly attach them-not to the door-to the left side already glued. This side should be where the opening is and one of the original square glued down in Building Part One. Once these are dry, the hinges should look like the picture above labeled “HINGES” in bright purple. _________________________________________________________________________

We are almost done! Now it is time for the top: this should be easy. Just place the last cross square on top of the cube. Hold it there while you go around the outside and fill in hot glue between the top piece and the side tops. Make sure the door is open because you don't want the top glued onto this. This should just become a top glued down. You could also outline the square with hot glue first and then place it on top. Now that you have done this, your cubesat should look like ours! This is labeled “Top" in green. There is also another top image labeled "This is where the top should sit". Lastly, the stinging of the arduino, sensor, cubesat, doors, battery, and breadboard. This part should be easy based on the last few steps. Cut 5 regular yarn strings to about 2 feet long. These should all be equal length. Open the door; you don’t want to tie the strings onto the door itself. Pick 1 of the 5 strings to start with. This piece is going to wrap around the middle on the top popsicle stick cross. Take the two ends of the string and pull them all the way through the top left small square and the bottom right small square. Cross the string underneath and tightly go upwards through the top right small square and the bottom left small square. Adjust the string so that one side is about and inch long and the other side is quite long. Tie a tight knot on top of the folds (see image “Correct Upper Tyings”). _________________________________________________________________________

Now you will need another piece of string. Start with any corner as long as the door is open and not being tied on. I recommend to choose another corner away from the door first. Tie the next string around the sides of the corners of 2 of the side popsicle stick designs. Tie many knots but make it a loop bigger than a thumb size. After you have tied this, you should be able to have the loop sit on top of the top corner of the top popsicle design (see images “Tie part 1” and “Tie part 2”). Repeat this for the remaining 3 sides. For the sides near the doors, you will only tie it to that one side stick (see image “Side tie near door”). Once you have all 5 strings attached in their assigned places, grab all the ends and hold them vertically upwards. They should be able to support the cubesat and keep it straight. Make a small loop at the top of where you are holding it and tape/glue them together (whichever is easiest). Your cubesat should now look like our image labeled “Finished Strings” and “Loop”. _________________________________________________________________________

To string in the arduino and sensor, you will, of course, need more string. The arduino we used has 4 holes. Pull out your upper shelf. Place the arduino on either side of the shelf as long as it is still on the shelf. Place a piece of string that can wrap around the shelf all the way to the arduino with a small amount left over. Push the string up one of the holes and tie two knows so that the string doesn’t slip back through. Do this to the other 3 holes (see images labeled “Holes”). For the sensor, it should be connected to the arduino which will be explained in coding. Fold a piece of tape in half and stick half of the sensor onto it. The tape should be fairly close to the arduino but close to the front string. Push the remaining half underneath the string for security (see image labeled “Sensor”). Slip the shelf into the CubeSat. The breadboard and battery also need to be secured down. Fold another larger piece of tape in half and place in the back part on top of the bottom shelf. This should keep the battery supported if you have strong tape. If your tape is weak, you may need a piece to go over the battery. Fold another piece of tape a little bit larger in half. Tape to the back of the shelf but on the side nearest the back (see image “Tape”). Finally, we can close the door. Close the door as closed as it can. Cut two pieces of string and loop through the small square from the door and the right side. Tie a knot and mirror onto the bottom (see image labeled “Tie Door”).


Finally! We are at the end! The last step or so is all optional so if you chose not to do this, congrats! For the end, we used a dremmel tool which is shown in the supplies list. We used this to smooth out the edges. We also used wire cutters to cut the edges too. We have a video attached to show you how to do this. The final step, SPRAY PAINT! Chose a fun color of any spray paint. We chose the color “Metallic Copper” from the brand Krylon. Thank you for reading all this and I hope the rest of your project is successful!

Step 4: Coding

Congrats! You made it to this stage in the project. In this section, you will be learning how to code and wire an Arduino successfully.

How to wire your Arduino:

1) Grab the Arduino, 12 wires (4 wires will need to be male to female wires and the other 8 will need to be male to male wires), breadboard, SD card, SD card Adapter, and the Microphone Sensor AVR PIC High Sensitivity Sound Detection Module. (all specified in the Supplies List)

2) Grab your 4 jumper wires (each wire must have a male and female end). Connect your first jumper wire (female end) to the G pin on the Microphone Sensor AVR PIC High Sensitivity Sound Detection Module then connect the male end of that same wire to the power Ground pin in the Arduino. The second wire's female end will connect to the +(VCC) pin on the Microphone Sensor AVR PIC High Sensitivity Sound Detection Module and the male end will connect to the breadboard in row one. The next wire's female end connects to the DO pin on the Microphone Sensor AVR PIC High Sensitivity Sound Detection Module and then the male end goes to pin 7 (digital pin) on the Arduino. The final wire's female end connects to the AO pin on the Microphone Sensor AVR PIC High Sensitivity Sound Detection Module and then the male end goes to pin A2 (analog pin) on the Arduino.

3) Now that you have the Big Sound Sensor connected, you will be able to wire and setup your SD card. First, you need to place the SD card adapter to the breadboard(on the edge of the breadboard so some of the adapters are hanging off the breadboard). Then, place the SD card into the SD Adapter. Next, you will need to wire the GND pin, for example, you will need to grab a male to male wire and place one end in the GND pin on the SD card then the other end will connect to the GND (power pin) on the Arduino. Next, grab a wire and plug it into the VCC pin on the SD card and then plug the other end into the breadboard where the VCC wire for the Sound Sensor(make sure the two wires on in the same row). Next, connect the MOSI pin on the SD card to the 11 (digital pin) on the Arduino. Next, connect the MISO pin on the SD card to the 12 (digital pin) on the Arduino. Next, connect the SCK pin on the SD card to the 13 (digital pin) on the Arduino. Next, connect the CS pin on the SD card to the 4 (digital pin) on the Arduino. The final wire needs to be connected to the 5V power pin then connects to the same row as the other VCC wires.

Now that your Arduino is wired correctly, we will show you how to find the code and how to change some aspects of the code in order to collect data.

1) Copy and paste the code below into the Arduino Code Runner, but before verifying, we will have to make some changes.


#include // this library can be found by going to sketch then libraries then to Wire

#include //this library can be found by going to sketch then libraries then to SD

#include //this library can be found by going to sketch then libraries then to SPI

File maliaData; //this is just a name for the SD card to name the file

int ledPin=13; // This is for the SD where you will connect SCK to pin 13 on the Arduino

int sensorPin=7; //This is pin 7 on the Arduino where you will connect the DO pin of the Big Sound Sensor

boolean val =1; // This is what the serial plotter will go to the highest value

void setup() //this will be repeated once in the code


pinMode (10, OUTPUT); // this is pin 10 where the output would be

SD.begin(4); // this signifies that your SD card will start recording

pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); // This is the led pin to signify output

pinMode(sensorPin, INPUT); //input for sensor

Serial.begin (9600); //to start the code at speed 9600


void loop () //repeated multiple times


val =digitalRead(sensorPin); //this will read the digital pins on the Arduino

maliaData ="log.txt",FILE_WRITE); //this will open the file of the SD card

if (maliaData) { Serial.println (val); //prints the value into the file so that is saved on the SD card

maliaData.println(val); // this is the value that will print on the Serial Plotter

maliaData.close(); // when the sensor detects a signal above the threshold value, LED flashes if (val==HIGH) { digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH); //this is for the LED

} else { digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW); //this is for the LED when it will be low for the digital pins

} delay (300); } } //this will give the Arduino 3 seconds to record between each measurement of sound

For the File named maliaData, you will be able to customize then name based on your preferences.

This is what the code should like in order for your sensor to run properly.

This program will allow the Arduino to hear intense wind or sound vibration

Step 5: Durability Tests

For this project we were required to conduct a series of tests on our CubeSat (once it the structure and wiring for the arduino were completed) in order to determine the overall durability and reliability of our completed project. You are not required to do this portion of the project in order to complete your CubeSat and the wiring and coding for your arduino.

Flight Test:

During this test we looped our CubeSat to a motorized ceiling fan by using the string attached to the CubeSat and the carabiner clips that were attached to the fan. Once the CubeSat was secured to the carabiner clips, we slowly turned on the ceiling fan by using a variac (also known as a variable autotransformer) to control the speed. We turned the dial on the variac to the highest speed setting of 130V for one minute before turning the fan off. Once the CubeSat stopped moving, we removed it from the ceiling fan by unclasping the carabiner clips from each other.

This test was successful since the purpose of the test was to make sure the CubeSat would not come unattached from the ceiling fan while it was revolving around our handmade papier-mâché Mars.

Vibration Tests:

For these two tests, we had to determine if our CubeSat would be able to withstand the theoretical launch from Earth into space.

To start off, we placed our CubeSat on one of the two shake tables that were given to us. For the first test we used a high current power supply which was attached to the first shake table. We turned the power supply up to 25V for 30 seconds before removing our CubeSat. For the next test, we moved our CubeSat to the second shake table which was attached to a computer with the Engineer Your World Quake program installed on it. Once the CubeSat was placed on the second shake table, we used the Engineering Your Wolrd Quake program's scale motor control setting and turned it up to 40% for one minute. After the one minute was up, we removed our CubeSat from the shake table.

Like our flight test, these two shake tests were successful. The CubeSat withstood the violent vibrations caused by both shake tables and the arduino and its wiring maintained intact.

*The videos for both of these tests can be seen in our Additional Tips video at the end of the Inscrutable.

Step 6: Calculations

We are almost done with this project, but before we can unplug our arduino and put away our Cubesat, we have to do some math!


There are many variables throughout this section of the Instructable, so we thought that it would be best to explain what they stand for:

T: Time or period (how many series it takes to do one cycle)

f: Frequency (how many cycles the CubeSat revolves in one second)

v: Velocity (the speed of something in a given direction)

r: Radius (a straight line from the center to the circumference of a circle or sphere)

ac: Centripetal acceleration (the rate of change of tangential velocity)

Fc: Centripetal force (a force that acts on a body moving in a circular path and is directed toward the center around which the body is moving)

Fg: Force of Gravity (the force that attracts any object with mass)


Listed below are the various formulas we used to complete our calculations:

Pythagorean theorem: a^2 + b^2 = c^2

Frequency: cycles/1 sec (cycles over 1 sec)

Velocity: 2πr/t (distance over time)

Centripetal acceleration: v^2/r (velocity squared over the radius)

Centripetal Force: Mv^2/r (mass times velocity squared over the radius)


Make sure you measure the angle of the CubeSat's string (when the CubeSat is moving in a circle) where the string attaches to the ceiling. Then measure the radius of the circle that is created by the CubeSat's revolution. These measurements will give you your T and r. Your f and v factors have to be calculated.

To find your frequency, you will need to take the number 1 and divide it by your time (in our case it was 1.9 sec). This gave us a frequency of .53 cycles/sec.

To find your velocity, you will need to use the velocity formula: 2πr/t.

1 divided by 1.9

T= 1.9 sec/cycle

f= .53 cycles/sec

v= 142.79 cm/sec

r= 43.18 cm

Step 7: Conclusion

This graph shows that our sensor read that wind was circling Mars as our Cubesat orbited. The data read a "1" when wind was present, and a "0" when nothing was there. We then copied these numbers into Microsoft Excel from the Arduino software and inserted a graph to display the difference between still and active wind speeds.

Growth and Struggles:

Throughout the course of this project, we learned how to wire and code an Arduino, as well as construct a stable Cubesat. Radiance Inc. had various issues, mostly regarding sensors. We originally tried an Infrared Sensor, but it began to overheat and smoke. The microphone sensor worked quite well, although it isn't very sensitive.


If your sensor begins to feel overly heated, smell like something is burning, and/or smoke, unplug the sensor from the power source immediately, and check your wiring. If the wiring is correct, switch out the sensor, or try out a completely different sensor.

The link below is a video we created that displays additional tips, videos, and images.


Overall, we learned that this project requires lots of patience, problem solving, and back-up plans. If your Cubesat or Arduino doesn't work out the first time, keep persevering- it'll all be worth it in the end!

Arduino Contest 2019

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2019