Jordan Blanchard's MicroSat Sculpture Harvests Solar Energy to Generate Daily Timelapse Animations

Powered by solar panels and with an Arducam ESP32-CAM heart, this tiny satellite observes the Earth from close-up.

Maker Jordan Blanchard has built a freeform circuit sculpture in the shape of a satellite — and while it won't be going into space any time soon, it happily harvests solar energy to capture timelapse imagery.

"It is a 'functional' micro satellite that captures every hour a photo and then sends it by Wi-Fi [via] FTP," Blanchard explains of the build. "The MicroSat has found its place, suspended, in my astronomy observatory."

The sculpture is, as such sculptures usually are, built from copper wire carefully formed to create not only the framework for the build but to act as electrical conduits too. Power is provided by a quartet of compact solar cells on the satellite's "wings," which charge a supercapacitor to provide the juice for once-and-hour photography.

The brains of the system is an Arducam ESP32-CAM camera module, running code for telemetry as well as the once-an-hour image capture. When images are transmitted to a host server, a PHP script is called to build an animated GIF showcasing the last day's captures as a timelapse.

More details on the build are available on Blanchard's project page, though at the time of writing the link to download the source code for the microcontroller and the website was broken.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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