CATISE 2016-2017: Project Toyger


Goals and Objectives

     Created to guide new members into the team engineering process, the student lead CATISE program is held every year by the members of the University of Cincinnati CubeCats. This year's CATISE mission, project Toyger, had the objectives of taking atmospheric radiation and photonic measurements as well as taking panoramic photographs from the balloon during flight.


Amanda M., Communications Team Leader

Going into my first year of college, I had no engineering experience and joined UC CubeCats in hopes that I would learn about my major, Aerospace Engineering. The year that followed exceeded all my expectations. I applied to be them lead of the communications team and was incredibly excited when I was chosen.

As a novice, all of the technical terms initially flew over my head and I found it challenging to lead a team of eight people. Through the CATiSE program, I learned to communicate effectively to my fellow team members. It began to come together.

Starting in January, we began testing our subsystem. Many of us got our Amateur Radio Licenses, including me, and we staged foxhunts for our comms system around campus and parks. Meetings tended to be more interactive and engaging.

Then, we launched our HAB in April, and recovered it successfully. The experience was phenomenal. I am looking forward to more experiences to come in the CubeSat Program.

Design and Creation

     Using the Arduino Uno R3 microcontrollers to interface with and store data from all of the onboard equipment, Toyger was designed to meet all of its original mission goals. Data collecting during flight would be recorded to one of several internal storage devices. Utilizing six Arducam Minis, a handbuilt Geiger counter, and a custom designed spectroscope. The team was ready to begin testing of the project.

Jacob K., Flight Systems Team Lead

Becoming a team lead for the CATiSE program my freshman year was one of the most rewarding experiences I had that year, in the friends I made and in the knowledge I gained from it. There was a certain satisfaction from being a part of the team that sent a balloon 93,000 feet into the atmosphere, but an extra sense in knowing that I played such a large role in it. Being a team lead was, at times a baptism by fire- getting thrown in without knowing much on the subject and doing a lot of learning on the fly. In these situations, the importance of teamwork became evident. Most importantly however, this program and being a team lead gave real, relevant engineering experience in leading a group of people on an engineering task. Being a team lead personally helped my leadership skills, my planning, my researching skills and technical abilities. Now, as I look for a co-op opportunity having the experience as a team lead on my resume is a great talking point and is great for employers looking for experience. As I have said before, being a part of the CATiSE program and more specifically a team lead was one of the most rewarding things I have done so far in school.


Evan B., Software and Payload Team Lead

When I first came to UC, I really wanted to find an organization where I could do something important. Joining CubeCats and entering into the CATiSE program was the best decision I made all year. Not only were we learning about the process of creating a CubeSat by building a high-altitude balloon, but I was working with a wonderful group of individuals who all shared similar interests. This allowed me to come out of my shell and make new friends. Being one of the Flight Systems team leads really helped me be comfortable outside my comfort zone and allowed me to learn and exercise my leadership skills. Launching our balloon that took eight months of work and getting the pictures back was one of my proudest moments of my life. CATiSE was not just another thing to put on my resume, but something that I will remember being part of looking back at my time in college.


Launch and Recovery

     Launched April 15th, project Toyger ascended 28 km into the atmosphere, and landed in Southern Ohio. Taking over eight thousand pictures during its journey, Toyger offered a unique view of the world we live in.


The final source code of the project is available here

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