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Cansat in Python

Thank to MicroPython, you can program your CanSat with Python.


Other solution CanSat Arduino with Feather M0

What is CanSat?

CanSat Contest simulates the fly of miniaturized satellites named CanSat (Can Satellite).

The CanSat is an autonomous devices enclosed within the volume of a soda can.

The volume of a CanSat has the following characteristics: 66mm diameter, 115mm height for a mass of 350gr.

As the CanSat have small volume and are very affordable, the CanSat contest is great for learning more about space technologies.

The CanSats are deployed from a rocket (the launch vehicle) at a height of about 3000m depending on the competition (see all the details in the contest rules).

The CanSats are not orbited and are always deployed in the athmosphere. So they always comes back to the earth.

The CanSat volume cannot increase until the CanSat is deployed out of the rocket.

This means that external antenna is allowed only after the CanSat left the rocket.

A parachute (that increase the volume of the CanSat) is usually used to limit damages. The aim is to reuse the CanSat for several missions.

In Europe, the CanSat contest includes two missions:

  • Mission 1: mesure pressure and temperature and transmit data in real time.
  • Mission 2: free choice mission (using Intertial Measurement Unit, GPS, MPX differential pressure sensor, etc).

Getting Started

Hardware discovery


Discover the various items included within the kit.

Kit Assembling


Assembling the Pico Cansat Kit

Thonny IDE


Prepare your Python IDE environment

Pico User Guide


The Raspberry-Pi Pico user guide.

Pico Powering


How to properly power up your Pico

MicroPytho HowTo


Tips and tricks to write Python code for on MicroControler.

Data Logging


How to log data into a file (on MicroControler)



Need to have a look on the board schematis?



Technical size and dimensions for the cansat


The Raspberry-Pi PICO can also been use with Arduino IDE and C/C++ compiler. It's means that you can also write Arduino alike C code on this microcontroler. This point is not covered in this tutorial series, we do MicroPython programming.

Test the devices

BMP280 sensor


Test the BMP280 pressure and elevation sensor.

TMP36 sensor


Test the TMP36 analog temperature sensor

RFM69HCW radio


User guide for the RFM69HCW radio module.

RFM69HCW Testing


Testing the communication with RFM69HCW and sending data through the radio module.

Radio Antenna


A well designed Antenna can increase the communication distance.


Mission 1

The team must build a CanSat and program it to accomplish the primary (mandatory) mission, as follows:

After release and during descent,

  • the CanSat shall measure several parameters,
  • the data should be transmitted as telemetry information to the ground station.
  • the telemetry should, at least, be send once every second.

The following informations should be captured:

  • Air temperature
  • Air pressure

It must be possible for the team to analyse the data obtained (for example, make a calculation of altitude) and display it in graphs (for example, altitude vs. time and temperature vs. altitude).

So, don't forget to also capture the time for each data collected. This information is as critical than pressure and temperature

Frequency Plan


Be courteous, share the radio bandwidth.

Mission 1: Emitter


Wiring sensors, capturing datas and sending over radio.

Mission 1: Receiver


Receiving the transmitted data.

Mission 1: Going autonomous


Receiving the transmitted data.



CanSat samples


CanSat models and ideas

Radio Antenna


A well designed Antenna can increase the communication distance.



Some reference to design the parachute



Need to refill some parts?


Optional: Adding a GPS module to transmit the CanSat position with the telemetry data would ease to positioning when back on the earth.

Other ressources:

How to subscribe the contest?

In Europe, the CanSat competition is promoted by the ESA (source).

About this Wiki

MC Hobby does promote, mainly in French, the Arduino Open-Source plateform, MicroPython, Raspberry-Pi, coding, electronics to made knowledge freely available de the mass.

This CanSat Belgium Wiki is one of the MC Hobby documentation project.


Written by Meurisse D. for MCHobby

MCHobby investit du temps et de l'argent dans la réalisation de traduction et/ou documentation. C'est un travail long et fastidieux réalisé dans l'esprit Open-Source... donc gratuit et librement accessible.
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