by littleBits

Published on April 28, 2014

Make your very own International Space Station and play music on it from afar.
This project uses the same circuits as the Data Communication project, but here we are giving them some galactic context.

How does it work?
Your digitized music is converted into a series of light wave pulses. The pulses are decoded by the light sensor and converted into sound waves by the speaker.

NASA uses electromagnetic waves to communicate with satellites orbiting Earth.

Note: the build instructions correspond with the cardboard model.

How To Make It


This project uses the same circuits as the Data Communication project, but here we are giving them some galactic context. Get started by making these two circuits (as seen in the image gallery). Transmitter Circuit = power + microphone + wire + IR LED Receiver Circuit = power + light sensor + speaker Use the purple screwdriver to adjust the light sensor to minimum sensitivity.


Pick your favorite song on your phone or mp3 player. Plug an audio cable into your device then into the input jack on the microphone module. Make sure the volume is all the way up! You won't hear any music just yet. Your digitized music is being converted into a series of light wave pulses emitting from the IR LED.


Place both circuits on a flat surface (as seen in the image gallery). Make sure the IR LED is at least 12" away from light sensor. It is also important that the IR LED points directly at the light sensor, at a 90 degree angle.


WHOA! You just wirelessly transmitted music. What exactly happened? The light wave pulses are being decoded by the sensor and converted to sound waves by the speaker.


Now that you have your circuits, let's build the space station. Start off by arranging your "receiver circuit" on a small rectangle of cardboard. This will be the base panel of your station. Make sure that you arrange your circuit so that the light sensor & speaker are facing outwards.


Make two cardboard panels to glue on either side of your base panel. We used painter's tape and white paint to create a grid pattern. What will your panels look like?


Time to make some solar panels! Cut out 20 thin rectangles of cardboard to be your solar panels. We used painter's tape and blue paint to create a grid pattern.


Next glue 2 of your solar panels onto either end of 1 popsicle stick. Do this until you have 8 popsicle sticks with 16 panels on them. These are your large solar panels.


We didn't forget about those last 4 panels! Use them to make the top part of your ISS. Lay your 4 panels out horizontally (long ways) and glue a popsicle stick vertically down the center of all 4. The popsicle still with connect the 4 panels so it is easier to mount. These are your small solar panels.


Time to put everything together. Glue a line of popsicle sticks or a long strip of cardboard on top of your 2 white side panels. Make sure the strip is long enough to glue 4 popsicle sticks of solar panels on each end.


Glue 4 popsicle sticks of the large solar panels on either end of this base strip.


Glue a small dowel onto your flat base piece with your 'receiver circuit' on it.


On top of the dowel, glue your popsicle stick with small solar panels.


Get some string and hang your ISS in the air! Turn both circuits on and point the IR LED from your 'transmitter circuit' at the light sensor on board the ISS. You just wirelessly transmitted data from Earth to the ISS!

Related Projects

Medication Minder

Last time I saw my Doctor, she asked if I was staying on top of taking my daily dose of two different medications. I wasn't sure. ...

littleBits Orchestra

All sounds from littleBits modules only. KORG Synthkit, Basekit, Premiumkit, microphone & latch.Recorded on iPad, mixed on Mac...

Roley Poley Toy

New to littleBits?  Make a "roley poley" toy with only 3 bits and a large, clear cylinder.