Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

James A. Lott, PhD


Many satellites are an integrated collection of sensors and actuators that require dedicated real-time control. For single processor systems, additional sensors require an increase in computing power and speed to provide the multi-tasking capability needed to service each sensor. Faster processors cost more and consume more power, which taxes a satellite's power resources and may lead to shorter satellite lifetimes. An alternative design approach is a distributed network of small and low power microcontrollers designed for space that handle the computing requirements of each individual sensor and actuator. The design of microdot, a four-bit microcontroller for distributed low-end computing, is presented. The design is based on previous research completed at the Space Electronics Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/VSSE) at Kirtland AFB, NM, and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. The Microdot has 29 instructions and a 1K x 4 instruction memory. The distributed computing architecture is based on the Philips Semiconductor I2C Serial Bus Protocol. A prototype was implemented and tested using an Altera Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The prototype was operable to 9.1 MHz. The design was targeted for fabrication in a radiation-hardened-by-design gate-array cell library for the TSMC 0.35 micrometer CMOS process.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number