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I made a light that shines when the International Space Station is in the sky. I'm raising money to make a whole bunch and sell them. Read more

pledged of $6,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on July 20, 2011.

I made a light that shines when the International Space Station is in the sky. I'm raising money to make a whole bunch and sell them.

About this project

The Space Station Light

Human space flight is an awesome part of living in the future. But why does it still seem so abstract? There are people in space right now! Did you know that? Do you know how many there are?

ISS-Notify is a simple attempt at making our space program more real. Many times a day the international space station passes overhead unnoticed. Often it happens during the day when it's too bright to see the tiny dot in the sky. So this light will pulse and shine whenever the station is overhead -- making the invisible visible.

Simple, Fun, Educational

This started as a simple weekend project because I thought it would be cool. I finished it in only 4 days! The response has been overwhelming. Everyone says "I want one"! I've heard from space geeks, teachers, NASA employees, and just about everyone in between. 

I've gotten coverage from Adafriut Industries, Hack a day, Bad Astronomy and even a retweet by @NASA!

I'm going to use the money I raise to design and build a nicer version. Then I'm going to make as many as I can and sell them to other people who want to be in the know when it comes to space.

Part of the funds will also go towards a website where I can sell them and host an API for anyone to use.


I need some time to design a nicer version, which means I need an R&D budget to buy more electronics and some custom printed circuit boards (PCBs). Once the electrical design is finalized I have to buy:

  • Enough PCBs for the first production run.
  • All the electronics to go on the boards.
  • Enough plastic for the enclosure and time on a milling machine.
  • Laser etch or milling services for the plexiglass ISS logo.
  • Web hosting.
  • Ramen and pizza.

The first three things can get expensive quickly. Backing this project takes the idea and multiplies it!

Open Source and a Platform

I don't claim to be the first (or the last) person with this idea. In fact there are similar things out there. But they are expensive, and lack a simple, obvious meaning. Still, I don't want to make this a one trick pony. I'm going to release the design as an open source, open hardware project. I hope many people will be inspired by the project and will be inspired to make their own versions and track other things besides the space station. The limit should only be imagination! 


  • I will do my best to port it to all the major platforms (Mac, Windows, major linux distros).

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  • Yes, and no. There is a fundamental problem tracking the space station, it's not predicable! The orbit decays and is periodically raised to compensate. You need to have a computer and access to the internet to check for updates. But I'm going to try and make it as painless as possible to update. Once updated it should be accurate for a couple of weeks.

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  • Unfortunately I don't know just yet. I'll update as I narrow down a design and suppliers.

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  • Yes! It's an open source project. But I'm not going to focus on anything else but the space station for the first iteration.

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  • Making educated guesses about the size and weight of the finished product I think I will have to charge $25 USD to ship to Europe. Please take this into account if you are ordering the kit or the finished product.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    6 backers Limited (34 left of 40)

    Get a nice, large NASA sticker, until I run out. Also my eternal thanks for helping this get off the ground.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    4 backers

    For a pledge of $25 I will send you a thank you card and a limited edition ISS-Notify sticker. And you can be proud of helping make space commonplace!

  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    136 backers

    If you're the hacker type, get the circuit board and all the parts you need, but not assembled. Makes for a great weekend project! I should have this ready before the finished product. If you have a soldering iron you could be the first in your block to have an ISS lamp!

  • You selected
    Pledge $85 or more

    127 backers

    Be the first to get a finished ISS-Notify desk light! I will also send you a thank-you card and sign the back of the lamp!

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers

    As a serious backer you will have my undying gratitude. You get an ISS-Notify desk lamp, but I will work with you to customize it! I'll have it laser etched or machined any way you like. It will be one of a kind.


Funding period

- (37 days)