Take a look at server sky . Aiming for many of the same goals, using advances in solid state technology to build high-function-to-area-ratio gram-weight satellites. Early design, lots of computer modeling, years before launch.
These projects require an understanding of orbital behavior (and decay), radiation tolerance, radio link budgets, rain fade, licensing by the International Telecommunications Union, etc. As with all open projects, we work on the subtasks we enjoy and are good at, and what we learn, we share for remixing by others.
- Space Mission Analysis and Design by Larson and Wertz
- The Space Environment and its Effects ... by Pisacane
- anything you can find from AMSAT
The libraries around NYC seem unhelpful to technical visitors. Barker Library at MIT is great. Plan on spending weeks at a time there, stay at 40 Berkeley over in south Boston if sofa surfing isn't available.
As I write this (Thursday 2014/02/20), a Japanese associate is passing out Server Sky fliers at the Space Horizons Workshop at Brown University.