GB1SS callsign for International Space Station

Sarah Brightman

Sarah Brightman

The RSGB report that on October 9, 2014 Ofcom confirmed that the callsign GB1SS will be made available for issue to UK astronauts who wish to operate from the ISS.

In May 1991 the first UK astronaut Helen Sharman GB1MIR talked to radio amateurs around the world from the Mir space station. After a gap of 24 years it looks as though two more UK astronauts may be flying to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015.

One of the UK radio amateurs that Helen contacted all those years ago was Chris Lorek G4HCL he says: I remember it fondly! I and my three children all chatted with her on 2m using my club station call G4SMC (South Midlands Communications in Chandler’s Ford) on her next-but-last Mir pass over the UK before she came down. Steven (10 years old), David (8 years old) and Carolyn (5 years old) all said hello to her, each giving their name and age, with Steven asking whether there was a particular challenge she may have had. Helen replied, knowing it was very young children, that one difficult challenge she’d had was putting her socks on as she floated around the station!

In September 2015 Sarah Brightman hopes to become the 2nd UK astronaut, flying to the ISS on a 10 day mission. She is committed to encouraging young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In 2012 in conjunction with Virgin Galactic, she launched The Brightman STEM Scholarship program. It is not yet clear if she will operate the ISS amateur radio station during her mission.

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake was selected to train as an astronaut in 2009 and hopes to go to the ISS in November 2015. He holds the USA callsign KG5BVI and has recently been learning to use the Ericsson 144 MHz handheld radio which is installed in the Columbus module of the ISS. On September 18 Tim said “Will be great to chat with schools next year from space using this ham radio on board the ISS.”

There are two amateur radio stations on the ISS, one in the Russian Service Module, the other in the ESA Columbus Module. Almost any 144 MHz FM rig will receive signals from the ISS, you can even use a general coverage VHF scanner with an external antenna. As far as the antenna is concerned the simpler the better. A ¼ wave ground plane is a good antenna for the ISS as it has a high angle of radiation. Large 2m colinears may not work quite as well since the radiation pattern is concentrated at the horizon.

You can receive the ISS outdoors using a 2 metre hand-held with its helical antenna but a 1/4 wave whip will give far better results.

In the UK we use narrow 2.5 kHz deviation FM but the ISS transmits using the wider 5 kHz deviation used in much of the world. Most rigs can be switched been wide and narrow deviation filters so select the wider deviation. Hand-held rigs all seem to have a single wide filter fitted as standard.

Voice contacts with astronauts usually take place using “split” frequencies. The astronauts transmit on 145.800 MHz and listen for replies on 145.200 MHz, you just need to activate your rig’s repeater shift. Recently, however, they have also been operating simplex listening on 145.800 MHz.

When astronauts are not on the air they usually leave the packet digi-peater running on 145.825 MHz so why not listen out for it.

ISS status and tracking information

The First UK Astronaut Helen Sharman GB1MIR

Sarah Brightman to fly to ISS

Read the report of the Ofcom-RSGB meeting on October 9

After her return to Earth the first UK astronaut Helen Sharman visited the Harrogate Ladies' College club station G0HCA From left to right are Anna-Karin G7IRR, Helen Sharman GB1MIR, Richard Horton G3XWH and Katy G7NST

After her return to Earth the first UK astronaut Helen Sharman visited the Harrogate Ladies’ College club station G0HCA
Left to right are Anna-Karin G7IRR, Helen Sharman GB1MIR, Richard Horton G3XWH and Katy G7NST

UK NoV’s for 146 MHz now available

Ofcom-logo-col-tUK Full licence holders can now apply for their NoV to use 146 MHz.

You just need to fill in your details on the RSGB NoV page and you will be instantly emailed a link to the PDF of your NoV certificate. The NoV’s currently being issued have an expiry date of October 31, 2015.

Apply now for your NoV at

The application asks you for your Licence Number which appears on page 1 of your licence. If you don’t have it simply login to the Ofcom licencing page and download a new licence PDF at

UK radio hams start 146 MHz development

New UK Amateur Radio 146 MHz allocation

434 MHz balloons to launch for JOTA

Chris Stubbs M6EDF with 434 MHz trackers

Chris Stubbs M6EDF with 434 MHz trackers

Radio amateurs Chris M6EDF and Steve G0TDJ will each be launching 434 MHz balloons from Essex for Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) this weekend.

The balloons should be launched from Kingston Ridge Campsite in Essex on the Saturday and Sunday, Lat/Lon: 51.559144, 0.435010

Chris Stubbs M6EDF posted on the UKHAS Google Group:
I will be launching JOTA1 at about 12:30 on Saturday 18/10/2014.
Using either a foil or 100g pawan depending on the conditions.
434.300 MHz SSB,RTTY, 50 baud, 7n2, 450Hz shift.

Steve G0TDJ posted:
Callsign: JOTA2
Date-Time: 19/10/2014 – 12:30pm
Frequency: 434.450 MHz SSB
Mode: RTTY 50n7 with 450Hz shift.
My launch will be at around 12:30pm (+/- ish) Tracking stations will be appreciated. This time, I’m going to try for a float since I will hopefully have plenty of time to prepare. The payload will be running on a Maplin AAA Lithium so expected Tx time will be >24hrs.

The balloon’s FSK (SSB) 434 MHz signals should be receiveable across much of the UK but for those out of range or who lack 70 cm SSB the online SUWS WebSDR can be used instead, see

Useful links for tracking and receiving 434 MHz balloons

UKSA announces CubeSat payload opportunity

UKSA - UK Space Agency LogoThe UK Space Agency (UKSA) has announced an opportunity to fly payloads on the 3U CubeSat AlSat-1N.

AlSat-Nano is primarily an education programme, its top level objective is to teach Algerian students how to design, build and operate a 3U CubeSat. The programme involves a number of Algerian graduate students who will be hosted at the Surrey Space Centre (University of Surrey) and focuses on the development of the CubeSat as a hands-on learning exercise for the students, to demonstrate the practical implementation of this type of low cost space technology.

As well as the practical element of the programme there will be a focus on research modules around the use of low cost nano-satellite technologies and applications in developing nations such as Algeria, which would help to create sustainable growth and have practical uses such as earthresource management (agriculture, water), atmospheric monitoring, and disaster management.

The design and build of the nano-satellite will take place at Surrey Space Centre. Final assembly, integration and verification will take place at the ASAL satellite development facility in Oran, Algeria. Operations will be carried out from Oran also.

The bus will be built using hardware sourced from UK suppliers and the CubeSat will also carry payloads which will be supplied by the UK CubeSat community. These payloads will be selected in a competitive process following an Announcement of Flight Opportunity which will be issued in December 2014.

The precise interface specifications will be developed during the first trimester of the project to be integrated in the Announcement of Opportunity, however it is foreseen that a maximum volume of 1U (10cm x 10cm x 10cm) and maximum mass of 1kg will be available for payloads. The selection of the payloads will be carried out in early 2015 via a selection panel.

Payloads must be ready for functional testing and integration by September 2015. Launch will be in Q2 2016. Because of the educational and collaborative nature of the programme there are two further specific points that should be noted:
• Payload providers must be actively engaged in all programme reviews and an active participant in the consortium
• Payload providers must be willing to share payload data with the programme for research purposes, and to receive interpreted payload data via the ASAL ground segment in Oran, Algeria

Submissions should be sent to Ryan King, UK Space Agency – with ‘AlSat-Nano RFI’ as the subject line. The deadline for responses is 12 noon, November 14th 2014. Submissions received after this time will not be read.


UK Space Agency Announcement

Ham radio EME for JOTA

PI9CAM Dwingeloo 25 meter dish antenna

PI9CAM Dwingeloo 25 meter dish antenna

Geert Jan de Groot PE1HZG reports  that radio amateurs will be using the PI9CAM Dwingeloo 25 meter dish during Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) this weekend. On the AMSAT-BB he writes:

In the Netherlands, the CAMRAS foundation took over the large radio telescope of Dwingeloo. This year during upcoming JOTA weekend, several stations will try to make QSO’s using QRP EME via the moon using WSJT and the telescope (accessible via WebSDR) as Receiver With Large Ears.

Information, in Dutch alas, can be found at

You should be able to listen in using the same WebSDR station.

Please join me to congratulate the volunteers of CAMRAS, and especially
Frans PE1RXJ, for organizing and facilitating this impressive feat.

Geert Jan PE1HZG

CAMRAS JOTA Moon in Google English

CAMRAS WebSDR Google English

4M lunar payload integrated – Keps released

LX0OHB-4M amateur radio lunar payload - Credit LuxSpace

LX0OHB-4M amateur radio lunar payload – Credit LuxSpace

The integration of the LX0OHB-4M amateur radio payload was completed on Sunday night, October 12 and is now ready to launch.

The onboard clock has been adjusted to start JT65B (145.980 MHz) at the UTC minute +/-1 second. It is likely to drift during the mission, and manual offset introduction will be required after a week or so. The launch date is October 23 at 1800 UTC.

Chang Zheng CZ-3C/G2 launch vehicle  at Xichang carrying the 4M payload - Image LuxSpace

Chang Zheng CZ-3C/G2 launch vehicle at Xichang carrying the 4M payload – Credit LuxSpace

Beginning of transmission of 4M will start between 1917 UTC and 1927 UTC. Refer to the provided maps and animations links in the blog section (see also older messages) to determine your visibility. Alternatively, use the ‘tracking’ section where you can compute your tracking elements by introducing your geographic coordinates. The table can be copied/pasted into a text file. As the apparent movement will be close (and closer) to the one one of the Moon, manual pointing is easy but for the largest arrays. We’ll try to publish equivalent TLE’s to input in usual tracking software.

The link budget is quite tight, but the first hours should give comfortable signals. QSB is to be expected.

As JT65B is used: please remind those not yet too familiar with it that the receiver must not be tuned during the transmission. A dedicated webpage is being written to detail the procedure.

A dedicated java application is also available to automatically transmit the decoded messages to the 4M website and ease the data collection. (Thanks to LSE Space). Alternatively, you can also send the decoded messages by eMail, sending the ALL.txt file.

For those not wishing to use JT65B, please record the signals (11025s/s, 8or 16 bits, mono), taking care not to saturate the recording and NO MP3 please.

SpectrumLab is an excellent choice, although some may wish to use simpler recording software.

You can imagine that the team is quite eager to receive the first reports, so, do not hesitate to mail immediately, send decoded messages or even phone or text me at +352 661 678 986.

Our friends of IC CMalaga are also quite eager to receive the results of their radiation dosimeter experiment.

Basic rules of the contest have been delineated in the blog section. Complete rules will be published soon.

Stay tuned on our website or Facebook page.

The following is a tentative set of orbital elements that should remain valid from the launch to at least up to the October 27 when using usual classical and simple tracking software that do not integrate Moon.
1 99999U          14298.79728009  .00000066  00000-0  00000-0 0 00006
2 99999 030.6553 295.6956 9746689 147.2577 071.9585 00.10600338000010
The following set is to be used after the flyby from October 28 onwards
1 99999U          14301.79728009  .00000000   00000-0 00000-0 0 00009
2 99999 049.9434 067.2017 6639865 045.9865 124.5019 00.06612018000010

Ghislain Ruy LX2RG
Email: with “4M Amateur” in the subject

Manfred Memorial Moon Mission (4M)

The launch will be broadcast by CNTV/CCTV: or or

Information animations and some JT65B test files at

Read the paper 4M Mission: a Lunar FlyBy experiment

EME 2014 slides: 4M, A Moon Flyby Mission

4M lunar ham radio payload shipped

AMSAT-UK upload JOTA greetings message to satellite

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG talking about FUNcube-1 to students at Abbeys Primary School in Bletchley

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG talking about FUNcube-1 to students at Abbeys Primary School in Bletchley

AMSAT-UK have uploaded a special Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) Greetings Fitter Message to the amateur satellite AO-73 (FUNcube-1).

Scouts and others can receive the message by downloading the Dashboard App software and listening to the beacon on 145.935 MHz (+/- Doppler) SSB.

What is a Fitter Message ?

‘Fitter’ is derived from ‘Twitter’. So it’s like a tweet, but via FUNcube.

It is a short (200 characters maximum) text-like message which can be uploaded to the satellite (by authorised ground stations), and transmitted several times every five minutes or so. It will continue to be retransmitted until such time as it is replaced by a new Fitter Message.
Links for tracking, downloads and other information can be found in the FUNcube-1 / AO-73 panel on the right-hand side of the AMSAT-UK homepage at

Data Warehouse – Telemetry Archive
Dashboard App – Telemetry Decoder

AMSAT-UK on Facebook
AMSAT-UK on Twitter

FUNcube Whole Orbit Data available for download

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

From the early planning stage of the project we decided that we would make telemetry information from the AO-73 (FUNcube-1) CubeSat available to end users.

Since deployment the FUNcube Data Warehouse has displayed the latest data:
• Reatime
• Whole Orbit
• High Precision
• Fitter Messages
and of course the upload rankings. Additionally we have made available small csv files for WOD and HiRes.

Starting October 14, we will be making all captured WOD available as weekly csv files.

Please see: for the link to the downloads page. It currently up to 26/6/2014 (32 files)

The files are on average:
• 9706 lines (expected 10080) ~ 96.3% capture
• 905 KB

We will play catch up over the next few days and then automate the process.

It it really intended for consumption by an analytical suite such as MatLab, or a DIY one, in a language of your choosing. However, it can be simply graphed in Excel or Open Office Calc.

Feedback would be appreciated.


73 Dave, G4DPZ

Data Warehouse – Telemetry Archive

Dashboard App – Telemetry Decoder

New UK Amateur Radio 146 MHz Allocation

New Ways of Amateur CommunicationsThe RSGB VHF Manager John Regnault G4SWX gave a key presentation to the RSGB Convention on October 12 about the new amateur radio allocation at 146 MHz.

John said the future use of this band is very much in our hands. If we merely use it for more-of-the-same (conventional modulation and uses) then future use will not be viewed very favourably.

He suggested we should use the band imaginatively, with digital modes and/or new services that would not sit easily within the existing band. Digital ATV with 500 kHz bandwidth, Digital Voice, Spread Spectrum, Data Services along with things not yet widely thought of are the type of activity that is desired.

Developers of wideband modes may face challenges in ensuring their emissions are contained within the new band. Some wideband modes currently used on 1240 MHz have sidebands just 30 dB down that extend over a wide range, this would not be acceptable on 146 MHz.

Bandwidth tailoring will be imperative to ensure no RF extends into the weak signal satellite segment at 145.8-146.0 MHz (the Lunar 4M JT65B beacon uses 145.980 MHz). Narrow band users on 147 MHz must also be protected from any increase in the noise floor.

John asked that those trying new things on the band should report the work they do even if the experiment is a failure. His contact email address is vhf.manager<at>

It may even be that successful exploitation of the new band could lead to further release to amateurs of much needed VHF spectrum!

Download the 146 MHz PowerPoint Slides here

Download the 146 MHz PDF Slides here

The new allocation has both Geographical and ERP restrictions. The Ofcom statement on the allocation can be seen at

At the end of October Full licence holders will be able to obtain an NoV for 146  MHz operation from the RSGB online NoV page at


Amateur Radio Licence Review

RSGB Colour LogoThe Radio Society of Great Britain General Manager, Graham Coomber G0NBI, has issued this statement on the Ofcom amateur radio licence review.

We held our regular meeting with Ofcom last Thursday and, as you will know, Ofcom attended the Convention at the weekend. Feedback from those events is that

• Only 300 or so people have responded to the consultation document so far.
• Ofcom will be relying heavily on the volume and content of the responses as evidence of what the amateur radio community feels about the proposals.

Whilst we published some explanatory notes on the website soon after the document was released, it is apparent that many amateurs have not yet read the document which is far from straightforward in several places.

We are thus today publishing further guidance together with suggested responses to the key questions

There is now just one week before Ofcom’s consultation period ends (20th October) and thus time is of the essence. This note is to ask for your personal support as follows.

Please make sure that you respond to Ofcom.

Please make contact with your club chair (if you belong to a club) or any other amateurs that you are in contact with and urge them to do the same.

Many thanks,

Graham Coomber, G0NBI
General Manager
Radio Society of Great Britain