7-Day Arctic Tour for B-46 Balloon

7-Day Arctic Tour for B-46 Balloon

7-Day Arctic Tour for B-46 Balloon

A long duration foil balloon transmitting Contestia 8/250 on 434.500 MHz USB was launched on Friday, April 18 from Silverstone by radio amateur Leo Bodnar M0XER. It’s seven day journey has taken it to Iceland, Greenland across the Norwegian Sea and down into Finland.

According to the current projected course it may continue south into Russia and travel close to the Ukrainian border.

Depending on the altitude, the balloon could have a radio range of 300-500 km. See the current track of the balloon at http://spacenear.us/tracker/?filter=B-46 (zoom in on UK).

Typical 434 MHz solar powered payload - Image credit Leo Bodnar M0XER

Typical 434 MHz solar powered payload – Image credit Leo Bodnar M0XER

Balloon: 90cm Qualatex foil party balloon
Payload: 12 grams solar powered tracker

Telemetry: 434.500 MHz, USB, vertical polarisation, Contestia 8/250
Transmission contains two lines of telemetry every 4 minutes and lasts about 1 minute
Time between telemetry data is filled with beeps at 3 sec intervals.
Enable RxID (RSID) to automatically track the signal drift

Tracking link: http://spacenear.us/tracker/?filter=B-46
APRS backup: http://aprs.fi/#!call=a%2FM0XER-6

Leo Bodnar M0XER balloons

You can see online real time tracks and frequencies of balloons at http://spacenear.us/tracker/

Typical pico balloon with tiny solar powered 434 MHz transmitter - Image credit Leo Bodnar M0XER

Typical pico balloon with tiny solar powered 434 MHz transmitter – Image credit Leo Bodnar M0XER

Download the dl-fldigi software from

Listen to balloons online (when in range of south-east UK) from anywhere in the world with the SUWS 434 MHz WebSDR (select USB) http://amsat-uk.org/2013/12/28/websdr-for-434-and-1296-mhz/

Beginners Guide to Tracking using dl-fldigi http://ukhas.org.uk/guides:tracking_guide

Check the #highaltitude IRC channel for chat about launches. A web client is available at

To get up-to-date information on balloon flights subscribe to the UKHAS Mailing List by sending a blank email to this address: ukhas+subscribe@googlegroups.com

$50SAT celebrates five months in space

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA provides an update on the $50SAT (MO-76) PocketQube. The tiny satellite which is just 5x5x7.5 cm and 210 grams has completed five months in space.

As of Monday, April 21, 2014, $50SAT/MO-76 has been operating continuously for 5 months!  Moreover, the weather here in EN82 land has improved considerably, allowing me to gather telemetry more often.  I recently purchased a TEAC VR-20 digital recorder, which has eliminated the need for me to use my netbook computer for recording audio from my radios.  In fact, I can basically “wear” all my gear – my FT-817ND is strapped around my neck, my headphones are over my ears, my AMSAT preamp is in my left pocket, my VR-20 is in my right pocket, and my Arrow antenna (or homebrew 6 element WA5VJB Yagi) is in my left hand, leaving my right hand available for tuning.

About 2 to 3 weeks ago, the downlink frequency shifted down to where it should be, centered at 437.505 MHz.  This caught me (and probably some of you) by surprise, as I had trouble finding the downlink signal when running LSB.  As soon as I got used to tuning down, the frequency shifted back up to where it was originally – about 3 kHz high.  Anybody else notice this?

The daily average battery voltage continues to slowly drop.  It does get to about 3700 mV when solar power is available, but will drop as low as 3541 mV just as $50SAT comes out of eclipse.  When it drops below 3600 mV, the sleep time (the time between operational cycles) extends from about 50 seconds (4 * 6 * 2.1 seconds) to about 126 seconds (10 * 6 * 2.1 seconds).  This was done to help stabilize the battery voltage in case of insufficient solar charging, but does have a downside: there are fewer operational cycles per pass.  A rough estimate of operational cycles per pass can be computed using the following information:

1. Typical pass duration is 10 minutes, or 600 seconds
2. The typical operational cycle time for Fast Morse telemetry messages is about 32 seconds
3. The typical operational cycle time for RTTY telemetry messages is about 51 seconds
4. A full cycle of operational cycles consists of 3 RTTY telemetry cycles and 2 Fast Morse telemetry cycles

The average operation cycle time is thus (3 * 51 + 2 * 32) / 5 = 43 seconds

If the battery voltage is less than 3700 mV but greater than or equal to 3600 mV, the number of operational cycles per pass about 600 / (43 + 50) = 6.45, giving somewhere between 6 and 7 cycles per pass.

If the battery voltage is less than 3600 mV but greater than or equal to 3500 mV, the number of operational cycles per pass about 600 / (43 + 126) = 3.55, giving somewhere between 3 and 4 cycles per pass.

$50SAT Boards

$50SAT Boards

Up on the Dropbox, I have uploaded a new TLE set (element set 174) as well as an updated RTTY reports file.  Thanks to all of you, this file has grown significantly.  As of Tuesday, April 22, we have 950 unique telemetry packet captures.  We are working on “scrubbing” through the telemetry data and importing it either to a spreadsheet or a database so we can start analyzing the data.  We appreciate all of you folks who have been gathering telemetry for us, and encourage you to keep doing it.

I have also uploaded a spreadsheet showing the “valid” values for both solar and battery voltage.  Even though $50SAT reports both of these voltages in units of mV, its resolution is only about 20.2 mV.  As a result, there is a finite set of valid voltage values which can be reported.  The spreadsheet uses the actual calibration values from the MK4 CPU board used in the flight model, and computes the mV values the same way the PICAXE CPU in $50SAT does.  This information is quite helpful in recovering partially corrupted RTTY packets.


Michael Kirkhart
$50SAT/MO-76 team

$50SAT was a collaborative education project between Professor Bob Twiggs, KE6QMD, Morehead State University and three other radio amateurs, Howie DeFelice, AB2S, Michael Kirkhart, KD8QBA, and Stuart Robinson, GW7HPW.  The transmitter power is just 100 mW on 437.505 MHz (+/-9 kHz Doppler shift) FM CW/RTTY. $50SAT uses the low cost Hope RFM22B single chip radio and PICAXE 40X2 processor.

$50SAT PocketQube Amateur Radio Challenge

Further information in the $50SAT Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/sh/l3919wtfiywk2gf/-HxyXNsIr8

$50SAT – Eagle2 – Communications – Release Version V1_1.pdf

Hope RFM22B single chip radio http://www.hoperf.com/rf/fsk_module/RFM22B.htm

There is a discussion group for $50SAT http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/50dollarsat/

50DollarSat http://www.50dollarsat.info/

The Basement Satellite at Canadian Documentary Film Festival

The Basement Satellite posterThe first screening of the The Basement Satellite at the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival takes place on Friday, April 25.

The film, directed by Hyoung-ju Kim, tells the struggle of Korean artist Hojun Song DS1SBO to develop a satellite, OSSI-1, in his basement studio and launch it into space.

Synopsis from Indiewire.comIn his Mangwon-dong basement art studio, a media artist Hojun Song dreams of making a satellite and shooting it out to space.

He wants to make his dream real through OSSI (Open Source Satellite Initiative) movement. He tries to build a DIY satellite, and to sell 10,000 T-shirts for the 100 million Won ($100,000) budget. His seemingly reckless and utterly ambitious project begins. Would his dream become real?

Watch Hot Docs Trailers 2014: the Basement satellite

Canadian International Documentary Film Festival - The Basement Satellite

OSSI-1 Amateur Radio CubeSat Launched

144 and 432 MHz mixed mode helix antennas

144 MHz prototype helix antenna

144 MHz prototype helix antenna

Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ has developed omni-direction helix antennas for 144 and 432 MHz which have proved effective for high altitude balloon and satellite reception at the SUWS WebSDR.

Martin says “I had been experimenting with single turn ‘twisted halo’ design, and decided to try stacking them to see if I could achieve more gain. Modelling suggested that a stretched 3 turn helix with a helix circumference of approx 1/2 wave length and an overall length of 1/2 wave at 70cm, and fed with a gamma match at the centre would offer reasonable gain, an omni-directional pattern and mixed polarisation.”

Full details of the antennas are available at

Listen to the SUWS WebSDR at http://websdr.suws.org.uk/

WebSDR for 144, 432, 1296 and 10368 MHz

Shin-En2 to carry Mode J linear transponder

Shin-En2 satellite

Shin-En2 satellite

Shin-En2 is a 2.85 kg satellite measuring 490×490×475 mm built by students at Kagoshima University in Japan that will carry a 145 to 435 MHz linear transponder into a deep space orbit.

The aims of the mission are:
• To establish communication technologies with a long range as far as moon.
• To establish a new technology of the ultra-light-weight satellite. Proposing a WSJT 29dBm UHF downlink and a 29dBm 20 kHz linear transponder and a CW beacon all on UHF with a VHF uplink for the transponder

The orbit will be quite different from the previous satellites. Shin-En2 will have an elliptic orbit around the Sun and travel to a deep space orbit between Venus and Mars. Its inclination will be almost zero, which means Shin-En2 will stay in the Earth’s equatorial plane. 

The distance from the Sun will be between 0.7 and 1.3 AU, where AU (Astronomical Unit) is approximately 1.5 x 108 km.

Shin-En2 is expected to launch in the 4th quarter of 2014 with another amateur radio satellite ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on a H-IIA rocket with the asteroid explorer Hayabusa 2 as the main payload.

Kagoshima University satellite development team

Shin-En2 English Website

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH – Art and Ham Radio in Deep Space

$4.00 Ham Radio Satellite Antenna

In this video Dave Tadlock KG0ZZ describes a $4 amateur radio dual band 145 / 435 MHz satellite antenna.

Details of the antenna are at http://www.amateurradio.bz/4_dollar_satellite_antenna.html

Watch the $4.00 Ham Radio Satellite Antenna video

Zed Zed’s Workbench

Portable Amateur Radio Satellite Antenna

Excalibur Amateur Radio Satellite Antenna

LituanicaSAT-1 FM transponder test

LituanicaSAT-1 Camera and FM Voice Transponder

LituanicaSAT-1 Camera and FM Voice Transponder

The LituanicaSAT-1 team are carrying out a test of the FM transponder and they request reports. [Latest update added April 23 1839 UT]



Dear amateur satellite radio operators,

A courtesy notice that LituanicaSAT-1 FM transponder test is in progress. Today we performed initial operational test over Lithuania successfully. Downlink frequency was noted to have shifted to 435.1755 MHz. More tests are needed to verify that and determine exact uplink frequency shift but 145.950 MHz should work.

Please remember to use CTCSS PL 67 Hz sub-tone. If no problems will be encountered the operational tests for 23rd of April are planned to resume on 12:45 UTC and finish on 16:00 UTC. Just after activation you should here callsign in Morse and short salutation message from Lithuanian president. This identification message is transmitted every 5 min if there is no radio activity as well.

Your reports are more than welcome. Please submit your reports to ly5n@qrz.lt (please provide some supporting data like frequencies, max elevation of the pass, signal to noise ratio, etc.). Also please feel free to share this information through any media channels.

Best Regards,
LituanicaSAT-1 team

UPDATE April 23 1839 UT

Dear radio amateur operators,

Thanks for all of your reports from today’s successful transponder test!

During 14:20 UTC pass over Lithuania FM transponder has switched off automatically after mode transitioning telecommand has been sent to the satellite. This was standard test procedure to verify correct operation of the on board computer during operation of the transponder.

Next test is scheduled for Apr 24 from 13:30 UTC to 15:00 UTC. Again we will be grateful to your reports, including FSK packet telemetry on 437.544 MHz. Please respect other radio amateurs and obey transponder operating techniques.

LituanicaSAT-1 team

Geriausi linkėjimai / Best Regards,
Laurynas M

Watch LituanicaSAT 1 FM repeater first QSO 2014 04 22

Lithuanian CubeSat LituanicaSAT-1 http://amsat-uk.org/2014/02/27/lituanicasat-1-cubesat/

Book now for International Space Colloquium

AMSAT-UK Chairman Professor Sir Martin Sweeting G3YJO

AMSAT-UK Chairman Professor Sir Martin Sweeting G3YJO

The AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium 2014 is open to all. It will be held on July 25-27, 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ, United Kingdom.

The Colloquium attracts an international audience from across Europe as well as North America and the Middle East. Attendees range from the builders of the CubeSats and Nanosats, those who communicate through them and beginners who wish to find out more about this fascinating branch of the hobby.

It provides a rare opportunity to chat with satellite designers and builders, discussions frequently continue until the early hours of the morning.

There will be a beginners session starting mid to late afternoon on the Friday.

Dr Chris Bridges M6OBC / M0GKK and STRaND-1

Dr Chris Bridges M6OBC / M0GKK and STRaND-1

Not part of the Colloquium, but held close by at the University of Surrey Space Centre is the “Bring Your Own Board” event. The first of these sessions was held last year and was very successful. The idea is that satellite builders and designers bring a piece of hardware to show off, demonstrate etc. Entrance is free. Further details of last years event are here http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ssc/news/events/ssc_and_ee/byob_cubesat_workshop.htm

A Gala dinner is held on the Saturday evening along with the fund raising auction, speeches, presentations, etc.

BOOKINGS. (Please note that this is a different procedure from last year!)

Holiday Inn Guildford GU2 7XZ

Holiday Inn Guildford GU2 7XZ

If you wish to stay overnight at the hotel, you must book your room direct with the hotel (tel 020 3349 9169) or via their web site http://www.higuildfordhotel.co.uk/ We have negotiated special rates of £75.00 for bed and breakfast, and £95.00 for dinner, bed and breakfast.

If you book dinner bed and breakfast for Saturday night, this will cover the cost of the Gala Dinner, for any other night, it covers the standard dinner in the hotel. Please use code AMSAT when making your booking.

Additionally, on arrival, please pay £5 for Friday, and £10 for each of Sat and Sunday at the AMSAT shop (not the hotel). The AMSAT shop will be located in the Business centre. This covers use of the lecture room, plus tea on Sat afternoon, and coffee Sunday morning.

If you are attending as a day visitor, there is no need to book in advance, just pay on arrival at the AMSAT-UK shop (£5 for Friday, and £10 for each of Saturday and Sunday).

Holiday Inn Guildford side entrance

Holiday Inn Guildford side entrance

Access to the Colloquium is via the hotel side entrance about 30 metres to the left of the main entrance.

We will be including an exclusive roundup of a number of new live and potential spacecraft projects that are under investigation and/or development.

Additionally a number of presentations are planned covering new communications techniques and similar futuristic topics.

Plus all the usual networking opportunities, the gala dinner and auction/raffle.

The weekend event is open to all. It attracts an international audience that ranges from those involved in building and operating Amateur Radio satellites to beginners who wish to find out more about this fascinating branch of the hobby.


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

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

We have a number of confirmed speakers for the 2014 event, these include:

The FUNcube Project—an update on FUNcubes 1, 2 and 3 plus news about FUNcube-4

The first Phase 4 geostationary amateur radio satellite

The South African projects -KLETSkous,  DynaCube, SA-QB50  and ZACUBE-1

$50SAT PocketQube by Stuart Robinson GW7HPW

Proliferation of non-Amateur Cubesats by Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV

The satellite station at W1AW by ARRL QST Editor Steve Ford WB8IMY

VR2Space Virtual Ride to Space by Surrey Space Centre team member

IARU Satellite Forum by Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV

ESA Danish Astronaut Dr Andreas Mogense attended a previous Colloquium

ESA Danish Astronaut Dr Andreas Mogense attended a previous Colloquium

But we are still looking for more and so; AMSAT-UK invites speakers, to cover topics about micro-satellites, CubeSats, Nanosats, space and associated activities, for this event.

They are also invited to submit papers for subsequent publishing on the AMSAT-UK web site. We normally prefer authors to present talks themselves rather than having someone else give them in the authors’ absence. We also welcome “unpresented” papers for the web site.

This year we are able to offer  limited financial support for young speakers—please contact Jim Heck email g3wgm -AT- amsat.org for information about this.

Generally, submissions should be sent to Trevor M5AKA: e-mail:  m5aka -AT- yahoo.co.uk

AMSAT-UK also invites anyone with requests for Program Topics to submit them as soon as possible to M5AKA.  Invitations for any papers on specific subjects will be included in the future call. Likewise if anyone knows of a good speaker, please send contact and other information to M5AKA.

Monitoring AO-73 with Minimalist Equipment

In this video Clint Bradford K6LCS demonstrates that a simple antenna is all you need to get a signal the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) telemetry beacon.

Clint writes: AO-73 just passed to the West over Southern California. With just a tape measure beam and a Yaesu FT-60R, it was received. AO-73 is transmitting at about 30 mW on 145.935 MHz today in the sun, and was never closer than about 450 miles.

Watch Monitoring AO-73 – Minimalist Equipment

In the video Clint was also using an  iPod touch, running the satellite tracking App PocketSat3 from http://www.pocketsat.com/

The AO-73 beacon uses BPSK modulation. To demodulate and decode the telemetry data you need a SSB receiver (FT-817, RTL-SDR, FUNcube Dongle, etc)  and the free Dashboard software. Clint made the video at the weekend when the beacon was in low power mode running just 30 mW. During the daylight hours on Monday-Friday the beacon runs 300 mW output so would be an even stronger signal.

WB2HOL 2m tape measure beam http://theleggios.net/wb2hol/projects/rdf/tape_bm.htm

Tape measure beam kit http://www.west.net/~marvin/wb2hol.htm

More fun with satellites at … http://www.work-sat.com/

Portable Amateur Radio Satellite Antenna

In this video Dave Tadlock KG0ZZ describes a home made small hand held portable amateur radio dual band 145 / 435 MHz satellite antenna.

Watch Portable Amateur Radio Satellite Antenna

Zed Zed’s Workbench

Excalibur Amateur Radio Satellite Antenna