Radio hams launch to ISS Wednesday

Danish Astronaut Dr Andreas Mogensen at an AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium

Danish Astronaut Dr Andreas Mogensen at AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium

Denmark’s first astronaut Andreas Mogensen KG5GCZ is expected to blast-off to the ISS from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, September 2.

While on the ISS he plans to deploy two Danish CubeSats, GomX-3 and AAUSat-5 which both carry amateur radio payloads.

Onboard the Soyuz TMA-18M with Andreas will be Kazakhstan’s first cosmonaut Aydin Aimbetova who takes the mission place vacated by the UK’s Sarah Brightman. The commander is Sergey Volkov RU3DIS who, during an ISS spacewalk in 2011, deployed the KEDR/Radioskaf-B/ARISSat-1 satellite which carried an amateur radio transponder and Slow Scan TV.

These dates and frequencies are from Dmitry R4UAB
• Soyuz TMA-18M launch – Sept 2 at 07:37:43 (04:37:43 GMT)
• Docking with the ISS – Sept 4 at 10:42 (07:42 GMT) ± 3 minutes
• Planned mission duration for Sergey Volkov RU3DIS is 188 days.
• Planned mission duration for Andreas Mogensen KG5GCZ and Aydin Aimbetova is 10 days
• Soyuz frequency 130.167 MHz
• ISS frequency 143.625 MHz

Danish CubeSats head for ISS

Follow Andreas KG5GCZ on Twitter


$50SAT Falls Silent

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

The $50SAT amateur radio spacecraft ,which measures just 5x5x7.5 cm and weighs only 210 grams, has ceased transmitting after nearly 20 months in space.

Michael Kirkhart, KD8QBA, writes:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 marked the 20 month anniversary of the launch of $50SAT/MO-76/Eagle2, and unfortunately, it appears to have gone silent.  The last time I heard it was on Sunday, July 19, 2015, 08:42 UTC from Anton’s (ZR6AIC) WebSDR.  A screenshot of the WebSDR while $50SAT was transmitting RTTY, a screenshot of gpredict showing its location during the transmission, and the captured RTTY audio are up on the Dropbox; they are accessible via the following URL:

Unfortunately, there was a fade starting in the middle of the capture, so I was only able to do a partial decode:
2015-07-19,08:42,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15719,,,84,3,,22,?,?,?,?,?,?,*? (NO CHECKSUM – MISSING DATA)

Has anyone else has heard $50SAT since July 19?  If so, please let us know.

The likely cause of failure was a near complete loss of solar power.  Looking at the last 5 complete RTTY telemetry messages, the amount of solar power being generated was very low:

2015-06-21,08:23,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15688,,,82,3,,22,16,78,,3435,1572,3319,*4A  (3435 mV, 0 mA, 0 mW)
2015-06-22,08:15,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15689,,,81,3,,21,15,78,4,3536,1573,3339,*7D (3536 mV, 4 mA, 14 mW)
2015-06-22,08:20,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15689,,,84,3,,22,17,78,3,3556,1573,3339,*78 (3556 mV, 3 mA, 11 mW)
2015-07-07,08:25,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15706,,,84,3,,22,18,78,1,3475,1590,3319,*7C (3475 mV, 1 mA, 3 mW)
2015-07-09,08:07,KG43,ZR6AIC/KD8QBA,$50SAT,,2990,15708,,,81,3,,22,15,78,3,3516,1592,3319,*7E (3516 mV, 3 mA, 11 mW)

Moreover, when looking at the Battery Voltage/MPPT Current chart, the last set of MPPT (solar) current measurements are well below the trendline, which itself has a negative slope:

Because $50SAT will not transmit if the battery voltage is below 3300 mV, we do not know if it is completely dead or the battery voltage is almost always too low to enable the transmitter.

$50SAT Boards

$50SAT Boards

Our best guess as to what happened is the solar cells have been slowly damaged due to sputtering.  All the high energy particles from the solar wind can effectively “sandblast” the satellite, and since our cells had no protective cover glass, this will cause the surface to slowly become diffused, and thus cause the output of the cells to drop.  We knew this would happen.  What we did not know is $50SAT would operate long enough where this would become a problem; our bets were on the battery failing first.  Since many other CubeSats used the same Spectrolab TASC cells as we did, we are curious about how long it took for the solar output to degrade on these other satellites.  If any of them are reading this post, we would love to hear from you!

We are now in the “how long will it stay in orbit?” phase of the mission.  Thanks to James DeYoung, N8OQ, we have a de-orbit prediction of May of 2017.  From July 6, 2015 to August 28, 2015, the orbital decay rate was about 0.79 km/week.  Earlier this year, it was about 1.2 km/week.  As of August 28, 2015, apogee was at 554 km, and perigee was at 525 km.  We will continue to monitor the TLEs from Celestrak and periodically update the “Orbital-Analysis” folder on the Dropbox.

We would like to extend a very big THANK YOU to the worldwide amateur satellite community!  You helped make our mission a resounding success!  We were able to determine it was possible to make a satellite this small which could generate and store its own power as well as have two-way radio communication capability.  We were able to do this using commercially available parts, including a $10 Li-Ion camera battery, a $10 ISM band radio, and a microcontroller programmed in interpreted BASIC.  We look forward to seeing what the next generation of PocketQubes can do.


The $50SAT/MO-76/Eagle-2 team:

Howie DeFelice, AB2S
Stuart Robinson, GW7HPW
Michael Kirkhart, KD8QBA
Professor Robert Twiggs, KE6QMD

$50SAT 19 Months in Space

LAPAN-A2 Launch



An Indonesian satellite LAPAN-A2/ORARI, carrying an FM transponder and an APRS digipeater, is planned to launch September 28, 2015 on India’s PSLV-C30 rocket.

The satellite will be deployed in a 650 km near equatorial orbit with an inclination of between 6 and 8 degrees enabling it to cross the territory of Indonesia 14 times a day. The low inclination orbit means it will not be receivable in the UK.

The primary aims of the mission are Earth observation using an RGB camera and maritime traffic monitoring using AIS, both using frequencies outside the Amateur Satellite Service.

The IARU has coordinated these frequencies for LAPA-A2/ORARI:
• 437.425 MHz telemetry beacon
• 435.880 MHz FM uplink
• 145.880 MHz FM downlink (5 watts)
• 145.825 APRS digipeater (5 watts)

LAPAN-A2 paper

AMSAT-ID Facebook Group

Organisasi Amatir Radio Indonesia (ORARI) in Google English

The IARU Region 3 Conference takes place in Bali, Indonesia, October 12-16, 2015

7599 km DX contact on FO-29

KG5CCI to F4CQA FO-29 contactOn August 27, 2015, Dave Swanson KG5CCI and Christophe Lucas F4CQA achieved a record-breaking 7599 km contact on the amateur radio satellite FO-29.

Dave Swanson KG5CCI with Arrow dual-band antenna

Dave Swanson KG5CCI with Arrow dual-band antenna

On the AMSAT Bulletin Board Dave KG5CCI writes:

This was not a scheduled contact, I simply answered Christophe’s CQ call. I knew it was a good contact at the time, but as I was portable up on Arkansas’ Shinnall Mountain, I did not have the resources available to calculate distances. After returning to my office I began to log the contacts I had made, and noticed the “general” distance between EM34 and JN17 was in excess of 7500 km. About the same time I came to this realization, my email chirped with a message from Christophe, who had came to the same conclusion.

After some quick exchanges, and verifying 10 digit locators, we have settled on an official distance of 7599.959 km between my grid of EM34ST11TL and Christophe’s grid of JN17EA22OT, using the website for calculations.

To the best of our knowledge, referencing data found on AMSAT-UK’s website his breaks the previous distance records of 7537.799 km between W5CBF and G4DOL, and the 7538.685 km contact between K4FEG and DK1TB.

I had my camera setup to record the pass as well.

Watch Sat DXing with the Arrow… just a little bit further

Extreme DX satellite contact between UK and Texas

FO-29 information

John Heath G7HIA article ‘Getting started on amateur radio satellites’ can be downloaded from

Find your Grid Square, bearing and distance at

RSGB Convention

RSGB Colour LogoThe early booking discount for the RSGB Convention has been extended until August 31.

The Convention takes place in Milton Keynes, October 9-11, and there is an impressive line up of speakers planned, including:

• Ionosondes by Dr Ruth Bamford
• Regular 3000km+ contacts on 144MHz meteor scatter and tropo by John Regnault, G4SWX
• Reduced bandwidth digital TV by Noel Matthews, G8GTZ
• What makes the pings go ping? A deeper understanding of meteor scatter by John Worsnop, G4BAO
• The Raspberry Pi in your shack by Mike Richards, G4WNC
• Modelling and building Yagis for lower noise by Justin Johnson, G0KSC
• How do we get more activity on VHF/UHF? by John Regnault, G4SWX and Richard Staples, G4HGI
• Some reflections on aircraft scatter by John Quarmby, G3XDY
• Datamodes made easy by Mike Richards, G4WNC
• An update on LNBs for 10 GHz reception by Bryan Harber, G8DKK
• YOTA Wales and Italy by Mike Jones, 2E0MLJ and the RSGB Youth Committee

The after-dinner speaker on Saturday evening will be Howard Long, G6LVB. Howard is probably most well-known within the amateur world as the designer of the FUNcube Dongle SDR and his work with AMSAT-UK.

Further information on the Convention is at

CPUT planning successor to Africa’s first nanosatellite

ZACube-2 Conceptual Layout

ZACube-2 Conceptual Layout

Following on the successes of ZACube-1, a.k.a. TshepisoSat, ZACube-2 is the second instalment in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) F’SATI mission series.

The satellite will serve as technology demonstrator for essential subsystems and form the basis on which an innovative Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform will be developed as primary payload. The SDR is highly flexible to address a wide range of communication needs and will be a test bed to validate vessel detection. Additionally, the satellite will feature a medium resolution imager as secondary payload to demonstrate the feasibility of future remote sensing applications such as ocean colour monitoring and large fire tracking.

This paper details the conceptual design and highlights the choices made around the proposed development

Read the recent article by Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV in EngineerIT magazine at

Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite Association (SA AMSAT)

IARU Region 3 Act on Band Plan Satellite Allocations

Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel

Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel

The IARU Region 3 (Asia/Pacific) Directors have submitted a band plan paper concerning amateur satellite allocations for consideration at the IARU Region 3 Conference which takes place October 12-16 in Bali, Indonesia.

IARU-R3 LogoThis is the 16th Conference and it will be hosted by the Amateur Radio Organisation of Indonesia (ORARI). 60 Premier and 12 Suite hotel rooms have been booked at the Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel which is described as being situated in Sanur, the secretly sophisticated side of Bali.

ORARI plans to run a special event station YB16IARU from October 11-16 from the conference and the delegates will be taken on a tour of Bali.

The President of ORARI, Sutiyoso YB0ST, says: “It’s an exciting time for us as we continue to grow and thrive, remaining always adaptable, motivated and responsive. The world of amateur radio is an exciting area in which to work and play, and we’ll continue to meet and bring inspired people together in forums like this, to ensure IARU Region 3 remains at the cutting edge.”

The changes proposed by IARU Region 3 Directors would appear to prohibit the use of the Amateur Satellite Service channel 144.490 MHz as an uplink for crewed space missions. Use of this channel was agreed by IARU Region 3 some 20 years ago but the new paper says:

“Note 2: The other portion of the band 144.035-145.8 MHz is exclusively identified for the amateur service.”

At the same time IARU Region 3 had agreed the crewed space mission downlink channel would be 145.800 MHz using 5 kHz deviation FM with a Doppler shift of +/- 3.75 kHz. The paper does not record this.

Read the IARU R3 Directors amateur satellite band plan paper at

The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) have presented a satellite band plan paper, see

Other papers submitted for the conference may be seen at

16th IARU R3 Conference

IARU Coordination of Satellite Frequencies

UK NanoSat Weekend

The Catapult PocketQubeWould you like to build your own satellite?

Would you like to do that in a single weekend…and fly it too?

The Satellite Applications Catapult has developed a build-your-own satellite kit. Over the course of a weekend you will assemble, test and program your own satellite, your results will then be tested by flying the kits on a weather balloon!

The free event takes place the weekend of Sep 26-27, 2015 at the Satellite Applications Catapult, Electron Building, Fermi Avenue, Harwell, Didcot, Oxford, OX11 0QR.

The NanoSat design includes some basic sensors: temperature, light, orientation. Satellite Applications Catapult are also providing a basic camera for image capture. This is your chance to get hands-on with the code to operate these devices that will give you the experience of working with modern embedded systems.

By the end of the weekend, you will have an understanding of the principles of how a typical satellite works; from the basic avionics systems to the operation of an on-orbit instrument.

Participants should be familiar with basic programming skills in C, ideally on the Arduino platform. If you’ve ever wired up a simple experiment or experimented with Arduinos, Raspberry Pis or mbeds, you’ll be fine.

Registration requires you to submit a team of four. Individuals can also register, but you’ll be entered into a team on the day.

Registration and FAQ at
also see

Chris Brunskill of Satellite Applications Catapult gave a presentation to the 2015 AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium.

Watch The Satellite Applications Catapult PocketQube Kit

Follow Chris on Twitter at

Amateur Radio and ISS on ABC radio show

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

On Thursday, August 20, Onno VK6FLAB was interviewed by Gillian O’Shaughnessy for the ABC 720 Breakfast Show to talk about Amateur Radio after a UK based radio ham, Adrian 2E0SDR, managed a contact with the ISS from his garden shed.

Read the ABC 720 Blog Post

Programme Stream

Sound Cloud

You can also download the interview as an MP3 file


Worldwide publicity for hobby from contact with the ISS by Adrian Lane 2E0SDR

What is Amateur Radio ?

IARU Coordination of Satellite Frequencies

IARU_LogoThe IARU have announced they are committed to only coordinate satellite frequencies within the internationally aligned IARU band plans.

The two metre amateur band is one of the most popular and populated bands in all the spectrum allocated to the amateur and amateur satellite services. This recently led to a request by satellite builders for coordination outside the spectrum reserved for satellites in the IARU band plans (145.800 – 146.000 MHz) as not enough channels are available to satisfy their requirements.

The IARU Satellite Adviser, Hans van de Groenendaal, ZS6AKV and his advisory panel are mandated to coordinate frequencies within the IARU band plans for amateur satellites. Coordinated frequencies must comply with band plans that are common to all three IARU Regions Satellites coordinated outside these plans could cause interference to terrestrial amateur operations in other regions. In theory satellites could be programmed so that they only operate over their country of origin.  Because satellite orbits make it difficult to pinpoint operations, spill over to other Regions may occur during parts of the orbit. Accordingly, IARU will not coordinate frequencies for satellites which are planned to operate outside the internationally aligned IARU band plans for amateur satellites.

The IARU offers frequency coordination in an effort to maximise spectrum utilisation and avoid possible interference to other satellites and ground stations.

The IARU requests that satellite groups work on a sharing plan or use other parts of the amateur service spectrum designated for satellite operation. When a large group of satellite sharing the same band are launched, they will soon drift apart which enhances the opportunity to share the same frequencies. For example, during the initial phase, just after launch, a time sharing system could be used to monitor the payloads before initialising transponders and other systems.

For instance, the 10 metre band, once popular with satellite builders, is today not significantly used. The band segment 29.300-29.510 MHz has been used for amateur-satellite downlinks for more than 40 years, beginning with Australis-OSCAR 5 in 1970 and AMSAT-OSCAR 6, AMSAT’s first communications satellite, in 1972.  The band segment was very popular for downlinks in the 1970s and 1980s.  Today, only one amateur satellite actively uses a 29 MHz downlink: AMSAT-OSCAR 7, launched in 1974 [and RS-15 on 29.3525 MHz – Editor].  While a 29 MHz downlink would not be practical for today’s very small satellites, owing to the size of the antenna required, the band could be used very practically for uplinks even with small receiving antennas, because transmitting power at the earth station is easy to obtain.  The IARU Satellite Adviser and his panel believe that the 10 metre band offers a good alternative to 2 metre uplinks

Currently the IARU team also coordinates frequencies for satellites built by universities and educational groups in an effort to maximise spectrum utilisation and mitigate any possible interference to Amateur Radio operations. The IARU is committed to work with these groups and with the ITU to find other spectrum for these satellites.

Rod Stafford W6ROD
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU)

Two US Naval Academy satellites PSAT and BRICsat launched May 20, 2015 both have transponder uplinks on 28.120 MHz. Another US Naval Academy satellite PCSAT-2, which is currently undergoing coordination by IARU, plans to have a transponder uplink on 28.120 MHz.

IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination pages