Radio ham helps ESA with tracking widget

ESA_03_logo_dark_blueThanks to radio amateur Chip Sufitchi N2YO the European Space Agency’s new satellite tracking widgets are live.

The tracking widgets are fed with the latest orbital tracks for ESA missions, or missions with significant ESA participation. The default track shows the ISS.

Track ESA missions

ESA tracking widgets are powered by

ISS SSTV success – More transmissions Saturday, December 20

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Frank Heritage M0AEU at 19:21 UT on Dec 18, 2014

ISS SSTV image 4/12 received by Frank Heritage M0AEU at 19:21 UT on Dec 18, 2014

During Thursday, December 18 the Russian ARISS team members successfully activated the amateur radio Slow Scan TV (SSTV) experiment from the International Space Station (ISS) on 145.800 MHz FM. Further transmissions using the callsign RS0ISS are planned for Saturday, December 20, 2014.

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR on Dec 18, 2014

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR on Dec 18, 2014

Among the many radio amateurs receiving the pictures was Frank Heritage M0AEU. His station comprised a 5 element crossed Yagi on a Yaesu 5600B Az/Ele rotator, about 4 metres above the ground, interfaced with a LVB Tracker. Frank used the Ham Radio Deluxe satellite program (v5) for the tracking and a Yaesu FT736R feeding audio to the free MMSSTV software on a Dell laptop.

Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ used the online SUWS Web-based Software Defined Radio (WebSDR) located near London to receive a number of images during the day. Martin made the 144 and 430 MHz helix antennas for the WebSDR which are optimized for satellite reception. The SUWS WebSDR is available for anyone to use.

Other images received by amateurs world-wide can be seen at

The next ISS SSTV transmissions on 145.800 MHz should start around 12:40 UT on Saturday, December 20 and end at 21:30 UT. It is expected the SSTV mode will be PD180 with 3 minute off periods between transmissions. A total of 12 different photos will be sent, each celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit Earth.

The transmission will be mode using the Kenwood D710 transceiver located in the Russian Service Module. It is thought the equipment will be producing about 5 watts output which should provide a very strong signal.

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

All you need to do to receive SSTV pictures direct from the space station is to connect the audio output of a scanner or amateur radio transceiver via a simple interface to the soundcard on a Windows PC or an Apple iOS device, and tune in to 145.800 MHz FM. You can even receive pictures by holding an iPhone next to the radio’s loudspeaker.

The ISS puts out a strong signal on 145.800 MHz FM and a 2m handheld with a 1/4 wave antenna will be enough to receive it. The FM transmission uses the 5 kHz deviation which is standard in much of the world.

Many FM rigs in the UK can be switched been wide and narrow deviation FM filters. For best results you should select the wider deviation filters. Handhelds all seem to have a single wide filter fitted as standard.

On Windows PC’s the free application MMSSTV can be used to decode the signal, on Apple iOS devices you can use the SSTV app for compatible modes. The ISS Fan Club website will show you when the space station is in range.

ISS SSTV image 12/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

ISS SSTV image 12/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

Paul Turner G4IJE, co-developer of the SSTV PD modes, says regarding the MMSSTV PD180 mode: “Don’t forget to either enable “Always show RX viewer” or use the “Picture viewer” (magnifying glass icon) to show the picture at its real resolution of 640 x 496. If you just view as normal you will only see 320 x 248 resolution, which kind of defeats the object of using a high resolution mode.”

On the AMSAT-BB Rick W2JAZ and Alan WA4SCA comment on the need to set the MMSSTV sound card setting to 48 kHz instead of the default 44.100 kHz
• Options
• Setup
• Misc
• Then the Clock section at the bottom of the page

The MMSSTV default setting may need to be set to 24000 (exactly half of the sound card setting). You then should get good clean images.

The sound card adjustments will vary slightly depending on the version of the OS you are running, but usually will be under the advanced properties for the device. You can probably use a higher sampling rate for the sound card so long as it is a power of 2 multiple (2,4,8, etc)  of the value in MMSSTV. For instance, 192k (8x) has no issues. The same applies to most similar software.

You can receive the SSTV transmissions online using the SUWS WebSDR remote receiver located near London along with the MMSSTV software

For more on Slow Scan Television SSTV, see this article SSTV – The Basics

How to be successful with the ISS Slow Scan Television (SSTV) imaging system

Free MMSSTV Slow Scan TV software


IZ8BLY Vox Recoder, enables you to record the signals from the ISS on 145.800 MHz while you’re away at work

ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) Blog and Gallery

Information on the MAI-75 SSTV experiment

Video showing reception of SSTV using the FUNcube Dongle Pro SDR and SDR-RADIO going into Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) then to MMSSTV software

ISS SSTV received online with SUWS WebSDR

ISS SSTV 1/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

ISS SSTV 1/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

Sharon White appointed Ofcom Chief Executive

Sharon White CEO of UK communications regulator Ofcom

Sharon White CEO of UK communications regulator Ofcom – Image credit HM Treasury

The Board of the UK communication regulator Ofcom  has announced the appointment of Sharon White as Chief Executive.

Sharon will join Ofcom in late March 2015 from HM Treasury, where she is Second Permanent Secretary.

In this role Sharon is the lead official responsible for managing the UK’s public finances, a position she has held since November 2013. Before that she served as Director General, Public Spending at HM Treasury.

An economics graduate, Sharon has 25 years’ experience in the public sector and Government, starting with spells in Washington, the No 10 Policy Unit, and the World Bank. Sharon later worked in the Department for International Development, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury.

Ofcom Chair, Dame Patricia Hodgson, said: “Sharon brings with her an outstanding combination of intellect, political acumen and experience leading complex public organisations.

“The Ofcom Board is confident that Sharon will provide the leadership and vision to ensure Ofcom continues to promote a thriving communications sector in the UK that operates in the public interest.”

Sharon White said: “The communications sector is vital to the economy and delivers essential services to everyone in the UK. I look forward to starting in this fascinating job and building on Ofcom’s considerable track record.”

OSCAR News Issue 208

OSCAR News Issue 206 front coverIssue 208 of the AMSAT-UK amateur radio satellite publication OSCAR News was released on December 17. E-members can download it here.

The paper edition is usually posted 2-3 weeks after publication of the electronic issue.

In this issue:
• Scouts Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) From Ken Eaton, GW1FKY
• FUNcube at the Norman Lockyer Observatory
• Report on the Es’Hailsat-2 announcement
• A solar powered Raspberry Pi setup for remote reception of FUNcube-1 signals
• AL-Sat Nano —a new opportunity?
• Latest news from AMSAT-NA
• IARU Reg 1 Triennial Region 1 Conference
• St Peter’s CE Primary Academy, Market Bosworth
• FUNCube-1 First birthday

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

Membership of AMSAT-UK is open to anyone who has an interest in amateur radio satellites or space activities, including the International Space Station (ISS).

E-members of AMSAT-UK are able to download OSCAR News as a convenient PDF that can be read on laptops, tablets or smartphones anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Join as an E-member at Electronic (PDF) E-membership

There are two rates for the paper edition to cover the extra postage costs:
Rest of the World (Overseas)

PDF sample copy of “Oscar News” here.

Join AMSAT-UK using PayPal, Debit or Credit card at

E-members can download their copies of OSCAR News here.

Astronaut’s first school contact from ISS

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF using the amateur radio station in the ISS Columbus module

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF using the amateur radio station in the ISS Columbus module

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF has written about her first amateur radio school contact from the International Space Station.

20 students from “Elena di Savoia” in Bari and “Alessandro Volta” in Bitonto were able to ask her questions about space and the ISS.

Read her post at

ARISS contact planned for two Italian schools

OK1DFC and PE1ITR report DESPATCH beacon at 4.7 million km

ARTSAT2-DESPATCH received by Zdenek Samek OK1DFC on December 14, 2014 at 21:18:41 UT

ARTSAT2-DESPATCH received by Zdenek Samek OK1DFC on December 14, 2014 at 21:18:41 UT

Zdenek Samek OK1DFC and Rob Hardenberg PE1ITR reported receiving the amateur radio beacon from the ARTSAT2:DESPATCH spacecraft on December 14 at a distance of 4,700,000 km.

Data 2014-12-14-211841Z ARTSAT2-DESPATCH - Zdenek Samek OK1DFCCongratulations to both radio amateurs on a remarkable achievement.

The amateur radio spacecraft ARTSAT2:DESPATCH JQ1ZNN and Shin’en2 JG6YIG were launched on their journey to deep space at 04:22:04 UT on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. The two spacecraft will have an elliptic orbit around the Sun and travel to a deep space orbit between Venus and Mars. The inclination will be almost zero, which means the spacecraft should stay in the Earth’s equatorial plane. The distance from the Sun will be between 0.7 and 1.3 AU. An Astronomical Unit (AU) is 149,597,871 km.

OK1DFC website

See images of the reception of ARTSAT2:DESPATCH by Rob Hardenberg PE1ITR at

PE1ITR Shin’en2 reception

Shin'en2 on left - ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on right

Shin’en2 on left – ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on right

Tracking utilities for the DESPATCH and Shin’en2 spacecraft are available at

Shin’en2 437.385 MHz


DESPATCH reception reports are summarized at:

Ham radio spacecraft launched into deep space

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH spacecraft becomes FO-81

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH Internal Structure

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH Internal Structure

OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO issued this announcement on December 12:

“Since DESPATCH appears to have met all of the requirements for an OSCAR number, including IARU coordination, I hereby with the authority vested in me be by the AMSAT-NA President, do confer on DESPATCH, the OSCAR number Fuji OSCAR 81 or FO-81.”

ARTSAT2 DESPATCH  Deep Space Sculpture

ARTSAT2 DESPATCH Deep Space Sculpture

Continuing, Bill wrote, “I use the Fuji designation in recognition of the long history of contributions the Japanese have made to Amateur Radio satellites. I trust that Fuji OSCAR-81’s mission will be successful and much valuable data will be collected.”

Akihiro Kubota replied from Japan, “It is a great honor for us to receive the OSCAR number from AMSAT. We are very glad to hear it! FO-81 form the name of Fuji is also special for us. DESPATCH will transmit its beacon until this Xmas. We will keep informed of the status of the mission and share it over the world.”

AMSAT congratulates the DESPATCH and ARTSAT teams!

Source ANS

New tracking utilities for the DESPATCH and Shin’en2 spacecraft are available at

Polish radio amateurs two million km record

CubeSat Amateur Laser Communications

Block diagram of proposed Cubesat with laser communicator - Credit Oleg Nizhnik

Block diagram of proposed Cubesat with laser communicator – Credit Oleg Nizhnik

On November 19 Oleg Nizhnik gave a presentation on CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability.

In his paper Oleg says the available bands at 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz for amateur satellite communication are increasingly crowded. Higher frequency amateur bands meanwhile require uncommon microwave parts to implement transceivers, and working with 10 GHz or above require electric power typically not available in CubeSat. Therefore, to enable amateur Moon exploration, amateur laser communicator built of common, low-cost parts will help to extend amateur satellites operating range up to at least moon orbit.

The presentation was made in the 3rd Mission Idea Contest (MIC3) held during the 2nd UNISEC Global Meeting at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Japan, Nov. 19, 2014.

Watch MIC3 #7 – CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability

Presentation slides


The videos of other presentations given at MIC3 are at

Slides and abstracts are at

Amateur Satellite Seed Funding

AMSAT FOXOn December 2, 2014 the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors approved Technology Development Seed Funding.

As a part of AMSAT’s “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge, the Board of Directors approved $5000, within the 2015 engineering budget, to be used as seed money for future satellite development. Additional fund raising sources will also be investigated and pursued.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “We’re prepared to return to space starting in 2015 with a fleet of satellites that will equal, if not exceed, the performance, and availability to the average ham, of our previously popular AMSAT OSCAR 51. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the future looking to potentially leverage new technologies, to provide the best opportunities for enhancing amateur radio’s presence in space.”

Director Tom Clark, K3IO, noted the need for a defined future systems program. Tom said, “We saw a significant number of both new and old members who want to see the development of critical system elements for future opportunities by 2018-20. As I see it, critical ‘tall poles’ in applying potential technologies require significant work to begin now to ensure success.”

AMSAT is interested in supporting technology ideas that enhance the utility of using the CubeSat form factor to support more robust amateur satellite capabilities.  The scope of potential interest in not limited; some examples of  technology enhancement might include:

+ Microwave technology suitable for use in amateur spacecraft. This includes the need to identify optimum frequency bands.

+ Complementary, low-cost ground systems, including an effective ~1º antenna pointing system.

+ Define and develop optimum coding and modulation schemes for low power microwave use.

+ Attitude determination & control systems to point the spacecraft antennas towards the user while maximizing solar panel production.

Individuals interested in learning more about this initiative should contact AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY (n0jy at

Meanwhile, the development of AMSAT’s current series of the Fox-1 cubesats continues on schedule. AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY reported during the Board meeting that construction and testing of five Fox satellites is on schedule:

+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight during the 3rd quarter of 2015 from Vandenberg AFB,

+ Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation experiments expected in 2016.

+ Fox-1C will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015. This flight was purchased by AMSAT.

+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which becomes available and be submitted in a CSLI proposal in 2015.

+ Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been included in a student science proposal as part of the November, 2014 Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) for an ELaNa flight slot. If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.

More details of the “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge can be found on-line at:

[ANS thanks the AMSAT Board Of Directors for the above information]


UWE-3 CubeSat Update

UWE-3 LogoUWE-3 was launched with FUNcube-1 on November 21, 2013, the team say they will now be temporarily ending operations.

Today, more than one year after launch, there will be a temporary end of operations caused by the end of funding.

However, UWE-3 is in a very good health condition with fully charged batteries and operations may be continued depending on future research plans.  

Without any reception from ground, UWE-3 will carry out a warm reset every four days and switch regularly between the redundant on-board processors and radios. Therefore, UWE-3 will switch back to its nominal frequency of 437.385 MHz.

Nevertheless we appreciate the extensive support we received from the HAM amateurs in the past and hope that also in the future the status of UWE-3 will be monitored with your support, like you did so many times in the past year. Thank you so much for the very helpful cooperation in this respect!

Yours sincerely,

UWE-3 Team

UEW-3 News