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

Send your code into space with astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI

Students programming the Astro Pi computers Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander)

Students programming the Astro Pi computers Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander)

Leading UK space organisations have joined forces with UK Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI and Raspberry Pi to offer students a chance to devise and code their own apps or experiment to run in space. Two Raspberry Pi computers are planned to be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Tim’s 6 month mission and both will be connected to a new “Astro Pi” board, loaded with a host of sensors and gadgets.

Launched December 10 at an event held by the UK Space Agency, the Astro Pi competition will be officially opened at the BETT conference (January 21-24) and will be open to all primary and secondary school aged children who are resident in the United Kingdom. The competition will be supported by a comprehensive suite of teaching resources that are being developed by ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi.

Astro Pi Logo

Astro Pi Logo

During his mission to the ISS, Tim Peake KG5BVI plans to deploy the Astro Pi computers in a number of different locations on board the ISS. He will then load up the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download this to Earth where it will be distributed to the winning teams.

Speaking at the Astro Pi launch event, Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, also revealed that the UK Space Agency has been given a £2 million programme, as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, to support further outreach activities around Tim’s mission, particularly to help inspire interest in STEM subjects.

Tim Peake KG5BVI said I’m really excited about this project, born out of the cooperation among UK industries and institutions. There is huge scope for fun science and useful data gathering using the Astro Pi sensors on board the International Space Station. This competition offers a unique chance for young people to learn core computing skills that will be extremely useful in their future. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

To help students on their way in developing their code, five inspirational themes have been devised to stimulate creativity and scientific thinking. The themes are Spacecraft Sensors, Satellite Imaging, Space Measurements, Data Fusion and Space Radiation.

A Raspberry Pi computer. Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander).

A Raspberry Pi computer. Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander).

In the primary school age category, teams will be asked to devise and describe an original idea for an experiment or application which can be conducted on the Astro Pi by Tim during his mission. The two best submissions will get the opportunity to work with the Astro Pi team to interpret their ideas and the team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation will then code them ready for flight on the ISS.

In the secondary school age group, the competition will be run across three age categories, one for each of Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 (in England and Wales, and their equivalent ages in Scotland and Northern Ireland). In the first phase, competitors can submit their ideas for experiments and applications. At least the best 50 submissions in each age category will win a Raspberry Pi computer and an Astro Pi board on which to code their idea. In phase 2, all teams will develop code based on their original concept and two winning teams will be selected in each age category. The winning teams’ code will be readied for flight by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and CGI.

As well as having their code uploaded to the ISS, all winning teams will each receive a class set of Raspberry Pi and Astro Pi boards, meet the Astro Pi team and participate in a winners event during Tim’s flight.

In addition to the main prizes, each of the UK space companies supporting the project have offered a prize. These prizes will be awarded to the best submission associated with each of the themes, across the age ranges.

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi are developing a comprehensive suite of teaching resources to link to the curriculum and assist teachers of STEM subjects in engaging their students in the competition. As well as explaining how to use and write code for the Astro Pi and its sensors, the resources will provide a context for the Astro Pi in the curriculum and link to teaching subjects and areas.

The first two resources of the series are available now in the National STEM Centre eLibrary and the rest will follow.

Launching the Astro Pi computers, and consequently the successful implementation and completion of this competition is subject to nominal progress through the ESA integration programme and operations on-board the ISS.

BBC TV News: Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI invites Raspberry Pi challenge

Astro Pi: Your code in space

Source: UK Space Agency press release

UK Licence Review Discussion Forum

Ofcom-logo-col-tOfcom has now published a statement on the revised Amateur Radio Licence and has also advised that there will be ‘Guidance’ to accompany the licence.

The RSGB has now opened a forum to provide the opportunity to discuss what information would be helpful in that Guidance document.

There may also be questions about implementation of the new license that members wish to be clarified.

The forum is open for your posts at and the original main page at has similarly been updated with the links for the forum and statement.

The forum is the same system as used before (and includes other forums for EMC and Propagation matters), so previous users will not need to re-register.

Murray G6JYB, Spectrum Chair

Anyone, RSGB member or not, can contribute to the discussion on the forum. When you register on the site there is a question at the bottom which says: Verification: Who issues amateur radio licences in the UK? – The answer is Ofcom

RSGB Licence Review Forum

Ofcom Amateur Radio Licence Statement

SSTV transmissions from the ISS

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

The Russian ARISS team members plan to activate SSTV from the International Space Station on Thursday, December 18 and Saturday, December 20, 2014 .

ISS SSTV received by Jan van Gils PE0SAT Sept 26. 2014 at 14:02 GMT

ISS SSTV received by Jan van Gils PE0SAT Sept 26. 2014 at 14:02 GMT

Expected SSTV mode will be PD180 on 145.800 MHz with 3 minute off periods between transmissions. A total of 12 different photos will be sent during the operational period.

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.

Start time would be around 14:20 UT on December 18 and 12:40 UT on December 20. The transmissions should terminate around 21:30 UT each day.

SpaceX was launching to the ISS this week and any delays could change SSTV operational times.

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.

ISS SSTV received by Fabiano Moser CT7ABD on Sept 6, 2014 at 0910 GMT

ISS SSTV received by Fabiano Moser CT7ABD on Sept 6, 2014 at 0910 GMT

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. The ISS Fan Club website will show you when the space station is in range.

You can receive the SSTV transmissions online using the SUWS WebSDR remote receiver located near London along with the MMSSTV software In the days before the SSTV starts why not practice listening to the ISS packet radio transmissions on 145.825 MHz FM.

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

PocketQubes in SatMagazine

SatMagazine December 2014 PocketQube page 114The December 2014 edition of the free publication SatMagazine features an article on page 114 about PocketQubes by Tom Walkinshaw, Chief Executive Officer of the the Glasgow-based start-up PocketQube Shop.

Download the December 2014 SatMagazine from

SatMagazine Archive

PocketQube Shop featured in The Guardian newspaper

PocketQube Shop

Polish radio amateurs two million km record

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH received at 2,316,759 km December 8, 2014

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH was received at 2,316,759 km on December 8, 2014

On December 8, 2014 Michal Zawada SQ5KTM reported – We have made a new record! Now we are listening [to] ARTSAT2:DESPATCH from deep space distance 2,316,759 km = 7.7 light seconds away!  Our great crew: SP5ULN [Piotr], SP5MG [Piotr], SQ5RWU [Lukasz], SQ5KTM [Michal], SQ7GMO [Arek], SQ5AAG [Jacek], Sebastian P. and PIAP Team

On December  6 the group received ARTSAT2:DESPATCH at 1,502,851 km

On December 6 the group received ARTSAT2:DESPATCH at 1,502,851 km

On December 7 the same group of radio amateurs also received the 437.385 MHz amateur radio signal from the Shin’en2 spacecraft at a distance of 1,511,246 km.

Shin’en2 437.385 MHz


DESPATCH reception reports are summarized at:

Ham radio spacecraft launched into deep space

Shin'en2 on left - ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on right

Shin’en2 on left – ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on right

Amateur radio spacecraft received over 1 million km from Earth


ARTSAT2:DESPATCH signal received at a distance of 1,104,854 km on December 5, 2014

Michal Zawada SQ5KTM reports receiving signals from both the ARTSAT2:DESPATCH and Shin’en2 spacecraft on Friday evening, December 5 at a distance of around 1,100,000 km from Earth. The ham radio group comprising SP5ULN, SP5MG, SQ5RWU, SQ5KTM, SP5XMU and the PIAP Team also received the spacecraft Shin’en2 on Saturday evening GMT at a distance of 1,511,246 km.

Akihiro Kubota of the ARTSAT project reports:

DESPATCH reception reports we’ve received are summarized:

We received 33 reports from 7 countries, Japan, Czech Republic, Russia, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, and Buenos Aires.
Thank you very much for your cooperation. We’re waiting for further reports from you!
The transmission of will last about for more 10 days (until 5,500,000 km).

※ If you cannot find your name in spite your reception, please contact→
※※ Updated at 10:00 (JST) December 7, 2014

Ham radio spacecraft launched into deep space

Shin'en2 signal received at 1,511,246 km on December 6, 2014

Shin’en2 signal received at a distance of 1,511,246 km on December 6, 2014

Ofcom Amateur Radio Licence Statement

Ofcom-logo-col-tOfcom has published a decision to update the terms and conditions of the amateur radio licence.  This follows a consultation published in September.

These include changes which would provide amateurs with access to some frequency bands previously available only through the variation of individual licences.

The decision is further to changes announced in our April statement on Public Sector Spectrum Release. In that statement, we set out a decision to remove access for amateur radio operators to certain frequencies in the 2300 MHz and 3400 MHz ranges in order to support the release of these bands by the Ministry of Defence.

This document is likely to be of interest to individuals authorised to use the radio spectrum in the UK for the purposes of amateur radio activities.

Ofcom Statement

PDF which includes new sample licence

Comment regarding Ofcom’s proposed change for the 75875-76000 MHz Amateur Satellite allocation

The RSGB has opened a forum to discuss guidance to accompany the licence. Anyone, RSGB member or not, can contribute to the discussion on the forum which is at

RSGB Youth Committee Seek Input

Chair of RSGB Youth Committee Mike Jones 2E0MLJ

Chair of RSGB Youth Committee Mike Jones 2E0MLJ

The new Chair of the RSGB Youth Committee Mike Jones 2E0MLJ seeks your opinions on some things that are planned for the forthcoming year.

The topics covered are:

• Youngsters on the Air 2015 DX (YOTA)
• Youngsters on the Air 2015 UK
• 2015 Isle of Man DXpedition – Note this is hoped to include Amateur Satellite operation

Read Mike’s message at