UK CanSat 2015 Winner Announced

St Paul's Team Impulse - UK CanSat 2015 Winners - Image Credit ESERO-UK

St Paul’s Team Impulse – UK CanSat 2015 Winners – Image Credit ESERO-UK

ESERO-UK, the UK space education office, based in York, has announced the winner of the UK round of the International CanSat competition .

A CanSat is a student built simulated satellite with all the major subsystems including radio communications on 433/434 MHz and power fitting into a 350 ml soda can.

ESERO-UK organises the annual UK CanSat Competition for teams of secondary school students.

Winner of the Beginners’s category was the CANnoneers, from Tonbridge School in Kent. Runners up include: Spiritus, Putney High School, London; #getjezsrockettospace, from Allestree Woodlands School, Derby; Benenden CANSAT Avengers, from Benenden; Kent and Colossus, from St. Paul’s School, London.

“I highly recommend this wonderful opportunity to anyone who has the chance. Jump on it as it’s a unique opportunity to gain a lot of experience in a unique learning environment and will give a good amount of experience for anyone even considering a career in engineering! I enjoyed the experience and I’m sure the rest of my team did too.” Walter Tso, Outreach Manager and Electronics Assistant, CANnoneers.

Team Impulse, from St Paul’s School in London won the Advanced category of the competition. Runners up include: OSSO , from Oundle School, Northamptonshire; Heathrow Aeronautical Engineers, from Heathrow UTC, Greater London.

Team Impulse, from St Paul’s School in London, were announced overall winners of the 2015 CanSat competition and will go on to compete at the European CanSat Competition in Portugal.

“We are thrilled to be continuing the great British tradition of innovative engineering and are delighted to be representing St Paul’s and the UK at the CanSat final in Portugal.” Team Impulse, St Paul’s School.

Tom Lyons, ESERO Teacher Fellow said: “This year’s completion was a great success with all teams launching and recording data with their CanSats. We’re now looking forward to the 2016 competition and hoping to attract even more teams to get involved.”


UK 434 MHz CanSat Competition

Team Impulse St Paul’s School on Twitter

Young ham’s first contact is via OSCAR satellite

8-year-old radio amateur Hope Lea KM4IPF made her first contact just 45 minutes after her callsign appeared in the FCC database. The contact with Arthur K4YYL, via the FO-29 satellite, took place on March 11, 2015 at 2100 UT.

Her elder sister Faith WA4BBC and brother Zechariah WX4TVJ got to work K4YYL as well. They had both gained their US Technician licenses (equiv UK Foundation) in February and upgraded to the US General (equiv UK Intermediate) a couple of weeks later.

Hope’s younger sister is studying for her licence.

Watch KM4IPF Makes her FIRST amateur radio QSO!

FO-29 information

John Heath G7HIA describes how to work FO-29 in this article

Notice of Variation to UK Amateur Radio Licence

Ofcom-logo-col-tOfcom have announced that following representations they are restoring the 75.875-76.0 GHz Amateur and Amateur-Satellite allocation to Primary status in the new amateur radio licence which comes into effect on April 7, 2015.

The Ofcom licensing updates page says:

Following the recent notification sent to licensees of our proposal to vary the Amateur Radio Licence, Ofcom now publishes a Notice of Variation to the Amateur Radio licence.

Licensees who received a notification dated 30th January are not covered by this. Their licences will be the subject of a separate Notice, which we shall publish in the course of the next couple of weeks.

The new licence document, which will have effect from 7 April 2015 has been published on our website, at

The Notice of Variation along with Annex A and B can be downloaded from

A number of changes have been made to the licence proposals originally announced December 5, 2014, these are detailed in Annex B.

It is understood that examinations will continue to be based on old licence terms until October 2015, since any exam changes are subject to a six month notice period.

Read the RSGB report at

UK 434 MHz CanSat Competition

CanSat in Flight - Credit Ryan Laird

CanSat in flight – Credit Ryan Laird

On Friday, March 13 eight school teams from across the UK competed in the National CanSat Competition held at the National STEM Centre in York.

CanSat 434 MHz Tracking Antenna - Credit Ryan Laird

CanSat 434 MHz Tracking Antenna – Credit Ryan Laird

The CREST Gold Award accredited competition, now in its second year, involves students building a miniature simulation satellite, known as a CanSat, and launching it from 300 metres above an airfield.

The students had to build their own space experiments, fitting all the major subsystems including radio communications on 433/434 MHz and power into a 350 ml soda can.

They needed to write code to measure temperature, pressure and other chosen parameters on its journey parachuting to the ground. The winners of the competition will go on to the European finals, held in Portugal, in June.

Around 50 students and their teachers took part.

The pictures were taken by the Vice Chair of UKSEDS Ryan Laird @rjmlaird who attended the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium in 2007.

UK CanSat

CanSat Electronics - Credit Ryan Laird

CanSat Electronics – Credit Ryan Laird

Sarah Brightman – A message from Tim Peake KG5BVI

Sarah Brightman Space Flight Training February 2015

Sarah Brightman Space Flight Training February 2015

Sarah Brightman hopes to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) for a 10 day mission in September 2015.

If the launch takes place as planned she would become the UK’s second astronaut, the first was Helen Sharman GB1MIR on May 18, 1991. Tim Peake KG5BVI is expected to launch in November 2015.

Sarah announced her planned flight on October 10, 2012 and commenced training in Russia’s Star City in January 2015.

She will fly to the ISS aboard Soyuz 44 (TMA-18M) and return on Soyuz 42 having spent 10 days on the ISS. With her on the flight will be Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen KG5GCZ and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov RU3DIS.

To celebrate her journey into space and recognise the combination of arts, science, technology, engineering and maths Sarah has teamed up with the Challenger Center to launch a programme for students all around the world. She says “Through my partnership with Challenger Center, I hope to inspire in children the same wonder and excitement for space exploration that I feel myself. As I prepare for my own space journey, I am proud to work with them to impart the sense of magic that has had me dreaming and looking up at the stars since I was a child.”

Prospective UK astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI has sent this video message to Sarah

A flight to the ISS is understood to cost around $52 million, considerably more than the $20 million that Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari paid for her mission to the ISS in 2006, highlighting the dramatic escalation in launch charges in recent years.

Sarah Brightman

Sarah started her singing career in the 1970’s and had hits such as “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” and “Love in a UFO”. She is now a classical crossover artist.

In 2012 in conjunction with Virgin Galactic, The Brightman STEM Scholarship program (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) was launched to help young women in the US pursue STEM education across their four year college careers.

Her album, “Dreamchaser” was released on January 22, 2013. She said “I don’t think of myself as a dreamer. Rather, I am a dream chaser, I hope that I can encourage others to take inspiration from my journey both to chase down their own dreams and to help fulfill the important UNESCO mandate to promote peace and sustainable development on Earth and from space. I am determined that this journey can reach out to be a force for good, a catalyst for some of the dreams and aims of others that resonate with me.” She intends to become the first professional musician to sing from space.

Sarah Brightman Mission PatchThe ISS has two amateur radio stations, one in the Russian Service module the other in the ESA Columbus module. It is not yet known if Sarah will make any amateur radio contacts during her mission.

In 1991 the first UK astronaut Helen Sharman was issued with a special callsign GB1MIR by the Radiocommunications Division of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). She was then able to contact radio amateurs on Earth during her stay on the MIR space station.

The RSGB has reported that the UK communications regulator Ofcom will make the callsign GB1SS available for issue to UK astronauts who wish to operate from the ISS.

Sarah Brightman
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Space Adventures

Listen to FUNcube-1 during Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse - March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse – March 20, 2015

There will be a total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015 which tracks across the North Atlantic and eventually covers a lot of the Arctic.

Path of Solar Eclipse  March 20 2015

Path of Solar Eclipse March 20, 2015

It would seem that this will affect most spacecraft that are in a polar orbit to some extent as, at that sort of time, they would expect to be in sunlight at the time and location.

On FUNcube-1 (AO-73) we have a good power budget which means that we should be able to maintain our normal autonomous operation schedule for the day but, of course, if the spacecraft does go fully into darkness it should switch autonomously to transponder and low power telemetry.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens and we hope that as many listeners as possible will upload the data they receive between 0740 and 1150 UT on that morning. Our Whole Orbit Data will show the solar currents, battery voltage and external temps clearly during this period so we should get a clear understanding of the effects on board.

If anyone has some software that can model the satellite’s track and the expected impact of the solar eclipse it would be great to hear about it!

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) Telemetry:
• Dashboard App
• Data Warehouse Archive
• Whole orbit data will show the effect

This website has a good animation of the eclipse

Information on the Solar Eclipse from Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society member Peter Meadows M0ZBU

Essex Partial Solar Eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015

Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event

Sarah Brightman’s fellow astronaut gets ham license

Danish Astronuat Andreas Mogensen KG5GCZ and Murray Niman G6JYB

Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen KG5GCZ with Murray Niman G6JYB

Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen completed his amateur radio license class on February 23 and passed his exam on February 25. He has been assigned the callsign KG5GCZ.

Andreas was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009 and completed the astronaut basic training programme at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany in November 2010. Since completing the astronaut basic training programme, Andreas has been trained and certified as a private pilot by the Lufthansa flight school and is trained and qualified for spacewalks using both the American EMU suit and the Russian Orlan suit.

In July  2009 he attended the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium in Guildford where he described to delegates the astronaut selection process. This year it was announced he would be on the same 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) as the UK’s Sarah Brightman.

He will be the first astronaut of Danish nationality to go to space and will launch with Sarah on a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft in September 2015.

UK’s Sarah Brightman starts space flight training

Sarah Brightman ISS Mission Patch

Sarah Brightman ISS Mission Patch

RSGB respond to Ofcom 5G consultation

Ofcom-logo-col-tThe RSGB have responded to the Ofcom Call for Input on Spectrum above 6 GHz for future mobile communications (5G) consultation.

The range of frequencies Ofcom are considering included the Primary amateur and amateur-satellite allocation at 47-47.2 GHz.

Read the RSGB response at

Ofcom consultation on spectrum above 6 GHz

$50SAT/MO-76: 15 months, 15 orbits per day, and some unexpected behavior

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Saturday, February 21, 2015 marked the 15 month anniversary of the launch of $50SAT/MO-76, and you guessed it – it is still operating.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 marked a different milestone – its orbit has decayed to the point where its mean motion crossed the 15 orbits per day threshold.  The TLEs from Saturday, February 21, 2015 indicate it is now at 15.00521293 orbits per day.

Some of you noticed that something odd started happening on Monday, February 23, and Tuesday, February 24.  We also noticed the same thing – during daytime passes in the northern hemisphere, $50SAT was transmitting once per minute, always sending telemetry in RTTY format, but never sending GFSK telemetry packets.  Moreover, the total reset count kept going up by one each time.

Here are all the RTTY telemetry messages (that I am aware of) gathered on Monday and Tuesday:

(daytime pass)

(daytime pass)

(daytime pass)

(nighttime pass)

(nighttime pass)

(daytime pass)

(daytime pass)

(nighttime pass)

$50SAT Boards

$50SAT Boards

What seems to be happening on the decending (daytime) passes is the CPU is reset just after sending a full RTTY telemetry message, as here are no GFSK packets sent, but within a half minute the FM Morse beacon is heard with Stuart’s callsign (GW7HPW, the first one in the rotation).  My guess is the battery voltage is decaying during the operational cycle, and goes below the 2.9V reset threshold just after sending the RTTY or just as it is about to send the GFSK packets.  Once the satellite is able to enable solar power (PCB temperature >= 0 degrees C), it starts behaving normally; it is now able to send GFSK packets.  During ascending (nighttime) passes, it behaves normally, at least here in EN82 land.

There was a brief time where this behavior stopped (2015-02-25, 17:05 UTC through 2015-02-26, 3:47 UTC).  It did, however, start back up sometime before 2015-02-26, 05:21 UTC, and has continued since.

Why is this happening now?  We are still investigating, but it is apparent when looking at the chart of battery voltage over the lifetime of $50SAT/MO-76 that the battery has suffered a sizeable drop in capacity.  If the battery voltage under load is dropping below 2.9V, how is it able to recover back above 3.3 V (the minimum required to enable transmission) and nearly complete another operational cycle?  Moreover, why does it always seem to be able to finish sending an entire RTTY packet before resetting?  In the hopes of better understanding what is happening, I am in the process of re-assembling my “BoxSat” test setup in an effort to reproduce on the ground what is happening in space.  In the meantime, the once-per-minute transmission is actually convenient from telemetry monitoring standpoint, as one no longer has to wait 3 minutes for $50SAT/MO-76 to start transmitting.  So, for any of you who have not heard $50SAT/MO-76, now is the time.  Who knows how long it will continue to operate in this manner?  Who knows how long it will continue to operated at all?  Every time an anomaly has occurred and thought, “this is it – well, it was great while it lasted”, $50SAT/MO-76 has proven me wrong.  I hope that is the case here as well.

The Dropbox has been updated with all the telemetry observations through today (Wednesday, March 4 2015), and can be accessed via the following URL:

I have also uploaded an MP3 file from the daytime pass over EN82 land on Friday, February 27, 2015 starting at 16:59 UTC (11:59 AM local time); it can be accessed via the following URL:

During the recording, I switch back and forth between FM and LSB modes so I can hear the FM Morse beacon as well as the RTTY telemetry.

Please keep the telemetry observations coming, especially now!

73 Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA
$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.

There is a discussion group for $50SAT


Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA

Two radio amateurs, Dave Akerman M0RPI and Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA, will be at the BBC Stargazing Live solar eclipse event at Leicester on March 20.

Dave Akerman M0RPI is well known for many High Altitude Balloon flights. These have carried the Rapsberry Pi computer board as part of the payload and produced spectacular pictures some of which were transmitted in the 434 MHz band using the amateur radio Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) mode.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA was on the October 2007 Shuttle STS-120 mission to the International Space Station. In 2010/11 he was flight engineer for ISS Expeditions 26 and 27 and installed amateur radio equipment in the Columbus module of the space station.

The Leicester Mercury newspaper reports the BBC is staging a spectacular show at the racecourse in Leicester to coincide with the solar eclipse on March 20.

It says Leicester was chosen by the BBC because it is home to the National Space Centre and Leicester University which are at the forefront of space exploration and were involved in the Beagle 2 mission to Mars in 2003.

Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA said: “I’ve never been to Leicester and I’m really looking forward to visiting.”
“It will be great to interact with the kids and share my enthusiasm of space, science, maths and technology”.

The free event will be open from 9am until 3pm and from 6pm until 9pm on March 20.

Read the Leicester Mercury story at

BBC Stargazing Live event details

Information on the Solar Eclipse from Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society member Peter Meadows M0ZBU

Essex Partial Solar Eclipse Friday March 20, 2015