AMSAT’s FOX-1 Ham Radio CubeSat

AMSAT FOXIn HamRadioNow episode 85 Gary Pearce KN4AQ talks to a pair of AMSAT Vice Presidents – Tony Montiero AA2TX (Engineering) and Mark Hammond N8MH (Education) who tell us about the new Fox-1 Satellite.

They explain why AMSAT must transition from a bunch of hams who put up satellites for us to use, to a provider of the platform and communications for space science experiments for education (that also happen to have repeaters and transponders we can use).

Fox-1 is scheduled to launch from Vandenburg in November 2014 on the NASA ELaNa XII mission into a 470 x 780 km at 64 degrees inclination orbit. It will employ passive magnetic stabilization and carry a 435.180 MHz to 145.980 MHz FM voice transponder and an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel.

Watch HamRadioNow Episode 85: AMSAT’s Fox-1 Satellite

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1A Ham Radio CubeSat
http://amsat-uk.org/2013/06/04/iaru-fox-1a-cubesat-frequencies/

Fox-2 MPPT Team Selected In TI Design Contest

AMSAT FOXAMSAT sponsored a senior design project at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) this academic year.

The students included senior EE majors:
Bryce Salmi KB1LQC
Brent Salmi KB1LQD
Ian MacKenzie KB3OCF
Dan Corriero

The project was to develop a Maximum power point tracking (MPPT) circuit which is used to maximize the power obtained from a solar panel by forcing the cells to operate at their most efficient voltage regardless of the voltage required by the payload. One can also think of this as an impedance match. This optimum voltage changes slightly with variations in solar irradiance but changes greatly due to variations in solar panel temperature.

The MPPT utilizes a Texas Instruments MSP430 microcontroller to communicate telemetry data with the Fox satellite Internal Housekeeping Unit (IHU) designed by AMSAT for transmission to Earth via ham radio. The senior design group consisting of Brenton Salmi (KB1LQD), Bryce Salmi (KB1LQC), Ian MacKenzie (KB3OCF), and Daniel Corriero successfully implemented an analog MPPT designed for use in orbit over the five year mission intended for Fox-2 providing the amateur radio community with a 3U CubeSat carrying amateur radio communications equipment.

The students completed a working prototype which was on display in the AMSAT engineering booth at Dayton in May.

The project was entered into Texas Instruments’ 2013 Analog Design Contest for university students.
See: http://tinyurl.com/mf6nzhr

The AMSAT MPPT project was selected as one of the top 10 semi-finalists and the students were invited on an all-expenses paid trip to TI’s contest summit to be held July 21-23 in Dallas where the final winners will be announced.

Congratulations to the Fox-2 RIT MPPT team!

Main Documentation:
http://edge.rit.edu/edge/P13271/public/Home

Technical Document (8 pages of technical information HIGHLY recommended reading):
http://edge.rit.edu/edge/P13271/public/FinalDocuments/Build_Test_Document/P13271_AMSAT_MPPT_Technical_Report.pdf

Theory of Operations (In-depth technical documentation):
http://edge.rit.edu/edge/P13271/public/FinalDocuments/Detailed_Design/Theory_Operations

PCB Picture:
http://edge.rit.edu/edge/P13271/public/Photo%20Gallery/MPPT_SN2_Final/MPPT_SN2_PCB.png

MPPT Testing Operational Walk-through:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN7gRVWHZM4

Schematics:
http://edge.rit.edu/edge/P13271/public/FinalDocuments/Detailed_Design/AMSAT_7W_MPPT_Schematic.pdf

Thanks to Bryce Salmi KB1LQC, ANS and Tony AA2TX for the above information.

Video – Status Update on Ham Radio CubeSat Fox-1

AMSAT FOXAMSAT VP for Engineering Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, provided an up-to-the-minute review of AMSAT-NA’s next satellite, Fox-1, at the AMSAT Forum at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention.

The first of a number of satellites planned for Project Fox, Tony reviews the motivation for building a CubeSat, the components that comprise Fox-1, and the capabilities and experiments included. He describes the launch assigned by NASA for Fox-1 and gives a brief look at future Project Fox satellites.

The FM voice uplink of Fox-1 will be on 435.180 MHz and the downlink will be 145.980 MHz with an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel.  The FM transponder is activated by a PL tone (CTCSS) and once triggered, it will stay on and repeat everything for 2 minutes even if there is no PL tone. It also re-triggers the timer every time the PL is detected.

The satellite will carry a camera that can take a VGA (640×480) image of the Earth every minute, it will take 50 seconds to download each image.

Watch Fox-1 Status Update, by Tony AA2TX – 2013 Dayton Hamvention

Further information on Fox at http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/symposium/2012/2012_Symposium_Fox_Overview.pdf

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1a Ham Radio CubeSat
http://amsat-uk.org/2013/06/04/iaru-fox-1a-cubesat-frequencies/

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1A Ham Radio CubeSat

AMSAT FOXThe International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Frequency Coordination Panel has announced coordinated frequencies for the AMSAT-NA Fox-1a CubeSat.

A 1U CubeSat, Fox-1a will serve as a communications relay for radio amateurs worldwide via the onboard FM repeater system. It will also carry an experiment consisting of a 3-axis MEMs gyro developed by Penn State University. The communications and experiment missions will run concurrently.

The uplink will be on 435.180 MHz for FM voice and the downlink on 145.980 MHz with FM voice and an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel. Fox-1a will employ passive magnetic stabilization.

Fox-1a is planning to launch from Vandenburg in November 2014 on the NASA ELaNa XII mission with ARC1, BisonSat, Lightsail and R2S (NEO). The expected orbit is 470 x 780 km at 64 degrees inclination giving an orbit lifetime of about 11 years.

For more information see http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/symposium/2012/2012_Symposium_Fox_Overview.pdf

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Status pages http://www.amsat.org.uk/iaru

AMSAT Field Day 2013

Saudisat SO-50

Saudisat SO-50

The AMSAT-NA site reports on satellite activity for this years ARRL Field Day which takes place June 22-23.

Every year AMSAT promotes a satellite version of Field Day during the ARRL annual operating event which is held on the 4th weekend in June. This year Field Day will take place from 1800 UTC on Saturday June 22, 2013 through 2100 UTC on Sunday June 23, 2013.

SaudiSat-Oscar-50 will be the only operational FM transponder satellite this year. If you are considering only FM voice operating for your AMSAT Field Day focus the single uplink/downlink channel will be extremely challenging. As in prior years, this intense congestion on FM LEO satellites drives the limitation in the rules allowing their use to one-QSO-per-FM-satellite. This includes the International Space Station. You will be allowed one QSO if the ISS is operating Voice. You will also be allowed one digital QSO with the ISS or any other digital, non-store-and-forward, packet satellite (if operational).

If you have worked the satellites on Field Day in recent years, you may have noticed a lot of good contacts can be made on the linear transponder satellites including VO-52, FO-29, and AO-7. During Field Day the transponders come alive like 20 meters on a weekend. The transponders on these satellites will support multiple simultaneous SSB or CW contacts.

The AMSAT Field Day 2013 event is open to all Amateur Radio operators. Amateurs are to use the exchange as specified in ARRL rules for Field Day. The AMSAT competition is to encourage the use of all amateur satellites, both analog and digital.

For the complete listing of the AMSAT Field Day Rules please refer to the documents posted on-line at:

http://www.amsatnet.com/2013fd.docx
http://www.amsatnet.com/2013fd.pdf

[We thank AMSAT Director Contests and Awards, Bruce Paige, KK5DO for the above information]

Source: AMSAT-NA K9JKM

AMSAT Fox-1 Ham Radio CubeSat Announcement

Fox-1 CubeSat at the Dayton Hamvention - Image Credit ARRL

AMSAT at the Dayton Hamvention – Image Credit ARRL

NASA announced on May 13, 2013 that AMSAT’s Fox-1 amateur radio spacecraft has been assigned for launch in November 2014 on the ELaNa XII mission. The expected orbit is 470 x 780 km at 64 degrees inclination. This orbit has a lifetime of about 11 years.

AMSAT Vice President Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, reported that the software development team successfully brought up the Fox-1 system software on the Internal Housekeeping Unit (IHU). The IHU is the brains of the Fox-1 satellite and it has a 32-bit, STM32L microprocessor. The operating IHU card was shown in the AMSAT Engineering booth at the Dayton Hamvention.

AMSAT FOXThe Fox-1 Engineering Team will deliver the satellite for integration with the launch vehicle during May, 2014 with the launch scheduled for November, 2014. Tony commented, “While this is later than we had hoped, it is well within the normal variance of ELaNa launch dates and the extra time will be most welcome for additional satellite testing. This is very exciting news and really puts the focus on finishing the satellite and ground station software development.”

President Barry Baines says, “AMSAT’s focus on STEM education and development of a CubeSat platform capable of flying a science mission with a reliable communications link resulted in the selection of Fox-1 in the third round and RadFxSat (Fox-1B) in the fourth round of NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative.”

All Fox CubeSats are designed to host advanced science payloads to support future science missions that help us to continue qualify for NASA ELaNa (free) launches. The Phase 1 Fox satellites are 1-Unit CubeSats. They each include an analog FM repeater that will allow simple ground stations using an HT and an “arrow” type antenna to make contacts using the satellite. This was the mode made so popular by AO-51. The Phase 1 CubeSats also have the capability of operating in a high-speed digital mode for data communications. Phase 2 Fox satellites will include software-defined-transponders (SDX) like the one tested on ARISSat-1. These will be able to operate in a wide variety of analog and digital communications modes including linear transponders. Since this requires more power for reliable operation, these will probably all be 3-Unit CubeSats.

Source: AMSAT News Service (ANS) http://ww2.amsat.org/?page_id=443

A 1U CubeSat, Fox-1a will serve as a communications relay for radio amateurs worldwide via the onboard FM repeater system. Fox-1a will also carry an experiment consisting of a 3-axis MEMs gyro developed by Penn State University. The communications and experiment missions will run concurrently. An uplink on 435.180 MHz for FM voice and a downlink on 145.980 MHz with FM voice and an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel has been coordinated. Fox-1a will employ passive magnetic stabilization.

For more information see http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/symposium/2012/2012_Symposium_Fox_Overview.pdf

Fox-1a is planning to launch from Vandenburg during 2014 on the NASA ElanaXII mission with ARC1, BisonSat, Lightsail and R2S(NEO)

AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB) http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/tools/maillist/

Fox-1 has a Launch Date!

AMSAT FOX

AMSAT FOX

NASA announced Monday that AMSAT’s Fox-1 FM transponder spacecraft has been assigned a launch in 2014. For details on the launch vehicle, targeted launch date, orbit specifics, and more, please attend the AMSAT Forum and visit the AMSAT booth at the Dayton Hamvention this weekend.  Watch http://www.amsat.org/ and the AMSAT News Service for more details to follow as they become available.

AMSAT’s Fox-1 CubeSat aims to provide these features:

• Fox-1 is designed to operate in sunlight without batteries once the battery system fails. This applies lessons learned from AO-51 and ARISSat-1 operations.

• In case of IHU failure Fox-1 aims to continue to operate its FM repeater in a basic, ‘zombie sat’ mode, so that the repeater remains on-the-air.

• Fox-1 is designed as the immediate replacement for AO-51. Its U/V (Mode B) FM transponder will make it even easier to work with modest equipment.

• From the ground user’s perspective, the same FM amateur radio equipment used for AO-51 may be used for Fox-1.

John Heath G7HIA – Silent Key

Andy Thomas G0SFJ took of this picture of John Heath G7HIA at the Cosmonauts' steps leading to the Mir training module in Star City near Moscow. Over the years, many Cosmonauts have been photographed on these steps before their journeys into the Cosmos.

Andy Thomas G0SFJ took of this picture of John Heath G7HIA at the Cosmonauts’ steps leading to the Mir training module in Star City near Moscow. Over the years, many Cosmonauts have been photographed on these steps before their journeys into the Cosmos.

AMSAT-UK is very saddened by the passing of John Heath, G7HIA. He was a long standing member of AMSAT-UK, and contributed to the amateur space programme in many ways during his lifetime.

John was a regular attendee at the annual AMSAT-UK Colloquia for many years and he enjoyed meeting up with his friends who shared his passion for satellites.  Sadly his ill heath in recent years prevented his attendance.

In the days before his passing, John was in contact with AMSAT-UK; and made a significant financial contribution to the FUNcube project. He chose to do this by making the donation via the Radio Communication Foundation, which, as a registered charity will be able to claim any income tax paid by John as Gift Aid. The size of his donation is very considerable, and will be used at the discretion of the AMSAT-UK committee. Such is the extent of his generosity, that it may be feasible to consider the construction of a further complete CubeSat.

AMSAT-UK is very grateful for this donation.

John will be sadly missed by all members of AMSAT-UK who knew him during his life, and we send our condolences to his family.

RIP, John

Jim Heck G3WGM
Hon Sec AMSAT-UK

John Heath G7HIA with school pupils who took part in the International Space Station contact on April 4, 2003 from the UK National Space Centre

John Heath G7HIA with school pupils who took part in the International Space Station contact on April 4, 2003 from the UK National Space Centre

Clive Wallis G3CWV writes:

I was very saddened to learn of John’s passing.  We had exchanged many e-mails during the last few years. I didn’t know John very well, although we had met at the ASAT-UK Colloquium on several occasions. Topics we discussed by e-mail included processing Delphi 3C telemetry, OSCAR-11 spin rate, automatic Doppler tracking and ARISSat-1 decay.

John was very active in using our satellites and promoting their use to others.  For several years he was net controller of the Midlands two metre AMSAT net.  He also wrote the Space column for RSGB’s RadCom magazine for a number of years. He contributed many articles to OSCAR News, recently in the September 2012 issue about ARISSat-1 orbital decay. His last contribution to OSCAR News was a short item in the December issue, congratulating AMSAT-UK on their 200th issue of the magazine. He included a photograph of himself, Astronaut Ron Parise WA4SIR and Geoff Perry, founder of the Kettering Group of satellite observers. It was taken at the 1998 Colloquium.

During the course of our discussions John mentioned that he was having some unpleasant hospital treatment. He also told me about his working career, which I  thought may be of interest.

As a teenager he was interested in organic chemistry and went to work in industry, eventually in the R&D department at Bakelite in Tyseley, Birmingham. In the 1960’s/70’s he worked on the phenolic resins used to make copper clad PCB material, and did the first industrial synthesis on nonyl phenol by ion exchange. There were massive world stocks of Nonene at knock down prices so they were looking for a way to use it to make phenol/formaldehyde resins used in PCB manufacture.

His YL Pam at that time worked in a small hairdressing supplies business and he sometimes worked with her when they needed extra staff to cover late night opening. After his marriage to Pam, her firm decided to open a branch in Leicester and they were offered the opportunity to re-locate and run the new operation. Together they built up the business, diversifying into related activities with a skin care manufacturing  company (where his science background was invaluable), a beauty products wholesale business  and a  mail order operation. The business expanded from 6 people to a staff of nearly 200 on four sites.

John said that Amateur radio helped to keep him sane by giving him a totally different set of things to think about and emptied his head of business concerns for a few hours each week!

A few years ago Pam was diagnosed with a serious illness and confined to a wheel  chair. This caused them to  bring forward their retirement plans and they moved to Devon.

My condolences to Pam, family & friends.

RIP John, we will miss you.

Clive Wallis   G3CWV

AMSAT-UK at National Student Space Conference Bristol Feb 23-24

FUNcube-1 flight model - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

FUNcube-1 flight model – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

Jim Heck G3WGM, Honorary Secretary of AMSAT-UK and project lead on the FUNcube amateur radio satellite project, will be giving a presentation on FUNcube-1 to the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference (NSSC) that takes place in Bristol on February 23-24.

The NSSC is an annual event that brings together students, academics, and professionals from across the country to share knowledge of space, discuss the challenges facing the sector, and to create new links between groups. It features talks by leading space science and industry figures, and opportunities to take part in discussions and networking events.

UKSEDS National Student Space Conference Bristol 2013This year’s NSSC is hosted by Bristol SEDS, part of the Bristol CHAOS Physics society, at the University of Bristol School of Physics.

The impressive line up of speakers includes Alan Bond of Reaction Engines Ltd on the SKYLON Development Programme and John Thatcher of Astrium Satellites Ltd who’ll be talking about MIRI & the James Webb Space Telescope.

Further information on the conference is at http://ukseds.org/conference2013/