UK Spectrum Strategy

RSGB Amateur Radio SlideOn June 30, 2015, Graham Murchie, G4FSG, RSGB Chairman and Murray Niman, G6JYB, Chairman of the RSGB Spectrum Forum presented the case for amateur radio to the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UKSPF). The Amateur-Satellite Service featured in this presentation.

The Forum has been established as a sounding board to UK Government and Ofcom on future approaches on spectrum with a view to maximising the social and economic value from the spectrum.

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has stated the ambition to double “the economic benefits of spectrum to UK companies and consumers from roughly £50 billion today, to £100 billion in 2025″.

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum, open to all users of spectrum, is the main vehicle for harnessing user insights and informing these policy decisions.

Read the RSGB story at

Download the presentation slides

UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UKSPF)

UWE-3 Status Report

UWE-3 LogoThe UWE-3 team have provided an update on investigations into a recent communications anomaly on the CubeSat

After the communication anomaly and the autonomous recovery of UWE-3 two weeks ago we uploaded an extended software to the OBC to analyse the event in detail. As we already have known the EPS, OBC and ADCS were not affected, so the secondary radio.

During the tests made possible by the new software we temporarily switched back to the primary radio to check its electrical characteristics and communication performance. As the values were promisingly normal we performed extensive communication tests without seeing any existing anomaly.

Therefore we will continue normal operation.

Yours sincerely,

UWE-3 Team

UWE-3 was launched with FUNcube-1 on November 21, 2013. Latest UWE-3 news at

School plans 2am balloon launch

Sun Chaser - LogoStudents at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall plan to launch the Sun Chaser 2 balloon (434.448 MHz USB) to capture images of the sunrise on Saturday, July 11.

Depending on altitude the signals from the balloon may have a range of up to 800 km, potentially covering much of the British Isles. Those outside the coverage area can receive the signals online using the SUWS WebSDR.

The school’s Project Horizon team say: We’re having a second attempt to capture footage of the sunrise from the Stratosphere over Wales/West England.

Watch the mission trailer

The report on launch 1 (some useful lessons learn’t, such as check interference by testing the GPS will all other kit running in the box and ALWAYS duct tape batteries into a cell holder) can be found here:

All being well, we have planned to launch from:

Location: Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Sutton Rd, Walsall, West Midlands, WS1 2PG
Latitude: 52.577498
Longitude: -1.965008
Altitude: 135m

The launch will take place at ~2:00am on Saturday 11th July (Sunday 12th is our reserve date).

The chase team will track and chase throughout the flight.

The probe will have a radio tracker (with two smartphone trackers as backup connected to two different networks). We’ve also got a couple of 16MP cameras and a GoPro onboard.

Tracker information:

Tracker: SUNCH1
Frequency: 434.448 MHz USB
Carrier Shift: 280-290
Baud Rate: 50
Bits per character: 7 (ASCII)
Parity: 0
Stop Bits: 2

As before, we’ll probably be the only ones tracking (unless any of you are night owls) so we’ll do our best. Our internet connection may be patchy at times so be prepared for quiet moments when we’re passing through low signal areas (we’ve got two hotspots with us: EE and O2).

We’ll be posting a steady stream of updates to twitter:

We’re quietly confident, now we just need the wind speed on the ground to drop to 3-5mph ;-)

Wish us luck!

QMGS Project Horizon

Links for tracking balloons online and the SUWS WebSDR are at

Phase 4 Spacecraft Frequencies


At the Hamfest event at Friedrichshafen held during last weekend, more information was provided about the exciting new Phase 4 amateur satellites presently under construction.



P4A – This is a hosted payload on the geostationary spacecraft Es’hailSat 2. This spacecraft will be located at 26 degrees east. Launch is expected in late 2016 with operations commencing shortly thereafter. This spacecraft will carry two amateur radio linear transponders. One will consist of a 250 kHz wide linear analogue transponder and the other will be a transponder for experimental digital modulation with an 8 MHz bandwidth.



The proposed frequency plan for this spacecraft is:

Narrowband transponder:
Uplinks: 2400.050-2400.300 MHz
Downlinks: 10489.550- 10489.800 MHz

Wideband transponder:
Uplinks: 2401.500 – 2409.500 MHz
Downlinks: 10491.000 -10499.000 MHz

P4B – This is a hosted payload on a US geosynchronous spacecraft. This spacecraft is expected to be initially located over America. The transponder will use digital modulation schemes with FDMA up and TDMA down. In addition, there will be linear transponder facility. Ground station hardware is already well developed and the launch is expected to take place in mid 2017.

The proposed frequency plan for this spacecraft is:

Uplinks: 5655-5665 MHz
Downlinks: 10455-10465 MHz

Further, similar, High Earth Orbit, projects were also mentioned during the meeting. These will also use downlink frequencies in the 10 GHz band in the Amateur Satellite Service.

Geosynchronous Amateur Radio Satellites


$50SAT 19 months in Space and still working

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA provides an update on the $50SAT amateur radio spacecraft which measures just 5x5x7.5 cm.

Sunday, June 21, 2015 marked the 19 month anniversary of the launch of $50SAT/MO-76/Eagle-2.  The good news is it still operating.  The bad news is the power situation has been degrading, with an apparent step change on or near May 12, 2015, followed by another on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.  The last full telemetry capture made here in EN82 land was on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, and the last time it was heard was on Friday, June 6, 2015.  I continued to attempt to listen for it for another week or so, and heard nothing.  Has anybody heard it since then?

At this point, I have been monitoring it using Anton’s (ZR6AIC) WebSDR as it makes daytime passes over South Africa.  These occur between 7:30 and 9:00 UTC, which translates to 3:30 and 5:00 AM here in EN82 land.  This is tough, as I am not a morning person.  Sometimes, however, you have to do these things; helping build a satellite might be a once-in-a-lifetime event.  During these passes, where it has already spent a significant amount of time in sunlight, the battery voltage is below 3400 mV.  Is the battery going bad?  While it is certainly possible the battery has suffered from some loss of charge capacity, one has to remember it is does not generate energy; it merely stores it.  Since it is the solar power system that generates the power used by the satellite and stored in the battery, could the drop in battery voltage be due to a degradation in solar power generation?

Back around May 12, I noticed the MPPT (solar) current readings were typically less than 10 mA.  This much lower than it should be.  To better understand what might be going on, a new chart was added to the telemetry spreadsheet which shows both the battery voltage and the MPPT (solar) current (with the zero readings removed), each with its own linear regression line.  This chart can be seen from the following URL:

Notice how the MPPT current trend line has been sloping downward, similar to that of the battery voltage.  Moreover, starting 2 weeks before June 4, 2015 (each X axis division on the chart represents 2 weeks time), each reading has been at or below the trend line.

A more striking comparison can be seen by doing the following:
1. Zoom in of the Battery-Voltage-MPPT-Current-Chart to show the 4 week interval starting May 7, 2015, and ending June 4, 2015
(see )
2. Zoom in of the Battery-Voltage-MPPT-Current-Chart to show the 4 week interval starting May 8, 2014, and ending June 5, 2014
(see )

$50SAT Boards

$50SAT Boards

In comparing these charts, it is clear both the battery voltage and the MPPT current were significantly lower this year that during the same period last year.  On June 5, 2014, the trend line value for battery voltage was about 3610 mV, and for MPPT current was about 30 mA.  One year later (June 4, 2015), the trend line value for battery voltage was about 3380 mV, and for MMPT current was about 14 mA.  Therefore, while it is likely the battery has suffered some loss of capacity, it appears the low battery voltage is due to low solar power output.  There are many possible reasons for this, including:

* Solar cell damage due to sputtering: since there was no protective covering on the solar cells, impacts from high energy particles can damage the cells, causing a drop in output.

* Solar cell damage due to thermal cycling:  We know from telemetry data the interior of the satellite cycle between +30 degrees C and -30 degrees C each orbit.  It is likely the exterior temperatures experienced higher extremes, and this periodic thermal cycling may have caused the solar cells to fracture, thus leading to a drop in output.

* Short circuit failure of one or more of the diodes which isolate each MPP tracker output, which can cause an inactive MPP tracker (one whose corresponding solar panel is not facing the sun) to load an active one (one whose corresponding solar panel is facing the sun).

Because of the limited amount of telemetry gathered, it may not be possible to determine the exact cause.  If the solar output power continues to drop, the battery voltage may never get above the 3300 mV threshold needed to enable the transmitter, at which point we will lose the ability to monitor its status.  Even if this does happen, however, we never really thought it would last this long.  We would have been happy if it just worked, and really happy if it lasted a month or two.  19 months – this is way beyond what any of us expected!

As of June 25, 2015, the orbit has decayed by about 73 km since launch.  Since April 21, 2015, it has been decaying at a rate of about 1 km per week.  Apogee is now at 561 km, and perigee is at 529 km.

The following are the TLEs from 2015-06-25:

1 39436U 13066W   15176.16386703  .00013608  00000-0  90105-3 0  9991
2 39436  97.7444 252.3622 0022818  80.2035 280.1767 15.07230510 86697

Again, if anyone wants to make an attempt at predicting when it will de-orbit, here is some useful information:

Average cross-sectional area = 0.014252 m^2
Mass = 210 g
Area/mass ratio = 0.06787 m^2/kg

From the 2015-06-25 TLEs:
Semi-major axis: 6922.8 km
Eccentricity: 0.0022818
Apogee: 560.6
Perigee: 529.0

As always, please post any telemetry, or for that matter, any reception reports to the Yahoo discussion group.  We would especially like to encourage our friends in the southern hemisphere to listen for $50SAT/MO-76/Eagle-2.  We really appreciate everyone who has provided reception reports and telemetry as well as access to their WebSDRs.  To date, we have 3,098 individual error-free telemetry captures, and the vast majority of these did not come from Stuart, Howie, or I.

73 Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA
$50SAT/MO-76/Eagle-2 team

$50SAT is one of the smallest amateur radio satellites ever launched at 5x5x7.5 cm and weighs only 210 grams. Transmitter power is just 100 mW on 437.505 MHz (+/-9 kHz Doppler shift) FM CW/RTTY. It uses the low cost Hope RFM22B single chip radio and PICaxe 40X2 processor.

$50SAT has been 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.

Further information in the $50SAT Dropbox

There is a discussion group for $50SAT


Essex STEM Balloons Launched

Image received from The Boswells School payload on June 29, 2015

Image received from The Boswells School payload at 1416 GMT on June 29, 2015

On Monday, June 29, 2015 three high altitude balloons from Essex schools and colleges transmitted Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) in the 434 MHz band.

The balloons, part of the educational Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative, were taken to an approved site at Elsworth, Cambridge for the launch.

Transmission coverage area of the balloons at 1352 GMT June 29

Transmission coverage area of the balloons at 1352 GMT June 29

The balloon from The Boswells School, Chelmsford reached an altitude of 36,937 metres. It had the call sign BWELLS and transmitted Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) ASCII RTTY at 600 bps on a nominal frequency of 434.450 MHz USB. Balloon frequencies may vary from nominal by several kHz during a flight due to the cold temperatures at high altitudes.

Stewards Academy, Harlow achieved an altitude of 39,876 metres. Their call sign was SWARDS and had a nominal frequency of 434.050 MHz USB and 300 bps data rate.

The Prospects College of Advanced Technology, Basildon reached an altitude of 38,659 metres with their balloon, call sign PROSP, which transmitted on a nominal frequency of 434.150 MHz USB with a 300 bps data rate.

All three balloons transmitted images using SSDV. Individual packets from an image were received by radio amateurs across the UK and NE Europe and automatically uploaded to a central server with the final image being built up from all the good packets and displayed on the web for all to see.

The SSDV images transmitted by the balloons can be seen at:

The balloon tracks were displayed live on the web at and may still be available to view if you select the option to display the past 3 days.

The balloons carried a Raspberry Pi computer board and a Pi in The Sky (PITS) high altitude balloon tracker. On May 24 Chelmsford radio amateur Chris Stubbs M6EDF carried out a test of the PITS tracker for Essex Council, read his report at

Pi in The Sky project

High Altitude Balloon links for online tracking, UKHAS mail list / chat room, WebSDR and SSDV

Ham Radio Field Day from Space

As part of the #askAstro program 16-year-old Brandon Martinez KF7RAO submitted a video question to astronaut Reid Wiseman KF5LKT about Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

On September 14, 2014 Brandon posted his question to YouTube and on October 10 Reid KF5LKT answered it from the space station. In his reply Reid describes his experience in June of Field Day from space.

Watch Brandon’s question and Reid’s reply


NASA Astronaut’s ISS Field Day Operation Puts Smiles on Several Faces

AMSAT 2015 Field Day – June 27-28

Geosynchronous payload inches closer to reality

Millennium Space Systems AQUILA M8 Series Satellite Structure

Millennium Space Systems AQUILA M8 Series Satellite Structure

Colonel Fred Kennedy, USAF, Space Production Division and Program Manager for the Wide Field of View satellite (hereinafter WFOV) has accepted the proposal to allow Virginia Tech to place a hosted payload consisting of a Software Defined Radio designed and built by Rincon Research Corporation using support equipment and antennas designed by Virginia Tech and other volunteers to this effort.

The spacecraft hosted amateur payload will be included in the Aquila M8 bus by Millennium Space Systems who is the integrator for WFOV.  Our first role and immediate action item is to raise the $100,000 for Millennium to complete the study of the inclusion of this payload on Wide Field Of View.  Following successful completion of this study,  Virginia Tech will raise money to defray the cost of integration and launch of this payload.  After achieving orbit,  volunteers managed by Sonya Rowe and Zach Leffke of Virginia Tech will operate the payload for as long as it is over the US.  We at VT with the help of the ARRL will prepare partners in other regions to operate the spacecraft should it be moved in order to allow the WFOV to accomplish its primary mission and be prepared to take over operation of the hosted payload on its return to the area of the Contiguous United States (CONUS).

Colonel Kennedy told me how much he admires how unbelievably capable amateurs around the world have been in their many organizations to get spacecraft to orbit and wishes us the best of luck in the onerous task we will have of raising $5M to get this on board.

I will be making many details public now that Colonel Kennedy has told us we are a go if we raise the money.  I know this is a tall order but “A coward dies a thousand deaths and a brave person dies only once”.  I would rather go down trying than cower in a closet.  This is not intended as casting aspersions on any individual or organization just saying I must proceed hastily to succeed at all and I cannot afford caution.

Let’s GO!

Bob McGwier
Co-Founder and Technical Director, Federated Wireless, LLC
Research Professor Virginia Tech
Senior Member IEEE, Facebook: N4HYBob, ARS: N4HY
Faculty Advisor Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Assn. (K4KDJ)

Geosynchronous Amateur Radio Paylod

FUNcube-1 / AO-73 Glitch and Commanded Reboot

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

On Sunday, June 21, there was an anomaly on FUNcube-1 that required the reboot of the satellite’s MCU (Microcontroller).

After a bus freeze, the databus watchdog did kick in as expected and rebooted the satellite. However, we did need to command the satellite back on to automatic mode.

When we did so on the 20:00 UTC pass, it came back up in the correct mode.

We envisage to switch back to autonomous mode either tonight or tomorrow morning local time.

FUNcube is still happy and healthy. This is the 4th reboot since launch, of which one was intentional. Thanks for your reports and concerns.

On behalf of the whole team best 73s,

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG
FUNcube team

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

KLETSkous Project Update

KLETSkous LogoThe South African Radio League (SARL) report at the pre-conference Engineering meeting held on Friday [June 19] members of the SA AMSAT CubeSat team made some tough decisions.

During the past few years, various options and subsystems have been experimented with.

The team has now set the launch date of KLETSkous at July 2017 with the first flight model to be ready by February 2016 for testing after which final integration will start. This requires that various module designs are locked down and built by October 2015.

It is planned to have all the modules wired together in a breadboard configuration for testing the interoperation of the various sub-units by December 2015. Some modules are at a more advanced stage than others, but in the next few months, the team expect to catch up and meet the deadline for the first breadboard test.

Frik Wolff, ZS6FZ, the League’s technical manager, has joined the team and is working on solar panels and stabilisation issues. Francois Oberholzer, an honours student at Stellenbosch University, is working on improving the weight/strength relationship of the space frame, a project that is part of his thesis. Nico van Rensburg, ZS6QL, as programme manager and the person responsible for documentation, will support the project manager, Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP.

There are many opportunities for radio amateurs to join the engineering team. If you have a particular expertise or passion to add value to the  KLETSKOUS project, please discuss your participation with Hannes Coetzee or any of the team members and send your details to

Source SARL


SA AMSAT Space Symposium June 20, 2015