29 MHz – the forgotten frequency for amateur radio satellites

Jan King W3GEY/VK4GEY prepares OSCAR 7 for a vibration test - Credit AMSAT-NA

Jan King W3GEY/VK4GEY prepares OSCAR 7 for a vibration test – Credit AMSAT-NA

Hans van de Groenendaaal ZS6AKV writes in the EngineerIT magazine about the potential for 29 MHz as a satellite uplink band.

Universities and other scientific research institutions are using portions of the amateur spectrum for their CubeSat’s which has caused the 145 and 435 MHz amateur-satellite band segments to be very crowded, leading to an increasing number of satellite builders to explore alternatives.

For many, such as those requiring single-channel bandwidth greater than approximately 12.5 kHz, the best answer will be found in the microwave bands. However, for those who can use it, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) satellite frequency coordination process has now opened another alternative: 29 MHz uplinks.

Read the EngineerIT article at http://www.ee.co.za/article/29-mhz-forgotten-frequency-amateur-radio-satellites.html

IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination http://www.iaru.org/satellite.html

Nine CAS-3 amateur radio satellites to launch in July



The CAMSAT orchestrated CAS-3 amateur satellite system is now nearing completion.

Nine satellites, CAS-3A – CAS3i, should be launched on July 20, 2015 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on the new CZ-6 launcher. It is understood the CZ-6 will be carrying a total of 20 satellites.

Six of the CAMSAT satellites, CAS-3A-CAS-3F, are equipped with substantially the same amateur radio payloads. A 20 kHz bandwidth 435/145 MHz (mode U/V) 100 mW linear transponder for SSB/CW communications, a CW telemetry beacon and an AX.25 19.2k/9.6k bps GMSK telemetry downlink.

Each set of amateur radio equipment has the same technical characteristics, but operates on different frequencies in the 435 MHz uplink band and 145 MHz downlink band. While the amateur payloads are similar the sizes of the satellites differ, one is 20 kg, three are 10 kg and two are 1 kg.

CAS-3A will be deployed into a 450 km sun-synchronous orbit while the other satellites will in a 530 km sun-synchronous orbit.

LilacSat-2, developed at the Harbin Institute of Technology, has been renamed as CAS-3H, and has had to change frequencies to avoid a clash with other CAMSAT satellites on the flight.

Two others satellites on the launch also carry amateur satellite service payloads and have been named as CAS-3G and CAS-3i.

Further information on the CAS-3A to CAS-3F satellites can be seen at

CAMSAT with support from the Qian Youth Space Academy has been developing two satellites CAS-2A1 and CAS-2A2. These will not be on this launch, instead they may fly on a CZ-2 at a later date.

CAS-2 Series IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination page

CAS-3 Series IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination page

Web http://amsat-uk.org/
Twitter https://twitter.com/AmsatUK
Facebook https://facebook.com/AmsatUK
Flickr https://flickr.com/groups/AmsatUK
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Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FUNcube

Beijing may launch amateur satellites in July

CAMSAT CAS-2 at Friedrichshafen Ham Radio 2012 Event

CAMSAT CAS-2 at Friedrichshafen Ham Radio 2012 Event

UPDATE May 24, 2015: CAS-2A1 and CAS-2A2 will not be launching in July but nine CAS-3 series satellites will be. See the latest information at http://amsat-uk.org/2015/05/24/nine-cas-3-ham-radio-satellites/

Mineo Wakita JE9PEL reports on his website that Beijing may launch satellites carrying amateur radio payloads in July 2015. It is understood the launch would be on a CZ-6 rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

XW-2 (CAS-2) and LilacSat-2 will be carrying amateur radio payloads but at the time of writing it is not clear if Tiantuo-3 and ZDPS-2 may also have amateur radio payloads.

Additionally it is reported elsewhere there may be up to 20 satellites on the launch.

Fan Shaomin BA1EO with CAS-2 A1

Fan Shaomin BA1EO with CAS-2 A1

CAS-2A1 satellite: 270x270x250mm
2m CW telemetry beacon 100 mW
2m AX.25 digital telemetry beacon 500 mW
2m FM voice beacon 500 mW
U/V mode Linear transponder 50 kHz 500 mW
L/S mode Linear transponder 200 kHz 320 mW
U/V mode APRS repeater

CAS-2A2 satellite:
70cm CW telemetry beacon 100 mW
70cm AX.25 digital telemetry beacon 500 mW
13cm CW telemetry beacon 200 mW
3cm CW telemetry beacon 200 mW
V/U mode Linear transponder 500 mW

LilacSat-2 – Harbin Institute of Technology
Approx. 11 kg 20x20x20 cm
Uplink: 145.825, 145.875 MHz
Downlink: 437.200 MHz beacon 437.225 MHz FM/APRS

Tiantuo-3 (TT-3) – Small satellite from China’s National University of Defense Technology

ZDPS-2 – Nano-satellite mission of the Microsat Research Center Zhejiang University

Source Mineo Wakita JE9PEL http://www.ne.jp/asahi/hamradio/je9pel/lilacsat.htm

Web http://amsat-uk.org/
Twitter https://twitter.com/AmsatUK
Facebook https://facebook.com/AmsatUK
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YouTube https://youtube.com/AmsatUK
Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FUNcube

Extreme DX satellite contact between UK and Texas

CO6CBF-FO-29-SATPC32aOn April 27, 2015 at 1901 GMT, Cuban radio amateur Hector Martinez W5CBF/CO6CBF achieved a 7537.8 km DX contact with UK amateur Peter Atkins G4DOL via FO-29.

Antennas of Peter Atkins G4DOL near Weymouth

Antennas of Peter Atkins G4DOL near Weymouth

I am pleased to report that Peter G4DOL and I had another extreme QSO on FO-29. It is my furthest contact on the birds!

Back on October 2013, Peter and I had a very nice contact between EL92sd, Cienfuegos, Cuba and IO80so, Weymouth area, UK. It was a 7286 km contact and probably the first contact between UK and Cuba on FO-29!

Peter and I desired to try again on FO-29, this time between EM21hs, Texas, US and his habitual spot in IO80so. We were able to complete a very nice CW contact on the 92319 orbit of FO-29. Peter had just 0.1 degree as maxim elevation while I had 0.8 during the 80 seconds mutual window.

As before, Peter did all the hard work by driving until his habitual spot at a cliff-top and setting up his “portable satellite station” (19 elements Yagi for 435 MHz and 10 elements Yagi for 145 MHz both with horizontal polarization). FO-29 was sounding really good on these orbits. It was a solid 559 satellite contact, we were very impressed.

Antennas used by Hector Martinez W5CBF/CO6CBF in Texas

Antennas used by Hector Martinez W5CBF/CO6CBF in Texas

We made the calculations using our 10 digit grid squares at http://no.nonsense.ee/qth/map.html

The distance between the stations was 7537.799 km (4683.77 mi). To my knowledge, the longest distance achieved on FO-29 until now had been 7,533.685 km between Frank, K4FEG and Erich, DK1TB http://www.qrz.com/db/k4feg

UPDATE 2015-05-08: K4KEG has now revised his distance to 7,538.685 km. This puts his contact with DK1TB just ahead of that of W5CBF and G4DOL.

It appears that an even longer distance is achievable. It has been reported that FO-29 has a “theoretical maximum range” of 7502 km, but I guess that at least 7600km is doable. We will try to break our own record!

This contact was possible thanks to the great feature implemented on SatPC32 V12.8b. There is an option of seeing the frequency you are at the satellite receiver at any time during a pass. It allows the operators to tune the right frequencies and attempt a contact without having to search for each other.

Thanks very much to Peter for his persistence, effort and all the fun!

Hector, W5CBF/CO6CBF

Listen to a recording of the contact between W5CBF and G4DOL via FO-29

2013 FO-29 satellite contact between Cuba and the UK

FO-29 information http://amsat-uk.org/satellites/two-way-comms-satellites/fuji-oscar-29-jas-2/

Can you help identify this picture ?

Antenna used in a BBC TV showThe Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) have requested help in identifying this picture (click for full size version).

The person on the far right looks rather like the television presenter James Burke.

Could it be possibly be the BBC Tomorrows World TV show from the 1970’s ?

Do you know which programme was being filmed and what was it about ?

It certainly looks satellite related. If you have any thoughts please post them on the RSGB Facebook page at


AMSAT-NA Opportunity for Rideshare to Geostationary Orbit

Millennium Space Systems AQUILA M8 Series Satellite Structure

Millennium Space Systems AQUILA M8 Series Satellite Structure

AMSAT is excited to announce that we have accepted an opportunity to participate in a potential rideshare as a hosted payload on a geostationary satellite planned for launch in 2017.

An amateur radio payload, operating in the Amateur Satellite Service, will fly on a spacecraft which Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of El Segundo, CA is contracted to design, launch, and operate for the US government based on their Aquila M8 Series Satellite Structure.

A meeting to discuss this potential rideshare took place on April 13 at Millennium Space Systems that included Dr. Bob McGwier, N4HY; Franklin Antonio, N6NKF, co-founder of Qualcomm; Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President of Engineering and member of the board for AMSAT-NA; Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Director and President Emeritus of AMSAT-NA; Phil Karn, KA9Q; and Michelle Thompson, W5NYV.

Hosting the meeting for MSS were Stan Dubyn as founder and chairman of MSS, Vince Deno as president of MSS, Jeff Ward, K8KA, of MSS as VP for Product Development, formerly with SSTL and University of Surrey Space Center, and Ryan Lawrence of MSS as Project Manager on the spacecraft mission. Attending by telephone were Dr. Jonathan Black, Associate Research Director of Hume Center for Aerospace Systems and Associate Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and Dr. Michael Parker, KT7D, founder of RINCON Research Corp.

Following the meeting, Dr. Bob McGwier, N4HY, Director of Research at the Hume Center for National Security and Technology of Virginia Tech, and former director and former VP Engineering of AMSAT, described this as an opportunity to go forward with “AMSAT-Eagle” which, in the 2006-2008 timeframe, evolved into a microwave payload to be flown to geostationary orbit as a hosted payload. It would have provided digital communications to small terminals on the ground and a linear bent pipe transponder had it flown. This failed to go forward in part due to lack of an affordable flight opportunity.

McGwier outlined the next steps toward developing this mission:

1) To organize an effort at Virginia Tech to make a firm proposal to MSS and its US government sponsor, and organize an effort to raise sufficient funds to pay for development of the mission.

2) Enable Dr. Jonathan Black to lead the construction project at Virginia Tech in the Space@VT Center. Sonya Rowe, KK4NLO, Project Manager at the Hume Center will be the project manager.

3) Work for development of a low-cost microwave ground station for amateur radio still needs to be determined.

4) Dr. Michael Parker, KT7D, will  solicit the cooperation of the Rincon Research Corp. for development of the software radio
technology for this payload.

The AMSAT Board of Directors has accepted the invitation to participate in this potential rideshare payload opportunity. AMSAT expects to be involved in the development of the ground station and the payload RF development, and will serve as the amateur radio (hosted) payload operator once the satellite has been launched.

McGwier summarized, “The launch is currently scheduled for 2017 and the payload must be delivered for testing and integration by Spring of 2016. It is an ambitious schedule and all involved will have to gain and maintain a serious level of commitment to that which they agree to undertake.” AMSAT President, Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “The AMSAT leadership is excited to fly a Phase-IV geostationary amateur satellite payload. This is an evolving development as we collaborate with the VT Hume Center with a project that provides technical challenges to create a new amateur radio capability in space that will provide a variety of benefits not only for amateurs but also for emergency communications and STEM educational outreach.”

The transponder is expected to support a wide range of voice, digital, and experimental advanced communications technologies. A decision is expected soon specifying the microwave uplink and downlink bands.

Additional information on the Aquila M8 Series Satellite can be viewed on-line:

AMSAT has posted a photo of the GEO opportunity team with the Millennium Aquila satellite at http://www.amsat.org

[ANS thanks Bob McGwier, N4HY and AMSAT-NA for the above information]

Ofcom considers 10.475 GHz and 47 GHz bands for 5G

Ofcom-logo-col-tThe Amateur Satellite Service allocations at 10.475 GHz  and 47.0 GHz are being considered by Ofcom for 5G use .

Ofcom has published an update on spectrum bands above 6 GHz that might be suitable for next generation mobile, often referred to as ‘5G’ – the fifth generation of mobile services.

This document summarises responses from Ofcom’s earlier Call for Input in January and sets out their current views on bands and next steps. The update identifies several bands in different parts of the 6 – 100 GHz range, including 10.475-10.575 GHz and 47.000-47.200 GHz, they believe are candidates for further study for use in the UK.

Ofcom’s goal is to have globally harmonised bands for next generation mobile services and is currently engaging with other administrations around the world, ahead of these services becoming commercially available in the next five to six years.

Consideration of these bands will now be taken forward in forthcoming international discussions, including the World Radiocommunication Conference-15 (WRC-15) at which the scope of a future WRC-19 agenda item on bands above 6 GHz will be considered.

This does not guarantee these bands will be adopted in the future and Ofcom do not rule out considering other options ahead of WRC-15, pending further research and development.

Ofcom Above 6 GHz consultation page

Laying the foundations for next generation mobile services: Update on bands above 6 GHz

Quotient Associates – 5G Candidate Band Study

Frequencies of Es’hail 2 Geostationary Amateur Radio Transponders

ACMA consults on removing 3400-3410 MHz

ACMA Logo 940x627The Australian regulator the ACMA is consulting on a number of changes to the amateur radio licence including removal of a key 3400 MHz allocation.

3400-3410 MHz is allocated to the Amateur Satellite Service in ITU Regions 2 and 3. It  is used by amateurs in many countries around the world for weak signal communications including moon bounce (EME).

The ACMA consultation closes on April 24.

The WIA announcement is at http://www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2015/20150314-2/

Consultation documents

UK Microwave Group 3400 MHz page http://www.microwavers.org/3400mhz.htm

Satellite operation from Isle of Mull

Camb-Hams operating from the Isle of Mull in 2012

Camb-Hams operating from the Isle of Mull in 2012

Ten members of the Camb-Hams are returning to Grasspoint IO76EJ on Mull (IOTA EU-008) from May 15-21, 2015 as GS3PYE/P.

They will be QRV with multiple stations on HF on 3.5-28MHz SSB, CW, RTTY and PSK with dipoles and verticals and up to 400W if necessary.

VHF activity will be on 50MHz, 70MHz and 144MHz, all bands QRO with sizeable antennas.

VHF will be mainly QRV using JT6m or ISCAT on 50MHz, FSK441 on 70MHz and FSK441 and JT65b (for EME) on 144MHz, but SSB and CW is also possible, especially in any sporadic E propagation openings. Other modes by agreement.

Hilltop satellite operation from Mull in 2012 with Peter 2E0SQL and Robert M0VFC - Image Credit Lawrence M0LCM

Hilltop satellite operation from Mull in 2012 with Peter 2E0SQL and Robert M0VFC – Image Credit Lawrence M0LCM

Satellite operations on 2m & 70cm will use an Icom IC-910 and X-Quad antennas mounted on a fully automatic AZ/EL tracking system. If internet connectivity allows, the VHF operators will monitor ON4KST Chat for terrestrial activity and N0UK JT65 chat for EME. You can submit your VHF sked requests online here: http://tiny.cc/gs3pyesked

The team will be QRV in the 80m CW CC event on the 21st and in the 144MHz contest on the 16th and 17th. They may do very short side trips to Iona and the Treshnish Islands and will announce these nearer the time on the website.

Please QSL only via OQRS on ClubLog for direct or bureau cards. Do not send any cards direct or via the bureau.

For the latest info see

OSCAR News Issue 209

OSCAR News 209 front coverIssue 209 of the AMSAT-UK amateur radio satellite publication OSCAR News was released on March 17, 2015. E-members can download it here.

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

In this issue:
• 4M: A Moon Mission
• FUNcube-1/AO-73 Report
• Work FM Satellites with your HT!
• Controlled Impedance “Cheap” Antennas
• Prototype L/V transponder tested for ESEO mission
• Operation of the FUNcube-1 transponder — First European 73-on-73 award
• QB50P1/EO79 – FUNcube-3 Update
• 29 MHz Uplinks: A New Alternative
• ITU Symposium & Workshop on small satellite regulation and communication systems – Prague March 2015
• Fox-1 “In the Bag” (Updated)
• Debris opinion spotted in the internet
• The AlSat-Nano Project

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.