Advert Features Ham Radio and ISS

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

The latest advert from Internet Services provider MTN Global features amateur radio and the International Space Station (ISS).

MTN Global’s latest brand commercial tells the story of a little boy who discovers, via the internet, that it is very simple to build a homemade radio that will allow him to actually speak to an astronaut in space. He tries and fails and tries again, using the internet to embark on a journey of discovery that takes a rather unexpected turn. Because that’s the thing about discovery, there’s always more to discover.

Watch MTN: ‘Space’

My first radio contact with an Astronaut

Check the status of the ISS amateur radio stations at

How to hear the ISS

How to use the ISS APRS Packet Radio Digipeater

More ISS Slow Scan TV Activity

What is Amateur Radio ?

Amateur Radio Village at EMF 2014

EMF 2012 badge of attendee Graham Shirville G3VZV

EMF 2012 badge of attendee Graham Shirville G3VZV

There will be an amateur radio village and special event station GB2EMF at the Electromagnetic Field EMF 2014 event taking place August 29-31 at Bletchley near Milton Keynes.

EMF 2014 is a festival for anyone interested in radio, electronics, space, homebrewing, robots, UAVs, 3D printing, DIYBio, Internet culture or pretty much anything else you can think of. It is a volunteer effort by a non-profit group, inspired by European and US hacker camps like Chaos Communication Camp, HAR, and toorcamp.

Imagine a camping festival with a power grid and high-speed internet access; a temporary village of geeks, crafters, and technology enthusiasts that’s lit up by night, and buzzing with activity during the day. Over a thousand curious people will descend on the friendly open space to learn, share, and talk about what they love.

Over a long weekend, you can expect to see a huge variety of talks across three stages, a slew of workshops, as well as music, games, and installations dotted around the site.

Attendees are invited to set up their own villages — camps within the camp — where like-minded people can camp together and put on their own activities. The hard-working EMF team of volunteers will supply you with power and internet to your tent.

The special event station GB2EMF will be run from the Amateur Radio Village, it had been hoped to have a 70cm/2m crossband FM repeater operational during the event but it looks as though Ofcom licensing issues may preclude this.

At each EMF event the organisers try and give the attendees a great camp badge. Not just a ‘Hello my name is” sticker but a nice fun piece of technology that they can take away and use after the event.

EMF 2014 takes place August 29-31 near Newton Longville, just South of Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK17 0BU. Talks include:
• High Altitude Ballooning by Adam Greig M0RND
• Amateur Radio – Practical Sign offs by Paul
• Amateur Radio: The Original Nerd Hobby! by Ryan Sayre 2E0RYS
• An Operator’s Guide to the Enigma Cipher Machine by Simon Singh
• Back to Basics Radio – build a self-powered solderless receiver by Iain Sharp
• InfraRed Communications by Michael Turner
• Surface Mount Soldering – SMD by hand isn’t hard, build your own Persistence of Vision kit to prove it! by Edinburgh Hacklab
Other talks

Announcing TiLDA MKe, the incredible EMF 2014 camp badge

EMF 2014
Twitter @emfcamp

Report on the EMF 2012 event

AMSAT-UK Space Colloquium Videos Now Available

AMSAT-UK_Bevelled_LogoThanks to the hard work of volunteers from the British Amateur Television Club (BATC) videos of the presentations given to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium held in Guildford on July 26-27, 2014 are now available to view online or download to your PC.

Links to the presentation videos, PDF’s of the slides and the schedule are at

You can also access them by following these steps:
• Go to
• Click on the ‘Film Archive’ icon
• Select ‘AMSATUK 2014′ from the Category drop down menu
• Click on ‘Select Category’
• Select the video you wish to watch from the Stream drop down menu
• Click on ‘Select Stream’
• Click the play icon ‘>’ on the player
• Clicking on the icon to the left of the player volume control will give you full screen display.
• To download the video file to your PC right-click on the ‘Click Here’  link under the player.

AMSAT-UK publishes an newsletter, OSCAR News, that is full of Amateur Satellite information. A sample issue of OSCAR News can be downloaded here.
Join AMSAT-UK online at

UKube-1 Launch Information

UKube-1 in flight configuration in the cleanroom at Clyde Space Ltd - Credit Steve Greenland

UKube-1 in flight configuration in the cleanroom at Clyde Space Ltd – Credit Steve Greenland

UKube-1, the UK Space Agency’s first CubeSat, carries a set of AMSAT-UK FUNcube boards with an amateur radio linear transponder and educational beacon for use in schools. The launch is scheduled from Pad 31/6 at Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 15:58:28 UT (4:58 BST) and to be deployed from the final stage of the Soyuz-2-1B/Fregat-M launch vehicle at 18:32:42 UT.

It had been hoped the launch would be live at or at but this did not occur.

UKube-1 CubeSat installed in Deployment Pod

UKube-1 CubeSat installed in Deployment Pod

The UKube-1 Operations Team have issued a Launch Briefing. This is accompanied by a spreadsheet showing the anticipated UK passes for the first orbits together with a worksheet showing the telemetry equations.

These documents can be downloaded at

UKube-1 carries a number of experiments and payloads and also the FUNcube-2 transponder and  telemetry sub-system. This is intended to support the current, very successful, operations of FUNcube-1 and to provide an even better operational capability for schools and colleges to use for hands on educational outreach around the world. Further details of the educational outreach opportunities are available here

When the FUNcube-2 sub-system is activated, the 1k2 BPSK telemetry will be downlinked on 145.915 MHz in the same way as already happens with FUNcube-1.

A new FUNcube-2 Dashboard UI will be released shortly. This will integrate directly with the existing FUNcube Central Data Warehouse and existing usernames and authorisation codes can be re-used.

UKube-1 ready for launch

UKube-1 ready for launch

When the transponder is activated, the downlink passband will be 145.930 to 145.950 MHz and the uplink passband  will be 435.080 to 435.060 MHz.

It is anticipated that the FUNcube sub-system may be tested for short periods during the next few weeks depending upon how the LEOP plan progresses.

AMSAT-UK personnel will be supporting the UKube-1 operations team at Chilbolton during the immediate post launch period and will be ensuring that regular status reports are made available via the #cubesat IRC channel.

A web client is available at

AMSAT-UK and their colleagues at AMSAT-NL, are delighted that UKube-1 is carrying this FUNcube sub-system and wishes every success to the UKube Operations Team and to all the many contributors to the project.

Steve Greenland of Clyde Space receives the AMSAT-UK FUNcube-2 boards that will be incorporated into UKube-1

Steve Greenland of Clyde Space receives the AMSAT-UK FUNcube-2 boards to be incorporated into UKube-1

There will be a presentation on the satellite’s amateur radio payload at the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium being held at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ on July 26-27, the event is open to all, further details at

UKube-1 frequencies:
• 145.840 MHz Telemetry downlink
• 145.915 MHz FUNcube subsystem beacon
• 400 mW inverting linear transponder for SSB and CW
– 435.080 -435.060 MHz Uplink
– 145.930 -145.950 MHz Downlink
• 2401.0 MHz S Band Downlink
• 437.425-437.525 MHz UKSEDS myPocketQub Downlink

Video of the Soyuz-2 rocket being prepared for the launch

Soyuz 2-1B – Meteor-M #2 Launch Updates—meteor-m-2-launch-updates.html

Check Twitter accounts of Helen Walker@SheAstronomer and Steve Greenland @strickengremlin for tweets on UKube-1 launch.

FUNcube website

FUNcube Yahoo Group

FUNcube Forum

Like AMSAT-UK on Facebook

Data Warehouse – Telemetry Archive

Dashboard App – Telemetry Decoder

There will be a presentation on the FUNcube boards on UKube-1 at the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium which will be held on July 26-27, 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ, United Kingdom. The event is open to all, further details at

The Isle of Man space program on TV

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock with CubeSat

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock with CubeSat

In the BBC TV show Newsnight broadcast June 17, 2014 Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock reports on the space program in the Isle of Man.

The space segment start 39:25 into the show which can be seen at

Note overseas viewers may need to use a UK based Proxy Server.

The Isle of Man Government say they are “firmly ‘pro-space’ and together with a clear and simple tax regime, absence of Insurance Premium Tax and commitment to the development of space law and satellite registry, the Island offers the right environment for the space industry to flourish.”

Space Isle

QST Editor to speak at Colloquium

Steve Ford WB8IMY

Steve Ford WB8IMY

QST Editor and ARRL Publications Manager Steve Ford, WB8IMY will give a presentation to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium at the Holiday Inn in Guildford on Saturday, July 26.

Steve will be traveling to the UK to talk about the satellite operations at the impressive ARRL Headquarters station in Newington, Connecticut.

He has written many amateur radio books including the ARRL Satellite Handbook, Get on the Air with HF Digital, VHF Digital Handbook and Remote Operating for Amateur Radio.

The Colloquium is open to all, further details can be found at

UK Space Education Office – Free Conference in York

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

UK Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI reports that on July 1, 2014, the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK) is holding a free conference at the National Science Learning Centre in York.

It is ideal for primary teachers and teaching assistants who are interested in using space as a exciting context for learning.

The conference will introduce Tim’s upcoming mission to the ISS and how space can be used to enhance children’s learning across the primary school curriculum.

Tim is currently training for his 6 month mission, Expedition 46/47, to the ISS which is scheduled for November 2015. The UK communications regulator Ofcom has agreed in principle to issue the permanent Special Callsign of GB1SS to the ISS and it is expected Tim will use that callsign when operating the amateur radio station in the ESA Columbus module.

More information at—the-primary-frontier

The UK’s first astronaut was Helen Sharman GB1MIR who launched into space 23 years ago on May 18, 1991, see

$50SAT / MO-76 six months in space and counting

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Yaesu handheld and $50SAT 1.5U PocketQube

Wednesday, May 21, 2014, marked the six month anniversary of the launch of the tiny $50SAT / MO-76 PocketQube satellite which is just 5x5x7.5 cm and 210 grams.

Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA has released an update on this remarkable satellite:

We have finally completed the first pass cleanup of the telemetry data provided by all of you.  We cannot thank you enough for this data, as it will help us understand how $50SAT/MO-76 has been operating.  Keep it coming!

On the Dropbox, you will find a new directory (Telemetry-analysis/Battery-voltage-2014-06-04) containing our first set of processed data, which serves as an initial investigation into the performance of the on-board Li-ion battery.  Included in this directory is a spreadsheet with all the battery voltage data we have up to now, in both tabular and graphical form; it consists of 1097 individual telemetry observations.  For convenience sake, there is also a copy of the graph in PDF form.  Over the past 6 months, the daily average battery voltage has been dropping.  A best fit line through all the data has a slope of -0.670 mV per day.  The drop, however, has not always been gradual.  For instance, there is a large step change of about -60 mV sometime near February 20, 2014.  We are not sure what happened here.  Anybody out there know what might be going on?

Ignoring the two outliers on the graph, the current low battery voltage is 3521 mV.  This has been observed at least 5 times, including twice by yours truly.  This, of course, occurs when $50SAT/MO-76 happens to be at its lowest temperature, which has been -28 degrees C until yesterday evening, where I observed a temperature of -29 degrees C.  While our depth of discharge on the battery is relatively low (our initial calculations were about 22 mA-hr), it is going through about a -28 degree C to 26 degree C (or possibly higher – this is our highest recorded temperature) and back down to -28 degrees C 14.5 times per day.  Does this violate the conditions of the warranty?

As to whether or not the orbit is decaying, a comparison of the current TLEs with a set from early December 2013 show it is, although by a small amount.

Here are the TLEs from December 4, 2013 (element set 7):
1 39436U 13066W   13337.88841924  .00010097  00000-0  12132-2 0    70
2 39436  97.8019  50.2525 0031655 170.6351 189.5525 14.83797851  1855

Here are the TLEs from June 2, 2014 (element set 223):
1 39436U 13066W   14152.25170112  .00007510  00000-0  78254-3 0  2235
2 39436  97.7787 226.1156 0024706 303.1274  56.7439 14.89857855 28503

$50SAT Boards

$50SAT Boards

The second to last element on line 2 is the mean motion, in units of orbits per day.  From this number, the semi-major axis of the orbit can be computed.  On December 4, 2013, it was 6,995.50 km, and on June 2, 2014, it was 6,976.51 km.  This means the orbit has decayed by about 19 km during this time period.  The orbit has also become slightly less elliptical.  The forth element on line 2 is the eccentricity, which has an implied decimal point in front of it.  On December 4, 2013, it was 0.0031655, and on June 2, 2014, it was 0.0024706.  From this and the computed semi-major axis, the apogee and perigee altitudes are as follows:
December 4, 2013:  apogee = 639.64 km, perigee = 595.36 km
June 2, 2014: apogee = 615.75 km, perigee = 581.27 km

The technical challenge we posed to the amateur community to successfully uplink to $50SAT/MO-76 has yet to be met.  We have since realized some of the documentation, specifically the Silicon Labs Si4432 data sheet, was not clear on at least one of the needed details.  To encourage the amateur radio community to answer our challenge, we will post some information that should be helpful in uplinking to $50SAT/MO-76; look for this sometime in the next few days.

$50SAT/MO-76 has made it onto YouTube!  See a video of the excellent talk on $50SAT/MO-76 given by Howie DeFelice, AB2S, and a video of yours truly operating the AMSAT demo station during a $50SAT/MO-76 pass at the Dayton Hamvention.


Michael Kirkhart
$50SAT/MO-76 team

Talk by Howie DeFelice AB2S at the May 14, 2014, PocketQube workshop
(thanks to Gustavo, LW2DTZ, for taking and posting this video)

$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.

Michael Kirkhart KD8QBA operates AMSAT demo station during $50SAT/MO-76 pass Friday, May 16
(thanks to Patrick Stoddard, WD9EWK, AMSAT-NA Vice President for Field Operations, for this video)

$50SAT PocketQube Amateur Radio Challenge

Further information in the $50SAT Dropbox

$50SAT – Eagle2 – Communications – Release Version V1_2.pdf

Hope RFM22B single chip radio

There is a discussion group for $50SAT


UK Takes Aim at Commercial Spaceflight


Skylon – Credit Reaction Engines Ltd

A article reports a spaceport in the United Kingdom may be possible by 2018.

Pending a regulatory report to be published this July and a technical feasibility study that is underway with the country’s National Space Technology Programme (NSTP), it is possible that the country could host a spaceport within the next five years.

A new National Space Flight Coordination Group, chaired by the U.K. Space Agency, will oversee these reports and the future work for this U.K. spaceport. Government officials hope this will be the start of commercial spaceflight for the country.

Rob Coppinger reports the United Kingdom’s first Spaceport could be at Lossiemouth, which is already home to one of the largest Royal Air Force (RAF) bases in the country.

At 57.7°N Lossiemouth would be the most northerly Commercial Spaceport in the World. Lossiemouth is slightly further North than the Kodiak spaceport in Alaska which is at 57.4°N.

Read the article at

Tim Peake is now KG5BVI

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

UK ESA astronaut Tim Peake took the opportunity to sit his Technician amateur radio exam at the end of April while he was in Houston for astronaut training. He has now been issued the amateur radio callsign KG5BVI.

UK astronaut Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

UK astronaut Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

At the beginning of March Tim gave a presentation to the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference in Leicester. During the talk he expressed his enthusiasm about getting his amateur radio licence and operating from the International Space Station (ISS).

Tim is currently training for his 6 month mission, Expedition 46/47, to the ISS which is scheduled for November 2015. The UK communications regulator Ofcom has agreed in principle to issue the permanent Special Callsign of GB1SS to the ISS and it is expected Tim will use that callsign when operating the amateur radio station in the ESA Columbus module.



The UK’s first astronaut was Helen Sharman GB1MIR who launched into space 23 years ago on May 18, 1991, see

The USA Technician licence is the equivalent of the UK Foundation. The 35-question Technician exam covers topics such as radio theory, regulations and operating practices. 26 of the 35 questions need to be answered correctly to pass. Unlike the system in the UK there are no practical assessments for the USA exams just a single multiple choice exam paper. All the questions and answers for the US exams are available online and you can try a practice Technician exam at

Technicians are allowed to use up to 1500 watts output on all the VHF, UHF and Microwave bands and 200 watts output on four HF bands. USA Technicians have full amateur privileges in the frequencies they are allocated, for example they can do set up beacons or repeaters, operate maritime mobile and design and build their own equipment.