Amateur Radio TV and CW Beacons for ISS

The minutes of the ARISS International Monthly Teleconference for June 19 carry this report on the status of the amateur radio equipment for the ISS Columbus module.

Kenneth [N5VHO] reported that an onboard power issue somewhat impacted ARISS radio operations. The air purifier for the ATV [Automated Transfer Vehicle] has needed to be plugged in, recently, in the Service Module (SM). The ARISS radio in the SM was turned off while the purifier was being used. The radio is turned on by the crew for school contacts and when the crew gets on the air for random contacts, as Astronaut Kuipers has done in the past few weeks. The ATV will be docked at the ISS until late September.

Gaston [ON4WF] said the HamTV project is progressing. There have been discussions with ESA about the possibility of adding extra units to the HamTV transmitter that is being developed by Kaiser Italia. This is acceptable in as far as the KI unit under construction does not need to be modified.

A so called “Video Beacon” will be added externally to the HamTV unit. This beacon will allow automated DATV transmissions more or less permanently. The content of these DATV transmissions will be uploaded from the ground through existing channels and transferred to the Video Beacon on request. This function will also be used for educational purposes. Moreover, astronauts could record footage and load it into the Video Beacon for automated transmission.

Another additional unit will be a CW beacon transmitter delivering a small band low power signal (100 mW) on a frequency nearby the HamTV frequency. This beacon will transmit permanently and use the second ARISS L/S-band antenna. This offers ground stations signal reception with large S/N margins, facilitating antenna tracking and signal acquisition, especially at the beginning of a pass. The CW Beacon will transmit telegraphy signals, alternating its identification (call sign), a continuous carrier and possibly some telemetry comprizing onboard parameters (temperature, pressure, humidity, ambient sound level, etc.).

Lou W5DID suggested that we may be able to power it from the packet module already on the ISS, making it simple to operate.

ESA is being asked to address the cost of the Safety Package and testing such as EMI tests and outgassing tests for these additional units, but development and manufacturing will be supported by ARISS. A cost estimate is being developed for our team to build the units. A funding campaign will be set up to collect donations to cover the cost.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

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