During Thursday, December 18 the Russian ARISS team members successfully activated the amateur radio Slow Scan TV (SSTV) experiment from the International Space Station (ISS) on 145.800 MHz FM. Further transmissions using the callsign RS0ISS are planned for Saturday, December 20, 2014.
Among the many radio amateurs receiving the pictures was Frank Heritage M0AEU. His station comprised a 5 element crossed Yagi on a Yaesu 5600B Az/Ele rotator, about 4 metres above the ground, interfaced with a LVB Tracker. Frank used the Ham Radio Deluxe satellite program (v5) for the tracking and a Yaesu FT736R feeding audio to the free MMSSTV software on a Dell laptop.
Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ used the online SUWS Web-based Software Defined Radio (WebSDR) located near London to receive a number of images during the day. Martin made the 144 and 430 MHz helix antennas for the WebSDR which are optimized for satellite reception. The SUWS WebSDR is available for anyone to use.
Other images received by amateurs world-wide can be seen at http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_SSTV/
The next ISS SSTV transmissions on 145.800 MHz should start around 12:40 UT on Saturday, December 20 and end at 21:30 UT. It is expected the SSTV mode will be PD180 with 3 minute off periods between transmissions. A total of 12 different photos will be sent, each celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit Earth.
The transmission will be mode using the Kenwood D710 transceiver located in the Russian Service Module. It is thought the equipment may be producing about 25 watts output which should provide a very strong signal.
All you need to do to receive SSTV pictures direct from the space station is to connect the audio output of a scanner or amateur radio transceiver via a simple interface to the soundcard on a Windows PC or an Apple iOS device, and tune in to 145.800 MHz FM. You can even receive pictures by holding an iPhone next to the radio’s loudspeaker.
The ISS puts out a strong signal on 145.800 MHz FM and a 2m handheld with a 1/4 wave antenna will be enough to receive it. The FM transmission uses the 5 kHz deviation which is standard in much of the world.
Many FM rigs in the UK can be switched been wide and narrow deviation FM filters. For best results you should select the wider deviation filters. Handhelds all seem to have a single wide filter fitted as standard.
On Windows PC’s the free application MMSSTV can be used to decode the signal, on Apple iOS devices you can use the SSTV app for compatible modes. The ISS Fan Club website will show you when the space station is in range.
Paul Turner G4IJE, co-developer of the SSTV PD modes, says regarding the MMSSTV PD180 mode: “Don’t forget to either enable “Always show RX viewer” or use the “Picture viewer” (magnifying glass icon) to show the picture at its real resolution of 640 x 496. If you just view as normal you will only see 320 x 248 resolution, which kind of defeats the object of using a high resolution mode.”
On the AMSAT-BB Rick W2JAZ and Alan WA4SCA comment on the need to set the MMSSTV sound card setting to 48 kHz instead of the default 44.100 kHz
• Then the Clock section at the bottom of the page
The MMSSTV default setting may need to be set to 24000 (exactly half of the sound card setting). You then should get good clean images.
The sound card adjustments will vary slightly depending on the version of the OS you are running, but usually will be under the advanced properties for the device. You can probably use a higher sampling rate for the sound card so long as it is a power of 2 multiple (2,4,8, etc) of the value in MMSSTV. For instance, 192k (8x) has no issues. The same applies to most similar software.
You can receive the SSTV transmissions online using the SUWS WebSDR remote receiver located near London along with the MMSSTV software https://amsat-uk.org/2014/08/15/suws-websdr-moves-to-new-site/
For more on Slow Scan Television SSTV, see this article SSTV – The Basics
How to be successful with the ISS Slow Scan Television (SSTV) imaging system
Free MMSSTV Slow Scan TV software http://hamsoft.ca/pages/mmsstv.php
iOS SSTV App https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sstv/id387910013
IZ8BLY Vox Recoder, enables you to record the signals from the ISS on 145.800 MHz while you’re away at work http://antoninoporcino.xoom.it/VoxRecorder/
ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) Blog and Gallery http://ariss-sstv.blogspot.co.uk/
Information on the MAI-75 SSTV experiment
Video showing reception of SSTV using the FUNcube Dongle Pro SDR and SDR-RADIO going into Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) then to MMSSTV software https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6MOrX9iZCk
ISS SSTV received online with SUWS WebSDR