PhoneSat CubeSats with Ham Radio Payloads Launched

Antares Rocket Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Antares Rocket Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three PhoneSat CubeSats with amateur radio payloads were launched on an Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares(TM) rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia on Sunday, April 21.

The three PhoneSats carry amateur radio payloads on 437.425 MHz, each transmits at intervals so all three are receivable during a pass. Roland Zurmely PY4ZBZ received them on the second orbit on April 21 at 22:52 UT, see and Mike Rupprecht DK3WN reported receiving all three on Monday April 22, see

The callsign of all three satellites is KJ6KRW and they transmit using AFSK (1200 bps) modulation, AX.25 packet coding. The two PhoneSat 1.0 satellites, Graham and Bell, transmit with a periodicity of respectively 28 seconds and 30 seconds. The PhoneSat 2.0 beta satellite, Alexandre, transmits with a periodicity of 25 seconds.

Watch PhoneSat: Small Satellites Use Smart Phones For Brains

PhoneSat was chosen as one of the winners in the Aerospace category for the Popular Science magazine “Best of What’s New 2012″ awards. The PhoneSat is a technology demonstration mission consisting of three 1U CubeSats intended to prove that a smartphone can be used to perform many of the functions required of a spacecraft bus.

The satellite is built around the Nexus smartphone which will be running the Android operating system and will be enclosed in a standard 1U CubeSat structure. The main function of the phone is to act as the Onboard Computer, but the mission will also utilize the phone’s SD card for data storage, 5MP camera for Earth Observation, and 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis magnetometer for attitude determination.

One of the nanosatellites, powered by the HTC Nexus One smartphone, will send back pictures of Earth. The other two, running on the Samsung Nexus S, will have two-way S-band radio allowing them to be controlled from Earth.

The satellites have no solar cells and operate on battery only so will only have a lifetime of about a week,

An updated website with telemetry info is now available.

The Antares launch included the commercial DOVE-1 satellite, a technology development experiment that is believed to be using 2420 MHz.


Preliminary TLEs / ‘Keps’ are at
TLEs / ‘Keps’ for recent launches

Check the AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB) for the latest information

Thanks to AMSAT News Service (ANS), AMSAT-NA, AMSAT-UK and Samudra Haque N3RDX / S21X for the above information.

Qtmm soundcard modem for decoding AFSK1200


Qtmm soundcard modem receiving APRS trafficQtmm is a simple AFSK1200 decoder that uses the computer’s sound card for input. It can be used to decode packet radio, APRS and telemetry from OSCAR and Cubesats.
Testing shows a good performance in monitoring the International space station APRS Beacon. More @ Qtmm soundcard modem for decoding AFSK1200


Telemetry reception from the AO-27 amateur radio satellite, which also uses AFSK.

Student Amateur Radio Satellites on Vega

Artists impression of Vega launch

Artists impression of Vega launch

Vega is planned to launch on Monday, February 13, between 1000-1300 UT from the ESA launch site at Kourou in the Caribbean. It will carry eight student built amateur radio satellites comprising seven CubeSats and a microsatellite called ALMASat-1.

ALMASat-1 – University of Bologna, Italy
437.465 MHz 1200 bps FSK and 2407.850 MHz

e-st@r – Politecnico di Torino, Italy
437.445 MHz 1200 bps AFSK

Goliat – University of Bucharest, Romania
437.485 MHz 1200 bps AFSK

MaSat-1 – Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary
437.345 MHz GFSK 625/1250 bps, CW

PW-Sat1 – Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
There are 5 modes of operation on the 145.900 MHz downlink:
– Receive only – no downlink
– CW Beacon CW – On-Off Keying (OOK) CW 12 WPM
– BPSK Beacon – BPSK 1200 bps AX25 (1 frame on 20 sec)
– Control communication mode. Downlink BPSK 1200 bps AX25
– Voice Repeater mode (aka “AO-16” mode) – uplink 435.020 MHz FM and downlink 145.900 MHz DSB

Robusta – University of Montpellier 2, France
437.325 MHz? (website says now 437.350 MHz) 1200 bps FM telemetry with one data burst of 20 secs every 1 min

UNICubeSAT -University of Rome, Italy
437.305MHz 9600 bps FSK

XaTcobeo – Universidade de Vigo, Spain
437.365 MHz FFSK with AX.25

Watch the launch live at

The student teams have requested reception reports. All observers are being encouraged to join the CubeSat IRC chat channel to pass on their news and comments in realtime. You will need an IRC client such as ChatZilla for Firefox or mIRC to join the cubesat chat. Use the server. Then join the #cubesat channel. Many users set their chat nickname to “name_callsign”.

Preliminary Vega TLE’s (KEPS) for launch at 1000, 1100 and 1200 UT here

Assuming a 1000 UT launch the satellites should deploy their antennas and start transmitting at about 1140 UT. It looks like the first to get good reception will be Central America followed quickly by a pass up the East coast of North America. The first pass for the United Kingdom should be a horizon skimmer across the NW at around 1207 UT.

Vega Elliptical Orbit Video

N2YO Real Time Satellite Tracking

Satscape Satellite Tracking Software 

IZ8BLY Vox Recoder

Free Sound Recorder

For the latest information on newly launched satellites check the AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB)