AMSAT’s FOX-1 Ham Radio CubeSat

AMSAT FOXIn HamRadioNow episode 85 Gary Pearce KN4AQ talks to a pair of AMSAT Vice Presidents – Tony Montiero AA2TX (Engineering) and Mark Hammond N8MH (Education) who tell us about the new Fox-1 Satellite.

They explain why AMSAT must transition from a bunch of hams who put up satellites for us to use, to a provider of the platform and communications for space science experiments for education (that also happen to have repeaters and transponders we can use).

Fox-1 is scheduled to launch from Vandenburg in November 2014 on the NASA ELaNa XII mission into a 470 x 780 km at 64 degrees inclination orbit. It will employ passive magnetic stabilization and carry a 435.180 MHz to 145.980 MHz FM voice transponder and an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel.

Watch HamRadioNow Episode 85: AMSAT’s Fox-1 Satellite

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1A Ham Radio CubeSat

Fox-2 MPPT Team Selected In TI Design Contest

AMSAT FOXAMSAT sponsored a senior design project at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) this academic year.

The students included senior EE majors:
Bryce Salmi KB1LQC
Brent Salmi KB1LQD
Ian MacKenzie KB3OCF
Dan Corriero

The project was to develop a Maximum power point tracking (MPPT) circuit which is used to maximize the power obtained from a solar panel by forcing the cells to operate at their most efficient voltage regardless of the voltage required by the payload. One can also think of this as an impedance match. This optimum voltage changes slightly with variations in solar irradiance but changes greatly due to variations in solar panel temperature.

The MPPT utilizes a Texas Instruments MSP430 microcontroller to communicate telemetry data with the Fox satellite Internal Housekeeping Unit (IHU) designed by AMSAT for transmission to Earth via ham radio. The senior design group consisting of Brenton Salmi (KB1LQD), Bryce Salmi (KB1LQC), Ian MacKenzie (KB3OCF), and Daniel Corriero successfully implemented an analog MPPT designed for use in orbit over the five year mission intended for Fox-2 providing the amateur radio community with a 3U CubeSat carrying amateur radio communications equipment.

The students completed a working prototype which was on display in the AMSAT engineering booth at Dayton in May.

The project was entered into Texas Instruments’ 2013 Analog Design Contest for university students.

The AMSAT MPPT project was selected as one of the top 10 semi-finalists and the students were invited on an all-expenses paid trip to TI’s contest summit to be held July 21-23 in Dallas where the final winners will be announced.

Congratulations to the Fox-2 RIT MPPT team!

Main Documentation:

Technical Document (8 pages of technical information HIGHLY recommended reading):

Theory of Operations (In-depth technical documentation):

PCB Picture:

MPPT Testing Operational Walk-through:


Thanks to Bryce Salmi KB1LQC, ANS and Tony AA2TX for the above information.

Video – Status Update on Ham Radio CubeSat Fox-1

AMSAT FOXAMSAT VP for Engineering Tony Monteiro, AA2TX, provided an up-to-the-minute review of AMSAT-NA’s next satellite, Fox-1, at the AMSAT Forum at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention.

The first of a number of satellites planned for Project Fox, Tony reviews the motivation for building a CubeSat, the components that comprise Fox-1, and the capabilities and experiments included. He describes the launch assigned by NASA for Fox-1 and gives a brief look at future Project Fox satellites.

The FM voice uplink of Fox-1 will be on 435.180 MHz and the downlink will be 145.980 MHz with an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel.  The FM transponder is activated by a PL tone (CTCSS) and once triggered, it will stay on and repeat everything for 2 minutes even if there is no PL tone. It also re-triggers the timer every time the PL is detected.

The satellite will carry a camera that can take a VGA (640×480) image of the Earth every minute, it will take 50 seconds to download each image.

Watch Fox-1 Status Update, by Tony AA2TX – 2013 Dayton Hamvention

Further information on Fox at

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1a Ham Radio CubeSat

IARU Coordinates Frequencies for Fox-1A Ham Radio CubeSat

AMSAT FOXThe International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Frequency Coordination Panel has announced coordinated frequencies for the AMSAT-NA Fox-1a CubeSat.

A 1U CubeSat, Fox-1a will serve as a communications relay for radio amateurs worldwide via the onboard FM repeater system. It will also carry an experiment consisting of a 3-axis MEMs gyro developed by Penn State University. The communications and experiment missions will run concurrently.

The uplink will be on 435.180 MHz for FM voice and the downlink on 145.980 MHz with FM voice and an optional sub audible FSK digital carrier channel. Fox-1a will employ passive magnetic stabilization.

Fox-1a is planning to launch from Vandenburg in November 2014 on the NASA ELaNa XII mission with ARC1, BisonSat, Lightsail and R2S (NEO). The expected orbit is 470 x 780 km at 64 degrees inclination giving an orbit lifetime of about 11 years.

For more information see

IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Status pages

AMSAT Field Day 2013

Saudisat SO-50

Saudisat SO-50

The AMSAT-NA site reports on satellite activity for this years ARRL Field Day which takes place June 22-23.

Every year AMSAT promotes a satellite version of Field Day during the ARRL annual operating event which is held on the 4th weekend in June. This year Field Day will take place from 1800 UTC on Saturday June 22, 2013 through 2100 UTC on Sunday June 23, 2013.

SaudiSat-Oscar-50 will be the only operational FM transponder satellite this year. If you are considering only FM voice operating for your AMSAT Field Day focus the single uplink/downlink channel will be extremely challenging. As in prior years, this intense congestion on FM LEO satellites drives the limitation in the rules allowing their use to one-QSO-per-FM-satellite. This includes the International Space Station. You will be allowed one QSO if the ISS is operating Voice. You will also be allowed one digital QSO with the ISS or any other digital, non-store-and-forward, packet satellite (if operational).

If you have worked the satellites on Field Day in recent years, you may have noticed a lot of good contacts can be made on the linear transponder satellites including VO-52, FO-29, and AO-7. During Field Day the transponders come alive like 20 meters on a weekend. The transponders on these satellites will support multiple simultaneous SSB or CW contacts.

The AMSAT Field Day 2013 event is open to all Amateur Radio operators. Amateurs are to use the exchange as specified in ARRL rules for Field Day. The AMSAT competition is to encourage the use of all amateur satellites, both analog and digital.

For the complete listing of the AMSAT Field Day Rules please refer to the documents posted on-line at:

[We thank AMSAT Director Contests and Awards, Bruce Paige, KK5DO for the above information]