FUNcube-1 celebrates its 4th birthday

Final gluing of FUNcube-1 bolt by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG – Image credit Gerard Aalbers

Final gluing of FUNcube-1 bolt by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG – Image credit Gerard Aalbers

Today, November 21st 2017, marks the fourth birthday for FUNcube-1 (AO-73) in orbit.

FUNcube-1 was launched at 07:10 UTC on November 21st 2013 and its first signals were received immediately after deployment over the Indian Ocean by amateurs in South Africa. Since then it has been operating continuously in either its education mode or, with the transponder active, in amateur mode when in eclipse and at weekends.

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch Rev4 20100609

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

The spacecraft has spent the four years in space orbiting the earth at between 640 and 580 km and has now traveled around the earth more than 20,000 times. That represents a distance traveled of approaching 500 million miles.

Up to now, each of the orbits has been spilt approximately 65% in sunlight and 35% in eclipse. This has resulted in the temperatures inside the small spacecraft varying by about 25° C during each orbit.

During the recent AMSAT-UK Colloquium, Wouter Weggelaar, PA3WEG, in his presentation about the FUNcube project mentioned that the power available from the solar panels has been slowly increasing since launch. This observation led the team to do some further investigations as to the cause.

Although the launch was into a nominally Sun Synchronous orbit, over time this has drifted and the spacecraft is now entering a period when it will be in the sun for longer periods during each orbit. The exact details are still being determined, but it seems likely that, starting from January 2018, there will be periods when the spacecraft will be in the sun for all, or almost all, of its orbits.

FUNcube-1 temperature rise

FUNcube-1 temperature rise

This means that the on-board temperatures will be much higher than we have previously experienced in flight, although we have some test records from pre-flight thermal air testing that were undertaken after integration.

The key will be to discover what the equilibrium temperature will be internally. For comparison, AO85 has already “enjoyed” periods of full sun and its internal temperatures have reached up to around 55° C.

So the next few months will be quite an exciting time for the team! We remain extremely grateful to everyone is using the spacecraft for both its educational and amateur missions. Of course we are also very very grateful to those who are downloading the telemetry and uploading the data to the Data Warehouse. It continues to provide a unique record of “life on board” a 1U CubeSat in space.

Watch the FUNcube presentation by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

Get your 73 on 73 Award, details at https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/73-on-73-award/

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) website https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/funcube-website/

FUNcube Yahoo Group https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/yahoo-group/

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

First family-friendly amateur radio event at The Royal Mint Experience

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

A unique event is taking place at The Royal Mint Experience, The Royal Mint’s new visitor centre in Llantrisant, Wales from July 30 to August 5, 2017. Local school children and members of the public have been invited to “The Royal Mint Radio Experience” to enjoy a fun, informal and interactive workshop.

They’ll have the opportunity to send and receive radio signals with FUNcube-1, an educational satellite launched in 2013 which is used by schools and educational groups all around the world. Visitors will also exchange greeting messages with radio enthusiasts across the world and, as each country is contacted it will be logged on a large map. The target is to contact each of the 100 countries with which the Royal Mint has worked during its 1,000 year history! The national amateur radio societies in many of those countries have contacted us to say that their members are looking forward to greeting the children on air.

In addition, during the sessions each person will be able to learn how to send their name using Morse code and will receive a special certificate to confirm their achievement.

RSGB General Manager Steve Thomas, M1ACB said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this event which will give visitors to the Royal Mint a chance to experience the wonder of amateur radio and satellite communication. Amateur radio has many links with the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) curriculum and can lead to rewarding careers.”

Members of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), Barry Amateur Radio Society (BARS) and AMSAT-UK will be running the special amateur radio station whose call sign GB4RME (GB 4 Royal Mint Experience) has been granted by Ofcom just for this event.

RSGB Regional Manager and BARS Chairman Glyn Jones, GW0ANA added: “We believe this is the very first time any amateur radio station has been allowed to operate from a Royal Mint anywhere in the world, so it really is a unique occasion!”

The FUNcube-1 Fitter message transmitted by the satellite says:
“Greetings from space to visitors, staff and team G B 4 R M E . Amateur Radio special event and demonstrations at the Royal Mint Experience South Wales. 30 Jul to 5 Aug.”
http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/downloads/fitter.txt

The Royal Mint Experience http://www.royalmint.com/en/the-royal-mint-experience

Barry Amateur Radio Society http://www.bars.btck.co.uk/

FUNcube-1 https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/communications/funcube-1/

Bittern DXers get 10k Lottery Grant

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

The Eastern Daily Press report the Bittern DX Group in North Walsham have been awarded £10,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.

The newspaper story says:

The award will help them continue to introduce people to the world of technology, and the possibilities that radio communication can offer people.

But the news wasn’t only celebrated in North Walsham, or even Norfolk, as the announcement was transmitted from a satellite orbiting the Earth.

The satellite, FunCube1, as built by members of the Amateur Radio community and launched into orbit on 21st November 2013.

It was built with the goal of enthusing and educating young people about radio, space, physics and electronics, and is the first satellite with outreach as its primary mission and demonstrates the depth and breadth of the hobby of Amateur Radio.

The Bittern DXers hope that with their new funds they can continue to work on initiatives such as the Educational Outreach Project which entails the group taking their equipment to public events and teach people about their hobby.

Read the full newspaper story at
http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/message-from-space-celebrates-north-walsham-group-s-stellar-grant-1-5106808

The FUNcube-1 Fitter message transmitted by the satellite said:
“The Bittern DXers are delighted to announce they have received a National Lottery Awards for All grant for their Educational Outreach project bringing amateur radio to the public.”
http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/downloads/fitter.txt

Information on the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) satellite can be found at  https://funcube.org.uk/
and https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/funcube-cubesat/

Bittern DXers https://www.bittern-dxers.org.uk/
https://twitter.com/BitternDXers

Any amateur radio club can apply for a Big Lottery Fund grant, details at https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/

What is Amateur Radio? http://www.essexham.co.uk/what-is-amateur-radio

Find an amateur radio training course near you https://thersgb.org/services/coursefinder/

FUNcube Satellite Status June 2017

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AMSAT-UK has released the FUNcube satellite status update report for June 2017.

AO-73 FUNcube-1

The transponder is normally operational only when the satellite is in eclipse, ie the solar panels are NOT being illuminated. During weekends (from PM Fridays UTC to PM Sundays UTC) the transponder is operational 24/7.

When the transponder is switched off, the telemetry beacon is on full power, when the transponder is on the beacon it is on low power. During holidays, e.g. Christmas, New Year, Easter, etc, the transponder maybe activated for extended periods. Watch AMSAT-BB for announcements which are usually made on Friday evenings (UTC)

The nominal transponder frequencies are:

Uplink: 435.150 – 435.130 MHz LSB (Inverting)
Downlink: 145.950 – 145.970 MHz USB
Telemetry Tx: 145.935 MHz BPSK

(The passband may be up to 15 kHz higher depending on on-board temps. Lower temperatures give higher freqs!)

FUNcube-2 (aka FUNcube on UKube)

The FUNcube-2 sub-system continues to operate autonomously and, almost continuously, in amateur mode. The transponder is operational and the telemetry downlink is functioning with about 70mW output. The FUNcube-1 Dashboard does not correctly display the telemetry but it does correctly decode the data and uploads it to the FUNcube Data Warehouse from where it can be examined. Most of the real time data channels are operational and these include battery voltages, temperatures and ADCS data coming via the main On Board Computer (OBC).

The transponder is interrupted for a few seconds every 2 minutes when the other transmitter sends its CW beacon and, occasionally, for a few seconds when the main OBC reboots (approx seven times each orbit).

The nominal transponder frequencies are:
Uplink: 435.080 – 435.060 MHz LSB (Inverting)
Downlink: 145.930 – 145.950 MHz USB
Telemetry Tx: 145.915 MHz BPSK

(The passband may be up to 10kHz higher depending on on-board temps. Low
temperatures give higher freqs!)

EO79 FUNcube-3

Due to power budget constraints the transponder cannot be operational 24/7 and an orbit specific schedule has been developed. The transponder will commence operation 27 minutes after the spacecraft enters sunlight and will stay on for a period of 25 minutes. This schedule may be modified in future months as a result of experience.

The nominal transponder frequencies are:
Uplink: 435.0723-435.0473 MHz LSB (Inverting)
Downlink: 145.946-145.971 MHz USB

Further detailed info on EO79 transponder frequencies is at:
https://amsat-uk.org/2016/11/10/eo79-funcube-3-transponder-commences-regular-operation/

EO88/Nayif-1/FUNcube-5

EO88 is presently operating in autonomous mode. The transponder is operational when the satellite is in eclipse, i.e. the solar panels are NOT being illuminated.

When the transponder is switched off, the telemetry beacon is on full power, when the transponder is on the beacon it is on low power.

The transponder frequencies are:

Uplink: 435.045 – 435.015 MHz LSB (inverting)
Downlink: 145.960-145.990 MHz USB
Telemetry Tx: 145.940MHz

All FUNcube transponders are sponsored by AMSAT-UK and AMSAT-NL. We are very grateful for the assistance given by Innovative Solution In Space Bv, The Netherlands.

AMSAT-BB http://www.amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb

FUNcube
Yahoo Group https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/yahoo-group/
Web http://www.funcube.org.uk/
Forum http://forum.funcube.org.uk/

More 73 on 73 Awards Issued

First 73 on 73 Award issued to Wyatt Dirks AC0RA

First 73 on 73 Award issued to Wyatt Dirks AC0RA

Paul Stoetzer N8HM reports more awards have been issued for contacts made via the AO-73 (FUNcube-1) amateur radio satellite.

The 73 on 73 Award aims to promote activity on AO-73. The requirements are straight-forward:

1. Work 73 unique stations on AO-73.
2. Contacts must be made on or after September 1, 2014.
3. There are no geographic restrictions on your operating location.

The latest recipients are:
20. David D’Aliesio IW0HLG – 31 May 2015
21. Kiyosi Hasegawa JA3FWT – 22 June 2015
22. Mariusz Kocot SQ9MES – 28 June 2015
23. Hector Luis Martinez W5CBF – 12 July 2015
24. George K. Carr II WA5KBH – 17 July 2015
25. Michel Ribot F6GLJ – 18 July 2015
26. Paul Stoetzer N8HM – 21 July 2015
27. Jeffrey Lamb NX9B – 2 August 2015
28. Imre Füzi HA1SE – 13 September 2015
29. Herman Blom PB0AHX – 1 November 2015
30. Joseba Andoni Barrio – 22 November 2015

Full information on how to apply is at https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/73-on-73-award/

Second Birthday of FUNcube-1

FUNcube-1 flight model - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) was launched into space two years ago on November 21, 2013.

We are delighted to be able to report that more than 900 stations, including many schools around the world, have received the telemetry from the spacecraft since launch. Our Data Warehouse is storing more than 750 MB of data from almost 1 million data packets. We are very grateful to everyone who has been contributing to the success of this mission. Please continue to keep the data flowing as it will provide a valuable resource for students in the future.

The stats continue – speeding along at around 17,500 mph, FUNcube-1, which had a launch mass of just 982 grams, has completed more than 10,500 orbits of the earth. This means a total distance travelled of more than 260 million miles.

All telemetry sensors continue to provide valid data, real time, whole orbit and high resolution channels alike. The flight code is really robust and we have only had three unexpected “events” since launch. Two of these we believe to have been caused by noise of the command receiver being incorrectly interpreted as a command and only one appears to have been caused by a RAM error. The battery and solar panels also continue to work perfectly and provide a very positive power budget.

We have sent out many Fitter messages for school and other similar events. On November 17, 2015 there was a demonstration at Thorne Green Top School in Yorkshire. Here is a report from Dave Ryan EI4HT/M0GIW:

FUNcube-1 Educational Outreach - Thorne Green Top School in Yorkshire

FUNcube-1 Educational Outreach – Thorne Green Top School in Yorkshire

Good Morning All  

Firstly -thanks to all for your help, we had a great morning at Green Top and the highlight was FUNcube.

I started with a slide show talking about communications from cave paintings all the way up to smartphones, we looked at space communications and travel from Sputnik to Astra and Apollo to the Millennium Falcon! We spoke about satellites and how they are used every day and how we all got to watch “I’m A Celebrity” via Satellite last night from Australia.

I brought in lots of props too, some old Motorola MX330 radios, some PMR 446, and a marine band radio .I also had a small model of a CubeSat that I knocked up over the weekend, I also passed around some NOAA images from last week’s Abigail storm and I had a few QSL cards from ISS and MIR from years ago when I lived in Ireland.  

The FUNcube pass was great, really strong signals, I had my turnstile and FCD set up and had audio through speakers and used the class projector to show Satpc32 and the Dashboard.  

There was a great buzz of excitement when we got the first packet and even more when the Fitter messages came through. The kids were fascinated to see the signal arrive just as the software predicted and then hear the telemetry and the decode.  

After the pass we were able to look at the Warehouse online and print off the QSL card and certificate.

 I didn’t get a chance to take many pics but Mrs Overson will update the School Blog and she took lots of pics.

http://greentopschool.co.uk/blog

Once again thanks to all at FUNcube, looking forward to Tim Peake on the ISS in the New Year and planning another visit to the School then.

Regards

Dave EI4HT / M0GIW

PS: I was back dropping my own kids off this morning and Mrs Overson told me they have printed a QSL card and Certificate for each of the students and they have used them for their class journals.

As well providing a great educational resource, FUNcube-1 operates at night and generally at weekends with the linear transponder active for radio amateurs to use for communications. The transponder continues to provide an excellent service. As users will be aware, the transponder uplink frequencies vary with receiver temperature. The RX temp telemetry channel is the best one to use for tracking this effect. This does make it quite difficult to use full computer control for transponder operations and we have already developed new oscillator circuits to improve this performance for future missions.

For the telemetry uplinked to the Data Warehouse, it is possible to download special Certificate or QSL Card here http://amsatuk.me.uk/on/funcube_qsl.php and, for transponder users, the “73 on 73 award” continues at https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/73-on-73-award/

The Nayif-1 CubeSat mission, which includes a full FUNcube payload, is expected to be launched into a similar orbit in the first half of next year and will provide an additional level of service to the community.

Meanwhile we hope everyone will continue to have fun with FUNcube-1!

FUNcube-1 https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/communications/funcube-1/
Nayif-1 https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/communications/nayif-1/
FUNcube on Twitter https://twitter.com/FUNcubeUK
AMSAT-UK on Twitter https://twitter.com/AmsatUK
Facebook https://facebook.com/AmsatUK
YouTube https://youtube.com/AmsatUK