FUNcube operations

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

FUNcube-1

As you will know, AO73/FUNcube-1 has been in full sunlight for over one month and has been transmitting continuously high power telemetry for most of that time. This has now been changed to full time amateur mode so the transponder is once again available. With the more stable on board temperatures being experienced, this means that the transponder frequencies are also now more stable. We expect to leave it in this mode for some weeks so that the team can determine whether or not the currents flowing from the solar panels are having any noticeable effect on the spin period.

FUNcube-2

The FUNcube-2 transponder on EO-88/UKube-1 continues to be in full time transponder mode. There are occasional breaks in service for a few seconds when the OBC reboots and the other onboard transmitter sends its CW beacon.

FUNcube-3 on Nayif-1

EO88/Nayif-1 continues to perform nominally with high power telemetry when in sunlight and amateur mode when in eclipse.

With their slightly different orbital characteristics it is useful that AO73 is now the early bird, EO88 comes over in the mid morning and UKube provides coverage in the afternoon.

We have been suffering from some network issues in relation to uploading the telemetry from the Dashboards to the Data Warehouse over the past couple of weeks. Apologies for this, but hopefully everything is now stable again. ie fingers are still crossed. Thank you for all the telemetry that you upload.

Like many other teams, we are presently waiting for the next Space-X launch from Vandenberg which is expected to be carrying a number of new amateur payloads, These will provide additional transponder and STEM capabilities for the amateur satellite service. Exciting times ahead.

73 Graham G3VZV

The FUNcube Team will be giving a presentation on JY1Sat and FUNcube Next at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium, part of the RSGB Convention, at the Kents Park Conference Centre, Timbold Drive, Milton Keynes, MK7 6BZ. Colloquium presentations will be in Lecture Room 5. Download the programme schedule from
http://rsgb.org/main/about-us/rsgb-convention/rsgb-convention-programme/

Tickets to the event are available at the door details at
http://rsgb.org/main/about-us/rsgb-convention/

There will be a live stream of the Colloquium presentations at https://batc.org.uk/live/

AO-73 / FUNcube-1 Illumination – Update January 15, 2018

Face of the SunThe time when AO-73 enters continuous sunlight, for the first time, is fast approaching. Current estimates show that this will commence on February 6th and last through until March 13th.

Obviously, the autonomous switching system that the spacecraft has been using to switch between amateur mode, with the transponder on in eclipse and educational mode with high power telemetry only in sunlight, will no longer work.

Already the periods of eclipse are reducing quite rapidly and we are therefore planning for manual mode switching to take be undertaken. This will start from the week beginning Jan 21st and will follow this initial plan.

Wednesday evening (UTC) or Thursday morning – switch to full time amateur mode – ie transponder on with low power telemetry.

Sunday evening (UTC) or Monday morning – switch to full time educational mode with high power telemetry only.

So if you are planning school demonstrations or particular DXpeditions please take this new schedule into account.

The team may have to flex this plan with experience as this situation was not allowed for in the original mission plan!

AO-73 / FUNcube-1 spin period and illumination December 2017
https://amsat-uk.org/2017/12/03/ao73-spin-period-illumination/

FUNcube Website https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/

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

FUNcube Forum https://amsat-uk.org/funcube/funcube-forum/

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/