434 MHz balloon launch at BBC Stargazing event

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon - Image credit Dave Akerman M6RPI/2E0LTX/M0RPI

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon – Image credit Dave Akerman M0RPI

Radio amateur David Akerman M0RPI will be launching a 434 MHz balloon from the BBC Stargazing Live solar eclipse event in Leicester on March 20.

The flight is to primarily to take photographs during the partial solar eclipse. Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV), RTTY and LoRa telemetry beacons will be transmitting from the balloon in 434 MHz, so plenty of stuff to tune in to.

The launch activities will be recorded and some of the footage will be transmitted on the special BBC Stargazing show from 9am to 10am on that day.  There will also be a couple of very brief live segments where, hopefully, Dave will get to show some pretty live images.  Also, assuming the payload is recovered, some of the recorded video should end up on the main Stargazing show in the evening (9pm-10pm, BBC2).

There will be 2 Raspberry Pi trackers each sending telemetry and SSDV using both RTTY and LoRa modulation. RTTY frequencies are Upper Sideband (USB).

Pi #1 (camera with solar film):
MARVIN:  434.300 MHz, RTTY, 910 Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2
ZAPHOD:  434.350 MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8 kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6

Pi #2 (bare camera):
KRYTEN:  434.400 MHz, RTTY, 910 Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2
RIMMER:  434.450 MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8 kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6

UPDATE March 18 – An additional beacon has been added:
BUZZ: 434.315 MHz, 425 Hz shift, 50 baud, 7 N 2

Launch time 8am Friday, March 20, 2015

As well as the TV stuff, the BBC are running a “spectacular live event” from the racecourse, open to the public from 9am to 3pm and then 6pm to 9pm.  Entry is free to please do come along if you can.  They have a real astronaut, Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA, and plenty else of interest – see
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/stargazing-live-leicester

Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event
https://amsat-uk.org/2015/03/02/radio-hams-will-be-at-bbc-solar-eclipse-event/

The 434 MHz signals transmitted by High Altitude Balloons can have a range of up to 800 km. The path of the balloons can be tracked in real-time at http://spacenear.us/tracker/

Useful links for tracking, receiving and decoding the telemetry from 434 MHz balloons can be found at
https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/balloons/

Listen for 434 MHz balloon signals online using the SUWS WebSDR, further details at
https://amsat-uk.org/2014/08/15/suws-websdr-moves-to-new-site/

Listen to FUNcube-1 during Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse - March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse – March 20, 2015

There will be a total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015 which tracks across the North Atlantic and eventually covers a lot of the Arctic.

Path of Solar Eclipse  March 20 2015

Path of Solar Eclipse March 20, 2015

It would seem that this will affect most spacecraft that are in a polar orbit to some extent as, at that sort of time, they would expect to be in sunlight at the time and location.

On FUNcube-1 (AO-73) we have a good power budget which means that we should be able to maintain our normal autonomous operation schedule for the day but, of course, if the spacecraft does go fully into darkness it should switch autonomously to transponder and low power telemetry.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens and we hope that as many listeners as possible will upload the data they receive between 0740 and 1150 UT on that morning. Our Whole Orbit Data will show the solar currents, battery voltage and external temps clearly during this period so we should get a clear understanding of the effects on board.

If anyone has some software that can model the satellite’s track and the expected impact of the solar eclipse it would be great to hear about it!

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) Telemetry:
• Dashboard App http://funcube.org.uk/working-documents/funcube-telemetry-dashboard/
• Data Warehouse Archive http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/
• Whole orbit data will show the effect http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/wod.html?satelliteId=2

This website has a good animation of the eclipse
http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/solar/2015-march-20

Information on the Solar Eclipse from Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society member Peter Meadows M0ZBU http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2015/march/partial_solar_eclipse_march_20.htm

Essex Partial Solar Eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015
http://www.petermeadows.com/Essex_Partial_Solar_Eclipse_Mar15.pdf

Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event
https://amsat-uk.org/2015/03/02/radio-hams-will-be-at-bbc-solar-eclipse-event