FUNcube-1 / AO73 Update

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022Many will be aware that FUNcube-1 has been transmitting a special Fitter message to commemorate her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this month.

Everyone who receives this message and uploads it to the Data Warehouse using the Dashboard can generate a certificate to remember this historic event. The special message includes a link to a website that has the full instructions. It is intended to keep this message active until the end of June.

The spacecraft’s orbit continues to run near the sun’s terminator and this is resulting in less than optimal solar power generation. The battery bus voltage is now centering around 7.45 volts rather than the 8+ volts that we have seen for many years. We believe that this reduced voltage level may be due to a combination of factors, illumination levels, battery and/or solar panel degradation or, possibly, gradual changes in some component values within the EPS. It is also possible that the high spin/tumble rates that we experienced over the recent months may be involved. Our thanks to to Colin VK5HI and his team for continuing to keep track of this issue for us.

Operators may have noticed that the spacecraft is now in high power telemetry mode when in sunlight and in receive only mode during eclipse. Although the transponder is not currently active, with the rapid fading presently being experienced on the downlink, the high power telemetry setting will assist listeners to decode the data more easily.

We continue to be extremely grateful to all those stations who continue to contribute their data to the FUNcube data warehouse. The information you are providing is invaluable to the FUNcube to team and will greatly assist us in managing the spacecraft through its “middle age” after more than eight years in space!

AO-73/FUNcube-1 Fitter Message for The Queen’s 70th Jubilee Celebration

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022In June 2022, Her Majesty The Queen becomes the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years of service.

AMSAT-UK has decided to send a special Platinum Jubilee greetings message via FUNcube-1 (AO-73). Anyone who receives this message and uploads it to the Data Warehouse using the Dashboard can generate a certificate to remember this historic event.

AO-73/FUNcube-1 is transmitting the Jubilee Fitter message on the BPSK Telemetry beacon which has a nominal frequency of 145.935 MHz +/ Doppler.

The AO-73/FUNcube-1 Dashboard App can be downloaded from
https://funcube.org.uk/working-documents/funcube-telemetry-dashboard/

Data Warehouse http://data.amsat-uk.org/missions

Online tracking of AO-73 https://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=39444

FUNcube-1 (AO73) Celebrating eight years in orbit!

FUNcube-1 Telemetry as at Nov 21, 2021

FUNcube-1 Telemetry as at Nov 21, 2021

November 21, 2021, marks the eighth birthday of the FUNcube-1 CubeSat. Remarkably the tiny spacecraft, launched from Russia on November 21, 2013, continues to work well having travelled more than a billion kilometres in space.

During the past couple of months, the spacecraft’s orbits have been running just along the edge of the terminator. Initially we had effectively full sun with no eclipses but at the beginning of this month it appears that the solar panels were not receiving enough solar radiation to keep the battery fully charged.

FUNcube-1 was transmitting continuous high-power telemetry and was therefore consuming maximum power. The screenshot above is from the AMSAT-UK/BATC groundstation at Goonhilly Earth Station. The FUNcube Dashboard shows the rapid decline in the bus voltage from an already below normal 8.0V down to 7.8V. The spacecraft was switched to “safe” mode on the afternoon of November 18th. This reduced to total power consumption by almost 50% and, as can been seen, the spacecraft is again in a happy “power positive” situation.

Although safe mode provides less than 20mW of downlink RF, it is remarkable how many stations are still receiving and decoding the 1k2 BPSK telemetry. This is a good point at which to say a massive thank you to the many many stations around the world who, even after eight years, are continuing to submit their data to the FUNcube Data Warehouse. It really is valuable to the team and has really helped us to understand what is going on up there!

We will continue to monitor the telemetry over the next few weeks and plan to return FUNcube-1 to nominal autonomous operation, with the transponder on when the spacecraft is in eclipse, as soon as possible.

Interestingly, it appears that we will not be having any more “full sunlight” periods for the foreseeable future., however those that we have experienced have provided some good data on how hot a 1U CubeSat can become in such circumstances!

FUNcube-1 (AO73) returns to full sunlight and continuous telemetry mode

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

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

After a few months of normal eclipse periods, FUNcube-1 (AO73) will, next week, re-enter full sunlight from next week for a period of approximately two months.

As we have been in continuous transponder mode for some time now, we have decided that, during this sunlight period, FUNcube-1 should operate in continuous high power telemetry mode. The change will be made within the next few days.

FUNcube-1 has now been in orbit for almost eight years and the telemetry indicates that all systems, including the battery and solar panels appear to operating as well now as they did immediately after launch!

FUNcube-1 in continuous transponder mode

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

After some eight months in continuous sunlight, FUNcube-1 has now started to see some eclipses during each orbit.

The telemetry received has shown that the spacecraft continued to function perfectly during this period and the on board temperatures did not reach excessively high levels.

After this became clear, our next concern was the battery. Having been kept fully charged for this period, would it actually hold a charge and do its job when in eclipse?

After three weeks of increasing eclipse periods we can now see that indeed the Li battery appears to be ok and the bus voltage has not yet dropped below 8.1 volts.

So today we have changed the operating mode from high power telemetry educational mode to continuous amateur mode withe the transponder ON. The telemetry continues to be available, albeit at low power.

We will, of course, continue to carefully monitor the data but are planning to leave the spacecraft in this mode for at least the next week. Please enjoy using it!

Happy Birthday FUNcube-1 (AO73)

Telemetry received from FUNcube-1 at National Radio Centre Bletchley Park, Nov 21, 2013

Telemetry received from FUNcube-1 at National Radio Centre Bletchley Park, Nov 21, 2013

November 21st 2019, marked the sixth birthday of our very first CubeSat mission, FUNcube-1.

A very short time after the launch from Yasny in Russia and within a few minutes from deployment, the very first frame of data from the low power transmitter on board, was detected and decoded by ZS1LS in South Africa. He was able to relay the data over the internet from his Dashboard to the Data Warehouse and the numbers, appeared, as if by magic, at the launch party being held at the RSGB National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park.

FUNcube ISL03 Mission Patch

ISL03 Mission Patch

After a very brief check out, the FUNcube team were able to switch the transmitter to full power, again at the very first attempt, and were quite amazed at the strength of the signal from the 300mW transmitter on 145.935 MHz. The transponder was then switched on and successfully tested.

The team finished the day with a request to AMSAT-NA for an Oscar number and were delighted to receive the AO73 Oscar 73 designation!

Since then, FUNcube-1, with a launch mass of less than 1kg, has operated continuously with only a very few interruptions. In excess of 32000 orbits, 750 million miles travelled, and with more than 7 million data packets downloaded and stored in the Data Warehouse.

The spacecraft is presently in continuous sunlight and to convert as much of the sun’s thermal energy into RF (to help keep it cool), it remains in continuous high power telemetry mode. We anticipate this situation will continue until early May next after which the team expect to have 3 months with some eclipse periods.

Of course, EO88 – Nayif 1 continues to operate autonomously with the transponder active when in eclipse and JO99 – JY1Sat, which includes image downloads, and which was launched just under a year ago, also remain active on a 24/7 basis.

The FUNcube team still receive many requests for Fitter message uploads for school events…please contact us by email to operations@funcube.org.uk giving us at least two weeks notice.

The FUNcube team continue to be very grateful to all the many stations around the world that continue to upload the telemetry that they receive to our Data Warehouse. They really need this data to provide a continuous resource for educational outreach.

With that in mind, here is a link to a previous update which shows the correct current Data Warehouse address and the Dashboard software that can be used for each spacecraft
https://funcube.org.uk/2019/01/21/funcube-dashboard-summary-update/

FUNcube email group https://groups.io/g/FUNcube

FUNcube Forum http://forum.funcube.org.uk/

FUNcube Website http://www.funcube.org.uk/

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