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 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

FUNcube email group

FUNcube Forum

FUNcube Website

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

Happy 5th Birthday FUNcube-1

First signals received from FUNcube-1

First signals received from FUNcube-1

Five years ago, on November 21, 2013, FUNcube-1 launched into space. Soon, we hope to welcome ESEO (FUNcube-4) and JY1SAT (FUNcube-6) into space. A remarkable achievement by the radio amateur volunteers of AMSAT-UK and AMSAT-NL.

Happy Birthday FUNcube-1.

In 2010, we got the first prototypes working and got zero packet errors when testing the downlink chain!

In 2012, we were assembling the flight model in the ISISpace clean room. ISISpace has been the satellite integrator for this mission and continues to partner with AMSAT-UK on multiple missions.

Another big milestone straight after assembly of the spacecraft: the antenna deployment test! During this test, we pretend the satellite is in space for the first time, and check that it successfully starts up and starts transmitting to the world.

After the deployment testing, the antennas need to be stowed again, and then we arm the satellite for launch and place it in its deployment canister together with our fellow passengers HiNCube and ZACUBE-1. In this case the ISISpace ISIPOD was used.

Next up: transport to the launch base, fitting to the rocket, and LAUNCH! FUNcube was launched 21 November 2013 at 07:10 UTC on a Dnepr rocket from Yasny Launch Base. Thanks ISILaunch for taking us up on ISILaunch03.

Since then, we have had FUNcube systems in UKube-1, QB50p1, Nayif-1 and the upcoming ESEO and JY1SAT spacecraft, bringing the total FUNcube payloads launched for STEM education and amateur radio to six.

In 5 years, FUNcube has transmitted for 157,766,400 seconds, with a 256kB frame every 5 seconds, equating to approx 7.5GB of data. Our ground network has recovered 1.7GB. On average, we see 105 daily listeners, receiving 3688 frames per day. At minimum, we still had 40 listeners.

Users receiving FUNcube-1 telemetry and uploading to Data Warehouse

Users receiving FUNcube-1 telemetry and uploading to Data Warehouse

We were very conservative with our power budget. The battery is almost always full, and quickly charges up after eclipse. The solar panel current Ipv does not show significant degradation. the ISI Space solar panels and GOMspace EPS are doing a wonderful job.

FUNcube-1 Solar Flux versus Power Generation

FUNcube-1 Solar Flux versus Power Generation

On board temperatures have been at maximum 43.2°C, and at minimum -26.7°C, disregarding some outliers caused by the satellite rebooting. We have had two periods of continuous illumination, which can be seen by the temperature rises.

FUNcube-1 Temperature

FUNcube-1 Temperature

Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) information

The JOTA-JOTI FUNcube Challenge

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch Rev4 20100609

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

In space, satellites can be found. A recent development in this area are the “CubeSat” satellites.

Normal satellites typically have a size ranging from that of a washing machine to a small truck.

CubeSats have the size of a milk-carton!

The JOTA-JOTI FUNcube Challenge focuses on the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) CubeSat satellite. During the Jamboree On The Air (JOTA-JOTI) on October 19-21, a special, coded, message will be transmitted. This message can be received with a simple 2m handheld antenna, e.g. HB9CV, a small yagi or even a vertical, and a SDR-dongle or any SSB radio for 2m. The data is sent by the satellite on its telemetry channel of 145.935 MHz (1200bd BPSK modulated). You will need to set your receiver to Upper Side Band (USB). If you use a FUNcube dongle, you can directly receive the satellite.

Sixth Staines Scouts with Chertsey Radio Club completing the JOTA FUNcube Challenge

The message is coded using the Enigma cipher machine. The deciphering key and Enigma settings can be obtained by answering the questions below.

The message sent by the satellite follows the following format: JOTA JOTI START coded message STOP

Your deciphered message can be mailed to: JJ.Satellite.Challenge (at) ( (at)=@)

The mail should contain your name, age, country and Scout group name and the correct answer!

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

If you have any pictures of the reception of the satellite with your group, this would also be highly appreciated, we would love to see how you did it!

If your answer is right and mailed before the 1st of November 2018, you will participate in a raffle.

The winner will get some products from
Have a lot of fun and good luck! Best 73s, Wouter PA3WEG and Jeroen PE1RGE

Information about the FUNcube1 can be found at:

Possible online Enigma coding machines:

Background information on the Enigma can be found here:

The message is coded with an Enigma M3, Navy version. Plugboard (Steckerbrett) is not used!!

FUNcube-1 Launch Day Mug

The questions for obtaining the deciphering key:

1.) A geostationary satellite has an altitude above the earths surface of (approximately):
A. 20200 km or 12600 miles – First rotor is rotor III
B. 35786 km or 22236 miles – First rotor is rotor V
C. 42164 km or 26199 miles – First rotor is rotor VII

2.) NASA has selected over 300 astronauts since 1959,
A. None of them was ever active in Scouting – First rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) A
B. Not more than 37 of them were active in Scouting – First rotor alphabet setting
(ringstellung) F
C. More than 200 were/are active in Scouting – First rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) S

3.) The average distance between the moon and the earth is:
A. 1738 km or 1080 miles – First rotor initial setting (grundstellung) D
B. 12742 km or 7918 miles – First rotor initial setting (grundstellung) G
C. 385001 km or 239228 miles – First rotor initial setting (grundstellung) H

4.) AMSAT, an organisation involved in launching a number of radio amateur satellites was founded in:
A. 1969 – Second rotor is rotor II
B. 1978 – Second rotor is rotor VI
C. 1991 – Second rotor is rotor VIII

5.) As satellites are flying extremely high in the sky, at least 100 Watts of transmit power is needed to establish communication with or through a satellite. Is this true or false?
A. True – Second rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) D
B. False – Second rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) C

6.) The Russian Sputnik 1 was the first artificial satellite orbiting around the earth. When was this satellite launched?
A. October 4th, 1957 – Second rotor initial setting (grundstellung) A
B. January 31st, 1958 – Second rotor initial setting (grundstellung) G
C. July 20th, 1969 – Second rotor initial setting (grundstellung) F

7.) The abbreviation OSCAR means:
A. Open Source Communication for Amateur Radio – Third rotor is rotor III
B. Outer Space Charge – free Amateur Radio – Third rotor is rotor IV
C. Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio – Third rotor is rotor I

8.) Signals from a satellite are characterized by Doppler-shift, this means:
A. The frequency of the transmitted signal appears to be higher when the satellite is moving towards you. – Third rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) T
B. The frequency of the transmitted signal appears to be lower when the satellite is moving towards you. – Third rotor alphabet setting (ringstellung) U

9.) If a radio amateur wants to communicate through satellites he/she needs to do an additional exam in order to obtain a special license, the Amateur Radio Operator License (AROL). True or false?
A. True – Third rotor initial setting (grundstellung) R
B. False – Third rotor initial setting (grundstellung) M

10.) Radio amateurs can make radio contact with the ISS (International Space Station)?
A. Yes – Reflector B
B. No – Reflector C

Download PDF of the JOTA-JOTI 2018_FUNcube_Challenge