CHESS CubeSat Constellation to carry FUNcube transponders

CHESS CubeSat - Credit EPFL Spacecraft Team

CHESS CubeSat – Credit EPFL Spacecraft Team

In 2020, a project between AMSAT-UK, AMSAT-NL and Swiss universities started with the aim of equipping two Swiss satellites with a linear transponder for amateur radio.

CHESS - Three Unit CubeSat

CHESS – Three Unit CubeSat

With a linear transponder, several QSOs can take place simultaneously. The satellites can be operated in CW/SSB with the simplest equipment. The satellites also include features for classroom demonstrations and experiments. In numerous teleconference discussions, the technical possibilities could be sounded out and the realisation prepared.

The CHESS [Constellation of High Energy Swiss Satellites] project includes two satellites, which will be built simultaneously and later launched as a constellation. Both will provide a linear transponder for amateur radio use. The first satellite will have a nearly circular orbit at an altitude of 400 km. The second will have an elliptical orbit with an altitude of 350×1000 km.

The satellites themselves are a project of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) with support from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU – Institute of Electrical Engineering IET), the University of Bern, the Valais University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HES-SO), the Haute École Neuchâtel and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. The amateur radio payload is a project of AMSAT-UK/-NL.

On 18 December 2020, the successful system requirements review took place. The project coordination between CHESS and AMSAT lies with the Amateur Radio Association of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Technology & Architecture, Horw.

The Swiss AMSAT Operators provide information about the CHESS project at

EPFL Spacecraft Team

CHESS - Three Board Stack

CHESS – Three Board Stack

Raspberry Pi FUNcube satellite telemetry decoder now available

RPi decoder receiving telemetry from JY1Sat in Interactive mode

RPi decoder receiving telemetry from JY1Sat in Interactive mode

The FUNcube Team has announced the availability of FUNcube CubeSat satellite telemetry decoder software for the popular Raspberry Pi computer board.

The original FUNcube telemetry decoder and Dashboard was designed to run on Windows devices and the FUNcube team did publish the telemetry format in accordance with the Amateur Satellite Service traditions and requirements. The Team had planned to opensource the Telemetry Decoder and provide an implementation on Linux, but several new missions after the original FUNcube-1 delayed their plans somewhat.

Late 2019, the Team had the opportunity to develop a low power/low impact ground station, based on Docker containers, for use at the Neumayer III Antarctic base at DP0GVN. This led us to evolve the code such that it would run on a Raspberry Pi.

The Linux implementation is suitable for use on Raspberry Pi versions from 2B+ to 4 and with a FUNcube dongle (Pro or Pro+). The software will tune a dongle to search for and track all three FUNcube compatible spacecraft currently operational. The Telemetry Decoder is configured with five active decoders operating concurrently so it can deal with situations where more than one of the spacecraft are overhead at the same time.

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

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

The decoder and warehouse uploader run as a Docker container for convenience shell scripts have been provided to launch the container in one of two modes:

• “Interactive Mode” is when the Telemetry Decoder operates in the foreground , when FUNcube compatible telemetry is received, the corresponding hex data is displayed on the terminal screen.

• “Background Mode” allows the telemetry decoder to run as a Docker image in the background where it operates much like any other background service on Linux. This mode allows for the automatic restarting of the telemetry decoder after a shutdown or reboot of the Raspberry Pi, therefore making it suitable for a remote deployment situation.

*Both modes, when connected to the internet, will upload the received data to the FUNcube Data Warehouse and the totals displayed on the Ranking Page in the normal manner.

*Uploading to the warehouse requires online registration with the FUNcube Data Warehouse.

All the code for the telemetry decoder, and the scripts to build the Docker images, are now published online under a GPL Open Source License at the FUNcube-Dev GitHub account

Alternatively, it possible to buy a pre-formatted microSD card for the Pi from the AMSAT-UK shop at

Full instructions PDF can be downloaded from

FUNcube Data Warehouse

Brazil: High school students shown amateur radio

Gonçalves Dias School Students

Gonçalves Dias School Students

Brazilian radio amateurs participated in a Science Fair at Gonçalves Dias School, Boa Vista on October 16, 2019.

Paulo PV8DX used basic concepts of physics and geography when explaining amateur radio to the students. As well as theory they there were also practicals involving the students in antenna construction and contacts using the transponder on the amateur radio satellite LAPAN IO-86.

Paulo had asked AMSAT-UK FUNcube team if a special ‘Fitter‘ message could be transmitted from the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) satellite. This was arranged and the message from space was received at the school.

Watch Atividade Escolar – Ham Radio – By PV8DX

Further information on FUNcube-1 ‘Fitter’ messages and how to request one is available at


Ideas sought for the next FUNcube satellite

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

In November the FUNcube-1 CubeSat will have been in orbit for 6 years and the FUNcube team are now soliciting suggestions for the next satellite

The team are looking for suggestions for:
• Conformation of the satellite (2U / 3U)
• Orbit (LEO / MEO)
• STEM Outreach
• Amateur Radio Payloads
• Research Payloads

Please email your ideas to:
funcube-next <at>

The topic will be discussed during the AMSAT-UK Colloquium on Sunday 13th October 2019

If you would like to join the team, please email:
operations <at>

Dave, G4DPZ
on behalf of the FUNcube Team

AMSAT-UK payload on ESEO has been activated

Frame received by PQ2HX in Brazil at around 14:17 UTC on April 12, 2019

Frame received by PQ2HX in Brazil at around 14:17 UTC on April 12, 2019

ESA have just released a new mission update for the ESEO Mission. It can be seen at

We are delighted that on April 12, 2019, the BPSK telemetry transmitter, on our payload, was enabled for a period of just over 200 minutes in orbit!

ESEO AMSAT-UK Payload Telemetry Data

ESEO AMSAT-UK Payload Telemetry Data

Although we were not able to announce this activation in advance, more than ten stations around the world successfully received the telemetry on 145.895 MHz and submitted it to the FUNcube Data Warehouse. We are very grateful to them for their support.

Over 50 channels of Real Time and Whole Orbit Data were collected. For example, a number of on-board temperatures are shown in this graph which covers the period from 11:58 to 13:36 UTC

The very last frame received was captured by PQ2HX in Brazil at around 14:17 UTC.

We are keenly awaiting further possibilities to exercise more of the payload as soon as this becomes possible but, in the meantime, is good to know that all the telemetry channels reported nominal values.

FUNcube Patch on ESA PFC 71


Neil Melville-Kenney PA9N wearing FUNcube Patch on ESA PFC 71 - Credit Novespace and ESA

Neil Melville-Kenney PA9N wearing FUNcube Patch on ESA PFC 71 – Credit Novespace and ESA

Neil Melville-Kenney, PA9N, has been a long time supporter of amateur radio space since the days of the SSETI Express mission. He is presently the ESA Parabolic Flight Coordinator and today took the opportunity to fly a FUNcube patch during the ESA PFC 71 microgravity mission.

FUNcube Mission Patch

Neil presented an account of his activities during the 2018 AMSAT-UK Colloquium and the three FUNcubes, AO73, EO88 and JO97 continue to provide a 24/7 service with their 2 metre downlinks.

You can follow Neil on Twitter at

The FUNcube Mission Patch is available from the AMSAT-UK shop at