Ham radio in National Geographic film Before Mars

Before Mars - Hana and Joon Seung - Credit National Geographic Channels - Scott Gries

Before Mars – Hana and Joon Seung – Credit National Geographic Channels – Scott Gries

The National Geographic channel have announced the release of the short film Before Mars which is the dramatic backstory of Hana and Joon Seung, identical twin sisters who will grow up to be central characters in the upcoming global event series, MARS.

Shot in Ellenville, NY, “Before Mars” is the story of twin Korean teenage girls who move to a new town with their military mom. Hana, a bit of a nerd, finds a ham radio and with the help of an Elmer, makes contact with the International Space Station.

The amateur radio researcher on the project was Michael Gilmer N2MG.

Watch the 33 minute National Geographic Channel short film Before Mars at

How to hear the ISS https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/how-to-hear-the-iss/

Raspberry Pi could generate ISS HamTV video

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

The ARISS meeting minutes for August 16, 2016 cover the discussion about using a Raspberry Pi computer board to generate video to feed the ISS Digital ATV transmitter.

An idea was proposed by Jean-Pierre Courjaud F6DZP for using Raspberry Pi at the transmitting ground stations for generating a H264 video stream that modulates a DVB-S or DVB-52 carrier. His report was distributed to the ARISS team on August 12, 2016.

Discussion:  Jean-Pierre Courjaud had brought this idea to a Ham TV Technical (HTT) meeting for using Raspberry Pi to generate a H264 video stream. Raspberry Pi is used in the United Kingdom for DATV on 2 meters.

Gaston Bertels ON4WF termed this a cost effective solution, probably easy to work on, many people and schools would be able to receive video from the ISS, and he inquired if this idea was proposed for the Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA flight next year. Jean-Pierre Courjaud related that Paolo Nespoli had asked about it, and the team hopes he could use it if the idea is presented for review to the ARISS-International Technical Evaluation & Support Committee and approved by ARISS Delegates.

Jean-Pierre Courjaud explained that Raspberry Pi could be a solution for two things—first, the webcam could be used instead of the onboard ISS camera, and second, signals received by schools could be transmitted back to the crew.  Frank Bauer KA3HDO felt the astronauts would like this.  Dave Taylor W8AAS asked about the type of receiver schools would need and how signals would be uplinked.  Jean-Pierre Courjaud clarified that schools would have a narrowband ATV receiver that uses a USB dongle; this would bring the signal to the Surface Pro computer that Paolo Nespoli plans to fly on ISS, and modified mini-tutioune software would decode the uplink signal received from the L-band antenna.

Dave Taylor inquired what new hardware would have to be tested and certified for flight.  Jean-Pierre Courjaud said that Nespoli plans to take the Surface Pro, and to be tested and launched would be the USB interface that would work with the L-band antenna and serve as an L-band receiver with the Surface Pro. During Nespoli’s mission the mini-tutioune software could be uploaded to his Surface Pro.  Oliver Amend DG6BCE planned to share the meeting discussion with Emanuele D’Andria I0ELE and ask him and the committee, because the project originated with AMSAT-Italia, to give the plan, including what must be tested and launched, to Mark Steiner K3MS, chair of the ARISS-International Technical Evaluation & Support Committee.

Read the full ARISS Meeting Minutes August 16, 2016 at

ARISS Meeting Minutes http://www.ariss.org/meeting-minutes/

IARU issue Amateur-Satellite Service spectrum requirements

IARU_LogoThe IARU has released a revised edition of Spectrum Requirements for the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services.

The document mentions the need for the expansion of the 20m band from 14000-14350 kHz to 14000-14400 kHz which was the spectrum originally allocated to amateurs at the 1927 Washington Conference. No expansion to the 14 MHz Amateur-Satellite allocation is planned.

The IARU seeks expansion to 250 kHz of the Amateur-Satellite Service allocations at both 18 and 24 MHz.

A harmonized allocation for the Amateur-Satellite Service is sought at 50-54 MHz, to bridge the gap between 28 MHz and 144 MHz but it should be noted the IARU plans for a harmonized 50 MHz band at WRC-18 are for the Amateur Service only not Amateur Satellites.

The document notes that because of the crowding of the existing band 435-438 MHz with uncrewed amateur satellites and crewed space stations, it is desirable to study expansion of the band. This is exactly what the IARU were saying over 8 years ago, as yet they do not appear to have actually studied band expansion. See the 2008 IARU Spectrum Requirements document.

Regarding the existing 1260-1270 MHz Amateur-Satellite Service allocation the IARU say they seek the deletion of the “Earth-to-space only” restriction. They note that WRC-2000 allocated the band 1240-1300 MHz to the radiodetermination-satellite service for space-to-space use. In addition, WRC-2000 allocated the band 1260-1300 MHz to the radiodetermination-satellite service for space-to-Earth use such as for the European Galileo positioning system. These actions do not change the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Service allocations but present new sharing situations and potential operating restrictions.

Due to the high level of interference from license exempt devices substitute spectrum for the Amateur-Satellite Service 2400-2450 MHz allocation is sought.

It seems the IARU no longer any intends to seek a global Amateur-Satellite Service allocation at 3400-3410 MHz.

There are no plans to improve the status of Amateur-Satellite allocations at 5 or 10 GHz.

Download the Spectrum Requirements document from

Download the Summary Record of the IARU Administrative Council meeting held in Viña del Mar, Chile, October 7-8, 2016 http://www.iaru.org/administrative-council-meetings.html

ESEO Project Update October 2016

Dr Chris Bridges 2E0OBC and Pete Bartram from Surrey Space Centre with the AMSAT-UK payload and some of the ESEO electronics

Chris Bridges 2E0OBC and Pete Bartram from Surrey Space Centre with the AMSAT-UK FUNcube-4 payload and some of the ESEO electronics

A team of three from AMSAT-UK and Surrey Space Centre visited Forli in Italy in mid-October where the Engineering Model of the ESEO satellite is being assembled.

ESEO, The European Student Earth Orbiter, is a 50 kg satellite from ESA Education incorporating payloads from AMSAT-UK and Universities around Europe.

The AMSAT-UK FUNcube-4 payload will provide a 1260/145 MHz FM transponder and 145 MHz 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon to provide a telemetry downlink that can be easily received by schools and colleges for educational outreach purposes. The data will be displayed in an attractive format and provide stimulation and encouragement for students to become interested in all STEM subjects in a unique way.

The target audience is primarily students in Secondary and Higher education, the project includes the development of a simple and cheap “ground station” operating on VHF frequencies in the Amateur Satellite Service. The ground station would comprise an omni-directional antenna feeding a FUNcube DonglePRO+ SDR receiver which will receive the signals direct from the satellite and transfer the data to specially developed graphical software running on any Windows laptop.

David Bowman G0MRF holds the ESEO bottom plate during the fit check of the L band patch antenna

David Bowman G0MRF holds the ESEO bottom plate during the fit check of the L band patch antenna

During the visit to Forli, the team began work integrating the AMSAT-UK payload into a FlatSat version of ESEO at the facilities of Sitael, who are the prime contractor for the mission. One of the main objectives was to check communication between the payload’s CAN bus, the ESEO On-Board Data handling system (OBDH) and the science payloads. Until now the communication between units, using the CAN-Open protocol had only been simulated as each part of the satellite had been assembled in a different part of Europe. After a tense few hours and a few inevitable refinements to the firmware, data started flowing as planned and another milestone had been achieved.

When on orbit, the ESEO AMSAT-UK payload will transmit telemetry on 145.930 MHz at 1200 bps for educational outreach in a similar way to the FUNcube-1 satellite (AO-73). Additionally, In the event of a failure of the main 2.2 GHz S-Band transmitter, the payload will act as a redundant communications system for transmitting science data. To achieve this the payload can increase its transmission rate to 4800bps.

The team also carried out a fit check for the circular polarised L band patch antenna and checked out the L band to VHF FM transponder.

The flight model of ESEO is due to be delivered at the end of  the 2nd quarter of 2017. An Invitation to Tender for the launch has been issued by ESA.

Watch An RF look at ESEO by David Bowman G0MRF

2016 International Space Colloquium Presentations Playlist

ESEO https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/communications/eseo/

ISS Columbus ham radio HT inoperative


International Space Station

The Ericsson VHF handheld transceiver in the ISS Columbus module which is used for amateur radio voice contacts on 144.800 MHz and the packet radio digipeater on 145.825 MHz is unusable.

The VHF handheld radio model that has been used by the ARISS program to connect students worldwide with astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) for over 16 years has given an error message and is unusable at this time.

While the ARISS technical team evaluates the best path to restore operation from the Columbus module, ARISS contacts will be supported using the Kenwood radio in the Russian Service Module.  During this period, the packet digipeater will be unavailable.

Switching to the 70 cm radio capability on board the Columbus module for some operations is being coordinated. Expect further updates as we work to resolve this problem.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

Dave Taylor W8AAS has posted the following information on the AMSAT Bulletin Board:

ARISS is actively working on a new Interoperable Radio System for ISS.  The primary components are a modified Kenwood D710GA radio and a custom ARISS-designed power supply.  The radio is complete except for final programming and NASA testing and certification.  The power supply design is in final stages and a hardware prototype has been built.  It will power existing and anticipated ARISS equipment.

The radio by itself is useless without the power supply (the radio needs 13.8 VDC, the ISS provides 120 VDC in the US segment and 28 VDC in the Russian segment).  The power supply will allow ham radio equipment to be used anywhere on ISS.

The goal is to have this new system aboard ISS about 1 year from now.  This assumes that ARISS can raise the remaining funds needed and that no delays occur in NASA testing and certification of the entire system.  The new radio system will give ISS a strong 25-watt signal on voice and packet, and is planned to support a variety of operating modes.

This system was discussed in presentations at last year’s AMSAT Symposium and you can find details in the 2015 Proceedings.  I haven’t seen a schedule, but I expect there will be updates at the Symposium next month.

A Geosynchronous Ham Radio Satellite

AMSAT members with the 5 GHz and 10 GHz Phase 4B geosynchronous satellite

AMSAT members with the 5 GHz and 10 GHz Phase 4B geosynchronous satellite

Gary Pearce KN4AQ has released a video of the Digital Communications Conference presentation by Bob McGwier N4HY about the AMSAT payload for a geosynchronous satellite.

Possible coverage of Geosynchronous satellite 74 degrees West - Credit Bill Reed NX5R

Possible coverage of Geosynchronous satellite 74 degrees West – Credit Bill Reed NX5R

AMSAT-NA is developing a “hosted payload” for a spacecraft that Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of El Segundo, California, is under contract to design, launch, and operate for the US government. The satellite’s potential footprint could extend over the US from the Mid-Pacific to Africa.

The amateur radio payload will comprise a Software Defined Transponder capable of supporting many different modes, including analog SSB.

Gary Pearce KN4AQ writes: We’ve been hearing about a Geosynchronous satellite for the Western Hemisphere for a while now, but not many details. In this episode from the DCC, project leader Bob McGwier N4HY fills in a lot of blanks. There’s no launch date yet, and maybe not quite enough info to start building your ground station (a ‘Five & Dime’ setup – 5 GHz up, 10 GHz down), but you can start thinking about it.

HRN 272: A GeoSync Ham Radio Satellite for the Americas – from the DCC on Ham Radio Now

What does a geosynchronous orbit look like?

Previous editions of HamRadioNow http://www.youtube.com/user/HamRadioNow/videos