History of HamTV on the ISS

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS HamTV Transmitter

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS HamTV Transmitter

Thursday, February 11, 2016, at 18:09 UTC, an educational ARISS radio contact took place at the Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth,, United Kingdom. The school contact was operated by Tim Peake KG5BVI in the frame of the Principia mission.

It was a historic event: the radio contact was enhanced with video! Tim Peake activated the Ham Video transmitter on board Columbus.

HamTV Antennas at ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD in Casale Monferrato, Italy

HamTV Antennas at ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD in Casale Monferrato, Italy

As far back as the year 2000, a proposal for an ATV system on the International Space Station was submitted to the ARISS  Project Selection and Use Committee by Graham Shirville, G3VZV.

November 2002, a request for amateur radio facilities on the then under construction Columbus module was submitted by Gaston Bertels, ON4WF to Jörg Feustel-Büechl, Director of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity Directorate of the European Space Agency (ESA). The request was to install wideband amateur radio antennas on the nadir of Columbus, facing the earth. With such antennas, the on board amateur radio facilities could be extended to amateur TV.

In 2003 the request was examined in detail and finally accepted. ARISS would pay for the development, manufacturing and qualification of the antennas. ESA would support the installation cost.

ARISS-Europe started a funding campaign, all donations being published on the website.

In 2004 coaxial feed throughs were installed on the port cone of Columbus. This was needed for accessing the antennas with feedlines from inside the module.

In 2005, the Royal Belgian Amateur Radio Society (UBA) signed a contract with the Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland for the development and manufacturing of the antennas. Whereas initial plans were for UHF, L-band and S-band antennas, only L- and S-band antennas could be ordered by lack of funding. The cost of the project was 47,000 Euro.

One of the Columbus Module 2.4 / 1.2 GHz Antennas

One of the Columbus Module 2.4 / 1.2 GHz Antennas

Early 2006 the antennas were delivered to ESA. Meanwhile main Columbus contractor EADS and subcontractor Alenia Spazio had reviewed mechanical and thermal constraints. Wroclaw University proceeded to qualifications tests (cost 3.000 Euro) and the antennas failed.

In 2007 an additional contract was signed with the Wroclaw University for the development of modified antennas. This amounted to 36.000 Euro. These antennas were accepted and installed on Columbus, October 2007.

The cost of the antennas finally amounted to 86.000 Euro and was covered by a wordwide funding campaign.

ESA supported the total installation cost of the antennas, including feed throughs and coaxial cables.

After the successful launch of Columbus and its integration into the International Space Station complex, an ARISS-Europe working group started a study for the development of an amateur television transmitter on Columbus, using one of the the S-band antennas. A debate started between the supporters of analog television (ATV) and the proponents of digital television (DATV). The working group, which met monthly per teleconference, made progress, but was stuck by the lack of funding.

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

As time went by, the debate on ATV versus DATV evolved at the advantage of the latter, but no funding was in sight… Then, suddenly, supported by the enthusiasm of Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA, who had performed many ARISS school contacts during his 2010-2011 expedition aboard the Space Station, at the initiative of AMSAT Italia, an Italian manufacturer, Kayser Italia, presented a project for an amateur radio DATV transmitter to ESA’s educational services. In 2012, this proposal was accepted and ESA signed a contract with Kayser Italia for the development and the manufacturing of a DATV transmitter on S-band. This transmitter, dubbed “Ham Video, was installed on Columbus and ESA transferred the custodianship of this equipment to ARISS.

It was a long way, spanning sixteen years, from the initial proposal to the first ever HamTV school contact. A new era opens for ground station operators, interested in receiving digital amateur television from the International Space Station. A technical challenge already met by a few ground stations in Europe, USA and Australia. Long life to HamTV and success to the pioneering ground stations, world wide!


Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

Watch First HamTV ARISS contact as received direct on 2395 MHz by Colin Watts G4KLB in Bournemouth

HamTV on the ISS https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/hamtv-on-the-iss/

HamTV on the ISS – Goonhilly update

While at Goonhilly Graham Shirville G3VZV received ISS HamTV on 2395 MHz with a 60cm dish

While at Goonhilly Graham Shirville G3VZV received ISS HamTV on 2395 MHz with a 60cm dish

Noel Matthews G8GTZ of the BATC provides an update on the amateur radio ground station at Goonhilly which will receive video from the ISS during the mission of Tim Peake KG5BVI.

Some of you may remember the presentation Graham Shirville G3VZV, gave at CAT15 subtitled “Tim Peake on a TV near you”.

Some of you may have also noticed a new station on the Tutioune map located at Goonhilly in Cornwall.

HamTV dish antenna at Goonhilly - Credit Frank Heritage M0AEU

HamTV dish antenna at Goonhilly – Credit Frank Heritage M0AEU

This station is using a 3.8 m dish is being loaned to the ARISS project by Satellite Catapult, and will be used to track the ISS and provide real time video during the schools contacts scheduled for early next year. This dish is almost in the shadow of the 29 metre dish built in 1962 to receive the first transatlantic television signals from the Telstar-1 spacecraft.

At the beginning of  November, we (G8GTZ, M0AEU and G3VZV) installed a PC with mini-tutioune software and a DB6NT downconverter to receive the ISS on the dish – It was no surprise that during the tests, we received video for 8.5 minute during one pass and had an MER of 30 dB 🙂

Currently the dish is not tracking the ISS but will be doing so in the near future and will be dedicated to this task for the next 6 months 🙂 In the mean time, the dish is pointing up at 90 degrees (zenith) but the receiver is connected and we received 25 seconds of blank video (visible on the TT monitor page) this morning when the ISS flew over the top of the dish!

There will be a full article on the ARISS Tim Peake project in the next CQ-TV along with pictures of the Goonhilly site.

Whilst we were at Goonhilly last week, Graham could not resist seeing if it was possible to receive the HamTV signal using only a handheld 60cms dish and the Tutioune software – much to the team’s surprise Graham was successful and this was the first reception of the ISS at Goonhilly as the equipment had was yet to be installed on the ground station dish!

Watch CAT15 HamTV on the ISS by Graham Shirville G3VZV

Local and Goonhilly Dishcams with map showing position of ISS at https://principia.ariss.org/dashboard/

Tutioune map

HamTV https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/hamtv-on-the-iss/

Satellite Catapult https://sa.catapult.org.uk/

British Amateur Television Club (BATC) http://batc.org.uk/
Twitter https://twitter.com/BATCOnline

Astro Pi launch changed

Astro Pi LogoTwo specially augmented Raspberry Pi’s called Astro Pi‘s were planned to fly with UK astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 15.

On the ISS the Astro Pi’s are planned to run experimental Python programs written by school-age students; the results will be downloaded back to Earth and made available online for all to see. It is hoped that subsequently one of them will be used to provide a video source for the amateur radio HamTV transmitter in the ISS Columbus module.

It appears the amount of cargo on Tim’s Soyuz flight was overbooked so the Astro Pi’s will instead fly to the ISS on an Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo freighter. The launch is currently planned for December 3 at 22:48 UT.

Read the full story on the Raspberry Pi site

HamTV https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/hamtv-on-the-iss/

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF back on Earth

Samantha Cristoforetti, IZ0UDF back on Earth June 11, 2015

Samantha Cristoforetti, IZ0UDF back on Earth June 11, 2015

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF along with Anton Shkaplerov and Terry Virts landed safely on Thursday, June 11 in Kazakhstan after a three-hour ride in their Soyuz spacecraft. They left the International Space Station (ISS) at 1020 UT in a Soyuz TMA-15M landing by parachute on the Kazakh steppe at 1344 UT.

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS HamTV Transmitter

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS HamTV Transmitter

Samantha is the seventh ESA astronaut and the first female ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space. She set new records for longest single time in space for an ESA astronaut and female astronauts in general.

She set a new record for single mission duration by a female astronaut with 199 days in space on her first flight, surpassing the previous record of 195 days set by Sunita Williams KD5PLB as a flight engineer on Expeditions 14 and 15 from December 2006 to June 2007.

Samantha carried out a number of ARISS amateur radio school contacts and was involved in the Blank Test Transmissions from the new ISS HamTV digital television system on 2395 MHz which were received by radio amateurs around the world.

Take a Panoramic Tour of the ISS Columbus Module, look out for the HamTV transmitter

Anatoly Zak http://www.russianspaceweb.com/iss_soyuz_tma15m.html#landing
ESA http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Futura/ESA_astronaut_Samantha_Cristoforetti_back_on_Earth
NASA http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/expedition-43-crew-departs-space-station-lands-safely-in-kazakhstan

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) http://ariss.org/

ISS HamTV now transmitting on 2395 MHz

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS HamTV Transmitter

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF with ISS Ham Video Transmitter

Friday, May 1, 2015 the Ham Video transmitter on board the Columbus module of the International Space Station was powered on and started transmitting in “Blank Transmission” (BT) mode.

HamTV Antennas at ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD in Casale Monferrato, Italy

HamTV Antennas at ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD in Casale Monferrato, Italy

In this mode, the transmitter is operated without camera. The digital TV signal is fully formatted, but the content of the video is black and the content of the audio is at zero level. From a technical perspective, the BT signal is all that is needed for testing and fine tuning ground stations.

The European network of chained ground stations is presently nearly complete. Six ground stations span the continent in “X”  formation. For each ascending pass over Europe, four stations provide about ten minutes of solid copy and the same is true for descending passes:

– Ascending passes: Lisbon (Portugal ==> Poitiers (France) ==> Casale Monferrato (North Italy ==> Kolo (Poland)
– Descending passes : Cork (Ireland) ==> Poitiers (France) ==> Casale Monferrato (North Italy ==> Matera (South Italy.

The chained ground stations are streaming the digital video to the BATC server (British Amateur Television Club). BATC set up a multiviewer page, accessible at:


The page shows all six streams from the chained  ground stations. Each view can be maximized to full screen and the audio of each stream can be set to level or muted.

International Space Station - Image Credit NASA

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

Presently, active stations stream technical data provided by the software developed by Jean Pierre Courjaud F6DZP. Several data are most interesting to observe:
–    the “constellations”, which visualize the QPSK (quaternary PSK) modulated signal
–    the  digital Signal/Noise ratio = MER (dB) (Modulation Error Ratio)
–    the control LEDs that change from red to green on decoding the digital signal.

The Ham Video transmitter frequency is 2395 MHz and the symbol rate is 2.0 Ms/sec.
More information is available at:


The Ham Video transmitter will stay on as long as on board operations permit. When the ground stations will be operating reliably, the Ham Video transmitter will be used to enhance ARISS school contacts. Uplink will remain VHF audio only. This operational mode is dubbed ARISS Ham TV.

Gaston Bertels – ON4WF
ARISS-Europe chairman

ARISS FSTV gallery http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_FSTV/

HamTV Transmitter in the ISS Columbus Module

HamTV Transmitter in the ISS Columbus Module

ISS 2395 MHz Digital Amateur TV Blank Transmission Test

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

The request to power up the Ham Video system was added to the crew task list on April 16.

That means, that crew is invited to activate Ham Video as a free time activity. No precise day/time for this activity is fixed.

Please monitor the 2395 MHz at 2.0 Ms/s frequency and tell everyone as soon as you observe it.

This will be a period of blank transmission for testing and calibration. Please make maximum use of it.

Read the HamTV overview by Gaston Bertels ON4WF http://tinyurl.com/HamTVoverview

Join the ISS HamTV Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HamTV

ARISS-EU HamTV Bulletins http://www.ariss-eu.org/

HamTV on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hamtvproject

Video of ISS HamTV – Koichi Wakata KC5ZTA April 13, 2014