ISS Ham Video Commissioning now scheduled

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

The Ham Video transmitter, which is stored in the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS), will be installed March 6, 2014. The transmitter will be powered on briefly, just the time needed to check that the connection cables to the antenna, to the power supply and to the camera are installed properly. All control LEDs nominal, the transmitter will be considered ready for Commissioning and will be unpowered.

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

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

The first Commissioning step is planned March 8, 2014. Using call sign OR4ISS, crew will power on the Ham Video transmitter in configuration 1:
• ARISS antenna 41
• Frequency 2.422 GHz
• Symbol rate 1.3 Ms/s

The transmission will start shortly before the pass of the ISS over the Matera ground station in south Italy at approximately 13.29 UT.

The ground station will stream the video over the BATC server http://www.batc.tv/ Please select Member Streams and ISS.

During the pass, different configurations will be tested with ARISS antenna 41.

After the pass, the Ham Video transmitter will stay powered on in configuration 1 till the following Commissioning step, which is planned Sunday March 9, 2014 at approximately 12.40 UT.

For about 24 hours, the DATV signal will be transmitted permanently, but the camera will be powered off. The reason is, that the camera is battery powered and no provisions are made for frequent battery replacement. This mode is called “blank” transmission.

A basic amateur radio station that should be able to receive HamTV from ISS - Image AMSAT-Italia

A basic amateur radio station that should be able to receive HamTV from ISS – Image AMSAT-Italia

During Commissioning step 2, different configurations will again be tested, this time with ARISS antenna 43. The Matera ground station will stream the video over the BATC server.

Possibly, blank transmissions will occur in the period between Commissioning step 2 and the following step, which is not yet planned.

We will circulate Ham TV Bulletins to inform on blank transmissions.
Reports on reception of blank transmissions are very welcome. Reports can be filed via this webpage: http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_FSTV/submit.php

Participants using the Tutioune receiving software, developed by Jean Pierre Courjaud F6DZP, can record as well as stream detailed parameters of the received signal. Please see:
http://www.vivadatv.org/

Thank you for your participation

73,
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS Europe chair

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

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

ISS Ham Video commissioning postponed

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

ESA have postponed the International Space Station (ISS) Ham Video Commissioning until March 8.

Possible dates for the four Commissioning steps are March 8 (step 1),
March 9 (step 2), and March 16 (step 3).
Step 3 could be turned into step 4.
These dates are all on the weekend.

With this agenda, we have just 1 week of blank transmissions.

The agenda is still to be finalized.

73,
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS Europe Chair

ISS Ham Video Commissioning – Blank Transmissions
https://amsat-uk.org/2014/01/26/iss-ham-video-commissioning-blank-transmissions/

ISS Ham Video Commissioning – Blank Transmissions

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

As announced December 22, 2013 the Ham Video transmitter is onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and stored in the Columbus module. It is slated to be installed February 5, 2014 by Michael Hopkins KF5LJG. Hopkins will also install the camera and the supporting Bogen arm.

The Ham Video transmitter will be connected to the ARISS 41 antenna and to the KuPS power supply. The installation procedure comprises a check of the electrical connections. The transmitter will be powered on and will transmit a signal on 2.422 GHz. This check will be very limited in time, just enough to verify that the control LEDs are nominal. Then Ham Video will be powered off, ready for the first Commissioning Step.

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD

January 23 and 24, Commissioning Simulations were again performed by ESA, in collaboration with ARISS. The ARISS Team, in charge of receiving the signals during the Commissioning, worked with B.USOC, simulating the four scheduled Commissioning Steps. The procedure was an update of the Simulations performed 5-6 September 2013, as reported in HamTV Bulletin #2.
( All HamTV Bulletins are archived at http://www.ariss-eu.org/ ).

The four Commissioning steps are scheduled February 8, 15 and 16 and March 5. These dates are still to be confirmed and this depends on the signature of the Flight Rules relative to Ham Video (see HamTV Bulletin #4).

Blank Transmissions will start immediately at the conclusion of Commissioning Step 1 and will continue till Commissioning Step 4. This means that the Ham Video transmitter will operate continuously during 25 days.

The DATV signal parameters will be:
* Downlink frequency: 2.395 GHz
* DVB-S standard (QPSK modulation)
* Symbol rate: 1.3 Ms/s
* FEC : ½
* Video PID = 256
* Audio PID = 257
* RF radiated power : approximately 10 W EIRP
Ham Video will operate with a Canon XF-305 camera, but the camera will be turned off during the Blank Transmissions.

ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

Blank Transmissions

A « blank » DVB-S signal contains all the data of normal DVB-S. The information tables describing the content and the content itself, i.e. the video (black) and the audio (silence), are the same as for the image and the sound produced by a camera.
Receiving a black image and silent sound may seem uninteresting but, from a technical perspective, the digital signal offers an important source of information.

The decoded signal provides many data :
* the video stream can be measured (Tutioune + TS reader)
* the audio stream can be measured (Tutioune + TS reader)
* the DVB tables can be decoded (satellite receiver (Set Top Box) or Tutioune or TS reader or VLC …)

The DVB tables mention the PIDs (content identification numbers) as well as the SDT (Service Description Table) with the TV channel name, which will be « HAMTV »

Even without decoding, several measurements of the received signal provide valuable information:
* analogic HF signal strength  (dBm)
* analogic Signal/Noise ratio (dB)
* digital Signal/Noise ratio = MER (dB)
* error/correction ratio = Vber, Cber …
* validation of the received transport stream = TS

Reception Reports

Ground stations with S-band capability can provide valuable information, which will be much appreciated. Basic data such as:
* noise level without signal
* AOS time (UTC)
* maximum signal level during pass
* LOS time (UTC)
can be reported by ground stations without the need of special DATV hardware and software.

ARISS is preparing a Ham Video Internet Reporting Program for collecting reception data from volunteering ground stations. These most needed reception reports will be gratefully accepted.

Basic DATV receiver

A “Set Top Box” or a Television receiver with satellite tuner can be used for receiving Ham Video signals during a pass of the ISS.

When scanning the 2.395 GHz frequency, the DVB stream can be decoded. When this is successful, the channel name « HAMTV » will appear on the TV screen.

Windows computer with TechnoTrend TT S2-1600 card and Tutioune software

A Windows computer with TT S2-1600 receiver card can be used for Ham Video reception. See appended Block Diagram of N6IZW Station.

The Tutioune software, developed by Jean Pierre Courjaud F6DZP, measures and records the Ham Video signals second by second:
* HF signal level
* digital Signal/Noise level = MER (dB)
* error/correction = Vber
* validation of the received transport stream = TS

The recorded file can be examined and forwarded to ARISS.

Better even, the data can be forwarded during an ISS pass to the TiouneMonitor on the http://www.vivadatv.org/ website. In other words, the data can be observed worldwide, real time.

Tutioune also shows the constellations during signal reception (see HamTV Bulletin #4). The TS stream can be recorded, but this is less interesting since richer information is already available.

Tutioune also decodes the DVB tables and provides the PIDs and the channel name  (« HAMTV ») recovered from the SDT table.

73,

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS-Europe chair

Annex: http://www.ariss-eu.org/N6IZW_Station.pdf

ARISS minutes regarding ISS HAMTV frequencies http://www.ariss.org/1/post/2013/05/may-18-2013.html

ARISS-Europe http://www.ariss-eu.org/

ISS Ham Video Commissioning

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

As announced August 21,  2013 the Ham Video transmitter is onboard the International Space Station and stored in the Columbus module.

September 10, 2013 we informed about the Experiment Sequences Test (EST) and the Simulations performed by the European Space Agency in collaboration with ARISS.

September 20, 2013 we announced the Ham Video Launch Campaign and described a simple station for Ham Video reception.

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

The Commissioning of the Ham Video transmitter needs to cover different configurations involving 2 antennas, 4 frequencies and 2 symbol rates. As announced earlier, the signals transmitted during the Commissioning steps will be received by the Matera ground station, located in south Italy (see HamTV Bulletin #2).

Moreover, during the Commissioning period, the Ham Video transmitter will transmit permanently for several days (weeks). This will allow ground stations to test their equipment and to provide useful information concerning the efficiency of the transmitter.

For these transmissions, no camera will be used. The so-called “blank” transmissions will nevertheless provide a complete DVB-S signal, as described hereafter.

We hoped that the Commissioning of the Ham Video transmitter would be planned October 2013. It appeared that the “Flight Rules” regarding ARISS activities, which cover VHF and UHF transmissions, needed to be updated for S-band.

One of the Columbus Module  2.4 / 1.2 GHz Antennas

One of the Columbus Module 2.4 / 1.2 GHz Antennas

Writing Flight Rules and having them verified, accepted and signed by all parties involved is a process that takes time. ARISS matters have low priority among the countless activities that populate the International Space Station. Unforeseen events, such as the recent failing of a cooling system, evidently cause further delay.

Finally, the January – February 2014 time frame seems a reasonable guess for the Ham Video Commissioning.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

73

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS-Europe chairman
December 22, 2013

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

HamTV Bulletins are available at www.ariss-eu.org
See left side column : HamTV Bulletin 4 (with annexes)

ISS Ham Video launch campaign

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

Front panel of the HamTV transmitter

The ARISS DATV transmitter, dubbed “Ham Video”, already onboard the International Space Station, will soon be installed in the Columbus module and commissioned.

Commissioning will be done in several steps, each during a full pass of the ISS over the Matera ground station (see Bulletin 2). It is not yet known if these passes will be chosen in close succession, or if they will cover several weeks. ARISS proposes ESA to operate so called “blank” transmissions during the commissioning period. If this is accepted, it means that Ham Video will transmit permanently without camera. The camera will not be used because it is fed on batteries and servicing it would need prohibitive crew time. Transmitting recordings is part of a future project, but not available presently.

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

Although ground stations will receive a black image without audio, “blank” transmissions contain all information needed for the setting up and the fine tuning of the station. Moreover, collected data will be used for a performance study of the ARISS L/S-band antennas as well as for an evaluation of the global system.

For this launch campaign, ARISS addresses a call for collaboration to the amateur radio community, especially to the operators interested in space communications. Several satellite operators have shown interest.

Ham Video technical characteristics are available at www.ariss-eu.org  . Look for the “Ham Video” link in the left sidebar. Suggestions and useful addresses  for the setting up of a Ham Video ground station are also provided.

Among the components of  a satellite ground station, the antenna system is the most expensive. High gain antennas are needed, moved by azimuth and elevation motors and driven by an appropriate computer program. For Ham Video reception, a 1.2m dish with precision tracking is recommended. A station compliant with the recommendations provided in the aforementioned reference text should be capable of 3 to 4 minutes of DATV reception during a pass of the ISS. AO-40 operators who still have an S-band dish can now use it for Ham Video.

On the other hand, interesting data can be gathered by stations with a much simpler setup. A dish with a self made helix feed could be used without motors. This antenna could be positioned in a fixed direction, determined before a pass of the ISS, pointing to the position of the ISS at closest approach, which corresponds to the maximum elevation of the space station during the pass. With the setup as described hereunder, 1 to 2 minutes of solid reception of the Ham Video signal should be possible.

Call for participation to the Ham Video launch campaign

ARISS addresses a call to amateur radio experimenters who would like to participate to the Ham Video launch campaign.

Data gathering during the initial “blank” transmissions is important and the help of volunteering operators will be most appreciated. More details to follow.

It is to be noted that builders of the hereunder proposed “Simple Station” could later update their equipment and add tracking motors. Chained stations will be needed for ARISS Ham TV school contacts. Video and audio from the ISS will be web streamed to the schools over the Internet.

We will keep you informed of these developments. For the time being, as a starter, let us concentrate on receiving “blank” transmissions.

73,

Gaston Bertels – ON4WF
ARISS-Europe chairman

PS: All Ham TV Bulletins are available at www.ariss-eu.org

HamTV Bulletin 2: Ham Video – EST and Simulations

ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

Ham Video Commissioning preparation is progressing. An EST (Experiment Sequence Test) has been performed August 28-29 and Simulations tests were done September 5-6, 2013.

The EST consisted of a series of tests, mainly of the ground segment. For the Commissioning, the VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) station of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), located near Matera, southern Italy, will be used for receiving the DATV signals from the ISS. For the EST, the IK1SLD ground station, situated at Casale Monferrato, northern Italy was used. IK1SLD is one of the ARISS telebridge stations, fully equiped for VHF and UHF. It was recently upgraded for S-band with a 1.2m dish, feed, downconverter and precision tracking motors.

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

New HamTV Antennas for ARISS Telebridge Station IK1SLD at Casale Monferrato, Italy

For the EST, a very low power transmitter, installed in the shack, generated signals on the Ham Video frequencies, transmitting a DATV recording at 1.3 and 2.0 MS/s and FEC ½. The DATV signal was received and decoded by the IK1SLD station and webstreamed to the BATC server.

B.USOC (Belgian User Support and Operations Center  ESA) conducted operations. B.USOC and EAC (European Astronaut Center  Cologne, Germany) specialists operated from Livorno at Kayser Itallia’s laboratory, where a Ham Video unit, the so-called EBB (Elegant BreadBox), is operational. Parties involved were interconnected per teleconference. At Casale Monferrato, Claudio Ariotti IK1SLD and Piero Tognolatti I0KPT produced, received and webstreamed the signals in the different configurations as requested by B.USOC. ESA and ARISS observers participated to the EST teleconference. After debriefing, the EST was declared successful.

Simulations were done differently. B.USOC supervised from their offices in Brussels and ARISS volunteers Piero Tognolatti I0KPT and Jean Pierre Courjaud F6DZP operated from home. The simulations were done in the Columbus mockup at EAC, where a non operational Ham Video model is installed. This box is used for astronaut training on Ham Video. A KuPS power supply was also used, as well as a camera similar to the one onboard Columbus in space.

Ham Video transmissions were simulated in the different configurations (frequencies and symbol rates). A view of operations in the Columbus mockup was webstreamed to the participants. ARISS operators simulated reception as if thery were at the Matera ground station, taking into account expected timing between AOS and LOS. They signaled AOS and requested crew at EAC to transmit in different configurations, according a pre-determined scenario. At LOS, the test stopped and results were commented. Four passes were simulated this way, using both ARISS antennas.

An important goal of the simulations was to check the efficiency of communications between ground and crew. Commands were initiated by ARISS operators (supposedly from Matera), received at B.USOC, relayed to the Columbus Control Center at Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich and uplinked to crew by EUROCOM. The European ISS Control Center is called Col-CC and its spacecraft communicator’s call sign is EUROCOM. The Simulations were conducted successfully and lessons were learned for gaining time on transmitting commands. This is important considering the limited 8 minutes contact time during real Commissioning.

ARISS proposed to use our VHF uplink capabilities to crew for the Commissioning. This was not acceptable with regard to ESA’s commissioning protocol.

Presently, ISS pass predictions for Matera are computed for several weeks starting mid October, The Matera VLBI activities are to be taken into account for determining usable passes. Four passes will be needed to fullfil the Commissioning requirements.
Ham Video Commissioning activities will be decided by ESA and NASA ISS Operations. Hopefully the Commissioning will be planned during Expedition 37. We will keep you informed.

73,

Gaston Bertels  ON4WF
ARISS-Europe chair

Ham TV Bulletins are available at http://www.ariss-eu.org/