Packet Module status on board ISS

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) logoARISS has received several reports stating that the packet radio system on ISS is down. Here is what we know and our current forward plan.

The packet system in the Columbus module started to act up late last week, sending only a beacon. The ARISS team requested a power recycle by the crew, and with that power recycle, the packet system appears to have stop functioning completely. Note that this unit has been on-orbit for 17 years. It was launched on the STS-106 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission in September 2000 and was built, tested and certified for flight about 20 years ago.

The ARISS team has had some extensive discussions on the way forward. We would first like to do some additional troubleshooting with the existing packet module. It will take some time (weeks) to develop troubleshooting procedures, get the procedures approved by NASA and then conduct the tests with the crew. This includes an additional power cycle. The turnaround time is much longer than usual because a new crew will soon be arriving on ISS. The current crew is focused on the new crew arrival and there will be about a one- to two-week transition after the new crew arrives. On the positive side, one aspect of our troubleshooting-a second power cycle-will occur automatically because ARISS is shut down during crew docking and turned on afterwards. However, there will be more to our troubleshooting than just the power cycle.

We have some additional plans with alternative solutions, but those are currently being discussed and prioritized within the ARISS team. All solutions will require international ARISS team coordination, additional procedures and crew interaction. People who have carefully followed ISS operations know that crew time continues to evolve with the more extensive research that is occurring on-board. Suffice it to say, it will take longer than what it has taken in the past to work through this issue.

The above information is to make sure that ARISS properly sets expectations on how long it will take to resolve this. At this point, expect a few months with no ARISS packet.

As you all can see, deploying the Interoperable Radio system that is currently under development by ARISS has become even more critically important. The ARISS team is laser focused on getting that system developed and deployed. We are conducting a final design review with NASA on this system next week. But we cannot get to the finish line without your help. If you can, please consider a donation to the ARISS radio fund by clicking on the ARISS donate button on the ARISS web page. All donations, large and small are appreciated http://www.ariss.org/donate.html

On behalf of ARISS, we thank you for your sustained interest and support of our program.

Sincerely,

Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO
ARISS International Chair

About ARISS

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or informal education venues. With the help of experienced amateur radio volunteers, ISS crews speak directly with large audiences in a variety of public forums. Before and during these radio contacts, students, teachers, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies and amateur radio.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
http://www.ariss.org/
https://twitter.com/ARISS_status
https://www.facebook.com/Amateur-Radio-on-the-International-Space-Station-ARISS-153679794647788/

ISS Packet Digipeater Back On 145.825 MHz FM

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

ARISS is pleased to announce that Packet Radio from the International Space Station is back on 145.825 MHz FM.

A few months back, the ARISS Team did the foot work and paperwork to launch the final copy of the Ericsson VHF handheld radio to the ISS.  This work was began in October after the unit onboard the ISS failed.  ARISS has been using the Ericssons for 16 years. In the last days of February, the launch vehicle, SpaceX 10’s Dragon, flew to the ISS.  Then the ISS crew had the odious job of unloading and unpacking 5,500 pounds of cargo along with the Ericsson HT.

ARISS got word this morning that we now have VHF capability back in the Columbus module.  Followers of ISS Fan Club have already posted that they’ve heard and used packet, and are thrilled.

In 2015, ARISS began its first fundraising campaigns.  It relies on NASA, ARRL, AMSAT and individual donors, along with ARISS volunteers to pay the day-to-day operations expenses and everything related to the hardware, testing, and certification.  Donors can go to http://www.amsat.org and http://www.ariss.org to support the program.

EMike McCardel, AA8EM
Rotating Editor AMSAT News Service

Almost any 144 MHz FM rig will receive the ISS, you can even use a general coverage VHF scanner with an external antenna. As far as the antenna is concerned the simpler the better. A ¼ wave ground plane has a high angle of radiation and works well. Large 144 MHz colinears are not as good because the radiation pattern is concentrated at the horizon while the ISS is above 15 degrees elevation for most of a pass.

You can receive the ISS outdoors using a 144 MHz hand-held with its helical antenna but a 1/4 wave whip will give far better results.

In the UK we use narrow 2.5 kHz deviation FM but the ISS transmits using the wider 5 kHz deviation used in much of the world. Most rigs can be switched been wide and narrow deviation filters so select the wider deviation. Hand-held rigs all seem to have a single wide filter fitted as standard.

How to work the ISS using APRS Packet Radio
https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/how-to-work-the-iss-on-aprs-packet-radio/

Amateur Satellites at Skills Night

Steve Hedgecock M0SHQ sending Packet Radio to the ISS

Steve Hedgecock M0SHQ sending Packet Radio to the ISS

The Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society Skills Nights, are hosted by the CARS Training Team and continue to be a popular and appealing event, especially for newcomers to the hobby.

There was an excellent turnout on the evening of Monday, June 15 with 68 people signing in.

A major highlight of this month’s event was a live demonstration of amateur APRS packet data on 145.825 MHz FM from the International Space Station (ISS) as its flew overhead. Steve Hedgecock M0SHQ had clear reception and even managed to get a few of his own packets sent and relayed by the ISS.

Andrew Garratt M0NRD in Newark-on-Trent was one of those who received Steve’s packets and he immediately sent an eQSL.

Steve had received his new Elk 2m/70cms Log Periodic satellite antenna from the AMSAT-UK shop just a few days before and it performed admirably. During the evening Steve explained how to get started with amateur satellites. They can be received on handheld rigs and worked using low power, just 5 or 10 watts. Further information can be found at https://amsat-uk.org/beginners

On May 31 Steve M0SHQ was filmed making contacts via the SO-50 satellite by the team from the TX Factor TV show so you may see him in one of their future videos.

Satellites were just one aspect of great evening, with a wide range of activities from home construction to how to operate portable taking place. Read the report on the evening at http://www.essexham.co.uk/news/skills-night-june-2015-report.html and http://www.g0mwt.org.uk/skills/cars-skills-jun2015.htm

The next CARS Skills Night will be on Monday, July 20. It’s free to attend and all are welcome.

Space Station SSTV and Packet Radio via SUWS WebSDR

ISS SSTV and Packet Radio signals on the SUWS WebSDR

ISS SSTV and Packet Radio signals on the SUWS WebSDR

Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ reports excellent SSTV and Packet Radio signals from the International Space Station (ISS) using the online SUWS WebSDR.

144 MHz prototype helix antenna

144 MHz prototype helix antenna

The omni-direction helix antennas at the WebSDR were designed with high elevation satellites in mind. Conventional antennas concentrate the radiation pattern towards the horizon resulting in weaker signals when a satellite is above 15 degrees elevation. Comparisons with other WebSDRs show the SUWS antennas provide a 6 to 10dB better signal to noise ratio on similar passes.

Martin says: “I had been experimenting with single turn ‘twisted halo’ design, and decided to try stacking them to see if I could achieve more gain. Modelling suggested that a stretched 3 turn helix with a helix circumference of approx 1/2 wave length and an overall length of 1/2 wave at 70cm, and fed with a gamma match at the centre would offer reasonable gain, an omni-directional pattern and mixed polarisation.”

You can use the free online SUWS Web Software Defined Radio from your PC or Laptop to receive the ISS and the many amateur radio satellites transmitting in the 144-146 MHz or 435-438 MHz bands. It also provides reception of High Altitude Balloons in the 434 MHz band and coverage of the microwave 10368-10370 MHz band.

The SUWS WebSDR is located at Farnham not far from London, 51.3 N 1.15 W, listen to it at http://websdr.suws.org.uk/

Full details of the antennas are available at http://g8jnj.webs.com/currentprojects.htm

Brazilian radio amateur uses SUWS WebSDR to receive ISS SSTV
https://amsat-uk.org/2014/09/06/iss-sstv-on-suws-websdr/

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR on Dec 18, 2014

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR on Dec 18, 2014

TNC-Pi Raspberry Pi Packet Radio Board

TNC-Pi kit built by Nick Bown 2E0CGW

TNC-Pi kit built by Nick Bown 2E0CGW

The TNC-Pi is a £22 ($40) KISS TNC board which is designed to connect to the GPIO port of the £25 ($35) Raspberry Pi computer board.

It provides a low cost means of using amateur radio AX.25 Packet Radio and APRS.

Nick Bown 2E0CGW has written a well illustrated review of the board. You can download the PDF from TNC-Pi by Nick Bown 2E0CGW

The TNC-Pi kit is available from http://tnc-x.com/TNCPi.htm

Australia’s own BLUEsat ready for launch

The BLUEsat Team - Image credit UNSW

The BLUEsat Team – Image credit UNSW

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has declared its undergraduate student amateur radio satellite project BLUEsat is complete and ready to be launched into space.

As the official final green light came it was to have a stratospheric balloon test flight near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. Talks continue on a space launch date.

BLUEsat satellite - Image credit UNSW

BLUEsat satellite – Image credit UNSW

BLUEsat, a 260mm cube weighing around 13 kilograms, will carry a flight computer with transmissions to include a beacon and amateur packet radio using the AX.25 protocol in a “mode J” VHF/UHF configuration.

Magnets will passively stabilise the satellite and align it with the Earth’s magnetic field, and it will be controlled via a dedicated communications groundstation VK2UNS at UNSW is equipped with a Yaesu FT-847 satellite transceiver.

It is hoped BLUEsat will be placed in circular orbit at an altitude of around 750 km that will take it over the poles. At this altitude, the satellite will travel around the Earth at a rate of around once every 90 minutes.

Once in orbit BLUEsat will be a digital amateur radio satellite, which means that voice and data files can be uploaded to it by any amateur radio operator in the world over which the satellite passes.

Students from UNSW will continue to be the primary operators of the satellite while it is in orbit and continue the educational focus throughout the full satellite lifecycle.

Through sponsors helping to pay the bills the student-led project has given a space experience that includes VK2UNS the ground control station.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bluesat.unsw

Basic Low Earth Orbit UNSW Experimental Satellite (BLUEsat) project http://www.bluesat.unsw.edu.au/

January 2012 – Australian BLUEsat LEO undergoes tests
https://www.amateurradio.com.au/news/australian-bluesat-leo-undergoes-tests