RSGB Convention

RSGB Colour LogoThe early booking discount for the RSGB Convention has been extended until August 31.

The Convention takes place in Milton Keynes, October 9-11, and there is an impressive line up of speakers planned, including:

• Ionosondes by Dr Ruth Bamford
• Regular 3000km+ contacts on 144MHz meteor scatter and tropo by John Regnault, G4SWX
• Reduced bandwidth digital TV by Noel Matthews, G8GTZ
• What makes the pings go ping? A deeper understanding of meteor scatter by John Worsnop, G4BAO
• The Raspberry Pi in your shack by Mike Richards, G4WNC
• Modelling and building Yagis for lower noise by Justin Johnson, G0KSC
• How do we get more activity on VHF/UHF? by John Regnault, G4SWX and Richard Staples, G4HGI
• Some reflections on aircraft scatter by John Quarmby, G3XDY
• Datamodes made easy by Mike Richards, G4WNC
• An update on LNBs for 10 GHz reception by Bryan Harber, G8DKK
• YOTA Wales and Italy by Mike Jones, 2E0MLJ and the RSGB Youth Committee

The after-dinner speaker on Saturday evening will be Howard Long, G6LVB. Howard is probably most well-known within the amateur world as the designer of the FUNcube Dongle SDR and his work with AMSAT-UK.

Further information on the Convention is at http://rsgb.org/main/about-us/rsgb-convention/

ISS, Satellites and High Altitude Balloons

Sarah M6PSK and Kelly M6KFA demonstrate amateur radio at the Raspberry Jam May 30, 2015 - Credit M0PSX

Sarah M6PSK and Kelly M6KFA demonstrate amateur radio at the Southend Raspberry Jam May 30, 2015 – Image Credit M0PSX

Working the International Space Station,  amateur radio satellites and High Altitude balloons featured at two events over the weekend of May 30-31, 2015.

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

On Saturday, May 30 members of Essex Ham explained amateur radio to the Raspberry Pi community at the Southend Raspberry Jam event organised by the team from SOSLUG, the Southend-on-Sea Linux User Group, and aimed at encouraging people of all ages to get involved with programming, construction and technology.

The Essex Ham stand featured the popular “Send Your Name in Morse”, SDRs, Raspberry Pi and Arduino crossover projects, SSTV and data modes. A scrolling amateur radio video was shown and plenty of Essex Ham and Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) leaflets were handed out during the day.

A new feature for this Raspberry Jam was TeachMeet – A series of lightning talks – up to 8 minutes on a topic likely to be of interest. Pete M0PSX gave a lightning talk on amateur radio and working the International Space Station, outlining that contact is possible for amateurs using voice, image and data, and explaining the challenges of making contact. This was a nice tie-in with the Astro Pi – an experiment for young people involving astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI and his upcoming trip to the ISS.  While on the space station Tim hopes to contact UK schools on 145.800 MHz FM using the call sign GB1SS.

Chris M6EDF launching SXHAM1 - Image Credit Ed Bye G8FAX

Chris M6EDF launching SXHAM1 – Image Credit Ed Bye G8FAX

Sunday saw the Shoebury East Beach Field Day where several amateur radio activities took place. As well as the usual HF and VHF stations there was also satellite operation. Steve M0SHQ regularly explains amateur satellites at the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society Skills Nights in Danbury. During the morning despite the inclement weather he worked Juan Antonio EA4CYQ via SO-50 FM satellite. 2.4 GHz was used during the day to control a drone.

Chris M6EDF launched his high altitude balloon SXHAM1 carrying a beacon on 434.3 MHz which reached an altitude of 26.7 km and could be heard over most of England and into Germany. The launch was filmed by Bob G0FGX and Nick 2E0FGQ from TX Factor, an online TV show dedicated to amateur radio, and the feature is intended to be used to promote HAB and amateur radio to youngsters – Keep an eye on http://www.txfactor.co.uk/ to see Chris and the balloon launch in a future show.

Read the Raspberry Jam event report at
http://www.essexham.co.uk/news/raspberry-jam-may-2015-report.html

Read the SXHAM1 High Altitude Balloon Flight report with launch video at
http://www.essexham.co.uk/news/sxham1-high-altitude-balloon-flight.html

TX Factor video Chris M6EDF filling the SXHAM1 balloon with helium - Image Credit 2E0DVX

TX Factor video Chris M6EDF filling the SXHAM1 balloon with helium – Image Credit 2E0DVX

Astro Pi, Amateur Radio and ISS at Southend Raspberry Jam May 30

Southend Raspberry Jam 6The free Southend Raspberry Jam #6 event on May 30 will feature amateur radio and the International Space Station (ISS).

Entrants and winners of the Astro Pi competition will discuss their entries, with a recap of the competition before doing the coding later on.

Successful Astro Pi entries will be sent into space in November 2015 with UK astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI who will run them on a Raspberry Pi computer on board the ISS.

In late 2015 and 2016 UK astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI will be talking to UK schools direct from the ISS using amateur radio.

Organised by the Southend-on-Sea Linux User Group (http://soslug.org) this Raspberry Pi event takes place on Saturday, May 30 from 10:00 to 17:00 BST at the Tickfield Centre, Tickfield Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6LL.

Among the many activities are:
• Hackathon: Scratch GPIO Electronics
• Talk: How Raspberry Pi changed my life Programming, Robots, and a successful Kickstarter by the age of 14
• Workshop: Learn to program real Apps for your own Android phone using Blockly and App Inventor
• Talk: Life Box A fantastic project, with lots of pretty LEDs, which models population growth in an environment
• Hackathon: Learn to program Minecraft, AstroPi and other hardware
• Talk: Object Orientated Programming

Free tickets and further information are available from http://southendjam.co.uk/

Download a Southend Raspberry Jam leaflet here

Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI issues challenge for UK students to “make that call”
https://amsat-uk.org/2015/03/20/tim-peake-uk-students/

Send your code into space with astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI
https://amsat-uk.org/2014/12/10/send-your-code-into-space/

Astro Pi: Your Code In Space http://astro-pi.org/

Ulster 434 MHz Solar Eclipse Balloon

Radio amateur Philip Heron MI0VIM reports on a Raspberry Pi balloon which will be launched for the eclipse and should be receivable across the British Isles.

All being well there will be a launch from Cookstown, N.Ireland on Friday, March 20 at about 0700 UT.

The plan is to have it rise high enough before the time of maximum solar eclipse, and maybe image the lunar shadow on the horizon. This will have a slow ascent rate and should hopefully float at about 36km, on a path which takes it south towards Dublin, before turning east to Wales and on towards Germany.

Callsign: EAGLE
Frequency: 434.250 MHz USB
Mode: RTTY 300 baud 8N2

The payload consists of a Raspberry Pi A+, camera and a Pi In The Sky module. It will be sending SSDV images throughout the flight.

The 434 MHz signals transmitted by High Altitude Balloons can have a range of up to 800 km. The path of the balloons can be tracked in real-time at http://spacenear.us/tracker/

Useful links for tracking, receiving and decoding the telemetry from 434 MHz balloons can be found at
https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/balloons/

Listen for 434 MHz balloon signals online using the SUWS WebSDR, further details at
https://amsat-uk.org/2014/08/15/suws-websdr-moves-to-new-site/

434 MHz balloon launch at BBC Stargazing event
https://amsat-uk.org/2015/03/16/434-mhz-balloon-launch-at-bbc-stargazing-event/

Send your code into space with astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI

Students programming the Astro Pi computers Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander)

Students programming the Astro Pi computers Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander)

Leading UK space organisations have joined forces with UK Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI and Raspberry Pi to offer students a chance to devise and code their own apps or experiment to run in space. Two Raspberry Pi computers are planned to be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Tim’s 6 month mission and both will be connected to a new “Astro Pi” board, loaded with a host of sensors and gadgets.

Launched December 10 at an event held by the UK Space Agency, the Astro Pi competition will be officially opened at the BETT conference (January 21-24) and will be open to all primary and secondary school aged children who are resident in the United Kingdom. The competition will be supported by a comprehensive suite of teaching resources that are being developed by ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi.

Astro Pi Logo

Astro Pi Logo

During his mission to the ISS, Tim Peake KG5BVI plans to deploy the Astro Pi computers in a number of different locations on board the ISS. He will then load up the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download this to Earth where it will be distributed to the winning teams.

Speaking at the Astro Pi launch event, Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, also revealed that the UK Space Agency has been given a £2 million programme, as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, to support further outreach activities around Tim’s mission, particularly to help inspire interest in STEM subjects.

Tim Peake KG5BVI said I’m really excited about this project, born out of the cooperation among UK industries and institutions. There is huge scope for fun science and useful data gathering using the Astro Pi sensors on board the International Space Station. This competition offers a unique chance for young people to learn core computing skills that will be extremely useful in their future. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

To help students on their way in developing their code, five inspirational themes have been devised to stimulate creativity and scientific thinking. The themes are Spacecraft Sensors, Satellite Imaging, Space Measurements, Data Fusion and Space Radiation.

A Raspberry Pi computer. Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander).

A Raspberry Pi computer. Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander).

In the primary school age category, teams will be asked to devise and describe an original idea for an experiment or application which can be conducted on the Astro Pi by Tim during his mission. The two best submissions will get the opportunity to work with the Astro Pi team to interpret their ideas and the team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation will then code them ready for flight on the ISS.

In the secondary school age group, the competition will be run across three age categories, one for each of Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 (in England and Wales, and their equivalent ages in Scotland and Northern Ireland). In the first phase, competitors can submit their ideas for experiments and applications. At least the best 50 submissions in each age category will win a Raspberry Pi computer and an Astro Pi board on which to code their idea. In phase 2, all teams will develop code based on their original concept and two winning teams will be selected in each age category. The winning teams’ code will be readied for flight by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and CGI.

As well as having their code uploaded to the ISS, all winning teams will each receive a class set of Raspberry Pi and Astro Pi boards, meet the Astro Pi team and participate in a winners event during Tim’s flight.

In addition to the main prizes, each of the UK space companies supporting the project have offered a prize. These prizes will be awarded to the best submission associated with each of the themes, across the age ranges.

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi are developing a comprehensive suite of teaching resources to link to the curriculum and assist teachers of STEM subjects in engaging their students in the competition. As well as explaining how to use and write code for the Astro Pi and its sensors, the resources will provide a context for the Astro Pi in the curriculum and link to teaching subjects and areas.

The first two resources of the series are available now in the National STEM Centre eLibrary and the rest will follow.

Launching the Astro Pi computers, and consequently the successful implementation and completion of this competition is subject to nominal progress through the ESA integration programme and operations on-board the ISS.

BBC TV News: Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI invites Raspberry Pi challenge
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30415207

Astro Pi: Your code in space http://astro-pi.org/

Source: UK Space Agency press release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/send-your-computer-code-into-space-with-astronaut-tim-peake

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