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

Astro Pi: Your code in space

Source: UK Space Agency press release

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

Raspberry Pi at RSGB Convention

A Raspberry Pi computer board

A Raspberry Pi computer board

Peter Goodhall 2E0SQL, a well known amateur radio satellite operator, will be giving a presentation on the Raspberry Pi computer board at the RSGB Convention this weekend .

Peter Goodhall 2E0SQL operating portable through the satellites

Peter Goodhall 2E0SQL operating portable through the satellites

The popular Raspberry Pi has been used for many different amateur radio applications. Peter’s presentation will be given at 14:30-15:15 on Saturday, October 12.

The RSGB’s Centenary Convention, sponsored by Martin Lynch & Sons, takes place this weekend (Fri eve-Sun) October 11-13 at Horwood House, MK17 0PH just a few miles outside Milton Keynes. Tickets are available on the door.

RSGB Convention Schedule

RSGB Centenary Convention

Over a million Raspberry Pi’s have been manufactured in the UK

SSB using a Raspberry Pi

Turning the Raspberry Pi into a 1-250 MHz FM Transmitter

Successful Kickstarter for Raspberry Pi LunarSail CubeSat

LunarSail Graphic

LunarSail Graphic

LunarSail is an Open-Source Cubesat and Solar Sail Lunar Orbiter project. Matthew Travis used Kickstarter to raise funds and comfortably exceeded his target of $11,00 by getting pledges for $15,817.

The team say “LunarSail’s computer is based on the Raspberry Pi, which is a complete Linux-based single-board computer running on an ARM processor”.

LunarSail aims to be the first “amateur” satellite to reach lunar orbit and hopes to get a free launch via the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. The team plan to submit a proposal by November 26.

LunarSail is an effort to demonstrate the ability of a spacecraft under solar sail propulsion to navigate itself into a lunar trajectory and insert itself into Lunar orbit. A primary objective of the LunarSail mission is to serve as a testbed for CubeSat operations beyond low Earth orbit and applications requiring cislunar or interplanetary rendezvous.

LunarSail plans to take advantage of the CubeSat platform to conduct a first of its kind mission to use a solar sail to send a spacecraft to the Moon and then utilize the sail’s unique characteristics to navigate into lunar orbit.

LunarSail on Kickstarter

ARES Institute

Giant leap for radio ham’s Pi-powered teddy bear

2013-08-26--14-45-58-PIE-51FBBC News reports on radio amateur Dave Akerman M6RPI‘s successful 434 MHz balloon flight on Monday, August 26, 2013.

The balloon carried transmitters on 434.200 MHz and 434.250 MHz and transmitted images using the amateur radio Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) standard, they are available here.

The BBC say:

A soft toy controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer has re-created Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skydive.Mr Baumgartner made the highest ever freefall in October 2012 when he jumped from a balloon about 39km up.

A bear called Babbage has now leapt from a similar height after ascending beneath a hydrogen-filled balloon.

The Raspberry Pi low-cost micro-computer inside Babbage transmitted his position and shot stills and video throughout the flight and descent.

Read the BBC news story at

See the SSDV images at

Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) Guide

Dave M6RPI website

Dave M6RPI had made an initial attempt on Saturday but the bear’s release mechanism didn’t work

To get details of upcoming UK balloon launches subscribe to the UKHAS Mailing List by sending a blank email to this address:

UK 434 MHz balloons over Central Europe

A Raspberry Pi computer board

A Raspberry Pi computer board

On Saturday, April 13 at 1000 UT, two balloons both carrying 434 MHz transmitters were launched from Cambridge, UK . One transmitting video images from a Rapsberry Pi computer board, the other carried a 144.800 MHz APRS beacon M0UPU-11 in addition to the 434 MHz beacon.

The first balloon PIE5 is flying a Raspberry Pi computer board which transmitted live Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) images back to the ground by a pair of transmitters to double the bandwidth. The data was RTTY 300 baud 8N2. The frequencies used were 434.070 and 434.074 MHz. The balloon call sign was $$PIE.

The second balloon AVA flew a 70cms tracker on 434.450 MHz 50 baud 7N2. Additionally once it entered air space where the airborne use of APRS is permitted a second APRS transmitter was enabled (the APRS frequency is 144.800 MHz) with the call sign M0UPU-11.

The balloons had been expected to head for Poland and on Saturday evening they were over Germany but by early Sunday morning PIE5 was over Switzerland and AVA was over Austria.

The 434 MHz downlinks  on the balloons are generated using Radiometrix NTX2 transmitter modules, the batteries were expected to last 24 hours.

A third balloon callsign XABEN transmitting on 434.350MHz, 470Hz shift, 7N1 was also launched. Tthis was configured to have a short lifetime, going straight-up until the balloon burst rather than floating at 30km across Europe.

Live video of the launch was streamed by the British Amateur TV Club (BATC) at

Tracks of both balloons are at

Direct link to M0UPU-11 APRS track!call=a%2FM0UPU-11&timerange=86400&tail=86400

Images from the PIE5 Raspberry Pi balloon transmitted using SSDV can be seen at

To get details of upcoming launches subscribe to the UKHAS Mailing List by sending a blank email to this address:

Twitter #ukhas

Beginners Guide to Tracking using dl-fldigi

Digital Slow Scan Video