434 MHz balloon launch at BBC Stargazing event

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon - Image credit Dave Akerman M6RPI/2E0LTX/M0RPI

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon – Image credit Dave Akerman M0RPI

Radio amateur David Akerman M0RPI will be launching a 434 MHz balloon from the BBC Stargazing Live solar eclipse event in Leicester on March 20.

The flight is to primarily to take photographs during the partial solar eclipse. Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV), RTTY and LoRa telemetry beacons will be transmitting from the balloon in 434 MHz, so plenty of stuff to tune in to.

The launch activities will be recorded and some of the footage will be transmitted on the special BBC Stargazing show from 9am to 10am on that day.  There will also be a couple of very brief live segments where, hopefully, Dave will get to show some pretty live images.  Also, assuming the payload is recovered, some of the recorded video should end up on the main Stargazing show in the evening (9pm-10pm, BBC2).

There will be 2 Raspberry Pi trackers each sending telemetry and SSDV using both RTTY and LoRa modulation. RTTY frequencies are Upper Sideband (USB).

Pi #1 (camera with solar film):
MARVIN:  434.300 MHz, RTTY, 910 Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2
ZAPHOD:  434.350 MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8 kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6

Pi #2 (bare camera):
KRYTEN:  434.400 MHz, RTTY, 910 Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2
RIMMER:  434.450 MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8 kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6

UPDATE March 18 – An additional beacon has been added:
BUZZ: 434.315 MHz, 425 Hz shift, 50 baud, 7 N 2

Launch time 8am Friday, March 20, 2015

As well as the TV stuff, the BBC are running a “spectacular live event” from the racecourse, open to the public from 9am to 3pm and then 6pm to 9pm.  Entry is free to please do come along if you can.  They have a real astronaut, Paolo Nespoli IZ0JPA, and plenty else of interest – see

Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event

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

Listen for 434 MHz balloon signals online using the SUWS WebSDR, further details at

Listen to FUNcube-1 during Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse - March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse – March 20, 2015

There will be a total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015 which tracks across the North Atlantic and eventually covers a lot of the Arctic.

Path of Solar Eclipse  March 20 2015

Path of Solar Eclipse March 20, 2015

It would seem that this will affect most spacecraft that are in a polar orbit to some extent as, at that sort of time, they would expect to be in sunlight at the time and location.

On FUNcube-1 (AO-73) we have a good power budget which means that we should be able to maintain our normal autonomous operation schedule for the day but, of course, if the spacecraft does go fully into darkness it should switch autonomously to transponder and low power telemetry.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens and we hope that as many listeners as possible will upload the data they receive between 0740 and 1150 UT on that morning. Our Whole Orbit Data will show the solar currents, battery voltage and external temps clearly during this period so we should get a clear understanding of the effects on board.

If anyone has some software that can model the satellite’s track and the expected impact of the solar eclipse it would be great to hear about it!

FUNcube-1 (AO-73) Telemetry:
• Dashboard App http://funcube.org.uk/working-documents/funcube-telemetry-dashboard/
• Data Warehouse Archive http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/
• Whole orbit data will show the effect http://warehouse.funcube.org.uk/wod.html?satelliteId=2

This website has a good animation of the eclipse

Information on the Solar Eclipse from Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society member Peter Meadows M0ZBU http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2015/march/partial_solar_eclipse_march_20.htm

Essex Partial Solar Eclipse Friday, March 20, 2015

Radio hams will be at BBC Solar Eclipse event

Plasma Rockets & Solar Storms

Testing Plasma Rocket ComponentsThis Cosmic Journeys video covers the work of Dr. Ben Longmier KF5KMP and his University of Michigan team in developing plasma rockets.

Dr. Ben Longmier and his team from the University of Michigan have traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska to play a small part in a much larger push to revolutionize space travel and exploration.

The team plans to use helium balloons to send components of a new type of rocket engine to an altitude of over 30 kilometers, above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere. The purpose is to test these components within the harsh environment of space. While astronauts train to live and work in zero gravity, or to move around in bulky space suits, these would-be space explorers are preparing to negotiate some of Earth’s harshest environments.

Continue reading

Online Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances (SID) Monitoring Station

The Sun – Image Credit NASA SOHO

Tarif Rashid Santo has made his Solar Radio Telescope available online. He provides live data from his IONX Solar Radio Telescope in Demra, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Coordinates Lat: 23°42′26.83″N Long: 90°29′31.19″E.

The Spectrogram and the Plotter update in every hour with new data exported from the Radio Telescope. Beside this you will get Solar Flux measurement from NOAA and recent Sunspots updates.

New articles on How to make Radio Telescope, Antenna, other stunning experiments are coming soon!

Check out the Online Solar Radio Telescope Page: http://radioastronomybd.com/onlinesid.html

Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances http://www.radioastronomybd.com/sidvlf.html

VE3NML works on STRaND solar panels

The UK STRaND nanosat team have released this picture in which a volunteer from SSTL, Nimal Navarathinam VE3NML, finishes laying down the cells for the Earth-facing and Space-facing solar panels.

Continue reading

Watch Venus Transit Online June 5-6

At 22:09 UT on June 5, 2012 the planet Venus will appear as a small, dark disk moving across the face of the Sun. The transit will finish at 04:49 UTC on June 6 (exact time depends on location of observer).

Clouds permiting, it may be visible to observers in the UK from dawn (about 03:46 UT in London).

This will be the last time the planet Venus will make the trek across the face of the sun as seen from Earth until the year 2117.

Note: Observing the Sun directly without appropriate protection can damage or destroy retinal cells, causing temporary or permanent blindness.

Clint Bradford K6LCS has posted a collection of URL’s where you should be able to watch the Venus transit online from sites around the world.

NASA (USA) http://venustransit.nasa.gov/2012/transit/

NASA Edge http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/nasaedge/index.html

University of Barcelona  (from a telescope in Norway) https://gaia.am.ub.es/serviastro/www/html/venus2012/live/index.html

National Solar Observatory http://venustransit.nso.edu/live.html

Exploratorium  (via the Mauna Loa Observatory) http://www.exploratorium.edu/venus/

NASA TV http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Coca Cola Space Science Center (from Australia) http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html

Bareket observatory (Israel)

Mt. Lemmon Sky Center http://skycenter.arizona.edu/annoucement/live

Astronomers Without Borders (from Mt. Wilson, California)

The 2012 Transit of Venus using HAM Radio http://aprs.org/VenusTransit2012.html

Transit of Venus Special Event June 6, 2012

Ultra-high Definition video recording of 2012 Venus Transit