HamRadioNow: Look! Up in the Sky!

Look! Up in the Sky!The bulk of this episode is an on-location interview with two Raleigh NC area hams who gave a couple of live demonstrations of operating through satellites at the Raleigh Hamfest, April 15,  2017.

There’s some banter between hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Gary Pearce KN4AQ back in the studio. And toward the end Gary announces a Viewer Challenge that we’ll detail down below.

The satellite hams are John Brier KG4AKV and Tucker McGuire W4FS. At 18 years old, Tucker is a relatively new ham who first started operating satellites last summer, and quickly jumped into the deep end. John’s been around longer, but ham radio satellites and space operation captured his focus, too. He produces videos about it on his YouTube channel, Space Comms. Links below.

Gary talked to John and Tucker after they completed their second demo, and he edited a little of each demo into the interview.

There’s video of all of both demonstrations on YouTube. John shot himself operating through ‘Saudi-Sat’ SO-50, a “Mode J” FM crossband repeater (145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink). John used three cameras (including a GoPro on a headband for a unique view). Gary edited the video and put it on the HamRadioNow YouTube channel as an extra bit if video.

Gary added two more cameras to the mix to shoot Tucker operating through FO-29, a Japanese satellite that uses a 100 kHz wide ‘linear transponder’ for mostly SSB and CW (and NO FM, please) between two meters and 70 cm. There’s a few minutes of that demo in this episode, and the whole thing is on John’s Space Comms channel.

Watch HRN 316: Look! Up in the Sky! Ham Radio Now

Space Comms http://youtube.com/SpaceComms1

KG4AKV’s SO-50 FM operation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dhJsfh6fYA

W4FS’s FO-29 SSB operation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEvsKN9ZSyw

John KG4AKV https://twitter.com/johnbrier
Tucker W4FS https://twitter.com/Whiskey4FoSho

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Camb-Hams Satellite Operation from Islay Island

Camb-Hams LogoMembers of the Camb-Hams will once again be active on the amateur radio satellites as GS3PYE/P, but this time from Islay Island between May 6-12.

The Camb-Hams have been activating the Scottish Isles each year since 2008.

As in the past, ten or more operators will be active on all bands and many modes from 4 m to 80 m, 2 m & 70 cm for Satellites and 2 m and 23 cm for EME.

The HF bands will be covered by four simultaneous stations while the 6 m and 4 m stations will have a great take-off towards the UK and Europe. All stations will be able to run at the full UK power limit.

EME operations will use 150W to 55 elements on 23cm and 400W to 17 elements on 2m, primarily on JT65, but also available for CW skeds – if your station is big enough.

Satellite operations on 2 m and 70 cm will use X-Quad antennas and a fully automatic Az/El tracking system. Activity is planned on AO-7 (mode B), FO-29, SO-50, AO-85 & AO-73.

All the up-to-date plans and progress and sked info will be on-line at

Most importantly, this is a group of good friends doing what they enjoy, so please give them a call and enjoy the trip with them.

Active on the major social networks before, during and after the trip, you can check on progress and interact with the operators via their blog or through the Twitter, Facebook and YouTube links below:

Source: AMSAT News Service http://www.amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/ans

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Low-Cost 10 GHz SSB Receiver

Graham G8HAJ demonstrating 10 GHz SSB

Graham G8HAJ demonstrating 10 GHz SSB

Despite the Bank Holiday Essex Skills Night attracted 55 people to the Danbury Village Hall on April 17, 2017. The busy evening consisted of a wide range of activities, among them was 10 GHz SSB by Graham G8HAJ.

Low-cost 10 GHz SSB receiver

Low-cost 10 GHz SSB receiver

He demonstrated how you can start with a simple low-cost 10 GHz receiver using a just a standard Sky satellite LNB (£14:99) and a FUNcube Pro+ SDR or RTL-SDR dongle. This set-up should be capable of receiving the amateur radio transponder on the geostationary satellite Es’Hail 2 that is expected to be launched in early 2018.

The Es’Hail transponder should be receivable on a 60 cm dish with no tracking needed. The downlink will be 10489.550-10489.800 MHz which will equate to 739.550-739.800 MHz on an SDR with the Optima LNB down-converter.

For 10 GHz transmit Graham showed the popular DB6NT transverter and interface board which used an IF of 144 MHz.

G8HAJ 10 GHz operating handout Download Here

Es’Hail 2 https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geosynchronous/eshail-2/

GM1SXX – A Cheap 10 GHz Receive System

A full  report of the evening is now available on the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society website at http://g0mwt.org.uk/skills/cars-skills-apr2017.htm

The next Essex Skills Night takes place on Monday, May 15, this free event is open to all.

CARS run amateur radio training courses, to find out more contact training organiser Christopher G0IPU
Mob: 07908-107951
Email: training2017 at g0mwt.org.uk
Web: http://www.g0mwt.org.uk/training/

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Israeli High School Students Build CubeSat

28 QB50 CubeSats were launched to ISS on April 18, a further 8 are to launch on a PSLV in May

28 QB50 CubeSats were launched to ISS on April 18, a further 8 are to launch on a PSLV in May

Over 80 Israeli high school students have built a CubeSat called Duchifat-2 as part of the QB50 Thermosphere research program.

Duchifat-2 is one of 28 QB50 CubeSats from 23 countries launched on April 18, 2017 to the International Space Station (ISS) from where they shall be placed into orbit in six weeks time.

QB50 ISS LogoSpace Watch reports:

Duchifat-2 and its companion CubeSats will measure the plasma density of the Thermosphere between 85km and 300km altitude above the Earth’s surface. Israeli students will study the data from the CubeSats at the Herzliya Science Centre, where signals from the orbiting satellites will be received.

Israeli Minister for Science, Technology, and Space, Ofir Akunis, said in a government statement that, “Duchifat-2 is not only an educational venture that brings space closer to youth and lays the way for tomorrow’s generation, it is also an international research project. This is Israeli pride for the future generation, and an opportunity to increase public awareness about space.”

Read the full story at

Times of Israel

A further eight QB50 CubeSats are planned to launch in May on an Indian PSLV rocket into a 500 km orbit.

All the CubeSats in the QB50 project will mainly operate on frequencies in the 2 m and 70 cm amateur bands. To avoid interference to terrestrial amateur radio activity the frequency was coordinated by the IARU Satellite Adviser and advisory panel http://amsat.org.uk/iaru

QB50 project https://www.qb50.eu/

JE9PEL QB50 CubeSat Frequency Spreadsheet

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PocketQube Workshop presentation slides released

OzQube-1 LogoIn March Stuart McAndrew gave a presentation on OzQube-1 a tiny PocketQube satellite which aims to transmit images of the Earth from space.

OzQube-1 will be just 5x5x5 cm (1P) in size and the aim is to keep the hardware costs down to under $1,000. The satellite structure is being developed by Jo Hinchliffe MW6CYK.

Stuart’s talk titled ‘Building a Satellite from Scratch: The DIY Engineering behind OzQube-1’ describes some of the challenges he’s faced in building his own low-cost satellite.

Watch OzQube-1 Presentation at TU Delft PocketQube Workshop

Download all the workshop presentation slides including OzQube-1 from

Delfi Space hosted the PocketQube satellite workshop at the Delft University of Technology on March 24, 2017 http://www.delfispace.nl/pocketqube-workshop

Stuart McAndrew OzQube-1

Jo Hinchliffe MW6CYK

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South African QB50 CubeSats

CubeSats being deployed from the ISS on February 11, 2014

CubeSats being deployed from the ISS on February 11, 2014

Two South African built satellites are about to be launched to the International Space Station as part of the QB50 project.

SARL News reports:

The South African satellite industry is taking another step forward as a player in the international space arena with the launch of two South African built nanosatellites from Cape Canaveral in Florida USA.

Two CubeSats, ‘nSight1’ (QB50 AZ02) designed and manufactured by Cape Town-based SCS Space, a member of the SCS Aerospace Group and ‘ZA-Aerosat’ (QB50 AZ01) designed and manufactured by CubeSpace of the Stellenbosch University, are to be launched as part of a batch totaling 28 CubeSats from 23 different countries

The launch is set for April 18, 2017 at 15:11 GMT. Their initial destination is the International Space Station (ISS), where they will be unloaded by the ISS crew with the help of robotic arms. The satellites will eventually be deployed into low-earth orbit over a period of 30 to 60 days as the ISS orbits the Earth.

Both the South African satellites are part of the QB50 project funded by the European Union and managed by the von Karman Institute to conduct research in the lower thermosphere between 200 to 380 km altitude. The data collected from this experiment over a period of 18 months will be used to complement current atmospheric models especially applicable to re-entry trajectories of spacecraft. All CubeSats will eventually burn up at the end of their operational lifetimes.

All the CubeSats in the QB50 project will mainly operate on frequencies in the 2 m and 70 cm amateur bands. To avoid interference to terrestrial amateur radio activity the frequency was coordinated by the IARU Satellite Adviser and his advisory panel http://amsat.org.uk/iaru

QB50 project https://www.qb50.eu/

JE9PEL QB50 CubeSat Frequency Spreadsheet

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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

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5 GHz – RSGB respond to Ofcom

The RSGB has published its response to the Ofcom statement on increasing the amount of the 5 GHz band that can be used for WiFi. The Amateur Satellite Service has a Space-to-Earth allocation at 5830-5850 MHz.

Annex 6 of the Ofcom 5 GHz statement says regarding Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) operation in 5725-5850 MHz:

“…once it becomes clear that this band will become used for Wi-Fi worldwide it will become less attractive for new satellites.”

“In Table 2 below we show the impact that different regulatory regimes for Wi-Fi might have on the exceedance of the protection criteria of the most sensitive satellites in 5.8 GHz assuming a comprehensive Wi-Fi roll-out across Europe and Africa.”

“As discussed previously, the risk of interference is an aggregate of all Wi-Fi use and so will rise slowly over a number of years rather than appearing suddenly.”

“The UK cannot cause interference to 5.8 GHz satellites on its own but it is fairly likely that Europe and Africa will follow our lead. This is likely to be driven by the potential for 5.8 GHz to become a worldwide Wi-Fi band.”

Response of RSGB to the Ofcom 5 GHz Statement

Ofcom 5 GHz consultation and statement page

Direct link to Ofcom statement PDF

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Argentine balloon to fly to South Africa and beyond

Picoglobo Amateur Radio WSPR Balloon

Picoglobo Amateur Radio WSPR Balloon

On Saturday, April 8 at 08:00 GMT, weather permitting, Amsat Argentina plans to launch the amateur radio HF WSPR Leila PicoBalloon from the East Argentina coast.

This 24 gram PicoBalloon, with micro Atmel328, of long duration (circumnavigator) would flight around 13,500 meters height, possibly heading to South Africa and beyond.

Its tracker is powered by solar panels and a small supercapacitor, only emits during its day.

It will transmit every 10 minutes its WSPR 25mW beacon in 20m, dial in 14095.6 kHz USB, now active as test from Castelar, Buenos Aires.

The WSPR mode of K1JT is used to send and receive weak signals. It can receive up to 28dB below noise.

The 1st 2-minute broadcast transmits LU7AA, Locator and power in dBm, 2nd, height, temperature and voltage.

WSPR can be downloaded from http://amsat.org.ar/wspr.exe or http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/WSPR2_r1714.EXE

To operate connect PC audio output and input to the transceiver, it can also be coupled acoustically.

If running WSPR mark UPLOAD SPOTS, your reception reports via Internet will be uploaded  in wsprnet.

Each report uploaded to http://wsprnet.org/ will allow to see where is the picoballoon, heading, height, voltages, temp, and so on.

It is important to have the largest number of receiving stations, which will help track Leila.

There is a Spanish presentation available at http://amsat.org.ar/wspr.ppt

You could track Leila and see your own reports at: http://lu7aa.org/wspr.asp and / or http://aprs.fi?call=lu7aa-15

Thank you for being part of this experience and if possible disseminate this information.

73, LU7AA, Amsat Argentina

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