PicSat to launch Friday

Artist's impression of PicSat in space

Artist’s impression of PicSat in space

The PicSat 3U CubeSat carrying an amateur radio 145/435 MHz FM transponder is planned to launch into Earth orbit on January 12, 2018.

The primary mission is to study the star Beta Pictoris, its exoplanet and its famous debris disk, thanks to a small telescope 5 cm in diameter. The nanosatellite has been designed and built over three years by scientists and engineers at the Paris Observatory and the CNRS, with support from the Université PSL, the French space agency CNES, the European Research Council and the MERAC Foundation.

The nominal PicSat mission will last for one year. When the start of a planetary or other transit is observed, the 3.6-meter telescope from the European Southern Observatory in La Sille, Chile, will also be immediately put into action to observe Beta Pictoris using the powerful HARPS instrument. These data combined will allow an even better understanding of the phenomenon.

On Friday, January 12 2018 at 0358 UT, the Indian PSLV launcher will lift off and place PicSat in a polar orbit at an altitude of 505 km, together with about thirty other satellites. PicSat will be operated from Lesia in Meudon. However, the satellite will be visible from Meudon for only about 30 minutes every day, when it passes over Paris. Therefore, PicSat uses radio amateur bands for its communication, for which authorisation has been obtained thanks to the help of the French Réseau des Émetteurs Français (REF, or the Network of French Emitters).

Anybody who owns a minimum radio receiving equipment can listen to and receive PicSat’s transmissions on 435.525 MHz. The PicSat team invites radio amateurs from all over the world to collaborate in following the satellite, receiving its data and relaying them to the PicSat data base via the Internet. Those interested can register on the PicSat website to follow the updates and, if they so wish, become part of the radio network, see

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Download the PicSat Press Release PDF

IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination

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BBC TV to show Michael Portillo moonbounce

Noel Matthews G8GTZ, Michael Portillo, Brian Coleman G4NNS, Matthew Crosby Chief Scientist Goonhilly, Ian Jones CEO Goonhilly and Tim Fern G4LOH at Goonhilly in June 2017

Noel Matthews G8GTZ, Michael Portillo, Brian Coleman G4NNS, Matthew Crosby Chief Scientist Goonhilly, Ian Jones CEO Goonhilly and Tim Fern G4LOH at Goonhilly in June 2017

The former MP for Enfield Southgate, Michael Portillo, used 5.6 GHz amateur radio to bounce a signal off the surface of the moon.

In 2017, a team led by Noel Matthews G8GTZ and Brian Coleman G4NNS made several visits to Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall to use the 32 metre GHY6 dish for 3.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) operation using the call sign GB6GHY. During one of the visits, Michael Portillo and the Great British Railway Journeys team visited and filmed a sequence including EME operation.

The show will be broadcast on Friday, January 12, 2018 at 6:30pm on BBC2.

Described as “Going to the moon by way of the Cornish Riviera” the sequence will show Michael talking to Brian G4NNS and operating his station under supervision to “talk to the moon” and hear his echos coming back.

The BBC description reads:

Steered by his early 20th-century Bradshaw’s railway guide, Michael Portillo boldly goes to the moon by way of the Cornish Riviera Express! On the trail of an historic achievement made at the dawn of the Edwardian era, he investigates the first radio signal to be sent across the Atlantic. In Plymouth, Michael uncovers what happened to surviving crew members of the most famous ocean liner in history, the Titanic. And at Fowey, he rediscovers a lost literary figure known as Q, who immortalised the town in his novels.

The show will be available online for 30 days from January 12 at

GB6GHY – Hello Moon, this is Goonhilly calling!

This was not Michael Portillo’s first encounter with amateur radio, in 2014 he send Morse code at Chelmsford, Essex under the guidance of Peter Watkins M0BHY

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GEO Quarterly magazine available for download

GEO 56 coverThe December PDF of the weather satellite magazine GEO Quarterly produced by the Group for Earth Observation is now available for free download.

The Group for Earth Observation’s aim is to enable amateur reception of weather and earth imaging satellites that are in orbit or planned for launch in the near future.

GEO recently changed from a paid subscription to an optional sign-up to the GEO-Subscribers Yahoo group.

Download December 2017 GEO Quarterly at

Group for Earth Observation

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“NASA on the Air” ham radio events

Kennedy Space Center Amateur Radio Club members Dennis Veselka KI4KNC and Scott Vangen WB0QMZ

Kennedy Space Center Amateur Radio Club members Dennis Veselka KI4KNC and Scott Vangen WB0QMZ

NASA is known for communicating with astronauts on missions to space, but did you know regular citizens can radio NASA too?

From the end of this year through the next, NASA will mark several key milestones. Amateur radio clubs at agency centers across the nation plan to celebrate these occasions with several “NASA on the Air” events.

“We enjoy sharing NASA’s story as part of the fun of making contact with fellow ham radio operators across the nation and around the world,” said Kevin Zari KK4YEL, who is activities officer for the Amateur Radio Club at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “We occasionally communicate with people who think that because we’re not flying the space shuttle anymore, NASA has almost gone out of business. We tell them about activities such as the International Space Station and the Space Launch System, and they appreciate the update.”

Amateur, or ham, radio operators use a frequency spectrum for communicating noncommercial and private messages. One of the most important uses of ham radio operations is providing emergency messaging following disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Maria that destroyed most avenues of communication in Puerto Rico.

“The amateur radio clubs at NASA centers are made up of civil servants, contractors and tenants who participate on their own time,” said Zari, who has been at Kennedy since 1990 and is chief technology officer in the Mission and Support Office of Exploration Research and Technology Programs. “We all have a common goal to show our support for NASA and highlight some of the agency’s amazing accomplishments.”

Read the full NASA story at

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AO-73 / FUNcube-1 spin period and illumination

AO73 / FUNcube-1 Spin Period

AO-73 / FUNcube-1 Spin Period

The attitude of AO-73 / FUNcube-1 is passively stabilised using the traditional magnet and two hysteresis rods. Since the launch over four years ago we have been intrigued with the resultant actual spin rate/period which seems to vary over time for reasons that have not yet been properly explained.

This graphic, which has been developed from telemetry received and maintained by Colin, VK3IH, and his team, shows the variations in some detail. Explanations would be gratefully received.

Mike, DK3WN’s, illum.exe software showing predicted duration of the first period

Mike, DK3WN’s, illum.exe software showing predicted duration of the first period

As it is expected that illumination levels may be having an influence, the next few months and years will prove interesting. The spacecraft will be entering periods of continuous sunlight. Initially this will be for a six-week period but then for periods of up to nine months!

AO-73 / FUNcube-1 celebrates its 4th birthday

FUNcube Website

FUNcube Yahoo Group

FUNcube Forum

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Slow Scan TV from Space Dec 5-6

ISS SSTV MAI-75 image 9/12 received by Chertsey Radio Club on Baofeng handheld

ISS SSTV MAI-75 image 9/12 received by Chertsey Radio Club on Baofeng handheld

The 145.800 MHz FM Slow Scan Television (SSTV) transmissions from the International Space Station on December 5-6 should be receivable by radio amateurs around the world.

The MAI-75 SSTV system in the Russian Service Module will be put through some extended testing from December 5 starting around 15:00 UTC and running until 09:00 UTC on December 6. Test images will be used during this period. This will provide near global coverage if all works well on 145.800 MHz FM.

In the past images have been sent using the SSTV mode PD180, with a 3-minute off time between each image.

All you need to receive SSTV pictures direct from the space station is to connect the audio output of a scanner or amateur radio transceiver via a simple interface to the soundcard on a Windows PC or an Apple iOS device, and tune in to 145.800 MHz FM. You can even receive pictures by holding an iPhone next to the radio loudspeaker.

The ISS puts out a strong signal on 145.800 MHz FM and a 2m handheld with a 1/4 wave antenna should be enough to receive it.

Many FM rigs can be switched been wide and narrow deviation FM filters. For best results you should select the filter for wider 5 kHz deviation FM. Handhelds all seem to have a single wide filter fitted as standard.


ISS Slow Scan TV information with links to Apps and ISS tracking

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FUNcube-1 celebrates its 4th birthday

Final gluing of FUNcube-1 bolt by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG – Image credit Gerard Aalbers

Final gluing of FUNcube-1 bolt by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG – Image credit Gerard Aalbers

Today, November 21st 2017, marks the fourth birthday for FUNcube-1 (AO-73) in orbit.

FUNcube-1 was launched at 07:10 UTC on November 21st 2013 and its first signals were received immediately after deployment over the Indian Ocean by amateurs in South Africa. Since then it has been operating continuously in either its education mode or, with the transponder active, in amateur mode when in eclipse and at weekends.

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch Rev4 20100609

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

The spacecraft has spent the four years in space orbiting the earth at between 640 and 580 km and has now travelled around the earth more than 20,000 times. That represents a distance travelled of approaching 500 million miles.

Up to now, each of the orbits has been spilt approximately 65% in sunlight and 35% in eclipse. This has resulted in the temperatures inside the small spacecraft varying by about 25o C during each orbit.

During the recent AMSAT-UK Colloquium, Wouter Weggelaar, PA3WEG, during his presentation about the FUNcube project mentioned that the power available from the solar panels has been slowly increasing since launch. This observation led the team to do some further investigations as to the cause.

Although the launch was into a nominally Sun Synchronous orbit, over time this has drifted and the spacecraft is now entering a period when it will be in the sun for longer periods during each orbit. The exact details are still being determined, but it seems likely that, starting from January 2018, there will be periods when the spacecraft will be in the sun for all, or almost all, of its orbits.

FUNcube-1 temperature rise

FUNcube-1 temperature rise

This means that the on-board temperatures will be much higher than we have previously experienced in flight, although we have some test records from pre-flight thermal air testing that were undertaken after integration.

The key will be to discover what the equilibrium temperature will be internally. For comparison, AO85 has already “enjoyed” periods of full sun and its internal temperatures have reached up to around 55o C.

So the next few months will be quite an exciting time for the team! We remain extremely grateful to everyone is using the spacecraft for both its educational and amateur missions. Of course we are also very very grateful to those who are downloading the telemetry and uploading the data to the Data Warehouse. It continues to provide a unique record of “life on board” a 1U CubeSat in space.

Watch the FUNcube presentation by Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

Get your 73 on 73 Award, details at

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) website

FUNcube Yahoo Group

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

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RadFxSat (Fox-1B) Launched, Designated AMSAT-OSCAR 91 (AO-91)

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) signal received by Mike Rupprecht DK3WN

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) signal received by Mike Rupprecht DK3WN

The Delta II rocket carrying RadFxSat (Fox-1B) launched at 09:47:36 UTC on November 18, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) CubeSat

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) CubeSat

Following a picture-perfect launch, RadFxSat was deployed at 11:09 UTC. Then the wait began. At 12:12 UTC, the AMSAT Engineering team, watching ZR6AIC’s WebSDR waterfall, saw the characteristic “Fox Tail” of the Fox-1 series FM transmitter, confirming that the satellite was alive and transmitting over South Africa. Shortly after 12:34 UTC, the first telemetry was received and uploaded to AMSAT servers by Maurizio Balducci, IV3RYQ, in Cervignano del Friuli, Italy. Initial telemetry confirmed that the satellite was healthy.

After confirmation of signal reception, OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO, sent an email to the AMSAT Board of Directors designating the satellite AMSAT-OSCAR 91 (AO-91). Bill’s email stated:

“RadFxSat (Fox-1B) was launched successfully at 09:47 UTC today November 18, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has been received by several amateur stations.

RadFxSat (Fox-1B), a 1U CubeSat, is a joint mission of AMSAT and the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics at Vanderbilt University. The Vanderbilt package is intended to measure the effects of radiation on electronic components, including demonstration of an on-orbit platform for space qualification of components as well as to validate and improve computer models for predicting radiation tolerance of semiconductors.

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) signal received at 12:12 GMT, Nov 18 by the ZR1AIC WebSDR in South Africa

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) signal received at 12:12 GMT, Nov 18 by the ZR1AIC WebSDR in South Africa

AMSAT constructed the remainder of the satellite including the spaceframe, on-board computer and power system. The amateur radio package is similar to that currently on orbit on AO-85 with a FM uplink on 435.250 MHz (67.0 Hz CTCSS) and a FM downlink on 145.960 MHz. Experiment telemetry will be downlinked via the DUV subaudible telemetry stream, which can be decoded using the FoxTelem software.

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) was sent aloft as a secondary payload on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket that will transport the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1 mission. RadFxSat (Fox-1B) is one of four CubeSats making up this NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) XIV mission, riding as secondary payloads aboard the JPSS-1 mission.

Since RadFxSat (Fox-1B) has met all of the qualifications necessary to receive an OSCAR number, I, by the authority vested in me by the AMSAT President, do hereby confer on this satellite the designation AMSAT-OSCAR 91 or AO-91. I join amateur radio operators in the U.S. and around the world in wishing AO-91 a long and successful life in both its amateur and scientific missions.

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) LogoI, along with the rest of the amateur community, congratulate all of the volunteers who worked so diligently to construct, test and prepare for launch the newest amateur radio satellite.

William A. (Bill) Tynan, W3XO
AMSAT-NA OSCAR Number Administrator”

AMSAT Engineering reminds stations that the satellite will not be available for general use until the on-orbit checkouts are complete. Please continue to submit telemetry to assist the Engineering team in completing the commissioning process.

Source AMSAT News Service

FoxTelem software

Radio Programming Chart

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) Doppler Shift Correction

Memory 1 (AOS) – Transmit 435.240 MHz (67.0 Hz Tone), Receive 145.960 MHz
Memory 2 (Approaching) – Transmit 435.245 MHz (67.0 Hz Tone), Receive 145.960 MHz
Memory 3 (TCA) – Transmit 435.250 MHz (67.0 Hz Tone), Receive 145.960 MHz
Memory 4 (Departing) – Transmit 435.255 MHz (67.0 Hz Tone), Receive 145.960 MHz
Memory 5 (LOS) – Transmit 435.260 MHz (67.0 Hz Tone), Receive 145.960 MHz

Frequencies are subject to change post-launch.

Online real-time satellite tracking

Keplerian Two Line Elements (TLEs) ‘Keps’:
• New satellites launched in past 30 days
• CubeSats
• Experimental satellites
• Engineering satellites
• Amateur radio satellites

Initial post-launch Keplerian Two Line Elements (TLEs) ‘Keps’
1 00000U 17000A 17322.46057870 -.00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00004
2 00000 97.6996 257.5922 0258900 235.2917 178.7268 14.79536000 07

AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB)

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RadFxSat (Fox-1B) Telemetry Reception Challenge

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) CubeSat

RadFxSat (Fox-1B) CubeSat

Get FoxTelem set up and ready to go on Tuesday! The first amateur radio operator that successfully receives RadFxSat (Fox-1B) telemetry and uploads it to the AMSAT server will receive a commemorative 3D printed QSL card.

RadFxSat is scheduled for launch at 1:47am PST (09:47 UTC) on Tuesday, November 14th from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The first transmission from RadFxSat is expected to occur around 12:07 UTC. Due to a lack of prelaunch Keplerian elements, it is not known exactly where the satellite will be when it makes it’s first transmission.

For further details regarding the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) of RadFxSat operations, please see:

FoxTelem software

Follow the launch day chat on the #CubeSat IRC channel

AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB)

AMSAT News Service

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Countdown to World Radiocommunication Conference 2019

ITU WP-5A - Amateur Satellite Management Discussion Nov 8, 2017 - Credit Bryan Rawlings VE3QN

ITU WP-5A – Amateur Satellite Management Discussion Nov 8, 2017 – Credit Bryan Rawlings VE3QN

Bryan Rawlings, VE3QN, RAC Special Advisor, is in Geneva, Switzerland attending Preparatory Meetings for the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) until Friday, November 17.

The current meetings are the fourth of a series of meetings which will continue until just before WRC-19 now scheduled to be held from October 28 to November 22, 2019.

Preparatory Meetings are usually held at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) headquarters in Geneva and are usually of two weeks duration. This time Bryan is attending as a member of the Canadian Delegation and also as an Expert Consultant for the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).

Preparatory Meetings primarily prepare documents on the agenda items identified for the upcoming WRC. They are in turn preceded by meetings and the submission of documents from the participating administrations, for example, Canada through its authorized government agency, the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED; formerly Industry Canada). The RAC representative is made a member of the delegation by invitation and Bryan’s role is to advise on Amateur issues.

The principal Amateur Radio issue is an international authorization of the 50 to 54 MHz band in ITU Region 1 (Europe, Africa and the Middle East). Canada has submitted a contribution to this meeting indicating no concerns about interference to the Canadian users who are, of course, Radio Amateurs since 50 – 54 MHz is a Primary Allocation in Canada. Indeed, Canadian Amateurs would welcome harmonization of the six-metre band worldwide.

ITU-R Working Party 5A is chaired by Dr. José Costa, a Canadian, and the Canadian Delegation to WP-5A is being chaired by Ms. Cindy-Lee Cook of ISED.

In addition to Canada, there are Amateur delegates in Geneva this time representing their individual delegations and/or the IARU and they come from the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Norway, Brazil and Australia.

These meetings are also debating an expansion of the frequencies, powers and deployment of Radio Local Area Networks (RLANs) in the 5 GHz range. Canadian Amateurs have a secondary allocation here in 5650 to 5925 MHz which we already share with the Primary Users – principally meteorological radars – and with ISM (Wi-Fi, etc.).

Also warranting close attention is an agenda item proposing frequencies for wireless power transfer, e.g., charging cellphones and – significantly – larger devices including vehicles. Frequencies under discussion lie in the range 19 to 300 kHz and – possibly – just below the 40m Amateur band. Depending upon the frequencies planned and the technical characteristics there may be significant interference issues to users of the HF and VHF spectrum.

As he has done in recent meetings, Bryan will be tweeting comments on Amateur Radio issues from the meeting using the hashtag #RACatITU. You can also follow him at @VE3QN

Bryan will also be including a report in the next issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine at the conclusion of the meetings.

For more information about the Preparatory Meetings visit:

Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director


Follow Bryan Rawlings VE3QN on Twitter

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