Amateur radio balloon enthusiast helped restore BTTF DeLorean

Ara Kourchians N6ARA in BTTF DeLorean Time Machine

Ara Kourchians N6ARA in BTTF DeLorean Time Machine

Radio amateur and High Altitude Balloon enthusiast Ara Kourchians (Arko) N6ARA was among those who helped restore the Back To The Future DeLorean time machine for Universal Studios.

Ara Kourchians N6ARA restoring BTTF Delorean

Ara Kourchians N6ARA restoring BTTF DeLorean

The San Bernardino Microwave Society newsletter reported his interest in the amateur microwave bands when he was a student in 2008.

Ara N6ARA has since flown many amateur radio High Altitude Balloons and in 2013 attended the UKHAS Conference in London to give a presentation on US Ballooning.

By 2015 he completed his bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona and has worked as a Software Engineer at JPL.

Ara Kourchians N6ARA appeared in a video about the DeLorean restoration project.

Watch “OUT OF TIME: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine” – Trailer 1

Ara’s presentation to the UKHAS 2013 Conference can be seen at

Arko N6ARA

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IARU Region 3 Conference

IARU-R3 LogoThe ARRL reports on the 16th International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 triennial conference held in Bali, Indonesia, October 12-16.

Working Group 2 (WG2) dealt with such operational and technical matters as emergency communication, digital modes, a common APRS frequency, and Region 3 band plans. Titon Dutono, YB3PET, chaired WG2, and ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, served as its secretary. In all, working group members discussed 37 papers and submitted recommendations to the conference for adoption.

Among recommendations adopted was one to ask the IARU Administrative Council to make available information on the use of the Amateur Satellite Service for member societies, satellite groups, Amateur Satellite operators, and concerned radio amateurs. This information would include, but not be limited to, criteria for a satellite to be in the Amateur Satellite Service and the procedure for IARU satellite frequency coordination.

The conference also adopted adjustments to the Region 3 band plans. Region 3 directors will consider making the format similar to that used in Regions 1 and 2.

Read the full ARRL story at

The Chinese Radio Sports Association / Chinese Radio Amateur Club submitted a paper titled Amateur Satellite Guide which said “Amateur satellite projects may rely on a wide range of cooperation between radio amateurs and other parties, as the consequence, the nature of the mission can be complicated. Without a set of definite criterion, the service classification of a mission may not be crystal clear to both satellite operators and other radio amateurs, especially when the radio payload supplies amateur service but also covers certain kind of other tasks.”

The CRSA/CRAC proposed “that the IARU AC shall consider to make available some information on use of the amateur satellite service for member societies, satellite groups, amateur satellite operators as well as concerned radio amateurs.”

CRSA/CRAC paper on the number of radio amateurs – paper also notes Beijing has allocated 135.7-137.8 kHz to the Amateur Satellite Service

The Working Group 2 report recommended a common APRS frequency of 144.390 MHz for High Altitude Balloons and terrestrial use. The Region 3 Directors will be consulting with IARU Regions 1 & 2

Papers submitted for the conference may be seen at

IARU Region 3 Act on Band Plan Satellite Allocations

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New version of Fox-1A Telemetry Decoder

Fox-1 CubeSat at the Dayton Hamvention - Image Credit ARRL

Fox-1 CubeSat at the Dayton Hamvention – Image Credit ARRL

Chris Thompson G0KLA has released a new version of the AO-85 (Fox-1A) telemetry decoder software FoxTelem 

I want to announce the release of FoxTelem Version 1.01. If possible, everyone should upgrade to this new version. In addition to some new functionality it fixes some bugs and issue that mean more data will be uploaded to the server.

This is a patch release. If you already have 1.00 installed then download the file

You can download it from:

Only two files have changed (plus the manual). Copy these files into your install directory
– FoxTelem.jar
– spacecraft/FOX1A_radtelemetry2.csv

You can also download the whole install file and install it in a new directory. You can use the settings menu to continue using your existing log files. Ask if you need assistance.

Lots has changed in this release and many bugs have been fixed. Please report any issues that you see.

Release notes:
* Allow the user to view and set the “track” attribute for each spacecraft (and other parameters)
* Better doppler tracking in IQ mode and more stable estimate of the received frequency
* Better Find Signal algorithm with tuning parameters for experts
* Read Time Zero from the server for each reset and use to plot graphs in UTC
* Set the default fcd frequency to 145930 so that Fox-1A, Fox-1Cliff and Fox-1D will be in the passband
* Allow the gain to be set on the FCD (rather than hard coded)
* Do not change the FCD LNA or Mixer Gain. Leave unchanged.
* Do not open the FCD unless the start button is pressed
* Fixed a bug where the last 2 bytes of the radiation telemetry were not decoded correctly
* Allow Vanderbilt radiation experiment to be graphed
* Allow user to select UDP or TCP for upload to the server (but use UDP for now please)
* Shorten the period between passes so that graphs look continuous
* Ignore duplicate high speed radiation frames – needed for processing data from the server
* Allow graphs to be hidden so that average or derivative is easier to see
* Notify the user when a new release is available
* Cleaned up the FFT trace with some averaging
* If showRawValues is checked then save CSV files as raw values
* Several updates to the manual

FoxTelem Software for Windows, Mac, & Linux

AO-85 (Fox-1A)

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Astro Pi launch changed

Astro Pi LogoTwo specially augmented Raspberry Pi’s called Astro Pi‘s were planned to fly with UK astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 15.

On the ISS the Astro Pi’s are planned to run experimental Python programs written by school-age students; the results will be downloaded back to Earth and made available online for all to see. It is hoped that subsequently one of them will be used to provide a video source for the amateur radio HamTV transmitter in the ISS Columbus module.

It appears the amount of cargo on Tim’s Soyuz flight was overbooked so the Astro Pi’s will instead fly to the ISS on an Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo freighter. The launch is currently planned for December 3 at 22:48 UT.

Read the full story on the Raspberry Pi site


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LU7ABF Online Satellite Orbital Predictions

AMSAT-LU PassOn the AMSAT Bulletin Board Pedro Converso LU7ABF has posted the following information about his online satellite orbital pass prediction app.

New, quick, easy & instant predictions at , available for satellites in use.

• Detects and remembers your location, operates with and without Internet access.
• Should work on any PC browser, tablets or smart phones in your local time, not worry about keps.
• Useful for planning field operations, showing current and future passes with real time graphics.
• Displays azimuths and elevation as well as Uplink / Downlink frequencies.

If you try, comments or suggested changes/additions welcome.

Congratulations to all for the great satellite activity.

73, lu7abf, Pedro Converso

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Radio Amateurs in Raspberry Pi Foundation Article

Dr Chris Bridges 2E0OBC at the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium - Credit DK3WN

Dr Chris Bridges 2E0OBC at the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium – Credit DK3WN

An article posted on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website describes the work of two radio amateurs at the Surrey Space Centre in Guildford.

Dr Chris Bridges, 2E0OBC, leads the spacecraft On-Board Data Handling group in the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey. He researches and teaches computer hardware and software to provide reliable computer processing in the harsh radiation environment of space. Chris is also an amateur radio enthusiast, with a passion for hacking almost any electronics for space and telling everyone that the sky is most definitely not the limit. He was involved at the beginning of the Astro Pi project back in 2014, since he has been working on numerous space flight projects involving Raspberry Pi devices and has been doing thermal and vacuum tests on them with his students.

Chris is working on the on-board computer for the STRaND2 and AAReST CubeSat missions, along with CalTech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US. These CubeSat missions require the processing and detection of other CubeSats in flight for rendezvous and docking experiments, as well as for collision avoidance manoeuvres.

These kinds of CubeSats employ light detection and ranging technologies (LIDAR) as a way to measure distance to nearby objects in space. This works by illuminating the target with a laser beam and then analysing the reflected light to calculate how far away the target is.

Postgrad student and radio amateur Richard Duke M6TLE achieved this with a Raspberry Pi, an ordinary Microsoft Kinect and some custom Linux drivers that he rewrote himself. He now works at Surrey Space Centre as a software engineer.

Read the full Raspberry Pi article at

Detailed information on the work is in this paper on AAReST published in Acta Astronautica
and in this paper on STRaND2 given at the IEEE/AIAA Aerospace Conference.

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URGENT – AO-85 Operational Update

AO-85 (Fox-1A) Flight Unit

AO-85 (Fox-1A) Flight Unit

The FM transponder on AO-85 (Fox-1A) should not be used during October 19-23.

AMSAT-NA report:

After our successful launch on October 8, AO-85 has been chiefly in transponder mode and available to users. While this operational plan resulted in increased data for AMSAT engineering evaluation, we have some necessary tests to complete that require limiting access for a short period. We will be characterizing the uplink and downlink signals, and developing an updated set of recommendations for minimal equipment and best operating practices.

For the week of October 19 to 23, AO-85 will be unavailable while this testing and evaluation is complete. Please avoid transmitting to the satellite even if you hear the transponder on. Users are encouraged to collect and forward telemetry via the FoxTelem program. Please share this information to other operators as needed. Cooperation will expedite this testing and the return to normal operations.

[Information provided by Drew KO4MA]

Have you donated to get your Fox-1 Challenge Coin Yet?

AO-85 Information

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New Ham Radio Promotional Video

21st Century Radio Amateurs

21st Century Radio Amateurs

The RSGB has launched a new amateur radio promotional video on their YouTube channel.

The video was produced in conjunction with TX Factor and has generated lots of positive comment since it was first shown publicly at the RSGB Convention on October 10.

One person commented “the video is really good, hardly an oldie to be seen !!”

The amateur satellite service features prominently in the video, Peter Goodhall 2E0SQL is shown working the amateur satellites and astronaut Doug Wheelock KF5BOC puts in an appearance from on-board the International Space Station.

Among those spotted in the video were amateurs from the Silcoates School, Camb Hams and Essex Ham.

Watch Amateur Radio – a hobby for the 21st century


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IARU Agree New Satellite Guidelines

IARU_LogoThe IARU Administrative Council meeting in Bali, Indonesia has stressed the importance of antenna systems for Amateur Radio and agreed in principle to new guidelines for amateur satellite coordination.

The Administrative Council (AC) of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) held its annual meeting on 9 & 10 October 2015 in Bali, Indonesia in association with the IARU Region 3 Conference. The AC is responsible for the policy and management of the IARU and consists of the three IARU international officers and two representatives from each of the three IARU regional organizations.

Here is a summary of the discussions and actions.

Recognizing that an antenna is an integral part of any radiocommunications system, the AC adopted a new Resolution which urges IARU Member Societies to use their efforts to encourage their national governments to recognise the importance of the Amateur Radio Service and an amateur radio antenna; to advocate for planning and development regulations that properly recognise the importance of an amateur radio antenna and do not place undue restrictions on erection of antennas; and to discourage fees for the use of an amateur antenna, particularly in view of the non-pecuniary nature of amateur radio and its popularity in the student and senior communities.

The AC completed preparations for the representation of amateur radio at the World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in Geneva during November 2015. The final composition of the IARU WRC-15 team was confirmed. The IARU positions and strategies for each of the WRC-15 agenda items that may impact amateur radio were reviewed, including proposals for a secondary amateur allocation near 5.3 MHz. Possible future agenda items for the next WRC, anticipated in 2019, include an amateur allocation at 50 MHz in Region 1 and global harmonization of the 1800 – 2000 kHz allocation. It is anticipated that a significant effort by IARU will be needed in preparation for WRC-19 to defend the amateur allocations between 137 and 960 MHz in light of the pressure for spectrum for small non-amateur satellites. Close coordination of regional efforts will be required.

The growing demand for coordination of satellites in the amateur bands led the AC to adopt revised Terms of Reference for the IARU Satellite Adviser and to agree in principle to new guidelines for satellite coordination. A Deputy Satellite Adviser has been appointed to assist with the work.

The AC agreed that a more proactive approach is needed to international standards bodies in order to achieve IARU objectives to reduce radio spectrum pollution from unwanted radio frequency emissions.

The President updated the AC on the actions of the Board of the ITU’s Smart Sustainable Development Module of which the IARU is a founding member. The Board recently released its final report which contains a number of references to the amateur services and the role they play in emergency communications. A copy of the report can be found at the ITU website:

The IARU Member-Society Relations Project Team reported on its work to date. The AC determined that the next step is to draft possible revisions to the IARU Constitution and By-Laws to introduce some degree of flexibility in dealing with second societies.  Any revision will require approval of the Member Societies.

A group consisting of a representative of each regional organization was established to work with a member of the International Secretariat (IS) staff to recommend how to create a more consistent image and clearer expression of the mission of the IARU.

The strategic plan for the development of support for amateur radio frequency allocations and the 2014 version of the IARU Spectrum Requirements working document were reviewed and updated. Further updating will be required after WRC-15.

The AC received the report of the International Beacon Project, which included some thoughts on how the beacon system might be combined with other means of assessing HF propagation in real time. The AC will consider the implications of the technological advances that have occurred in this field in recent years.

In a departure from recent practice, the AC decided to adopt a continuing theme for the annual World Amateur Day of “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society.” If appropriate in future, a special theme may be adopted for any given year.

The budget for the years 2016-2018 as presented by the IS was reviewed and adopted. The budget is based upon anticipated financial contributions from the three regional organizations to defray a portion of the expenses, in accordance with previously adopted policy.

A plan to collect consistent data on amateur radio licensing from Member Societies was formulated and agreed.

The AC discussed the environmental impact and burden on the international QSL Bureau system of unsolicited and unwanted QSL cards and will revisit the issue at a future meeting.

Attending the meeting were IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA; Vice President Ole Garpestad, LA2RR; Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD; regional representatives Don Beattie, G3BJ, Faisal Al-Ajmi, 9K2RR, Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, José Arturo Molina, YS1MS, Gopal Madhavan, VU2GMN, Shizuo Endo, JE1MUI and recording secretary David Sumner, K1ZZ. Also present as observers were Jay Bellows, K0QB, from Region 2 and Wisnu Widjaja, YB0AZ and Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, from Region 3.

It was determined that a virtual meeting will be held early in 2016. The next scheduled in-person meeting of the AC will be held in the vicinity of Viña del Mar, Chile, in October 2016 in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 Conference.

Source IARU

IARU Region 3 Conference papers

IARU Region 3 to act on band plan satellite allocations

Amateur Radio and Antennas – Parity Act

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