Archive for the ‘amsat’ Category

There’s a new radio hobby magazine in town!

Recently, a number of hobby radio magazines have either retired, or have merged into a digital mix of several. Filling that void is the new The Spectrum Monitor, a creation of Ken Reitz KS4ZR, managing editor for Monitoring Times since 2012, features editor since 2009, columnist and feature writer for the MT magazine since 1988. Ken offers this digital, radio communications magazine monthly.  The web site is at http://www.thespectrummonitor.com/

There's a new radio hobby magazine in town!  The Spectrum Monitor magazine - get your's, today.

The Spectrum Monitor magazine – get your’s, today.

Ken, a former feature writer and columnist for Satellite Times, Satellite Entertainment GuideSatellite Orbit magazine, Dish Entertainment Guide and Direct Guide, is also contributing editor on personal electronics for Consumers Digest (2007 to present). He is the author of the Kindle e-books “How to Listen to the World” and “Profiles in Amateur Radio.”

The Spectrum Monitor Writers’ Group consists of former columnists, editors and writers for Monitoring Times, a monthly print and electronic magazine which ceases publication with the December, 2013 issue. Below, in alphabetical order, are the columnists, their amateur radio call signs, the name of their column in The Spectrum Monitor,  a brief bio and their websites:

Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF, “Amateur Radio Satellites”

Past president and currently treasurer of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Freelance writer and photographer on amateur space telecommunications since 1993. Columnist and feature writer for Monitoring TimesThe Canadian Amateur and the AMSAT Journal. Web site: www.kb1sf.com

Kevin O’Hern Carey WB2QMY, “The Longwave Zone”

Reporting on radio’s lower extremes, where wavelengths can be measured in miles, and extending up to the start of the AM broadcast band. Since 1991, editor of “Below 500 kHz” column forMonitoring Times. Author of Listening to Longwave (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/books/0024u.html). This link also includes information for ordering his CD, VLF RADIO!, a narrated tour of the longwave band from 0 to 530 kHz, with actual recordings of LW stations.

Mike Chace-Ortiz AB1TZ/G6DHU “Digital HF: Intercept and Analyze”

Author of the Monitoring Times “Digital Digest” column since 1997, which follows the habits of embassies, aid organizations, intelligence and military HF users, the digital data systems they use, and how to decode, breakdown and identify their traffic. Web site: www.chace-ortiz.org/umc

Marc Ellis N9EWJ, “Adventures in Radio Restoration”

Authored a regular monthly column about radio restoration and history since 1986. Originally writing for Gernsback Publications (Hands-On Electronics, Popular Electronics, Electronics Now), he moved his column to Monitoring Times in January 2000. Editor of two publications for the Antique Wireless Association (www.antiquewireless.org): The AWA Journal and the AWA Gateway. The latter is a free on-line magazine targeted at newcomers to the radio collecting and restoration hobbies.

Dan Farber ACØLW, “Antenna Connections”

Monitoring Times antenna columnist 2009-2013. Building ham and SWL antennas for over 40 years.

Tomas Hood NW7US, “Understanding Propagation”

Tomas first discovered radio propagation in the early 1970s as a shortwave listener and, as a member of the Army Signal Corps in 1985, honed his skills in communications, operating and training fellow soldiers. An amateur Extra Class operator, licensed since 1990, you’ll find Tomas on CW (see http://cw.hfradio.org ), digital, and voice modes on any of the HF bands. He is a contributing editor for CQ Amateur Radio (and the late Popular Communications, and CQ VHF magazines), and a contributor to an ARRL publication on QRP communications. He also wrote for Monitoring Times and runs the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Center at http://SunSpotWatch.com.  Web site: http://nw7us.us/  Twitter: @NW7US  YouTube: https://YouTube.com/NW7US

Kirk Kleinschmidt NTØZ, “Amateur Radio Insight”

Amateur radio operator since 1977 at age 15. Author of Stealth Amateur Radio. Former editor,ARRL Handbook, former QST magazine assistant managing editor, columnist and feature writer for several radio-related magazines, technical editor for Ham Radio for Dummies, wrote “On the Ham Bands” column and numerous feature articles for Monitoring Times since 2009. Web site: www.stealthamateur.com.

Cory Koral K2WV, “Aeronautical Monitoring”

Lifelong air-band monitor, a private pilot since 1968 and a commercial pilot licensee since 1983, amateur radio licensee for more than 40 years. Air-band feature writer for Monitoring Times since 2010.

Stan Nelson KB5VL, “Amateur Radio Astronomy”

Amateur radio operator since 1960. Retired after 40-plus years involved in mobile communications/electronics/computers/automation. Active in radio astronomy for over twenty years, specializing in meteor monitoring. Wrote the “Amateur Radio Astronomy” column for Monitoring Timessince 2010. A member of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). Web site: www.RoswellMeteor.com.

Chris Parris, “Federal Wavelengths”

Broadcast television engineer, avid scanner and shortwave listener, freelance writer on federal radio communications since 2004, wrote the “Fed Files” column for Monitoring Times.http://thefedfiles.com  http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com Twitter: @TheFedFiles

Doug Smith W9WI, “The Broadcast Tower”

Broadcast television engineer, casual cyclist and long distance reception enthusiast. “Broadcast Bandscan” columnist for Monitoring Times since 1991. Blog:http://americanbandscan.blogspot.com Web site: http://w9wi.com

Hugh Stegman NV6H, “Utility Planet”

Longtime DXer and writer on non-broadcast shortwave utility radio. Former “Utility World” columnist for Monitoring Times magazine for more than ten years. Web site: www.ominous-valve.com/uteworld.html Blog: http://mt-utility.blogspot.com/ Twitter: @UtilityPlanet YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/UtilityWorld

Dan Veeneman, “Scanning America”

Software developer and satellite communications engineer writing about scanners and public service radio reception for Monitoring Times for 17 years. Web site: www.signalharbor.com

Ron Walsh VE3GO, “Maritime Monitoring”

Retired career teacher, former president of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (now the Radio Amateurs of Canada), retired ship’s officer, licensed captain, “Boats” columnist and maritime feature writer for Monitoring Times for eight years. Avid photographer of ships and race cars.

Fred Waterer, “The Shortwave Listener”

Former “Programming Spotlight” columnist for Monitoring Times. Radio addict since 1969, freelance columnist since 1986. Fascinated by radio programming and history.  Website: http://www.doghousecharlie.com/

Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL, “World of Shortwave Listening”

Founder and director of the charity Ears To Our World (http://earstoourworld.org), curator of the Shortwave Radio Archive http://shortwavearchive.com and actively blogs about short­wave radio on the SWLing Post (http://swling.com/blog). Former feature writer for Monitoring Times.

 

Another Day Another Arduino Project

Yes another day, another Arduino project (seriously this is a great development environment)

As I mentioned in passing yesterday I have a number of Arduino based projects buzzing around in my head. One of them is to produce a satellite antenna pointer/indicator.

I have used an Android AR tracking solution before (flaky at best) and can see the relevant information in Orbitron or SatPC32 to know where to point the antenna but it is difficult to see a PC screen when stuck out in the middle of the lawn!

My idea is this, I will make a large tripod to which I can attach appropriate antenna as I need, then during the satellite pass it has indicators to show where to point the antenna manually.

I envisage the azimuth indicator to be a large horizontal circle with 36 LEDs positioned at 10 degree intervals, the elevation will be a quarter circle with 20 LEDs positioned at 5 degree intervals. Then during the pass the appropriate LEDs will light and assuming I keep the antenna aligned to these I should in theory get the best signal... Crazy??

Yes I know I could make or buy an azimuth/elevation rotator, eBay is full of low speed high torque geared DC motors with auto-stop/hold and numerous software solutions exist to drive them but this would require a bit more engineering and isn't something I can easily fabricate at the moment. My contraption would be much more rustic being made of rough cut timber!


Bright LEDs are ridiculously cheap and controlling this number from the Arduino will require the use of multiplexer drivers. The popular ones are the MAX 7219/7221

I won't go into the details of exactly what multiplexing is, other than to say that each display element (LED) is driven one at a time but by switching the electronics at high speed combined with the persistence of vision make the viewer believe the entire display is continuously active.

This technique can be used for individual LEDs, an LED grid matrix, or for 7 segment displays. Last night I successfully got a MAX7219 based 8-Digit 7-Segment LED module working.


The next stage was to investigate how an Arduino could calculate the appropriate azimuth and elevation data. Thankfully a library already exists qrpTracker (code is here), within this library is a port of the Plan-13 algorithm first written in Basic by James Miller G3RUH in 1990, subsequently ported to C by Edson Pereira, N1VTN and further updated by Howard Long, G6LVB.

Plan-13 processes keplerian elements, time and (optionally) observer location, and uplink downlink frequencies; it outputs satellite latitude and longitude, azimuth and elevation, and Doppler shifted frequencies. At the standard 16 MHz Arduino clock speed, this code can complete these calculations in approximately 30 ms. This code is reported to be highly accurate, if provided with proper data.

The important data are the observer location (longitude/latitude) and the current time. Step forward my well used GPS module which once lock is achieved can supply that data.

The next is get the appropriate up to date Keplerian twin element sets (TLE) and extract the appropriate information from it and pass that data to the Plan-13 functions.
 
The standard TLE follows the following format

You need to extract the Epoch Year/Day (including partial data), Inclination, Right Ascension, Eccentricity, Perigee, Mean anomaly and Mean Motion for a calculation (drag/orientation aren't critical) For the moment I have just extracted this manually from the latest TLE and entered it directly into the program.

After just an hour or so of research and programming I have the LED displaying the current azimuth and elevation of the FUNCube-1 satellite (AO73) based on the current position and time derived from the GPS!


The first four digits is the azimuth, the second four the elevation.


The next stage is to sort out the LED disc indicators, build the antenna tripod and formulate a method to upload the appropriate up to date TLE files from the PC which can be stored in the EEPROM of the micro-controller.
 

Did I make ICube-1’s first signal report?

Just like a excited child at the moment! Why you ask? 

Well this morning saw the launch of the numerous satellites from the Dnepr rocket including Funcube-1, and this morning saw the first passes over the UK. Like many others I eagerly sat in front of my computer awaiting the chance to decode the telemetry. However I was doing it remotely using a VNC connection as I was in work...

Sure enough at 10:21 the pass started and a nice strong signal appeared on the waterfall and the FUNCube dashboard sprang to life. I managed 29 packets on the first pass!

The upload ranking at the FUNcube data warehouse

However I noticed another CW signal further up the spectrum which seemed to be on the edge of the FUNCube transponder allocation (145.950MHz) I went to twitter and asked if FUNCube-1 was transmitting a CW beacon? Peter 2E0SQL thought it might be another satellite.



I had captured the pass as an IQ file, and set about trying to decode the CW. I had several attempt using fl-digi remotely but chasing a fast moving doppler on a laggy remote connection wasn't good but I seemed to repeatedly get ***ISTAN.

On the next pass the same thing happened, this time I got the word CUBESAT several times..

The signal had the same doppler shift as FUNCube-1 so was from the same launch constellation and a quick check and I spotted ICube-1 the first cubesat launched by Institute of Space Technology in Pakistan.. which was listed as broadcasting on 145.947MHz using AFSK.

It must be.. ***ISTAN... CUBESAT.... So I sent them a message on their Facebook page and they confirmed that at this stage of the mission they were indeed supposedly broadcasting a CW beacon and what I decoded was part of the message!

Khurram project manager of ICube-1 said "Thanx Andrew ... your message was a great relief for us"

and on their facebook page 
First Signal has been received from ICUBE-1 in UK ... Alhamdulillah the ICUBE-1 mission is successful ... Congrats everyone. Satellite will pass over IST around 9:30 pm today


So it seems lowly M6GTG may have made the first signal report confirming Pakistan's first successful cubesat deployment!

I am grinning madly at the moment!




ARISSat-1 One Month in Service

This one is going to be a little short, but here is some highlights of the ARISSat-1 on the event of it’s 1 month of service, and the 1 month of me trying to still receive it. While I am not bitter, I do cry myself to sleep sometimes at night, knowing I may never get to hear it. And if you believed that last sentence, I have some bridges in New York City I would like to offer you a great deal on.

So, here are some of the articles I have posted about ARISSat-1:

An image from the ARISSat-1 SSTV

Photo Courtesy of AMSAT

Also, Douglas, KA2UPW/5 has reported that over 3000 frames of telemetry data has been sent in from the satelitte in the last 2 days. So things are still looking good. If you have any images from the SSTV on the satellite, please share them. I would love to see them.

Now, I haven’t really added much more on the ARISSat-1 because I didn’t want to get too bogged down with it. There are a ton of other stores I wanted to touch on as well. And I will be as we move forward. One of which is an Apple Cider Mobile as Autumn approaches and Apple Cider becomes the new beer for the evenings. Along with cider donuts and cheese curds and all the other goodies you can get at those small stores at family apple orchards here in Upstate NY. All this makes for a fun night at the radio on my favorite 2 meter repeater.

73.

Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, The Rock of Albany’s website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday on AmiZed Studios and hosts a podcast called The Kim & Rich Show with his fiance’ Kim Dunne.

Watch ARISSat-1 Deploy on NASA TV [VIDEO]

It’s the big news of the week for Amateur Radio. ARISSat-1 will be deployed today from the International Space Station thanks to 2 Russian Cosmonauts. The satellite will have 4 Slow Scan TV cameras as well as a CW and BPSK beacon. According to what I have read you’ll be able to pick it up with just a simple hand held and a quarter wave whip antenna. I plan on testing that statement out myself.It’ll also have on board, a cross-band linear transponder for SSB/CW work. A little something for everyone. I’m thinking the SSTV is going to be what I am shooting for. AMSAT-NA has a special page setup with more information on how to receive signals from the satellite. Below is the live feed from NASA-TV. The Sat is being deployed at 14:00 UTC.

73.

Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, The Rock of Albany’s website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday here on AmiZed Studios.

LHS Episode #034: Orbital Decay

Richard is back and everything is right with the world--except Russ. Plans are in the works for setting up at the Dayton Hamvention. Many thanks to all of our listeners who donated to the cause. Our next donation goal, is $150 to get a noise gate for Richard. We know at least a couple listeners who should be happy about this, and we suspect there may be a few others out there. Of course, we're committed to improving the quality of the program whenever and wherever possible.

This episode is a little heavy on the radio side of things. However, don't be deterred. Richard gives us a lot of great information about satellite technology, concepts such as Doppler shift, transponders, antenna polarization, the science of orbits and much more which will appeal to your inner geek whether you're into ham radio, computers or just science and technology in general. Have a great week, and we look forward to seeing everyone in the chat for the next live recording on Tuesday, March 2nd.


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