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Australian radio hams plan winged spacecraft

Vie, 01/02/2015 - 20:25

CAD image of ThunderStruck above the Earth by Jason VK2FJAB

The WIA highlights an ABC news story about the spacecraft being developed by radio amateurs Robert Brand VK2URB and his 12-year-old son Jason VK2FJAB.

The WIA news report says:

An Australian man and his 12-year-old son are hoping to make history with the development of the smallest spacecraft able to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land safely.

Robert Brand VK2URB is the developer of the craft, named ThunderStruck, a small winged re-entry vehicle capable of leaving Earth’s orbit and flying around the solar system, at least as far as Mars or the near-Earth asteroids.

What makes ThunderStruck unique was that it could fly up and back for basic experiments without going into orbit or it could fly into orbit on board a rocket then re-enter, something that was not being done anywhere else.

Robert Brand VK2URB at a recent London space conference

Project ThunderStruck has the backing of Australian government bodies and universities and is on the cards to be a fully working spaceship in about five years.

Another unique aspect of Project ThunderStruck would be the involvement of Mr Brand’s 12-year-old son Jason VK2FJAB in the first phase of testing, scheduled for April, the transonic testing phase would attempt to test the 2.5-metre craft at speeds close to Mach 2, faster than the speed of sound.

Mr Brand said his son worked with him releasing and bringing back high-altitude balloons from the stratosphere and had considerable expertise in space technology, in spite of his young age.

Mr Brand said if the project came together it would be unique and give Australia a much-needed boost in space development

Read the full ABC story at
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-29/father-son-team-hope-to-make-australian-space-history/5990388

Project ThunderStruck http://projectthunderstruck.org/

Using the RTL-SDR dongle to detect meteors

Mié, 12/24/2014 - 15:00

Combined SDR# and Spectrum Lab Display – Dr David Morgan 2W0CXV

A new paper has been released by Dr David Morgan 2W0CXV on using the RTL2841 DVB TV Dongle as a SDR processor with SpectrumLab.

The paper Techniques for using the RTL Dongle for Detecting Meteors covers the setting up and use of the dongle to receive meteor pings from the Graves Radar on 143.050 MHz.

It can be downloaded from the Meteor Detection Projects page of the BAA-RAG website http://www.britastro.org/radio/projects/meteorproj.html

Join the BAA-RAG Yahoo Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/baa-rag

Download the free publication RAGazine from http://www.britastro.org/radio/downloads.html

Tweeting via the ISS

Mar, 12/23/2014 - 20:52

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

Harold Giddings KR0SIV describes how he Tweeted using amateur radio and the International Space Station.

He says: I sent a message to the International Space Station, it transmits it back down to groundstations in its view and those stations send the message to the APRS-IS network. My server then takes the message parses out useful data and posts it to Twitter as a tweet.

The ISS has two amateur radio stations. One is in the Russian Service Module and uses a Kenwood D710 and can do Slow Scan Television (SSTV) as well as FM voice. The other is in the Columbus Module and uses Ericsson handhelds for 145 and 435 MHz FM, the 2395 MHz HAM-TV system is also in this segment of the space station. In addition to voice contacts the 145 MHz Ericsson handheld is used to provide the APRS packet radio digipeater used by Harold.

Watch Twitter on the International Space Station

Ham Radio Tweets
http://hamradiotweets.com/
https://twitter.com/HamRadioTweets

How to hear the ISS http://amsat-uk.org/beginners/how-to-hear-the-iss/

How to work the ISS on APRS Packet Radio
http://amsat-uk.org/beginners/how-to-work-the-iss-on-aprs-packet-radio/

FUNcube-1 in full-time transponder mode

Mar, 12/23/2014 - 17:52

AO-73 (FUNcube-1) – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

On December 23 FUNcube-1 / AO-73 was switched into full-time transponder mode with low-power beacon. It will remain in that mode for the next 5-7 days.

Enjoy the transponder.

With best wishes for the Festive Season, and for 2015

FUNcube Team

Russian ISS School Contacts

Dom, 12/21/2014 - 18:31

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

Both Dmitry Pashkov R4UAB and Michal Zawada SQ5KTM have released videos of ISS school contacts by cosmonaut Yelena Serov operating with the callsign RS0ISS which took place on Sunday, December 21, 2014.

Yelena Serova

The amateur radio station in the Russian Service Module was used and the Kenwood D710 operated on 145.800 MHz FM. The power setting used is not clear but may have been 25 watts. It is understood that ISS school contacts had been planned for Sunday with students at both Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk.

In his blog Dmitry Pashkov R4UAB said of the first Chelyabinsk contact: Radio session of the crew of the International Space Station with a children’s art school in Chelyabinsk. With great difficulty they contacted. Questions answered by Yelena Serov.

Watch the first Chelyabinsk contact ARISS RS0ISS г. Челябинск (R4UAB)

Watch the second Chelyabinsk contact – ARISS RS0ISS г. Челябинск (виток № 2) (R4UAB)

Michal Zawada SQ5KTM also received a signal from a school contact today and produced the following video.

Watch ISS / RS0ISS 21.12.2014 contact with Russian station R8AM(?)

Dmitry Pashkov R4UAB Blog http://tinyurl.com/R4UAB-Blog

ISS SSTV reception on a portable setup using RTL-SDR

Sáb, 12/20/2014 - 18:41

Standing in a car park, I was able to successfully receive the images using a handheld 3 element 144 MHz Yagi antenna connected to a RTL-SDR USB dongle.

The dongle was connected to Windows-8 tablet using a USB OTG cable.
I was running SDR# to listen and record the FM audio on 145.800 MHz.
I had a LNA connected between the antenna and rtl-sdr but since the the downlink from the ISS was quite strong it was probably not required.

M0JJS

Watch ISS SSTV reception on a portable setup using RTL-SDR

ISS SSTV http://amsat-uk.org/2014/12/18/iss-sstv-success/

Radio ham helps ESA with tracking widget

Vie, 12/19/2014 - 19:28

Thanks to radio amateur Chip Sufitchi N2YO the European Space Agency’s new satellite tracking widgets are live.

The tracking widgets are fed with the latest orbital tracks for ESA missions, or missions with significant ESA participation. The default track shows the ISS.

Track ESA missions http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/track-esa-missions/

ESA tracking widgets are powered by http://www.n2yo.com/

ISS SSTV success – More transmissions Saturday, December 20

Jue, 12/18/2014 - 23:38

ISS SSTV image 4/12 received by Frank Heritage M0AEU at 19:21 UT on Dec 18, 2014

During Thursday, December 18 the Russian ARISS team members successfully activated the amateur radio Slow Scan TV (SSTV) experiment from the International Space Station (ISS) on 145.800 MHz FM. Further transmissions using the callsign RS0ISS are planned for Saturday, December 20, 2014.

ISS SSTV image 9/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR on Dec 18, 2014

Among the many radio amateurs receiving the pictures was Frank Heritage M0AEU. His station comprised a 5 element crossed Yagi on a Yaesu 5600B Az/Ele rotator, about 4 metres above the ground, interfaced with a LVB Tracker. Frank used the Ham Radio Deluxe satellite program (v5) for the tracking and a Yaesu FT736R feeding audio to the free MMSSTV software on a Dell laptop.

Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ used the online SUWS Web-based Software Defined Radio (WebSDR) located near London to receive a number of images during the day. Martin made the 144 and 430 MHz helix antennas for the WebSDR which are optimized for satellite reception. The SUWS WebSDR is available for anyone to use.

Other images received by amateurs world-wide can be seen at http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_SSTV/

The next ISS SSTV transmissions on 145.800 MHz should start around 12:40 UT on Saturday, December 20 and end at 21:30 UT. It is expected the SSTV mode will be PD180 with 3 minute off periods between transmissions. A total of 12 different photos will be sent, each celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit Earth.

The transmission will be mode using the Kenwood D710 transceiver located in the Russian Service Module. It is thought the equipment may be producing about 25 watts output which should provide a very strong signal.

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

All you need to do 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’s loudspeaker.

The ISS puts out a strong signal on 145.800 MHz FM and a 2m handheld with a 1/4 wave antenna will be enough to receive it. The FM transmission uses the 5 kHz deviation which is standard in much of the world.

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

On Windows PC’s the free application MMSSTV can be used to decode the signal, on Apple iOS devices you can use the SSTV app for compatible modes. The ISS Fan Club website will show you when the space station is in range.

ISS SSTV image 12/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

Paul Turner G4IJE, co-developer of the SSTV PD modes, says regarding the MMSSTV PD180 mode: “Don’t forget to either enable “Always show RX viewer” or use the “Picture viewer” (magnifying glass icon) to show the picture at its real resolution of 640 x 496. If you just view as normal you will only see 320 x 248 resolution, which kind of defeats the object of using a high resolution mode.”

On the AMSAT-BB Rick W2JAZ and Alan WA4SCA comment on the need to set the MMSSTV sound card setting to 48 kHz instead of the default 44.100 kHz
• Options
• Setup
• Misc
• Then the Clock section at the bottom of the page

The MMSSTV default setting may need to be set to 24000 (exactly half of the sound card setting). You then should get good clean images.

The sound card adjustments will vary slightly depending on the version of the OS you are running, but usually will be under the advanced properties for the device. You can probably use a higher sampling rate for the sound card so long as it is a power of 2 multiple (2,4,8, etc)  of the value in MMSSTV. For instance, 192k (8x) has no issues. The same applies to most similar software.

You can receive the SSTV transmissions online using the SUWS WebSDR remote receiver located near London along with the MMSSTV software http://amsat-uk.org/2014/08/15/suws-websdr-moves-to-new-site/

For more on Slow Scan Television SSTV, see this article SSTV – The Basics
http://www.essexham.co.uk/sstv-the-basics

How to be successful with the ISS Slow Scan Television (SSTV) imaging system
http://www.marexmg.org/fileshtml/howtoisssstv.html

Free MMSSTV Slow Scan TV software http://hamsoft.ca/pages/mmsstv.php

iOS SSTV App https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sstv/id387910013

IZ8BLY Vox Recoder, enables you to record the signals from the ISS on 145.800 MHz while you’re away at work http://antoninoporcino.xoom.it/VoxRecorder/

ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) Blog and Gallery http://ariss-sstv.blogspot.co.uk/

Information on the MAI-75 SSTV experiment
http://www.energia.ru/eng/iss/researches/education-26.html

Video showing reception of SSTV using the FUNcube Dongle Pro SDR and SDR-RADIO going into Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) then to MMSSTV software https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6MOrX9iZCk

ISS SSTV received online with SUWS WebSDR
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/09/06/iss-sstv-on-suws-websdr/

ISS SSTV 1/12 received by Martin Ehrenfried G8JNJ using the SUWS WebSDR Dec 18, 2014

Sharon White appointed Ofcom Chief Executive

Mié, 12/17/2014 - 23:56

Sharon White CEO of UK communications regulator Ofcom – Image credit HM Treasury

The Board of the UK communication regulator Ofcom  has announced the appointment of Sharon White as Chief Executive.

Sharon will join Ofcom in late March 2015 from HM Treasury, where she is Second Permanent Secretary.

In this role Sharon is the lead official responsible for managing the UK’s public finances, a position she has held since November 2013. Before that she served as Director General, Public Spending at HM Treasury.

An economics graduate, Sharon has 25 years’ experience in the public sector and Government, starting with spells in Washington, the No 10 Policy Unit, and the World Bank. Sharon later worked in the Department for International Development, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury.

Ofcom Chair, Dame Patricia Hodgson, said: “Sharon brings with her an outstanding combination of intellect, political acumen and experience leading complex public organisations.

“The Ofcom Board is confident that Sharon will provide the leadership and vision to ensure Ofcom continues to promote a thriving communications sector in the UK that operates in the public interest.”

Sharon White said: “The communications sector is vital to the economy and delivers essential services to everyone in the UK. I look forward to starting in this fascinating job and building on Ofcom’s considerable track record.”

OSCAR News Issue 208

Mié, 12/17/2014 - 22:40

Issue 208 of the AMSAT-UK amateur radio satellite publication OSCAR News was released on December 17. E-members can download it here.

The paper edition is usually posted 2-3 weeks after publication of the electronic issue.

In this issue:
• Scouts Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) From Ken Eaton, GW1FKY
• FUNcube at the Norman Lockyer Observatory
• Report on the Es’Hailsat-2 announcement
• A solar powered Raspberry Pi setup for remote reception of FUNcube-1 signals
• AL-Sat Nano —a new opportunity?
• ESEO
• Latest news from AMSAT-NA
• IARU Reg 1 Triennial Region 1 Conference
• St Peter’s CE Primary Academy, Market Bosworth
• FUNCube-1 First birthday

AMSAT-UK FUNcube Mission Patch

Membership of AMSAT-UK is open to anyone who has an interest in amateur radio satellites or space activities, including the International Space Station (ISS).

E-members of AMSAT-UK are able to download OSCAR News as a convenient PDF that can be read on laptops, tablets or smartphones anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Join as an E-member at Electronic (PDF) E-membership

There are two rates for the paper edition to cover the extra postage costs:
UK
Rest of the World (Overseas)

PDF sample copy of “Oscar News” here.

Join AMSAT-UK using PayPal, Debit or Credit card at
http://shop.amsat.org.uk/shop/category_9/Join-Amsat-UK.html

E-members can download their copies of OSCAR News here.

Astronaut’s first school contact from ISS

Mar, 12/16/2014 - 18:54

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF using the amateur radio station in the ISS Columbus module

Samantha Cristoforetti IZ0UDF has written about her first amateur radio school contact from the International Space Station.

20 students from “Elena di Savoia” in Bari and “Alessandro Volta” in Bitonto were able to ask her questions about space and the ISS.

Read her post at https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaCristoforetti/posts/do2vfeVgAw7

ARISS contact planned for two Italian schools
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2014/december/ariss_event_1512.htm

OK1DFC and PE1ITR report DESPATCH beacon at 4.7 million km

Lun, 12/15/2014 - 22:48

ARTSAT2-DESPATCH received by Zdenek Samek OK1DFC on December 14, 2014 at 21:18:41 UT

Zdenek Samek OK1DFC and Rob Hardenberg PE1ITR reported receiving the amateur radio beacon from the ARTSAT2:DESPATCH spacecraft on December 14 at a distance of 4,700,000 km.

Congratulations to both radio amateurs on a remarkable achievement.

The amateur radio spacecraft ARTSAT2:DESPATCH JQ1ZNN and Shin’en2 JG6YIG were launched on their journey to deep space at 04:22:04 UT on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. The two spacecraft will have an elliptic orbit around the Sun and travel to a deep space orbit between Venus and Mars. The inclination will be almost zero, which means the spacecraft should stay in the Earth’s equatorial plane. The distance from the Sun will be between 0.7 and 1.3 AU. An Astronomical Unit (AU) is 149,597,871 km.

OK1DFC website http://www.ok1dfc.com/eme/despatch/despatch.htm

See images of the reception of ARTSAT2:DESPATCH by Rob Hardenberg PE1ITR at http://www.pe1itr.com/artsat2despatch/

PE1ITR Shin’en2 reception http://www.pe1itr.com/shinen2/

Shin’en2 on left – ARTSAT2:DESPATCH on right

Tracking utilities for the DESPATCH and Shin’en2 spacecraft are available at
http://ji1izr.air-nifty.com/ham_satellite/in_english/index.html

Shin’en2 437.385 MHz http://www.shin-en2.jp/index_E.html

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH 437.325 MHz CW
Web http://despatch.artsat.jp/en/Main_Page
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/artsat
Twitter https://twitter.com/DESPATCH_ARTSAT

DESPATCH reception reports are summarized at:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WP-FzXHe8axAzNy44SGbKpJqIRKWHAcIP9vXnaHMb6g/edit#gid=0
http://despatch.artsat.jp/en/Cooperative_Data_Reconstruction

Ham radio spacecraft launched into deep space
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/12/03/ham-radio-spacecraft-launched-into-deep-space/

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH spacecraft becomes FO-81

Sáb, 12/13/2014 - 22:39

ARTSAT2:DESPATCH Internal Structure

OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO issued this announcement on December 12:

“Since DESPATCH appears to have met all of the requirements for an OSCAR number, including IARU coordination, I hereby with the authority vested in me be by the AMSAT-NA President, do confer on DESPATCH, the OSCAR number Fuji OSCAR 81 or FO-81.”

ARTSAT2 DESPATCH Deep Space Sculpture

Continuing, Bill wrote, “I use the Fuji designation in recognition of the long history of contributions the Japanese have made to Amateur Radio satellites. I trust that Fuji OSCAR-81’s mission will be successful and much valuable data will be collected.”

Akihiro Kubota replied from Japan, “It is a great honor for us to receive the OSCAR number from AMSAT. We are very glad to hear it! FO-81 form the name of Fuji is also special for us. DESPATCH will transmit its beacon until this Xmas. We will keep informed of the status of the mission and share it over the world.”

AMSAT congratulates the DESPATCH and ARTSAT teams!

Source ANS

New tracking utilities for the DESPATCH and Shin’en2 spacecraft are available at
http://ji1izr.air-nifty.com/ham_satellite/in_english/index.html

Polish radio amateurs two million km record http://amsat-uk.org/2014/12/09/despatch-2m-km-record/

CubeSat Amateur Laser Communications

Sáb, 12/13/2014 - 17:31

Block diagram of proposed Cubesat with laser communicator – Credit Oleg Nizhnik

On November 19 Oleg Nizhnik gave a presentation on CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability.

In his paper Oleg says the available bands at 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz for amateur satellite communication are increasingly crowded. Higher frequency amateur bands meanwhile require uncommon microwave parts to implement transceivers, and working with 10 GHz or above require electric power typically not available in CubeSat. Therefore, to enable amateur Moon exploration, amateur laser communicator built of common, low-cost parts will help to extend amateur satellites operating range up to at least moon orbit.

The presentation was made in the 3rd Mission Idea Contest (MIC3) held during the 2nd UNISEC Global Meeting at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Japan, Nov. 19, 2014.

Watch MIC3 #7 – CubeSat amateur laser communication with Earth to Moon orbit data link capability

Presentation slides https://www.spacemic.net/pdf/mic3_finalist/P8)CubeSat%20amateur%20laser.pdf

Abstract https://www.spacemic.net/pdf/mic3_finalist/8)CubeSat%20amateur%20laser%20communicator%20with%20Earth%20to%20Moon%20orbit%20data%20link%20capability.pdf

The videos of other presentations given at MIC3 are at
https://www.youtube.com/user/UNISECmovie/videos

Slides and abstracts are at
https://www.spacemic.net/index.html#finalpresentations

Amateur Satellite Seed Funding

Sáb, 12/13/2014 - 16:54

On December 2, 2014 the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors approved Technology Development Seed Funding.

As a part of AMSAT’s “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge, the Board of Directors approved $5000, within the 2015 engineering budget, to be used as seed money for future satellite development. Additional fund raising sources will also be investigated and pursued.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “We’re prepared to return to space starting in 2015 with a fleet of satellites that will equal, if not exceed, the performance, and availability to the average ham, of our previously popular AMSAT OSCAR 51. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the future looking to potentially leverage new technologies, to provide the best opportunities for enhancing amateur radio’s presence in space.”

Director Tom Clark, K3IO, noted the need for a defined future systems program. Tom said, “We saw a significant number of both new and old members who want to see the development of critical system elements for future opportunities by 2018-20. As I see it, critical ‘tall poles’ in applying potential technologies require significant work to begin now to ensure success.”

AMSAT is interested in supporting technology ideas that enhance the utility of using the CubeSat form factor to support more robust amateur satellite capabilities.  The scope of potential interest in not limited; some examples of  technology enhancement might include:

+ Microwave technology suitable for use in amateur spacecraft. This includes the need to identify optimum frequency bands.

+ Complementary, low-cost ground systems, including an effective ~1º antenna pointing system.

+ Define and develop optimum coding and modulation schemes for low power microwave use.

+ Attitude determination & control systems to point the spacecraft antennas towards the user while maximizing solar panel production.

Individuals interested in learning more about this initiative should contact AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY (n0jy at amsat.org).

Meanwhile, the development of AMSAT’s current series of the Fox-1 cubesats continues on schedule. AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY reported during the Board meeting that construction and testing of five Fox satellites is on schedule:

+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight during the 3rd quarter of 2015 from Vandenberg AFB,

+ Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation experiments expected in 2016.

+ Fox-1C will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015. This flight was purchased by AMSAT.

+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which becomes available and be submitted in a CSLI proposal in 2015.

+ Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been included in a student science proposal as part of the November, 2014 Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) for an ELaNa flight slot. If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.

More details of the “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge can be found on-line at:
http://www.amsat.org/?p=3395

[ANS thanks the AMSAT Board Of Directors for the above information]

AMSAT-NA http://amsat.org/

UWE-3 CubeSat Update

Jue, 12/11/2014 - 23:48

UWE-3 was launched with FUNcube-1 on November 21, 2013, the team say they will now be temporarily ending operations.

Today, more than one year after launch, there will be a temporary end of operations caused by the end of funding.

However, UWE-3 is in a very good health condition with fully charged batteries and operations may be continued depending on future research plans.  

Without any reception from ground, UWE-3 will carry out a warm reset every four days and switch regularly between the redundant on-board processors and radios. Therefore, UWE-3 will switch back to its nominal frequency of 437.385 MHz.

Nevertheless we appreciate the extensive support we received from the HAM amateurs in the past and hope that also in the future the status of UWE-3 will be monitored with your support, like you did so many times in the past year. Thank you so much for the very helpful cooperation in this respect!

Yours sincerely,

UWE-3 Team

UEW-3 News
http://www7.informatik.uni-wuerzburg.de/forschung/space_exploration/projects/uwe_3/uwe_3_news/

Send your code into space with astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI

Mié, 12/10/2014 - 22:43

Students programming the Astro Pi computers Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander)

Leading UK space organisations have joined forces with UK Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI and Raspberry Pi to offer students a chance to devise and code their own apps or experiment to run in space. Two Raspberry Pi computers are planned to be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Tim’s 6 month mission and both will be connected to a new “Astro Pi” board, loaded with a host of sensors and gadgets.

Launched December 10 at an event held by the UK Space Agency, the Astro Pi competition will be officially opened at the BETT conference (January 21-24) and will be open to all primary and secondary school aged children who are resident in the United Kingdom. The competition will be supported by a comprehensive suite of teaching resources that are being developed by ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi.

Astro Pi Logo

During his mission to the ISS, Tim Peake KG5BVI plans to deploy the Astro Pi computers in a number of different locations on board the ISS. He will then load up the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download this to Earth where it will be distributed to the winning teams.

Speaking at the Astro Pi launch event, Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, also revealed that the UK Space Agency has been given a £2 million programme, as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, to support further outreach activities around Tim’s mission, particularly to help inspire interest in STEM subjects.

Tim Peake KG5BVI said I’m really excited about this project, born out of the cooperation among UK industries and institutions. There is huge scope for fun science and useful data gathering using the Astro Pi sensors on board the International Space Station. This competition offers a unique chance for young people to learn core computing skills that will be extremely useful in their future. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

To help students on their way in developing their code, five inspirational themes have been devised to stimulate creativity and scientific thinking. The themes are Spacecraft Sensors, Satellite Imaging, Space Measurements, Data Fusion and Space Radiation.

A Raspberry Pi computer. Credit: UK Space Agency (Max Alexander).

In the primary school age category, teams will be asked to devise and describe an original idea for an experiment or application which can be conducted on the Astro Pi by Tim during his mission. The two best submissions will get the opportunity to work with the Astro Pi team to interpret their ideas and the team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation will then code them ready for flight on the ISS.

In the secondary school age group, the competition will be run across three age categories, one for each of Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 (in England and Wales, and their equivalent ages in Scotland and Northern Ireland). In the first phase, competitors can submit their ideas for experiments and applications. At least the best 50 submissions in each age category will win a Raspberry Pi computer and an Astro Pi board on which to code their idea. In phase 2, all teams will develop code based on their original concept and two winning teams will be selected in each age category. The winning teams’ code will be readied for flight by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and CGI.

As well as having their code uploaded to the ISS, all winning teams will each receive a class set of Raspberry Pi and Astro Pi boards, meet the Astro Pi team and participate in a winners event during Tim’s flight.

In addition to the main prizes, each of the UK space companies supporting the project have offered a prize. These prizes will be awarded to the best submission associated with each of the themes, across the age ranges.

Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi are developing a comprehensive suite of teaching resources to link to the curriculum and assist teachers of STEM subjects in engaging their students in the competition. As well as explaining how to use and write code for the Astro Pi and its sensors, the resources will provide a context for the Astro Pi in the curriculum and link to teaching subjects and areas.

The first two resources of the series are available now in the National STEM Centre eLibrary and the rest will follow.

Launching the Astro Pi computers, and consequently the successful implementation and completion of this competition is subject to nominal progress through the ESA integration programme and operations on-board the ISS.

BBC TV News: Astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI invites Raspberry Pi challenge
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30415207

Astro Pi: Your code in space http://astro-pi.org/

Source: UK Space Agency press release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/send-your-computer-code-into-space-with-astronaut-tim-peake

UK Licence Review Discussion Forum

Mié, 12/10/2014 - 21:22

Ofcom has now published a statement on the revised Amateur Radio Licence and has also advised that there will be ‘Guidance’ to accompany the licence.

The RSGB has now opened a forum to provide the opportunity to discuss what information would be helpful in that Guidance document.

There may also be questions about implementation of the new license that members wish to be clarified.

The forum is open for your posts at http://forums.thersgb.org/implementation and the original main page at http://rsgb.org/licencereview has similarly been updated with the links for the forum and statement.

The forum is the same system as used before (and includes other forums for EMC and Propagation matters), so previous users will not need to re-register.

Regards
Murray G6JYB, Spectrum Chair

Anyone, RSGB member or not, can contribute to the discussion on the forum. When you register on the site there is a question at the bottom which says: Verification: Who issues amateur radio licences in the UK? – The answer is Ofcom

RSGB Licence Review Forum
http://rsgb.org/main/blog/news/gb2rs/headlines/2014/12/10/new-licence-review-forum-open/

Ofcom Amateur Radio Licence Statement
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/12/05/ofcom-amateur-radio-licence-statement/

SSTV transmissions from the ISS

Mié, 12/10/2014 - 18:11

International Space Station – Image Credit NASA

The Russian ARISS team members plan to activate SSTV from the International Space Station on Thursday, December 18 and Saturday, December 20, 2014 .

ISS SSTV received by Jan van Gils PE0SAT Sept 26. 2014 at 14:02 GMT

Expected SSTV mode will be PD180 on 145.800 MHz with 3 minute off periods between transmissions. A total of 12 different photos will be sent during the operational period.

Start time would be around 14:20 UT on December 18 and 12:40 UT on December 20. The transmissions should terminate around 21:30 UT each day.

SpaceX will be launching to the this week and delays in the launch could change SSTV operational times.

Gaston Bertels – ON4WF
ARISS-Europe Chair

All you need to do 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’s loudspeaker.

ISS SSTV received by Fabiano Moser CT7ABD on Sept 6, 2014 at 0910 GMT

The ISS puts out a strong signal on 145.800 MHz FM and a 2m handheld with a 1/4 wave antenna will be enough to receive it. The FM transmission uses the 5 kHz deviation which is standard in much of the world.

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

On Windows PC’s the free application MMSSTV can be used to decode the signal, on Apple iOS devices you can use the SSTV app. The ISS Fan Club website will show you when the space station is in range.

You can receive the SSTV transmissions online using the SUWS WebSDR remote receiver located near London along with the MMSSTV software http://amsat-uk.org/2014/08/15/suws-websdr-moves-to-new-site/ In the days before the SSTV starts why not practice listening to the ISS packet radio transmissions on 145.825 MHz FM.

For more on Slow Scan Television SSTV, see this article SSTV – The Basics
http://www.essexham.co.uk/sstv-the-basics

How to be successful with the ISS Slow Scan Television (SSTV) imaging system
http://www.marexmg.org/fileshtml/howtoisssstv.html

Free MMSSTV Slow Scan TV software http://hamsoft.ca/pages/mmsstv.php

iOS SSTV App https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sstv/id387910013

IZ8BLY Vox Recoder, enables you to record the signals from the ISS on 145.800 MHz while you’re away at work http://antoninoporcino.xoom.it/VoxRecorder/

ARISS Slow Scan TV (SSTV) Blog and Gallery http://ariss-sstv.blogspot.co.uk/

Information on the MAI-75 SSTV experiment
http://www.energia.ru/eng/iss/researches/education-26.html

Video showing reception of SSTV using the FUNcube Dongle Pro SDR and SDR-RADIO going into Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) then to MMSSTV software https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6MOrX9iZCk

ISS SSTV received online with SUWS WebSDR
http://amsat-uk.org/2014/09/06/iss-sstv-on-suws-websdr/

PocketQubes in SatMagazine

Mié, 12/10/2014 - 14:15

The December 2014 edition of the free publication SatMagazine features an article on page 114 about PocketQubes by Tom Walkinshaw, Chief Executive Officer of the the Glasgow-based start-up PocketQube Shop.

Download the December 2014 SatMagazine from
http://www.satmagazine.com/

SatMagazine Archive
http://www.satmagazine.com/archive.php

PocketQube Shop featured in The Guardian newspaper http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/07/tiny-space-satellite-make-at-home-pocketqube

PocketQube Shop http://www.pocketqubeshop.com/