FoxTelem Version 1.03 Released

FoxTelem Version 1.03 has been released

This version of FoxTelem uses a new datafile format. While we store our
data on the server in an SQL database, we use a flat file database for FoxTelem. A
flat file format is nearly optimal for a program that mostly adds new data to
the end of a growing list. With that said, we need to be able to load sections of
the data into memory for efficient analysis.  The new data file format allows
that. If you have been downloading data from the server for analysis, you will
see that this format is much faster.

One major change is the ability to automatically switch between low speed
and high speed. This will help unattended stations gather as much telemetry as
possible. The “auto” mode actually runs both decoders at the same time, so
make sure your computer has enough CPU power to cope.

Graphing has been updated to support better analysis of the spacecraft by
the AMSAT Operations team and amateur scientists everywhere.

This version also contains new features that will be required for
Fox-1Cliff and Fox-1D.

You can download it here:
http://amsat.us/FoxTelem/windows/foxtelem_1.03_windows.zip
http://amsat.us/FoxTelem/mac/FoxTelem_1.03_mac.zip
http://amsat.us/FoxTelem/linux/foxtelem_1.03_linux.tar.gz

Version 1.03 Changes
* Support larger volumes of data with much better speed in a segmented
database
* Auto detect high speed vs low speed telemetry
* Allow the user to swap IQ channels in IQ mode
* Allow graphs to be plotted as points (without lines)
* Plot more labels on horizontal axis when many resets plotted and fixed
some graph formatting issues
* Graph formatting parameters are saved to config and reloaded when
FoxTelem is restarted
* When reset button pressed on graphs the average period is reset too
* Swapped min/max values for solar panel temp on 1A
* Fox-1A Solar panel voltage was (incorrectly) using the MPPT conversion
* Fixed bug where HighSpeed Frames were unnecessarily held in the queue
until the pass was finished
* Cap max RSSI in the lookup table at -140dB to avoid spurious readings
* Interpolate the middle of two samples for first difference calculation,
for more accurate TCA calculation
* Add SAFE mode bit to the Computer panel so that it can be graphed
* Fixed bug where Radiation Graphs did not open at start up
* Fixed bug where T0 file could be corrupted if URL returned bogus data
* Fixed bug where FoxTelem gave many error messages but did not quit if
the log dir was not writable
* Skip NULL values for some measurements.  Don’t plot continuous labels to
left of vertical axis.
* MEMS diagnostic values are now in dps (vs Volts)
* Fixed bug where radiation data could not be saved to CSV files
* Fixed bug where FindSignal failed to lock if Track Doppler was not
checked

It also provides Support for Fox-1Cliff and Fox-1D:
* Display HERCI High Speed frames on the Herci Tab
* Display HERCI Housekeeping frames
* Support the Fox-1D low res camera format
* Implemented MPPT panel temperature conversion using Cubic fit
* Sort camera images by reset and uptime not picture counter
* Save position of the HERCI HS tab horizontal divider
* Allow the user to specify the number of thumb nails to display on the
camera tab
* Display converted HERCI Housekeeping data

Murphy, meet Fox-1Cliff

Nothing is easy in getting to space and just in case you thought it was, an amateur radio cohort named Murphy will surely remind you that you are in fact working with an AMATEUR RADIO satellite.

Fox-1Cliff, just one day before being taken to Orlando, revealed a problem that would lead to five 16 hour days of hotel room work and a big decision on changes and the course of action needed in order to accomplish delivery and her mission.  With environmental testing already proceeding on Fox-1D, Fox-1Cliff had to have the problem diagnosed and investigated and a meeting was then held for a determination of the options for remedy and their risks.  The whole process had to be done in record time in order to get Fox-1Cliff into the environmental testing to catch up to Fox-1D for thermal vacuum bakeout to begin on Tuesday, February 9.

If you’ve been here, you know what it’s like.  If you haven’t, the picture below gives a little peek into the fun that went on with the three of us seeing very little outside the hotel room other than a few meal breaks.

Burns Fisher W2BFJ and Jerry Buxton N0JY work on Fox-1Cliff late Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Davis, KF4KSS.

Burns Fisher W2BFJ and Jerry Buxton N0JY work on Fox-1Cliff late Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Davis, KF4KSS.

Yes, we brought enough checked bags full of equipment to need a minivan for our rental car, but there was still a need for donated equipment from locals Lou McFadin W5DID and Ed Krome K9EK as well as a trip to Walmart!

AO-85 Commissioned, Handed Over To AMSAT-NA Operations

AO-85 has been formally commissioned and turned over to AMSAT Operations, who are now responsible for the scheduling and modes.

The following guidelines are provided for users:

  1. Uplink power should be on the order of minimum 200 W EIRP for full quieting at lower antenna elevation angles. Your mileage may vary. With an Arrow, 5 W has been used successfully to make contacts.

  2. Polarity is important. The satellite antennas are linear. So, if you are using linearly polarized antennas, you will need to adjust throughout the pass. Full duplex operation facilitates these adjustments while transmitting and is highly recommended.

  3. The downlink is very strong and should be heard well with almost any antenna.

  4. Downlink audio is 5 kHz deviation, as expected. Many will perceive that the audio is “low.” This is an effect of the filtering below 300 Hz, which provides for the DUV telemetry, coupled with any noise on the uplink signal resulting from lack of full quieting or being off frequency. That makes for less fidelity than a typical receiver in terms of audio frequencies passed.

  5. Transmit (downlink) frequency varies with temperature.  Due to the wide range of temperatures we are seeing in the eclipse cycle, the transmitter can be anywhere from around 500 Hz low at 10°C to near 2 kHz low at 40°C.

  6. Receive frequency has been generally agreed to be about 435.170 MHz, although the AFC makes that hard to pin down and also helps with the uplinks that are off frequency.

Probably the most notable observations about AO-85 are an apparent lack of sensitivity and difficulty in turning on the repeater with the 67 Hz CTCSS when it is not yet activated, or holding it on by the presence of the CTCSS.  We have determined a probable cause for the sensitivity issue and while that can’t be fixed on AO-85 we are taking steps to prevent similar issues on the rest of the Fox-1 CubeSats.  The tone detection threshold along with the receive sensitivity issue makes it hard to bring up the repeater.  This is being addressed by adjusting the values for a valid tone detection in the other Fox-1 CubeSats now that we have on orbit information about temperatures and power budget.  Full details will be in the Nov/Dec AMSAT Journal.

It is important to remember that science is the reason behind the Fox-1 satellites. Not only does science help with the launch cost, it provides a great amount of educational value both from the science payload and in amateur radio itself. The data-under-voice (DUV) telemetry is an excellent way to provide the science without sacrificing the use of the satellite for communications, which would be the case if higher speed downlinks were needed. DUV provides constant science as long as the repeater is in use, which in turn provides more downlink data for the science – a mutually beneficial combination.

Fox-1A is AMSAT-NA’s first CubeSat. Many new techniques are incorporated and lessons will be learned, as with any new “product.”  The Fox-1 Project is a series of CubeSats. A total of five will be built and flown. Launches are scheduled for three more, and a new NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative proposal will be submitted for the fifth. We will incorporate changes from what we learn in each launch, to the extent possible, in subsequent Fox-1 CubeSats.

Of the four NASA sponsored CubeSats on the ELaNa XII launch October 8, we are sad to report that ARC1 was never heard from and BisonSat was lost after a few weeks of operation. AMSAT extends our deepest sympathy to the people who worked so hard on these projects. To our members, we want to say that the Fox Team is very proud and pleased that our first CubeSat is very successful and hopefully will be for some time.

Video of Fox-1A Deployment from P-POD

A video showing the deployment of Fox-1A from the P-POD aboard the Centaur stage of the NROL-55 launch has been made available.

As each P-POD deployed, the deployment was recorded on video.  The video is only about 3 seconds long, so it goes quickly.  Jerry Buxton, N0JY, edited the video to add a 1/8 speed “slow motion” of the deployment which immediately follows the original in this YouTube video.

Fox-1A was in the bottom position of the P-POD, with BisonSat in the middle and then ARC1 at the top.  You can catch a glimpse of the -Z and -Y faces of the Fox-1A satellite as it quickly disappears into the darkness with BisonSat and ARC1.