Fox-1C and Fox-1D Include L-Band Uplink; Fox-1E Linear Transponder Announced

AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, announced plans to incorporate an L band receiver in Fox-1C and Fox-1D. The addition will allow ground commanded selection of the U/v (normal Fox-1 bands) or the new L/v 1.2 GHz (23 cm) mode. Both bands will operate as FM single channel.

Rather than adding a complete new receiver, the L band “Project Downshifter” will convert the received L band signal down to the Fox-1 uplink frequency and feed it to the regular UHF receiver on the Fox-1satellite. The design will not require an additional antenna on the satellite because the existing UHF antenna will work for L band receive as well.

In concert with the development of the satellite segment, a new group of volunteers is working on a companion uplink station to convert UHF to the L band uplink frequencies:

+ Bruce Herrick, WW1M
+ Dan Hubert, VE9DAN
+ Elizabeth Schenk, KC1AXX
+ Dave Smith, W6TE
+ Alfred Watts, AF5VH

The team is planning to have an affordable L band uplink ground station available to amateurs by the time Fox-1C is on orbit.

In further news, Jerry announced the plan to construct a Fox-1E “Evolution” variation of the Fox-1 series which will carry a Mode J linear transponder. The transponder is planned to be 30 kHz wide and will also have a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon.

The purpose of the project is to test a design for a linear transponder that could be made available to CubeSat builders as a secondary, or even primary radio payload thus bringing more opportunities for amateur radio in space as well as offering AMSAT’s proven communications skills as a telemetry option.

AMSAT has been approached for a launch opportunity for Fox-1E in 2016, but launch details can not be shared at this time.

Jerry concluded, “It is important that we find additional resources to help the Fox-1 Team with these new endeavors. We are looking for volunteers who have solid RF building and testing experience to work on both the downshifter and the transponder prototyping and construction.” If you would like to help and be a part of the success of Fox-1C/D and Fox-1E, please contact Jerry through the AMSAT Engineering volunteer form page on-line at:  http://ww2.amsat.org/?page_id=1121.

What’s Next for Fox-1A?

APRIL 14, 2015 – Mission logos on the NPSCuL shipping container for the GRACE mission, including Fox-1A.

GRACE NPSCuL shipping container

APRIL 9, 2015 UPDATE – Today the NPS team completed both X and Y axis acceptance vibration tests on the NPSCuL with no issues. (Z axis vibe was completed April 8.)  Roll tests were conducted after each axis and no loose parts were heard. GRACE is now sealed up in the shipping container and ready for transport. Next stop: VAFB!

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

UPDATE – The P-PODs were delivered to Naval Postgraduate School this week and have been integrated in the NPSCuL.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

The video linked below was provided to all of the GRACE mission CubeSat teams by Justin Foley of Cal Poly.

Justin says “A few years back we put together a video that outlines the process we go through to get CubeSats on the Atlas V. This video follows the payload we put on NROL-36, aka OUTSat, which launched from VAFB and carried 11 cubes. The process is very similar to what your satellites are going through now.”

You saw the photos of the P-POD integration in the Cal Poly clean room yesterday, which is where this video begins the story. The last two CubeSats were being integrated in their P-POD today (March 26). All of the P-PODs will then head up to the Naval Postgraduate School next week for integration in the NPSCuL and acceptance testing, and then be sent on to Vandenberg (cue video) –

(Thanks to Justin D. Foley for the YouTube video link.)

Fox-1A Has Final Checkout (Photos)

AMSAT Fox-1A undergoing the Cubesat Acceptance Check at CalPoly in San Luis Obispo, California prior to P-POD integration.

AMSAT Fox-1A undergoing the Cubesat Acceptance Check at CalPoly in San Luis Obispo, California prior to P-POD integration.

Clean room

Clean room

More testing

More testing

AMSAT Vice President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY with Fox-1A during cubesat acceptance and integration.

AMSAT Vice President Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY with Fox-1A during
cubesat acceptance and integration.

Jerry, N0JY prepares Fox-1A for insertion into the P-POD

Jerry, N0JY prepares Fox-1A for insertion into the P-POD

The paperwork says Fox-1A is ready for the P-POD

The paperwork says Fox-1A is ready for the P-POD

In line for P-POD loading.

In line for P-POD loading.

A big thank you to Jerry Buxton, N0JY for the great pictures.

Fox-1 Goes to Cal Poly

Fox-1 is headed to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA for integration into the P-POD that will later be mounted in the NPSCuL* and on the launch vehicle.

While the NPSCuL may be coach class, Fox-1 gets to travel first class to San Luis Obispo with some express assistance from the friendly TSA at DFW Airport.  AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, worked with the TSA and a supervisory officer will meet him at the security checkpoint Tuesday morning in order to provide safe passage and handling of Fox-1 through the TSA security checkpoint and inspection process.  ESD protection and gloves are required as well as gentle handling, so everything is in the box with Fox.  Fox-1 needs to be guaranteed a safe arrival at Cal Poly for integration.

Photos below show Fox-1 in her final steps for shipping, with the last set of solar panel covers added (thanks to all who contributed to the solar panels!) and packed in her own Pelican case for the ride.  An small entourage of support equipment is still required including a way to safely return the solar panel covers to Texas to later be delivered to their donors, so the bigger “all in one” case still goes as checked baggage.

Stay tuned for more news as Fox-1 undergoes integration on Wednesday, March 25!

*Please see http://tinyurl.com/lcmfndc for a pdf describing the NPSCuL

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