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Free Ham Satellite!

There is a group that is willing to give we amateurs a LEO satellite
with mode-B linear transponder on board and at no cost to us! The only
catch is that they hope we will give them our help in collecting
telemetry from their experiment for the first three months of the
bird's life. Does this sound too good to be true?  Well, in fact, not
only is it true, but the satellite is due to launch in only two weeks!

For those who haven't been following the story of the Delfi-C3
satellite, that's exactly the deal that these researchers from Holland
are offering us. It's the sweetest opportunity in a long time, and
we'd be wise to respond with an overwhelming response. If we do, we'll
make it clear to the myriad cubesat developers that, by leaving some
communications hardware for us to work with after their experiments
end, they can be sure of our full support in collecting telemetry.

Delfi-C3 matters greatly to us for two other reasons. First, it is the
first time that amateur voice communications equipment has flown in
the inexpensive 'cubesat' form-factor. If Delfi shows how this can be
done, we can expect other groups to follow in their path. Delfi-C3 is
sized 30x10cm, a stack three times the size of the usual cubesat.
Maybe the software-defined transponder concept could miniturize our
hardware to the point that we could get a ham transponder into an even
cheaper 20x10 cubesat, making it even more affordable for local groups
to undertake. Secondly, Delfi-C3's experiment pertains to solar panel
technology, something we should all hope progresses to give us more
watts in space.

If you've been lukewarm on cubesats because you think they're not
'real satellites' or if you're in the doldrums because the satellite
industry seems to be keeping us from afordable launches, here's your
chance to fix things, at least on the LEO side:

1. Ensure your 2m downlink station is working well. You'll probably
need a yagi to collect telemetry. Get that  low noise preamp installed
on the mast.

2. Ensure that your radio/souncard interface is working well. Test
this with some software APRS packet decoding, for example.

3. Get a software 1200 bpsk demodulator. The java program from the
lead developer of Delfi-C3 will probably work:
then test it with the audio files available there. You might need to
fiddle with the 'stereo mixer' settings in your Win32 machine to get
the WAV file to play back into the computer. You'll want to download
the RASCAL software from the delfi-c3 people when it is available.

4. Join the cubesat chat rooms during and after the launch to help
these projects identify their birds and apply the right TLEs. This is
high drama, and its great fun to see just how good at this stuff
people like Mineo and Mike are.

5. Collect telemetry! And help out the other cube projects, too, while
you're at it.

Some of you with really great HEO-class stations can use them to great
effect here.

73, Bruce
Sent via AMSAT-BB@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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