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Mir ARS Status Feb 20, 1999, unproto

Mir Amateur Radio Status:  Feb 20, 1999

by Miles Mann WF1F,
MAREX-NA (Manned Amateur Radio Experiment, North American Division)

Current Schedule for Packet PMS and SSTV:
Last weekend the crew turned on the SSTV for three days, Sat, Sun and
Monday.  The crew did not have much time for posing in front of the
cameras.  The camera was just aimed out the Priroda window at the Spectkter
module.  The images were a little out of focus.

The crew will be keeping both projects on 145.985 FM Simplex for the next
few months.
We do not have access to the 70cm antenna at this time and we do not have
Power supplies to run both projects simultaneously.

Only one project will be active at a time, either the Packet PMS or the
The crew will, as time permits, turn on one system then after a period of
time, switch
over to the other system.    These changes are only made during the crew’s
free time.
It is not possible to develop an exact schedule announcing the times for
each project.
The people wanting to use Packet and SSTV will just need to be a little
and patient.
And I know the world appreciates all of the hard work they have invested.

SSTV Receiving Software:
There are several SSTV software and hardware decoders on the market.  Some
you can buy
while others are shareware.
If you are just starting, you may want to try a software version first.
I am currently using Pasokon TV Lite for my DOS computer and W95SSTV with
my Win95
system.  Both systems are easy to use and produce good results.

Web pages, SSTV software pages.

John Langner , Pasokcon and others


Mir School Schedules:
MAREX-NA is still running School schedules with the Russian Space Station
Mir.  The next batch of school schedules have been submitted to Energia for
their review.  Occasionally when the  Mir crews have free time, Energia
allows us to set up these pre-arranged school schedules.  Over the next 4
months we expect to run school schedules in the USA, Canada and Australia.
MAREX-NA currently has a back log of schools waiting for Mir schedules.  We
are not currently looking for  any more schools in the USA at this time.
Note: During school schedules days, the SSTV system will usually be active.
This allows the Mir crew to see the children they are talking with.

Mir Crew Members:
The current crew consists of:

Current Crew
SOYUZ TM-28 arrived at Mir on August 16. Mir Soyuz TM-28 crew consisted of
Sergei Avdeyev, Gennadiy Padalko.
The new crew will be arriving the Week of February 20-25 , the are:
 Viktor AFANASYEV, with French astronaut Jean-Pierre Heignere and Slovak
Ivan Bella.

When the 10 day crew change is over, Gennadiy Paldalko and Ivan Bella be
returning to earth.  The French cosmonaut Jean-Pierre Heignere and Viktor
Afanasyev  will stay on Mir with Sergei Avdeyev.  This will make the Mir
crew 27 a three man crew.  Sergei Avdeyev will stay on board Mir for an
extra three months, bringing his mission time up to approximately 9 months
in space continuously.  Jean-Pierre mission will last approximately 3
Energia informed me that the French Cosmonaut Jean-Pierre did receive
training on the MAREX-NA SSTV project, and is planning on using it during
this Mission.

Web Page information:
The new MAREX-NA SSTV web is under construction but is now ON line
check it out.


PMS Unproto Tips:
Mir and Packet UnProto mode

The Mir PMS (Personal Mail System) also supports the Digital repeating mode
called  UnProto.  I am not going to get into too much detail about UnProto,
for  more  information  check  Amateur  radio hand books and back issues of
Amateur  Radio  magazine.   Basically  UnProto  is  a way of sending packet
messages  without requiring an acknowledgment from the other station.  This
mode  is  similar to RTTY in that, you can have several stations in one big
QSO  at the same time.  Set your UnProto command in your TNC, on my KAM the
syntax  is  "U  CQ V R0MIR".  Then switch to Converse mode (enter K at cmd:
prompt).   Now everything you type will be transmitted in UnProto Mode.  If
the  Mir station hears your transmission, the Mir PMS Digi will rebroadcast
your  information  with  a  range  of over a 1000 miles.   Below is a short
UnProto between a station in Massachusetts and Alabama, using the Mir Digi.
The stations were arranging to meet on Oscar 13 when the Mir pass was over.

WF1F>CQ,R0MIR*/V [04/21/93  22:22:09]: <UI>:
hi Tim can you work OSCAR 13?

N8DEU>CQ,R0MIR*/V [04/21/93  22:22:30]: <<UI>>:
Hi miles, yes what freq?

WF1F>CQ,R0MIR*/V [04/21/93  22:22:40]: <UI>:

The  UnProto mode does not guarantee you message will ever be heard, but if
the  Mir  Digi  does rebroadcast your line of text, then you can be assured
that  someone  saw  it.  The line of text you send will be repeated with an
Asterisk after it, “R0MIR*/”.  If you do not see the Asterisk, then Mir did
not hear your packet.  UnProto does have its drawbacks, but it is much more
efficient  to  use  on  Mir  than  the  Direct two-way connect method. Full
two-way  packet  connects  via the Mir PMS are not recommended because they
use  up too much resources and excessive “Retires”.  Before you try Unproto
on  Mir,  I  recommend that you practice on a Terrestrial Digi first before
attempting  to  use  the  Mir station for Digi-repeating. If you make a few
UnProto  calls  and  do  not  get  any echo's back from Mir, it is probably
because  UnProto is turned off or because of a collision.  Occasionally the
System  Operators may turn off Unproto (Digi = OFF) to improve the Mail Box
traffic  flow.   The  Mail  box access should always have top priority over
other  traffic. Also there is a good time and a bad time to use the UnProto
mode with Mir PMS.
Do not use UnProto when:
1. The Mir crew is operating in Voice mode.
2.   When the Mir PMS is connected to another station that is actively
sending/receiving information from the Personal Message System (PMS).  Any
Index packets going to the R0MIR-1 address.

The  only  real  safe  time to use UnProto, is when the Mir PMS is in its 2
minute  time-out  mode.  This time-out is caused when the station connected
to  the  Mir PMS is out of range and cannot log out of Mir.  No one can log
into  PMS  Mail  box  (R0MIR-1)  until  the  connected  station  times out.
Time-outs  are the best time to use UnProto.  Before using UnProto, monitor
Mir’s  down  link  to see who is using the PMS Mail box port “R0MIR-1”.  If
you  do not seen any Index packets from Mir PMS to the ground station using
to  the “R0MIR-1” port for 60 seconds, you can assume the connected station
is out of range of the Mir PMS and its “UnProto time”.
The  shorter  the  Unproto  sentence,  the  greater  your success of  a PMS
repeat.  Long sentences may get clobbered by other stations.  If you are in
the  middle  of  an Unproto QSO and you see someone connect to the PMS Mail
box  “R0MIR-1”,  you should end your Unproto QSO and let the Mail box users
have access to the PMS.

Previous Testing of Two-way Connects:
In  1993  WA2GSY  in  New  Jersey  (now  W2KQ)  and  I  WF1F in Boston made
arrangements  to test the efficiency of FULL-TWO-WAY packet connects verses
Unroto  messages.   Unfortunately  I  have  lost the original logs from the
test,  but I do clearly remember the results.  We made arrangements for the
Mir Amateur Radio station to move to a private channel for a weekend.  Then
Joe and I attempted a Full-TWO-WAY packet Digi connect via the Mir PMS on a
perfectly  clear  channel.   The  orbit  was a perfect pass, traveling from
Texas  to  Maine.   The  10  minute  pass  had good elevation.  Both of our
stations  were  similarly  equipped  and  running  high  gain antennas with
approximately  1200  watts ERP of transmit power each.  At the beginning of
the  pass,  we  sent  a  few  Unproto packets, and then Joe issued the full
two-way  connect to my station.  After the initial log-in we each sent each
other  two  simple  lines  of ASCII text and then logged out.  Now you must
remember we had a perfectly clear channel.  There were NO other stations on
frequency  because we had moved the PMS to a private channel.  There was no
interference from any ground stations.
It  required  over  4  minutes for us to exchange the 2 lines of text.  The
total  number  of  packet transmission from all three transmitters was over
200  packets.  Every packet which I sent, had to be heard, acknowledged and
retransmitted  by the Mir PMS.  The same packet was then sent to WA2GSY and
had  to  be heard and acknowledge.  The acknowledgment from WA2GSY then had
to  go back to Mir and Acknowledgement had to be re-broadcast from Mir back
to  my  TNC.   Four  transmission  are  required  for each original packet.
However  since  my  station  in  Boston  cant hear when Joe’s system in New
Jersey  was  transmitting,  there  were  dozens of packet collisions. These
collisions  are what causes the efficiency of two-way packet to drop.  With
a  full-two-way connect each packet sent must be acknowledged.  This causes
a   tremendous   amount   of   over   head  in  this  particular  satellite
configuration.   The  efficiency  of  full-two-way connects via Mir is less
than 10% on a perfectly clear channel.  Now if you add in the normal amount
of  traffic  to  the  Mir  public  channel,  you  can see that full-two-way
connects  are  a  complete waist of time.  The efficiency of Unproto on the
other hand is greater than 50%.  And Unproto is more band friendly.
The  existing design of the Kantronics KPC-9612 does not allow us to filter
out  the  difference  between  Unproto and Two-way connects its just all or
nothing.   So we need to rely on  your courteous corporation and for people
to help spread the word on the correct operating procedures.

Good luck and lets be courteous to everyone.

Remember,  Only 1 station can connect to Mir's PMS at a time, and try avoid
using UnProto when someone is actively using the PMS Mail Box.

Tracking Mir

The best way to track satellites is to get access to a good satellite
tracking program.
There are numerous programs on the market, both for sale and share ware.

The best place for current satellite position date (Kep’) data is at the
CelesTrak web page http://celestrak.com/

Copyright 1998 Miles Mann, All Rights Reserved.  This document may be
freely distributed via the following means - Email (including listservers),
Usenet, and WorldWideWeb.  It may not be reproduced for profit including,
but not limited to, CD ROMs, books, and/or other commercial outlets without
prior written consent from the author.
Images received from the MAREX-NA SSTV system on the Russian Space Station
are considered public domain and may be freely distributed, without prior

Miles WF1F

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