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ISS Packet System


As you have been aware, the ARISS team has been debugging issues with the 
packet module over the past couple of months.  We were fairly certain that 
the RAM battery backup died shortly after the equipment was commissioned 
back in November.  I say this because I heard the packet beacon on one of 
the engineering check passes on November 13.  So I am certain that the 
battery was still alive then.

We have been waiting for the crews (Expedition 1 and Expedition 2) to 
connect a laptop to the packet module to check out the packet system and 
re-install the packet parameters (including the Beacon Text and Beacon 
Every 12 commands).  Our debriefing with the Expedition 1 crew this past 
week confirmed that they have been too busy to accomplish this task.

In the meantime, we have run some tests on the training and flight backup 
hardware to determine what we can accomplish with the packet system with 
just the PROM parameters installed.   As with most packet TNCs, the PROM in 
the ISS Pico-packet defaults to NOCALL as mycall.  We have determined from 
our ground tests that one can connect to the packet system using nocall and 
digi through it.

To validate that the packet system is still operational, but with a dead 
battery, we have asked the crew to turn the packet system on and tune to 
145.80 down/145.99 up.  I ran a test on two passes last night and have 
validated that the packet system is active.  The first opportunity occurred 
at 00:54 (on April 8).  Excerpts of this opportunity are shown below:

cmd:c nocall

Before and after the pass, I tried to connect to nocall to no avail.  So it 
appears to not be a local thing.

On the next pass (2:32 UTC), I tried again with the results shown 
below.  You can see that the digi is on...I was digipeating through ISS to 
K3XO-1 (Rip Smith).  One conclusion that can be made from this is that APRS 
operations appear feasible when the ISS packet system is on.

cmd:c nocall


cmd:c k3xo-1 via nocall

I would be interested in getting other reports from other hams on 
this....particularly the APRS advocates in the fold.

Bottom line....it appears that the packet system is alive and appears to be 
able to support APRS, but without the parameters we installed prior to 
flight.  The ARISS team will continue to work with  Expedition 2 crew to 
get the packet parameters installed so that the packet system fully configured.

73,  Frank Bauer, KA3HDO

ps to Tom Clark, W3IWI--do I get a QSL with a gold ISS on it for working 
ISS packet?

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