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Marex news, Ariss meeting and ISS May 8, 2001

ISS Amateur Radio Status: May 8, 2001

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

Ariss meeting, Amsterdam May 4-6 2001

Last week there was held an ARISS (Amateur Radio International Space
Station) meeting in Amsterdam at the European Space Agencies office.  
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the present and future amateur
radio operations on the International Space Station (Alpha).
We had a very good turnout at this meeting, over 24 people from several
different countries, including: USA, Amsterdam, Canada, Portugal,
Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, England, Netherlands, Germany and Poland. 
Many of the expected topics were discussed, including Frequencies for
ISS, Current ISS projects, future approved projects and project
proposals for ISS.

Trying to pick a good set of frequencies for the two meter band world
wide is a very difficult task.  The frequencies being used now are best
compromise.  Amateur Radio stations world wide should think of all
channels as a Shared resource, no one person or club owns a channels. 
The ISS will need to share channels in your local area for 1 hour per
day.  Most people will not mind sharing 2-meter band for an hour a day
(hour per day assumes there are six orbits of ten minutes each per day,
your actual time will vary), so lets think Sharring.

Current ISS Projects:
The ARISS 2-meter Voice/Packet station has been very popular.  The ISS
crew was able to activate Unproto/Chat Room packet in April.  The ISS
crew has been able to keep the packet system active over 70% of the
time.  The ISS , Shuttle and Soyuze crews were also active on Voice
(randomly).  Several crew members were heard on the air during the last
week April/May, including Denis Tito, Susan Helms, Jim Voss and shuttle
commander Jeff Ashby
The existing TNC system seems to have had a battery failure, which
caused the TNC to loose all of its configuration settings and revert to
a "default" mode.  A new TNC will fly later this year, with new software
and this time, important settings will be burned into the ROM.  Due to
the very High ISS crew work load, the crew has not been able to share
one of the laptops computers with the Packet system.  The laptop
computers are being used for more critical tasks.  As a result, the ISS
crew has not had time to reprogram the TNC to enable the Mail box.  Even
if the ISS crew did turn-on the Mail box feature,  they would not have
time to read any of the messages in the TNC Mail box.  The TNC will stay
in Unproto/Chat room mode for the near future.

Future Approved ARISS ISS projects:
The current ISS Packet TNC will be upgraded to a new TNC, same model,
just new software.  The new TNC is tentatively scheduled to fly late
The MAREX Slow Scan TV project is in the Paper-work process manifesting
phase.  No date for SSTV delivery has been manifested at this time.  The
SpaceCam1 software is 98% complete, we only have few cosmetic changes to
install.  The ARISS Hardware team recently completed the prototype Audio
Adapter box which connects the Laptop PC to Amateur Radio for SSTV
operations. Audio box adds "Sound / Voice" activated transmit to the ISS
Amateur Radios.  When the Laptop sends the Slow Scan TV sounds to the
Radio, the sounds will cause the transmitter to begin transmitting
Note:  When a project makes it to the ARISS Approval status, it does not
guarantee that the project will ever be delivered to ISS.  There is
always the possibility of projects getting bumped or rescheduled.

Future Project Proposals for ISS:
There are several projects being discussed for ISS, which are still in
the proposal stage, including: FM Repeater, Digi-Talker, Hand launched
Satellites (like sputnik RS-18) and Compressed Digital TV.  Most of the
proposed projects are looking at a 2-5 year assembly and delivery
schedule, if they are approved.  ARISS is trying to develop a master
plan of amateur radio projects so that we can provide access to as many
stations as possible.

ISS Antennas:
The ISS FGB module has one existing operational amateur radio antenna
port.  This antenna is tuned for the 2-meter band only.  The FGB antenna
system is currently connected to the 2-meter voice / packet system. 
Despite the fact the radio is only running at 1.5 watts ERP, the signals
have been very strong and many stations using a simple 0dbd antenna
system have been able to work the ISS Amateur Radio station.

The ISS service module has 4 antenna feed-though ports attached to the
hull of the space station.  There are NO antennas connected to these 4
ports at this time.  The ARISS team has developed a set of 4 antenna
systems which will be installed on ISS (I do not have an accurate
antenna installation date at this time).  Antennas 1, 2 and 3 are
multiband antennas and will support 2-meter, 70 cm and a wide band patch
antenna for 1.2 - 2.5 ghz. Antenna #4 will support 10 meters. The
installation of the new antennas will require a space walk (EVA).  Last
winter the ISS crews E3 and E5 experimented with installing the ARISS
antennas in Russia.  The ISS crews train in a large water tank with a
training module similar to the real Service Module.  The water helps
simulate a real space walk. After the antenna installation test, the
install teams suggested a few changes to the antenna mounting brackets,
such as:
Adding a handle for the crew to grip the antenna plate while installing
the antennas to its mounting bracket.
Adding a hole in the bracket to allow the crew to clip on a tether strap
to prevent the antennas from floating away during the install process, 
etc.  All of the suggested changes are in the process of being
implemented by the ARISS hardware team.  It was real great to see the
photographs of the cosmonauts in the water tank actually installing the
new ARISS antennas.  I will try to get a set of the images posted this

The ARISS WebPages at:

has a Frequently Asked Questions section that talks about frequencies
and callsigns.

New MAREX Web pages:
Check out our future ISS Projects and a large list if Mir related links
and tips on how to use the Chat room on ISS.


Copyright 2001 Miles Mann, All Rights Reserved.  This document may be
distributed via the following means - Email (including listservers),
Usenet, and World-Wide-Web.  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.

Until we meet again

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