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FW: AMSAT-BB Digest, Vol 4, Issue 401



Miles,

I find it really sad that you have stooped this low.....character
assassination and the like.  This e-mail is filled with so many inaccuracies
and wrong statements that it would be a disservice to the amateur community
to go through this and challenge each of your statements.  

While I am no longer part of the ARISS team, I think it would be best for me
to respond to this e-mail as I think some clarifications are worthy of a
response.  And given the fact that I led the ARISS team for 13 years.

Your main gripe was that you were not invited to the ARISS meeting at ESA
Estec a few months ago.  It should be noted that AMSAT did not make this
final decision.  Specifically, it was your (Miles) actions that caused you
to be not invited.  Not some  "closed" organization as you (Miles)
stipulate.  The crux of the issue is that if one disregards verbal or
written direction from space agencies and, as a result, you violate space
agency policy or company/agency proprietary rules, then a significant
element of distrust is built up.  ARISS cannot let this happen.  And Miles,
through your actions, you did this.  And as a result, you did this to
yourself.

Let me also be clear that MAREX as a team was not singled out.  Only Miles.
So if MAREX had thoughts or proposals, they were and are welcome to share
them with the ARISS team.  And, if there are other members of MAREX, besides
Miles, that wanted to attend future meetings, I would expect that they
probably would be allowed to attend.  As long as they abide by the space
agency rules.  (But remember, I don't make those decisions)

ARISS is an international working group consisting of National Amateur Radio
Societies, AMSAT organizations and the international space agencies from the
5 ISS regions (Europe, Japan, Russia, Canada and the USA).  This working
group works hand-in-hand to develop and operate the amateur radio system on
ISS.  ARISS cannot do this without the space agencies and the crew on-board.
ARISS has and continues to do its best to be as transparent (open) as
possible.  International meetings are open to the public, as long as an
element of trust is not violated.  While the ARISS model is not perfect,
nothing is.  But I must say that the international participation and support
that comes from the ARISS team is some of the best I have ever seen
anywhere.  To say that ARISS is a failure is ludicrous.

It is my personal opinion that the national radio society model (e.g. in the
US ARRL and AMSAT) is the right model for ARISS.  It has worked well and
provides an outstanding educational outreach program that gives students and
communities a very positive view of ham radio.  ARISS has not excluded
universities from participating.  For example, the Kursk University in
Russia is currently building an experiment for SuitSat-2.  The Santa Rosa
Junior College in the US is an ARISS telebridge station.  Students at the
College of New Jersey in the US participated in the testing of the SuitSat-2
SDX.  And the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland built the L/S band
ARISS antennas that are installed on the Columbus module.  

In summary, I think we should stop the whining.  And recognize that we need
to work hand-in-glove with the international space agencies if we want to
sustain a ham radio program on human spaceflight vehicles.  This may mean
that our pet project might not fly now (or ever).  That there will be times
when the crew does not get on the ham radio.  And that there will be give
and take within the international ARISS and international space agency team
on how hardware gets developed, who develops it and when it gets tested,
repaired or operated.

With sincere interest in ARISS Program Success,

Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO


--------------------------------------------------
Message: 9
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 10:20:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: MM <ka1rrw@yahoo.com>
Subject: [amsat-bb]  Lets Fix ISS, Replace ARISS
To: amsat-bb@amsat.org
Message-ID: <394473.2938.qm@web56401.mail.re3.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Marex 

Miles Mann WF1F

Marex

wf1f@marexmg.org



August 25, 2009

Dear ARISS supporters:

I am writing to you because of the extremely poor track record that ARISS
has accumulated over the past 12 years regarding ISS hardware projects.

The only way to correct the problem and fix the Amateur Radio educational
program is to completely reorganization the current ARISS hardware
structure.

Under the new ARISS Closed Door policy, only selected members from AMSAT-NA
are allowed to participate.

This new policy has turned the once open ARISS into a closed door Monopoly
controlled by the AMSAT Corporation.

Based on the current actions of ARISS and their very poor performance with
in-flight hardware I would like to propose a complete reorganization of the
ARISS hardware process.

Please review the enclosed information.

I look forward to discussing the proposal with you are your earliest
opportunity.

Sincerely

G. Miles Mann

 

 

Memo from ARISS April 2009

>From Gaston Bertels ARISS Chairman

Hi Miles,

By decision of the ARISS Board, participation to ARISS-i meetings is limited
to delegates from the Member Societies and observers nominated by these
societies.

USA member societies are the ARRL and AMSAT NA.

Only these societies can nominate participants to the ARISS-i meetings.

Best regards

73

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF

ARISS Chairman

 

 

 

 

 

ARISS Reorganization Proposal

By Miles Mann

June 17, 2009

Rev 1.01

 

What is ARISS?

The goal of ARISS was to create an organization to select, control and
coordinate Amateur Radio projects designed for the International Space
Station (ISS).

The ARISS program would then assist the 16 countries (Russia, Canada, Japan,
Brazil, USA, member nations of ESA, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany,
Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United
Kingdom), which are supporting the ISS to help choose the best educational
Amateur Radio projects for ISS.

Each county would have delegate-voting privileges on ARISS and project
selection activities.

 

Summary:

When Dave Larsen and Miles Mann (MAREX) helped form ARISS in August 1996,
one of our goals was to keep Space open for the public and not turn the ISS,
into a monopoly controlled by the AMSAT Corporation.

We were partially successful. Unfortunately most of the ARISS voting
delegation came from AMSAT Corporation representatives from different
counties and a few other radio clubs. The newly formed ARISS agreed to allow
competing clubs to submit proposals. The MAREX team helped create ARISS,
however since the majority of people present were from the AMSAT
Corporation, MAREX was not allowed to have any voting privileges.

Prior to 2009, ARISS would say that its meetings were open to the public and
other clubs were welcome to observer. In 2009 ARISS changed its open door
policy to a closed-door policy. The public is no longer allowed to attend
any of the meetings.

Now, only selected members of the AMSAT Corporation are allowed to present
Amateur radio project proposals to ARISS for International Space Station.

The AMSAT Corporation has full control over the voting and the hardware
selection process, thus creating a monopoly on the International Space
station for Amateur Radio projects.

 

ARISS Reorganization Proposal:

There are two main reasons to reorganize the ARISS delegate voting
structure.

1) The AMSAT Corporation has a monopolistic control over ARISS and has
routinely blocked competitive Educational Amateur radio projects from being
submitted. The new closed-door policy and "Selected AMSAT Members only"
policy are part of the struggling AMSAT Corporations attempt to make the
International Space Station their private Space Station monopoly.

 

The actions of the AMSAT Corporation remind me of a fictional movie Quote
"Star Wars, A New Hope" Princess Leia, says to Governor Wilhuff Tarkin:

"The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through
your fingers"

2) Over the past 12 years AMSAT Corporation has demonstrated its inability
to Select, Manage and Maintain Educational Amateur Radio hardware projects
for the International Space Station. The hardware track record of the AMSAT
Corporation control over ARISS projects on ISS has been very poor.

In a separate document I will go over the hardware failures and the success
we have had in the ARISS project. You will clearly see a pattern of
extremely poor hardware management, including:

Poor project selection (even when there is ample evidence to reject a
project, the AMSAT Corporation would approve a project) 
Inability to maintain projects in flight. When problems were discovered
in-flight, the AMSAT Corporation would either deny the problem existed or
take 3 or 4 plus years to correct the problem. 
Failure to provide NASA and ESA valid project status information. The AMSAT
Corporation would routinely deny there are problems with equipment, even
when ISS crewmembers in-flight reported the problems with the ARISS
projects. 
AMSAT Corporations refusal to perform basic compatibly and usability testing
on projects has led to some embarrassing failures. The lack of testing has
been a reoccurring team throughout the ARISS projects. 
 

Reorganization Solution:

Change the current voting delegate structure from an AMSAT Corporation
controlled formation to a new structure in which corporations do not control
the Hardware project selection and voting. The best way to manage ARISS
fairly is to select representatives from Universities from around the wold
to take over the delegate voting positions in ARISS hardware projects.

What I proposed is that representative from 16+ ISS countries each select
two Universities to act as voting ARISS delegates. The new University
delegates would take the place of the existing ARISS delegates.

The supporting corporations would still be welcome to participate in ARISS
projects, however the corporations would not have Voting rights.

I also envision that most of the existing duties current performed by the
existing ARISS volunteers wold still continue with the same volunteers and
supporting agencies. The majority of changes will be focused on the
University providing an independent view on which projects make the best
sense.

The ARISS team claims to provide educational opportunities for the world.
However during the 12 years of ARISS existence, no school or university has
ever built a project for ARISS. The new University Delegate plan would now
open the doors for Universities and other schools to participate in future
ARISS projects.

Note: the Military funded PC-Sat-2 project by the US Naval Academy may have
had some student involvement.

 

Who should choose the University Delegates?

The Space Agency representatives from each supporting ISS nation will be
asked to contact qualifying universities in their countries. Our goal is to
have two universities, with educational programs related to RF technologies
or Space exploration / satellite programs participate as delegates for
ARISS.

The universities will be asked to participate in the ARISS program as a
voting delegate for 4-year terms, with the option to renew.

 

University Delegate responsibilities:

The responsibilities of the university delegates will be similar to the
existing ARISS tasks, including:

Hardware Guild Lines 
Project Selection 
Hardware meetings and conferences 
Work with ESA, NASA and other agencies for the proper approvals and
additional guidelines. 
In-flight Project Management 
Existing ARISS supporting corporations:

The existing corporations and clubs such as, ARRL, AMSAT, IARU, MAREX and
others will still be allowed to act as technical consultants and manage
different aspects of ARISS. However these corporations will not have voting
privileges in the hardware selection process.

 

Additional Benefits:

TBD

 

 

 

This section contains a brief over view of example of common ARISS/AMSAT
Corporation failures.

Poor project selection:

When ample evidence is presented to ARISS to reject a hardware project, the
ARISS team will still peruse projects that have little benefit for the
Amateur Radio community based on the amount of effort required to fly a
project to ISS.

Toss-Satellites:

Toss-Satellites are usually small projects which are literally tossed out
the hatch of the Space Station. Several of these projects were successfully
launched from the Space Station Mir during its 15-year flight.
Toss-Satellites will only run for a few months. Due to the orbit of ISS/Mir
the orbit decay will cause these satellites to re-enter the earth
astmothsphere in 6-18 months.

With ISS scheduled to be retired in 2015, it is very important for ARISS to
select projects that have a short development time and a great return on the
effort.

Early on during the ISS project, Frank Bauer (ARISS Chairman and VP of AMSAT
Corporation) said he did not want to waste our valuable resources on
building Toss-Satellites. The MAREX team supported Frank Bauer?s position on
Toss-Satellites. A few years later Frank Bauer and ARISS approved the
Suit-Sat1 Toss-Satellite project.

The Suit-Sat1 project incorporated a "Expired" spacesuit that was scheduled
to be disposed of in an incinerating Progress module. Instead, the spacesuit
was stuffed with an Amateur Radio beacon and released as a free flying
project.

The original plan called for the "off-the-shelf-hardware" to be partially
pressurized inside the spacesuit. At the last minute the plans changed and
the equipment was exposed to the full vacuum of space. The transmitter for
the project failed and only a handful of stations were able to hear its
extremely weak signal.

 

The project was partially successful in that it generated worldwide
attention to ISS and Amateur Radio.

The Suit-Sat1 version of the project used a combination of existing ARISS
hardware and "off-the-shelf-hardware". The project was completed in a
relatively short periods of time (less than 2 years) primary because it used
mostly existing hardware. The Suit-Sat1 project did consume resources that
could have been used for longer duration projects.

In 2006, AMSAT Corporation director and ARISS Hardware Manager Lou McFadin
proposed building another project called Suit-Sat2. For this project, rather
than using affordable and easy to deliver "off-the-Shelf" hardware, McFadin
decided to custom build a new transceiver from scratch, using new technology
called "Software Defined Radio".

The Suit-Sat2 project required over 4 years to develop and will not be ready
for flight until 2010. The Suit-Sat2 project will have a flight life
expectancy of 4-12 months.

The effort placed into Suit-Sat2 has caused other long term projects to be
ignored.


Summary:

The Suit-Sat1 transmitter failed immediately. 
Design called for a pressurized suit, was changed to full vacuum, without
any testing. 
AMAST Corporation is continuing to push for more short duration projects. 
Longer duration projects are being ignored 
 

University Charter proposal changes:

Under the new ARISS Reorganization Charter, I propose that we cancel all
Toss Satellite projects for the duration of the remaining ISS mission and
focus our attention on longer duration projects that reach more users.

 

Inability to Maintain projects in flight

Kenwood TM-D700 Project:

The Kenwood TM-D700 Transceiver, is a very good product. It is unique it
that is has a built in Data modem and mailbox. The downside to this
transceiver is that it gives the users too much control over the "User
Editable Software". It is possible to modify the software in a way that
makes the transceiver too difficult to operate, and that is exactly what
happened on this ARISS project.

The MAREX team encouraged the AMSAT Corporation to keep the software setup
simple. The MAREX team had used a similar transceiver on Mir and quickly
discovered the Mir cosmonauts were easily confused by the Kenwood PM buttons
(a PM button is a Function button that have the ability to reboot the radio
into a completely new configuration).

For the sake of brevity, the software complexity failed in many ways, I will
highlight one of the significant failures caused by the complex "User
Editable Software" TM-D700 software.

The first thing we noticed in December 2003 when the Kenwood TM-700 was
activated from the International Space Station, was that the Packet Mailbox
was practically unusable. Only a very experienced operator, with thousands
of watts of power could access the TM-D700 mailbox. The Data delays caused
by the "User Editable Software" reduced the Mailbox data throughput from 300
bits per second to less than 50 bits per second (See Data Test note #1).
Even very experienced Satellite packet mailbox users had extreme difficulty
access the TM-D700 mailbox. By comparison, entry level users could easily
access the Mailbox that MAREX installed on Mir.

ARISS was immediately notified of the problem, however ARISS did not put any
effort into analyzing or correcting the problem. The MAREX team researched
the problem independently of ARISS and discovered that stock terrestrial
versions of the TM-700 had a working Packet Mailbox. The MAREX team soon
discovered the problem was caused by the Criss-Cross software configured
that ARISS had used on the ISS version of the TM-D700. It took MAREX 4 years
of actively lobbying ARISS to fix the problem.

 

In the spring of 2008 (4+ years after the problem was first discovered) the
ARISS team finally had a new version of software that appeared to work. The
MAREX team tested a subset of this software that was manually configured on
board ISS. The TM-D700 Mailbox began to work for the first time 4 years,
with a normal data throughput. Unfortunately, due to a lack of coordination,
a Replacement TM-D700 was sent to ISS in the summer of 2008. The Replacement
TM-D700 was not loaded with the new software and we are back where we were
in December 2003, running the bad software.

As of spring 2009 the working "User Editable Software" software has NOT been
loaded on to the ISS version of the TM-D700. The packet mailbox is still
broken on ISS TM-D700.

Summary:

The ARISS / AMSAT Corporation never performed any type of functionality
testing of the TM-D700 project before flight. 
The ARISS team accepted the project from Bob Brurunga team at face value and
never attempted to verify if the project meet the original operational
goals. 
The ARISS team took no action to research or fix the problem. After 5 years
of flight, the easily fixable mailbox feature is still broken on ISS. 
University Charter proposal changes:

Under the new ARISS Reorganization Charter, I propose that the university
form a monitoring team to periodically review the status of all Amateur
Radio projects on board ISS and other satellites sharing the same
frequencies. The Review team will provide the NASA and ESA representatives
the status of the On board projects. These reports will include the health
of the projects and what adjustments if any may be required for the safe
operation of the equipment.

It is normal for projects to require simple periodic maintenance to ensure
proper operation. The Amateur Radio projects are often used for dedicated
School two-way radio links. It would be a simple procedure to have a basic
safety check worked into each school schedule to verify basic aspects of the
Amateur Radio project being used.

If at any time an Amateur Radio project on ISS appears to be unstable or
possibly on the verge of an unsafe condition, the Review team will notify
NASA and ESA immediately and request the project be shutdown until it can be
reevaluated for safety.

 

 

 

Failure to provide NASA and ESA valid project status information

The AMSAT Corporation would routinely deny there are problems with
equipment, even when ISS crewmembers in-flight reported the problems with
the ARISS projects.

One example, Kenwood TM-D700 Fan.

The TM-D700 transceiver has a built in Cooling Fan that operates when the
transmitter is active. None of us really paid much attention to the cooling
fan, nor did anyone bother to research the Duty cycle of the fan or its life
span. Instead we did focus on trying to keep the radio cool by not using the
High power mode and "Hard Wiring" the radio so that it would never
transmitter with more than 25 watts, (the terrestrial of the TM-D700 version
is capable of operating at 45 watts transmitter output).

When the packet Radio options were being discussed, one of the features of
packet is called the Beacon Mode. With this option the packet station would
send out a short 1-2 second bust of data every few minutes.

Example:

RS0ISS>CQ [07/21/02 05:19:44]: <<UI>>:ARISS - INNTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

The purpose of the beacon is to signal stations on Earth that the ISS packet
station is in range of their location. Normally the window of access
opportunity to ISS is a small 10-minute window. By setting the beacon
correctly we could ensue that most stations would hear the beacon at least
once during their access window. If the beacon were set too frequently, it
would waist power and increase the heat load on the transmitter.

The MAREX team requested a beacon set for 3-4 minutes at a power setting of
5 watts. ARISS wanted a beacon set for 2 minutes at 10 watts transmitter
power. ARISS got their way. The beacon option may seem trivial, however it
did have a big effect on the status of the cooling fan.

No one knew at that time, how the fan worked and what controlled the fans
On/Off cycle.

The way it works, is when the transmitter is ON, the Fan is ON. When the
transmitter turns OFF, a timer is set and the fan keeps running for 2 more
minutes after the transmitter turns OFF.

 

Had we known this early, it would have influenced the beacon decision. Since
the beacon was set to Broadcast every two minutes. And the Cooling fan would
run for 2 minutes after the transmitter stopped, it meant that the fan was
running continuously 24 hours a day 7 days a week, whenever the TM-D700 was
turned on.

The Packet software was designed to be on at all times (except during
Repeater mode). Even when the radio was in Voice mode, the packet system was
still running on a different pair of frequencies. And every two minutes the
packet system would send out another beacon, which kept the cooling fan
running all of the time.

In August 2006 after 2.5 years of TM-D700 operations in flight, Cosmonaut
Commander Pavel Vinogradov reported the TM-D700 fan did not seem to be
working, "I blow on it, the fan moves and then stops". The day before the
Radio had over heated and locked up due to a problem with the Laptop
transmitter Vox-Box control cable (I will cover Vox-Box control cable in a
separate section).

I was in the Tele-conference with ARISS when our Energia representative
repeated the conversation he had with Commander Pavel Vinogradov. ARISS
immediately went into denial mode and refused to believe the comments made
by Commander Pavel Vinogradov. The MAREX team requested on several occasions
that ARISS should perform a routine check out of the TM-700 on during one of
the weekly School schedule link days. It would be easy to add a few new
"check list" items to the school schedule checklist to examine the operation
of the fan to verify its status. ARISS flat-out refused to perform any
examination of the fan on the TM-D700.

Frank Bauer said "I do not want to bring any attention to NASA that we may
be having a problem with fan".

In August 2007 I talked to ISS crewmember Clayton Anderson on board ISS. I
asked Clayton the question that ARISS had been refusing to ask, "Is the fan
on the TM-D700 working". Clayton responded, "It?s hard to tell, I do not
think the fan is working".

The statements made by Clayton Anderson and Commander Pavel Vinogradov while
using the TM-D700 on board ISS do not confirm the fan is actually broken,
however there is substantial information present for ARISS to at least start
an investigation. ARISS still refused to investigate the problem.

Fortunately the Russian engineering team frequently ignores ARISS and
decided that there was sufficient information and decided to send a
replacement TM-D700 and Vox-Box to ISS in 2008.

 

Summary:

ARISS / AMSAT Corporation knew there was a possibility the critical cooling
fan on the TM-D700 may have failed and took no action. 
ARISS / AMSAT Corporation went out of their way to deny there was any
problem with the suspected cooling fan and continued to allow the
transceiver to operate in unattended modes. 
ARISS / AMSAT Corporation refused to investigate the problem which had been
reported by 2 ISS crewmembers in-flight. 
University Charter proposal changes:

Under the new ARISS Reorganization Charter, I propose that the university
assign an independent team to perform a complete safety and functionality
check on every project approved by ARISS for ISS.

The safety check will included the following:

Complete review of all technical documentation. 
Hardware compatibility testing. Including full End-to-End testing at least a
year before flight. 
RFI emissions testing 
Human Interface testing (Is the project too complex for the ISS crew to
operate?) 
Project delivery schedule (If the project can not be completed in 2-years or
less, it should be canceled) 
Hardware Donation to ARISS:

The Kenwood Company donated (15) Kenwood TM-D700 transceiver to ARISS
(around the year 2000) for the ISS projects. Very early on in the project
TM- D700, MAREX asked Frank Bauer if we could to borrow one of the TM-D700
to evaluate the performance of the TM-D700 Software, Packet Mail system and
over all functionality. Frank agreed and promised to let MAREX borrow one of
the (15) TM-D700?s. MAREX made the request several time and was always give
the same response, "Yes we will send you one when they are available".

ARISS never came through with their promise and as a result the TM-D700
never received the planned crosscheck evaluation of the project as had been
planned. This critical missing Quality Assurance check allowed many
correctable problems to slip through and resulted in an over all very poor
performing and embarrassing project for ARISS and ISS.

 

 

 

Failure to test projects:

AMSAT Corporations refusal to perform basic compatibly and usability testing
on projects has led to some embarrassing failures. The lack of testing has
been a reoccurring team throughout the ARISS projects.

There are many example of the "Failure to test", however I will only
highlight one of the best document cases.

Slow Scan TV project (SpaceCam1 SSTV):

The SSTV project consisted for 5 parts:

SSTV Software, provided by MAREX and Silicon-Pixels 
MAREX Delivered the Beta software in 1999.

Laptop Computer 
ARISS took the responsibility of acquiring an approved Laptop to be used for
Amateur Radio project including Packet and Slow Scan TV. ARISS began the
acquisition in 1999 and was finally able to secure a Laptop in 2008. The
Laptop portion of the project only required 9 years to complete.
Occasionally the ISS crew would borrow the "Tourist" Laptops from other
projects that would be used intermittently with Amateur Radio projects.

Erickson Transceiver 
The original SAREX team had some leftover hardware from previous Shuttle
Missions. This hardware was flight qualified for ISS and delivered to ISS in
2000.

Vox-Box adapter 
An interface needed to be built to allow a Laptop computer to connect to the
Erickson transceiver. AMSAT Corporation directory Lou McFadin (ARISS
Hardware Manager) volunteered to build the interface cable. This cable would
be used for SSTV and other Amateur radio projects. The Vox-Box cable design
began in 1999.

Antenna System (Team effort from multiple agencies) 
A total of 5 cable feed-throughs, with antennas were made available to
Amateur Radio project in the Russian modules.

 

Lack of End-to-End Testing:

In the summer of 2000, AMSAT had sufficient hardware and software to start
performing End-to-end testing of the SpaceCam1 project. The ARISS/AMSAT
hardware team had the Antennas, Flight-Laptop (IBM-760XD), SpaceCam1
software, VOX-Box hardware and the Erickson Transceivers.

The AMSAT hardware team never performed any End-to-end testing until August
2003. At a meeting with ARISS in 2003, I was finally given access to the
Erickson hardware for the first time. To my utter amazement, no one on the
AMSAT hardware team had ever connected all of this equipment together prior
to this meeting. The ARISS hardware team had only tested individual parts
separately.

I discovered numerous problems that should have been discovered years
earlier. The SpaceCam1 project was scheduled to fly to ISS in 2004 and we
had to perform qualifications testing in Moscow in November 2003.

#1 Erickson Transceiver could not receive SSTV images.

The first big problem was that the Erickson transceiver was not able to
receive SSTV images.

The Erickson Transceivers had an audio port connection, which would be
connected to the Laptop through the Vox-Box adapter. The Audio voltage level
coming out of the Erickson connection was approximately 10 volts p-p. The
Laptop microphone input port requires a voltage level of 1-2 volt p-p.

Since the Erickson was running a voltage much higher than the requirements
of the Laptop, the images displayed on the laptop were completely distorted
and unusable.

The fix for this problem was never implemented by ARISS and thus the
Erickson Transceiver could not be used for SSTV or any other type of Laptop
project.

 

#2 Vox-Box oscillations

The Vox-Box is an adapter cable that takes the audio from the Laptop and
sends it to the Radio. The Vox-Box is also responsible to telling the Radio,
when to "Transmit". When the Vox-Box detects audio from the Laptop, it will
then tell the radio to "Transmit". When the audio stops, the Vox-Box will
tell the radio to switch back into receiving mode.

During the Houston testing in August 2003, we noticed the Vox-Box adapter
would intermittently go into an uncontrolled Oscillation. The Oscillation
would then scramble any images being sent to the radio.

Eventually a specific hardware configuration was found that seem to reduce
the Oscillations. The Kenwood TM-D700 and the IBM-760XD seemed to be
compatible. The AMSAT team that built the Vox-Box did not perform any
additional circuit modifications to understand or eliminate the Oscillation
problem.

The two Vox-Box cables used on board ISS are both having problems
controlling the transmitter. When the Laptop signals the Vox-Box to start
transmit, the transmitter is activated correctly. When the Laptop signals
the Vox-Box to Stop transmitter, the Transmitter gets stuck ON.

#3 Wiener Laptop

The Wiener Laptop (166 MHz CPU, Windows 2000) was a backup Laptop provided
by the Russian team. This was the first time anyone at ARISS had seen this
Laptop. The Russians said, there was a spare Wiener Laptop on ISS and we
were welcome to use this computer for our Amateur Radio projects.

The main problem with this computer was also associated with the Audio
output voltage levels. This Laptop was designed to run either low voltage
headsets (1-2 volts p-p) or higher voltage external speakers (15-20 volts
p-p). The Windows 2000 operating Systems was all in Russian and we had very
limited access to a Russian translator to assist with the settings. As a
result we were not able to fully document the changes required to keep the
Laptop running in the low voltage-operating mode. All images transmitted
from the Wiener Laptop while in the default Speaker setting came out
scrambled.

 

Moscow KIS testing November 2003

During the months before the trip to Russia, the ARISS and MAREX team linked
up frequently by conference call. One of the goals requested by MAREX was
that we have a pre-test staging day set aside so that we could retest all of
the hardware, before going to the KIS testing facility. The pre-test staging
was very important because of the poor results we had during the August 2003
Houston testing session. Frank Bauer and the ARISS team agreed and plans
were made to set aside a day to stage all of the hardware before taking the
hardware to the KIS facility.

Shortly after we arrived in Moscow, Frank Bauer told me that we would not
have a Staging test day and that we wold not have access to the hardware
until the morning of the KIS flight certification testing. A disaster was
looming.

On the testing day, a good portion of the morning was taken up by going
through the required security processes. When we finally arrived in our
testing office with all of our hardware, we only had 1 hour to unpack and
get ready for the testing, inside the mockup module of the ISS service
module.

All of the problems we had in Houston came back and then some. The first
stumbling block was that we did not have our translator with us. During the
previous 2 days of meetings, we had full access to a qualified translator.
However, in the KIS facility we did not have a translator, which would have
really been useful.

The Wiener Laptop was installed in the Service module first. Unfortunately
the settings I made to the Wiener Laptop in August 2003 had been changed and
the Laptop was now sending speaker audio out at 20 volts p-p. The high
voltages caused all SSTV images sent from the service module to become
completely scrambled.

The IBM 760XD and TM-D700 combination in the Office overlooking the Service
module was also having problems sending images to the Service Module.

Our Back up Kenwood HT with a SSTV microphone (VCH1-Communicator) was out of
service because the battery had not been charged. Fortunately we had the 220
Volt power cube for the HT, unfortunately the plug pins were too short to
reach inside the Russian AC power outlet or Power strips.

I went to a group of Russian engineers wearing white jackets and handed them
the Power Cube and a Power Strip and said in English, "Fix". The engineers
took the power cube and power strip and walked a way. A few minutes later
they came back. They had removed the protective cover to the power strip and
taped the Power Cube on to the exposed 220-Volt brass contact bars. The
engineer said in English "No Touch". Wow that was fast and simple Russian
engineering. I now had 1 working SSTV system. Unfortunately I needed two
working SSTV systems.

I began working on the IBM-760XD in the lab and discovered the Audio levels
were set incorrectly, which was easy to correct. After a few minutes I was
able to send and receive SSTV images to the Backup VCH1-Commander system in
the same lab. I was also able to send Frank Bauer SSTVimages in the Service
module. Frank was still not able to Send images because of the audio level
problems with the Wiener Laptop.

Frank ordered me into the Service Module to fix the Wiener computer.
Unfortunately, without a Russian translator, I could not easily navigate the
Russian version of Windows 2000 to find the correct audio settings. At one
point, a group of Cosmonauts squeezed into the Service model to see the new
SSTV project. Everyone posed for pictures. One of the cosmonauts looked at
the scrambled SSTV images on the screen and said in English, "Not working?"
I responded in poor Russian "Little Problem", I was very embarrassed.

Then we got lucky, the battery on the Wiener computer died. We were not
allowed to run the laptops on AC power, they had to run on batteries for
their emission portion of the tests. The dead batter allowed us the blame
the battery for the problems and gave us the opportunity to swap over to the
IBM-760XD and Kenwood TM-D700 configuration. Within a few minutes the
working IBM-760XD was moved from the lab, into the Service Module. Once
setup Frank and I were able to Send and receive good quality SSTV images to
and from the Service Module and we were able to pass the emissions testing.

Changes to the Vox-Box power source:

A few weeks after the Moscow certification test, the power source for the
Vox-Box was changed from a 9-Volt battery to be able to receive power
directly from inside the Kenwood TM-D700 transceiver. This modification was
only performed on the TM-D700 in Russia, one of which was flown to ISS in
the fall of 2003. None of the other TM-700 in the USA based ARISS Hardware
team made the same changes or confirmed their functionality.

When the Vox-Box was used in-flight for SSTV in August 2006, the Vox-Box
would turn ON the transmitter, however the Vox-Box circuit would get stuck
and would not turn the transmitter OFF.

A new Vox-Box and TM-D700 were flown to ISS in the summer of 2008. When the
SSTV was activated again, the same problem occurred, the transmitter would
get stuck in the ON position. Flight participant Richard Garriott, tried two
different SSTV applications and both had the same problem. ARISS wants to
blame the SpaceCam1 SSTV software, however, since the problem was seen with
two completely different SSTV applications, we can assume that is its not a
software issue.

The cause of the stuck transmitter is most likely and RF interference on the
DC power source feeding from the TM-D700 transmitter into the Vox-Box. I
have shown a few engineers the schematic for the ARISS Vox-Box and they all
ask the same questions, "Where is the RF bypass filtering, there is none".
Without proper RF bypass circuits, it would be easy for the Vox-Box switch
to get stuck on the ON condition.

 

Summary:

Lack of End-to-end testing left us poorly prepared with limited hardware
options. 
Canceling of the pre-test Staging resulted in an embarrassing and stressful
testing session. 
The Vox-Box Oscillation problem was observed by oscilloscope in Moscow. 
Changes to Vox-Box power source were not fully tested and may be the cause
of the two In-flight failures. 
 

University Charter proposal changes:

Under the new ARISS Reorganization Charter, I propose that the university
assign an independent team to perform a complete safety and functionality
check on every project approved by ARISS for ISS.

The safety check will included the following:

Complete review of all technical documentation. 
Hardware compatibility testing. Including full End-to-End testing at least a
year before flight. 
RFI emissions testing 
Human Interface testing (Is the project too complex for the ISS crew to
operate?) 
Project delivery schedule (If the project can not be completed in 2-years or
less, it should be canceled) 
Last minute changes will need to be verified before ARISS will signoff on a
problem. 
 




      



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