AMSAT-NA AMSAT News Service

September 7, 1997

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Phase 3D Update

It was announced in ANS Bulletin 208.01 of July 27, 1997 that, due to the necessity of performing a number of significant structural modifications to the Phase 3D spaceframe made necessary by a late change in ESA launch environment specifications, the schedule for the launch of Ariane 502 and the Phase 3D schedule were no longer compatible. Unfortunately, that situation has not changed. As a result, ESA has concluded that Phase 3D would not be able to fly on that mission.

This announcement prompted several derogatory comments regarding ESA and its action to be posted to AMSAT-NA's Internet open mail service, AMSAT-BB. It must be emphasized that such comments do not represent the opinions of AMSAT-NA or any other AMSAT organization. More important, they may be harmful to on-going efforts to identify another launch for Phase 3D.

It should be remembered, and appreciated, that ESA has been very supportive of AMSAT for almost twenty years. The first Phase 3 satellite was a passenger on an Ariane vehicle which, unfortunately, ended in a launch failure in 1980. ESA made amends for this loss by launching AO-10 three years later. This was followed by AO-13 in 1988, the four Microsats and two UoSats in 1990, and later, KO-23, KO-25, IO-26 and AO-27. All of these satellites were launched by ESA on Ariane vehicles. So, it is clear that, since the early 80s, the European Space Agency has been responsible for the launch of ALL the long life amateur spacecraft, other than those orbited by the Russians and the Japanese.

There is no reason to believe that ESA's support for AMSAT projects has waned. The decision made with respect to Phase 3D is apparently one of schedule incompatibility only. It should be clear to everyone that it is vital to ESA that the Ariane 502 flight goes well; and that it is launched in accordance with the established schedule, if at all possible. Needless to say, it is also in AMSAT's best interest that it is a great success, even without Phase 3D aboard.

A Phase 3D Program Board meeting was held at the Orlando Phase 3D Integration Lab Saturday August 30, during which similar sentiments were expressed. Participants in that meeting were AMSAT-DL President and Phase 3D Project Leader Dr. Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC, Werner Haas DJ5KQ AMSAT-DL Vice President, Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, representing the Command Station Team, Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ, AMSAT-UK Secretary, Joel Harrison, W5ZN, representing ARRL, Keith Baker KB1SF AMSAT-NA Executive Vice President and Bill Tynan W3XO AMSAT-NA President. The Program Board is the body which will establish broad policies with respect to the Operation of Phase 3D, once it is safely in orbit and checked out. In addition to reviewing the launch situation, the meeting dealt with mechanisms for communicating board recommendations to the Command Station Team and the current status of the spacecraft. It was noted that the structural modifications, already mentioned, have had a significant impact on the schedule, just as they were expected to. For example, electronic modules have had to be installed and un-installed several times in order to conduct both electronic testing and perform the drilling and riveting necessary to complete the structural modifications. Not surprisingly, this process has been quite time consuming. Nevertheless, the Board was informed that the structural work should be completed soon. In addition to the schedule slippage the structural modifications have caused, it has been estimated that they have cost about $25,000 over and above expenses previously contemplated.

Other recent events at the Orlando facility involved a two week visit by a contingent of folks from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Japan to accomplish much of the electronic integration work. Just prior to that, the RUDAK team were there to install and check out that interesting and important sub-system.

The Program Board issued a statement saying that it is imperative that all of us do everything we can to promote the successful launch of Phase 3D, particularly being especially careful of what we say on public forums such as AMSAT-BB or in letters to the editors of various magazines. It was emphasized that all of us should avoid doing anything that could possibly hinder Phase 3D Project Leader and AMSAT-DL President Karl Meinzer DJ4ZC in his continuing negotiations with ESA representatives.

Keep tuned to ANS for further information.

MIREX 70cm Packet

Mir International Amateur Radio Experiment (MIREX) will be conducting a three week 70cm experiment with the Mir PMS station. The PMS station will be switched from the 2-meter band to the 70cm band on 437.650 MHz FM simplex world wide.

Information they expect to gain from the three week experiment:

  1. Is the 70cm band interfered with by the existing commercial VHF equipment?
  2. How many stations around the world have access to 70cm FM capabilities?
  3. Do the 70cm Mir operations cause any interference to any of the equipment on Mir?
  4. Can simple ground stations compensate for 70cm Doppler and work Mir on voice?
  5. Can simple ground stations compensate for 70cm Doppler and work Mir on packet?

MIREX will be running the test from September 6 until September 28, 1997 world-wide. After the completion of the test, they will switch the Mir PMS frequency back to the current 2-meter frequency on September 29th.

Interference from Mir's VHF Commercial Communications Links

In 1993 the MIREX team began to hear there were problems with 2-meter packet, when Mir was transmitting on their commercial channel 143.625. The rumors indicated the 2-meter station on 145.550 would become deaf. The information that MIREX received about this problem was very limited, and the problems only happened over Europe. They did not have problems with 143.625 over the USA and were not able to analyze the problem until 1996. Then NASA began to install remote communications links with Mir in 1996. Now Mir was active on 143.625 as it flew across the USA. More ground links were being added world wide. Soon many populated areas of the world would have remote Mir VHF ground links. MIREX began testing with the Mir crews in late 1996. It was confirmed that when the commercial link was active on 143.625, it was impossible to work the Mir space station on any frequency below 145.900. The frequency 145.940, was barely usable when the ground station was transmitting more than 3000 watts ERP. These uplink power levels are just not realistic. A better solution needed to be found. MIREX is working on a filter project, that if approved, will solve the comm link interference problem. The MIREX filter project is still waiting extensive paperwork approvals, etc. No date has been confirmed for delivery of the filter.

MIREX still encourages stations to use as little power as possible. Another possible solution is to try to use the 70cm equipment already on board Mir. The existing external antenna is a dual band 2-meter/70cm antenna. The existing radio, a Kenwood TM-733 (European version) supports both 2-meters and the 435-437 MHz portion of the satellite sub band. MIREX began testing of the 70cm operations for voice and packet during the spring of 1997. The equipment appears stable enough to allow access to the general public. They originally had planned to operate both bands simultaneously, but they have run into equipment and power limitations. So the test is being scaled back to test just the 70cm band for a limited time.

For the duration of the 70cm test (up to 3 weeks) the 2-meter operations will be turned off. After the 70cm test is completed the frequency will be moved back to the 2-meter band. MIREX believes that 2-meter mono-band operations should always be the primary system because it allows the greatest access to the most users. Other modes should be experimented with, and if successful additional equipment could be installed, just as long as you never permanently turn off 2-meter mono-band support.

[ANS thanks Miles Mann, WF1F, and Dave Larsen, N6CO, MIREX President for this information.]

The ERP requirements on 70cm are a little higher for this band. Stations should try for an ERP rating of greater than 25 watts. Doppler will be the biggest challenge. The Doppler on 70 cm is + and - 10,000 cycles. Most radios made today can only make tuning steps in 5 kHz channel steps. To work Mir on voice, a station will need to get within 3 kHz of the receiver frequency on Mir. To work Mir on the packet frequency, error must be less than 2.0 kHz. A 5 kHz radio is not recommend for running 70cm packet during this test.

The Doppler change is not linear. What this means is that during the first 3 minutes of the pass the Doppler will be approximately 10 to 9 kHz and will drift 1 kHz in three minutes. However during pass minutes 4 to 6, the Doppler will swing 14 kHz in 3 minutes.

A radio which can step in 2 kHz or less can program in a set of 11 channels. MIREX has tested this configuration for both voice and packet with good results. Use channel 1 at the beginning of the pass. Then monitor the FM signal meter for discriminator center tuning on the radio and change channels to keep the FM discriminator center tuning meter centered.

On 70cm both the TX and RX MUST change!

Program in these 11 channels in this order:

  TX Channel RX Channel Doppler
1 437.640 437.660 +10
2 437.642 437.658 +8
3 437.644 437.656 +6
4 437.646 437.654 +4
5 437.648 437.652 +2
6 437.650 437.650 0
7 437.652 437.648 -2
8 437.654 437.646 -4
9 437.656 437.644 -6
10 437.658 437.642 -8
11 437.660 437.640 -10

Dave Larsen N6CO and Mile Mann WF1F have been conducting many packet upload and download tests on 70cm with Mir. If a station can compensate for Doppler correctly the reliability should be equal to 2-meter packet. The Mir receiver seems to work better if the uplink channel is a little lower than or equal to the calculated RX channel. Going above the calculated RX channel may cause packet performance to drop off more quickly. Based the testing using the listed 2 kHz channels steps, it has determined that a mobile radio (with 5 kHz steps) can not work 70cm packet with any amount of reliability and should be avoided.

[ANS thanks Miles Mann, WF1F, and Dave Larsen, N6CO, MIREX President for this information.]

Special Event Station Planned

The Virginia Air & Space Center, (VASC is located in Hampton, VA, USA), Amateur Radio Group, Inc., will operate KE4ZXW as a Special Event Station on September 27-28, 1997. The VASC Amateur Radio Group is celebrating two years of uninterrupted 9600 baud automatic satellite operation at the VASC Amateur radio exhibit. The Special Event Station will operate via KO-23 or KO-25, on both days, from 0000 to 2200 UTC. We will also operate HF from 1500 to 2200 UTC on 7.265 MHz at the top of the hour, and 14.265 MHz at thirty minutes past each hour. An Anniversary QSL card will be issued to those sending a QSL and a SASE to:

  Ed Brummer, W4RTZ
  108 Oyster Cove Road
  Yorktown, VA 23692
  USA

[ANS thanks Wally Carter, K4OGT/KE4ZXW, Control Operator for this news item.]

Annual Meeting in Toronto

Just a reminder - if attending the Annual meeting in Toronto, the registration fee rises to $30.00 US after Monday September 15, 1997. The organizing committee also need to know how many people plan to attend the banquet several days before the meeting, so they will be unable to provide banquet tickets at the registration desk (or after Wednesday October 15).

The block of hotel rooms will be available until September 26. However, they are going fast! The committee have had to increase the number of rooms already! For visitors to Canada, some of the local taxes are refundable, keep receipts and pickup sales tax pamphlets, available at the border and in airports. There will be some in the hotel, but maybe not enough for all!

U.S. residents returning home are allowed $400 U.S. duty free each person per month, at last count! Please check and confirm this.

For the winner(s) of major prize(s) the committee will try and have a certificate available to trade in if you live outside of Canada.

For details of the 3 day agenda see www.amsat.org

The committee looks forward to seeing you in Toronto on Friday October 17, Saturday October 18 and Sunday October 19.

Just a final reminder - if coming by air, book to Toronto Canada (YYZ) not the Ontario airport which is in California.

[ANS thanks Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, for this news.]

Weekly Satellite Report

Mir . SAFEX . RS-10 . RS-12 . RS-15 . RS-16 . FO-20 . KO-23 . KO-25 . AO-27 . FO-29 . AO-10 . UO-11 . AO-16 . DO-17 . WO-18 . LO-19 . UO-22 . IO-26

Mir

MIREX will be running the test from September 6, until September 28 1997 world wide. After the completion of the test, they will switch the Mir PMS frequency back to the current 2-meter frequency on September 29th. See ANS Bulletin ANS-250.02above for more information.

Tom Keller, KB0MDQ, of Lakeville, MN reports he had both a voice QSO with Mike Foale, KB5UAC, and on a later pass connected to the Mir packet station on the test frequency of 437.650 MHz.

SAFEX, Mir 70cm Repeater

(Uplink 435.750 MHz FM, Downlink 437.950 MHz FM, Subaudible tone 141.3 Hz)

Not operational at this time.

RS-10

(Uplink 145.865-145.905 MHz CW/SSB, Downlink 29.36-29.4 MHz CW/SSB)

RS-10 still silent.

RS-12

(Uplink 21.21-21.25 MHz CW/SSB, Downlink 29.41-29.45 MHz or 145.91-145.95 Mhz CW/SSB)

Operational.

RS-15

(Uplink 145.858-145.898 MHz CW/SSB, Downlink 29.354-29.394 MHz CW/SSB)

Operational.

(Hint: If SSB doesn't work for you, try CW. CW is very easy to hear on the downlink!)

RS-16

IW9ELR, heard the 435.504 MHz beacon telemetry of RS16.

Transponder information:

Uplink = 145.915 - 145.948 MHz
Downlink = 29.415 - 29.448 MHz
Beacons = 29.408 , 29.451 MHz
Pwr 29 MHz Down = 1.2 W / 4 W

Beacon 1 = 435.504 MHz
Beacon 2 = 435.548 MHz
Pwr 435 MHz Beacons = 1.6 W

FO-20

(Uplink 145.9-146.0 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 435.8-435.9 MHz CW/USB)

Operational. In mode JA continuously.

[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK, for this report.]

KO-23

(Uplink 145.85, 145.9 MHz FM, Downlink 435.175 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK.)

Operating normally.

KO-25

(Uplink 145.980 MHz FM, Downlink 436.5 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK.)

Operating normally.

[ANS thanks Jim Weisenberger, AA7KC, for his reports on KO-25 and KO-23.]

AO-27

(Uplink 145.85 MHz FM, Downlink: 436.792 MHz FM (As of April 1, 1997) )

Operating normally. See ANS Bulletin 215.05.

This information can be found at www.umbra.com.

AO-27 TEPR (Timed Eclipse Power Regulation) States are as follows as of July 6, 1997

TEPR State Time TX Status
1 N/A Off
2 N/A Off
3 --- Off
4 21 Off
5 17 On at Medium Power
6 --- Off

The TEPR States are defined as follows:

Tepr 1 Started when the satellite Enters the Eclipse
Tepr 2 Started at (tepr 1 time) after the satellite enters the eclipse
Tepr 3 Started at (tepr 1 time) + (tepr 2 time) ...
Tepr 4 Started when the satellite enters the Sun
Tepr 5 Started at (tepr 4 time) after the satellite enters the Sun
Tepr 6 Started at (tepr 4) + (tepr 5) ...

You should note that TEPR states 1, 2 and 3 happen during the Night Time passes and TEPR states 4, 5 and 6 happen during the Day time passes. These occur during EVERY pass, not just over the U.S.A.

The times assigned to the TEPR states are chosen for the health of the satellite over operation convenience. Therefore, during parts of the year the satellite will turn on late or turn off early as seen by ground stations.

Users are asked not to transmit on 145.85 MHz if they do not hear the satellite's downlink so as to avoid possible interference to other satellite uplinks and downlinks on adjacent frequencies.

[ANS thanks Michael Wyrick, N4USI, AO-27 Control-op, for this update.]

FO-29

Voice/CW

(Uplink 145.9-146.0 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 435.8-435.9 MHz CW/USB)

Digital

(Uplink 145.85, 145.87, 145.910 MHz FM, Downlink 435.910 MHz FM 9600 baud BPSK)

Operational.

The latest FO-29 Schedule:

FO-29 Schedule 1997
Sep 5 Fri 01:18 UTC JA  
Sep 12 Fri 00:13 UTC JD 1200
Sep 19 Fri 00:51 UTC JD 9600
Sep 26 Fri 08:09 UTC JA  

[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK, for this report.]

AO-10

(Uplink 435.030-435.18 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 145.975-145.825 MHz CW/USB)

Operational. Very active over North America, with good downlink signals.

OSCAR-11

(Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 baud PSK. Beacon 2401.500 MHz.)

Operating normally.

The operating schedule is unchanged.

Transmission Duration
ASCII status 210 seconds
ASCII bulletin 60 seconds
Binary SEU 30 seconds
ASCII TLM 90 seconds
ASCII WOD 120 seconds
ASCII bulletin 60 seconds
Binary Eng 30 seconds

There are also additional status blocks after each bulletin is transmitted, and between ASCII TLM and WOD.

The mode-S beacon is ON, transmitting an unmodulated carrier, but telemetry indicates that it has partially failed, and delivering half power. Any reports of reception on 2401 MHz. would be most welcome. Please e-mail g3cwv@amsat.org.

The 435.025 MHz beacon is normally OFF. However it can sometimes be heard when the satellite is being commanded by ground control, i.e. within range of Guildford, UK. When the 435 beacon is transmitting, the 145 beacon is normally off. The data transmitted is mainly binary.

OSCAR-11 users are welcome to visit Clive Wallis' web site. It contains some software for capturing data, and decoding ASCII telemetry and WOD. There is an archive of raw data (mainly WOD) for analysis, which is continually being expanded, as new data is captured. The URL is http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/clivew/.

[ANS thanks Clive Wallis, G3CWV, for this information.]

AMSAT-OSCAR-16 (PACSAT)

(Uplink 145.9, 145.92, 145.94, 145.86 MHz FM, 1200 bps Manchester FSK; Downlink 437.0513 MHz SSB, 1200 bps RC-BPSK 1200 Baud PSK. Beacon 2401.1428 MHz.)

Operating normally.

Graphic information about WOD/Telemetry values can be found at http://www.arrakis.es/~ea1bcu/wod.htm

[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]

DO-17(DOVE)

(Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 Baud AFSK. Beacon 2401.220 MHz)

No report available.

WEBERSAT (WO-18)

(Downlink 437.104 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK AX.25)

No report available.

LUSAT-OSCAR-19

(Uplink 145.84, 145.86, 145.88, 145.9 MHz 1200 bps Manchester FSK; Downlink 437.125 MHz SSB, 1200 bps RC-BPSK.)

Operating normally.

Add 6.83 minutes to the clock of the satellite.

Graphic and general information about Telemetry values can be found at: http://www.arrakis.es/~ea1bcu/lo19.htm.

[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]

UO-22

(Uplink 145.9 or 145.975 MHz FM; Downlink 435.120 MHz FM 9600 Baud FSK.)

UO-22 is operating normally.

Chris Jackson, G7UPN / ZL2TPO, has reloaded the Store and Forward communications task on the UO-22 On-Board Computer. This task includes incremental checksums which should make uploading slightly faster. In the old task, once an upload was complete, the spacecraft had to perform the checksum on the complete file. Depending on the file length, this could take quite a long time. With the new task, the checksum is computed on the fly - while the data is actually being uploaded. Thus there is no need to recompute it at the end of the transfer and this checksum delay is then removed.

However, all files that were started before Chris Jackson, G7UPN/ZL2TPO, loaded the task around 1000 UTC on the 19th will receive a corrupt body checksum error when the upload is completed. If the file is uploaded again, it should be accepted. If trying to upload a large file that was started before the above time, then start again.

If anyone gets persistent body checksum errors while uploading files to UO-22 would they please let Chris Jackson know as soon as possible

[ANS thanks Chris Jackson, G7UPN / ZL2TPO, Groundstation and Operations Manager, for this report.]

IO-26 (ITAMSAT)

(Uplink 145.875, 145.9, 145.925, 145.95 MHz FM, Downlink 435.822 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK.)

The satellite is in good shape.

[ANS thanks Daniele Piercarlo, IK2XRO, ITMSAT Command Station for this report.]

[Please send your Satellite or News reports to ANS Editor B.J. Arts, WT0N, via e-mail, at bjarts@the-bridge.net or to wt0n@amsat.org]

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by ANS Editor B. J. Arts, WT0N, wt0n@amsat.org.

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