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AMSAT teams from a number of countries recently converged on the Phase 3-D Integration Lab in Orlando, Florida to install the remaining electronic and communications modules into the new Phase 3-D International Satellite, and make it 'flight ready' for launch.
In a joint statement issued just prior to their departure from Orlando on March 18th, Dr. Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, AMSAT-DL President and Phase 3-D Project Leader, and Bill Tynan, W3XO, AMSAT-NA President, outlined recent progress made on the satellite. "We are most happy to be here and to again participate with our international partners in the final integration of Phase 3-D," said Karl. "The cooperation with the American integration team in Orlando remains excellent." Karl went on to note that, "I am happy to say that after successfully recovering from the setbacks caused by the major structural reworks of last summer and fall, the spacecraft is now once again rapidly nearing flight readiness." Karl also expressed his gratitude to Stan Wood, WA4NFY, AMSAT-NA's VP Engineering, Lou McFadin, W5DID, P3-D Integration Laboratory Manager, and the other members of the Orlando Lab team including Dick Jansson, WD4FAB, Rick Leon, KA1RHL and Bob Davis, KF4KSS, for their hard work in preparing the satellite for the final integration phase.
Soon after his arrival, Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, AMSAT-DL's Digital Integration Manager,
performed a number of checks and measurements on the spacecraft's Internal Housekeeping
Unit (IHU). The IHU is the spacecraft's main computer. Following this extensive checkout,
Peter then successfully accomplished a major integration milestone by sending and
receiving commands from the spacecraft via radio uplink. This was a critical task that had
to be accomplished before each of the individual flight electronic modules could be
commanded on and tested for flight readiness. Dr. Stacey Mills, W4SM, P3-D's North
American Command Station, was also present in Orlando to assist the integration team by
putting the finishing touches on software to format and decode the telemetry stream from
the satellite. Needless to say, there were big smiles all around when, once again, P3-D
team members heard the familiar "growl" of 400 baud PSK telemetry coming
from the new "bird".
In addition to his duties as AMSAT-DL's Vice President, Werner Haas, DJ5KQ, is responsible for coordinating the entire communications suite for Phase 3-D. While in Orlando, Werner performed yet another bench test on each of the flight electronic modules just prior to their re-installation into the satellite. Then, Werner directed other members of the communications team including Freddy de Guchteneire, ON6UG, and Dr. Matjaz Vidmar, S53MV, in successfully powering up each of the onboard flight electronic modules. Michael Fletcher, OH2AUE, and Harri Leskinen, OH2JMS, were also on hand in Orlando during this time to re-install the 10 GHz transmitter hardware. In addition, Stefaan Burger, ON4FG, assisted the communications team by connecting and powering up the 24 GHz transmitter. It performed "as advertised", delivering its designed 1 watt output into its 26dB gain feed-horn antenna.
The RUDAK team was well represented in Orlando by Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, Bdale Garbee, N3EUA, Jim White, WD0E, Chuck Green, N0ADI, and Harold Price, NK6K. They gave the RUDAK digital experiment module a thorough checkout and declared it 'electrically flight ready'. Bdale also performed a complete check of the JAMSAT SCOPE camera. In addition, Gerd Schrick, WB8IFM, was on hand in Orlando to help the P3-D team put the final touches on the satellite's all-important Earth and Sun sensors. These instruments will help ground controllers determine Phase 3-D's physical orientation in orbit for tracking and motor burn considerations.
Meanwhile, Konrad Mueller, DG7FDQ, AMSAT-DL's Structural Specialist, and his team consisting of Horst Wagner, DB2ZB, and the P3-D Lab's Bob Davis, were busy preparing the second Specific Bearing Structure (SBS) for flight. The SBS is the large cylindrical structure that will ultimately carry the Phase 3-D spacecraft to orbit. In addition, Phase 3-D's Documentation Manager, AMSAT-DL's Wilfred Gladish, was also present in Orlando to insure that all the spacecraft's documentation, including each of the spacecraft's drawings and photos, match the 'as built' spacecraft.
Despite the very good progress made in this most recent integration effort, a definitive launch opportunity for Phase 3-D remains unsure. However, negotiations with the European Space Agency for a ride to orbit are continuing in earnest, and all remain optimistic that Phase 3-D will be successfully launched...hopefully sometime this year.
[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA VP Keith Baker, KB1SF, for the information that went into this bulletin.]
Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ, AMSAT-International board member, told ANS recently the 'Callsign to Fly Award' for Phase 3-D is still open for more donations from around the world in any currency.
Those individuals that contribute a minimum of $288.00 (US) will receive a personal engraved plaque and have their name and callsign engraved on a plate fixed to the spacecraft. A photograph will also be sent to each contributor.
Information on the 'Callsign to Fly Award' can be obtained from G3AAJ using his e-mail address:
Details of the program are also available on two active amateur digital satellites, KO-23 and KO-25. AMSAT-NA members can also contact AMSAT-NA headquarters during normal business hours. Information may also be mailed to G3AAJ at the following address:
Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ AMSAT-UK Callsign to Fly Fund 40 Downs View Small Dole Henfield, West Sussex BN5 9YB United Kingdom
[ANS thanks Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ, for this information]
Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, reported to ANS on the final results of the special MIREX/APRS test conducted using the packet system on the Mir space station. The test was to show possible methods for improving the visibility of MIREX communications to students and schools around the world. According to WB4APR, this first test was limited to North America only because it had the largest numbers of existing APRS ground stations ready to test in sufficient numbers to fully load the system.
To make Mir appear to move on all ground station maps, three special tracking-uplink stations beaconed the moving position of Mir via the Mir digipeater. One from California using the callsign MIR-6, one in Michigan using MIR-8 as its callsign, and one in Maryland using MIR-3. West coast stations typically saw the moving MIR-6, mid-west stations typically saw the incoming MIR-6 icon change to MIR-8, and east coast stations saw the moving icon on their maps become MIR-3.
To inject the downlink from the space station onto the Internet, a few of the normal APRS I-Gate stations tuned their radios from the normal APRS frequency to the Mir downlink frequency. To provide a unique display of the APRS/Mir packets alone, a special Web page was designated. Bob reports that during the day of the event there were over 11,000 hits on the server system representing a peak load of 150 simultaneous users.
Bob further tells ANS the test was completely successful in meeting all of the original objectives. The short notice and early morning hours of the delayed test orbits helped to reduce the number of participants to a nominal 100 stations. WB4APR thinks this number is representative of the nominal number of schools that could be authorized to simultaneously participate in future such Mir experiments. "The test demonstrated the value of using a 'UI frame one-to-all packet protocol' to improve the delivery of information to all ground stations," said Bob, adding, "the test further demonstrated the value of a few special MIREX ground stations to uplink the moving Mir position reports and to relay real-time MIREX bulletins and announcements that can be received by all stations in the footprint, including receive-only school stations."
WB4APR concluded his report by saying that all of the APRS stations wished to thank the MIREX team, and the normal Mir PMS users who graciously stood by during the test, for the opportunity to conduct this important experiment.
[ANS thanks Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, for this information]
As anyone who 'surfs the web' would know, there are many dedicated amateur radio web sites that show DX totals for stations on the HF bands, however, there are few (if any) such sites for satellite operators. If Matt, WV1K, has his way, that is all about to change. WV1K is in the process of putting together a web site that will show grids, states and countries, both worked and confirmed, for satellite operators who provide Matt the necessary information.
Matt invites any interested stations to submit this information to him using his e-mail address:
WV1K asks stations to include name and call sign along with grid, state and country totals.
[ANS thanks Matt Cassarino, WV1K, for this information]
Mir . SAFEX . 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
(PMS 145.985 MHz FM, 1200 baud AFSK)
Operational. The new modem is a Kantronics KPC-9612 Plus, Revision 8.1. Please note the command set for this TNC is different than the previous Mir TNC. MIREX suggests a copy of the KPC-9612 manual may help in understanding the changes.
The Progress 38 cargo rocket has delivered the new MIREX-DCI antenna filter to the space station. This filter will be used to prevent interference to the 2-meter PMS station from nearby commercial transmitters aboard Mir. The filter is a custom designed antenna cavity which will block the offending interference with a combination of pass band and notch filters. The filter is tentatively planned for installation in the April/May time frame.
MIREX has created an Internet Web page containing information regarding Mir and the various ham radio experiments taking place from the space station. Please check out the pages for pending and proposed projects. URLs are:
[ANS thanks the MIREX team for this information]
(Uplink 435.750 MHz FM, Downlink 437.950 MHz FM, Subaudible tone 141.3 Hz)
Not operational at this time.
(QSO mode Uplink 435.725 MHz FM, Downlink 437.925 MHz FM, Subaudible tone 151.4 Hz)
Operational. The SAFEX II installation has been utilized recently in QSO mode.
(Uplink 145.91-145.95 MHz CW/SSB, Downlink 29.41-29.45 MHz)
Operational, mode KA. The 15m ROBOT is operational.
RS-12 has been seeing recent heavy activity and good DX possibilities.
(Uplink 145.858-145.898 MHz CW/SSB, Downlink 29.354-29.394 MHz CW/SSB)
Operational. CW appears to be the most successful mode on RS-15.
At this time, only the beacons are operational. IW9ELR reports the 29 MHz beacon was not operational during a recent pass, the 435 MHz beacon was very strong.
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
(Uplink 145.9-146.0 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 435.8-435.9 MHz CW/USB)
Operational. FO-20 in mode JA continuously.
Rosario, IW9ELR, reports strong signals recently from FO-20, and lots of activity on the satellite.
[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK, and Rosario Orlando, IW9ELR, for this report]
(Uplink 145.85, 145.9 MHz FM, Downlink 435.175 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK.)
Semi-operational. Jim, AA7KC, reports KO-23 is not operating properly. The RF downlink signal is present but little or no data is being downloaded. This condition has been observed when the satellite spends little or no time eclipsed and thermal heating becomes excessive. This condition has happened a number of times in the past. Ultimately, the satellite has returned to normal operation when it cools in the earth shadow.
Stacey, W4SM, also reported KO-23 downlink distortion, with efficiencies dropping from
a nominal 95+% to +/-10%. The last period of orbital darkness/cooling ended on March 17th
at 0736 UTC. Periods of orbital
darkness won't begin again until April 1st.
Richard Limebear, G3RWL, reports KO-23's orbital cycle has the spacecraft going through a period when it sees no eclipses. In turn, this means the spacecraft temperature rises and that rise brings on a fault which causes the deviation to also rise. During this time receive data throughput tends to zero.
[ANS thanks Jim Weisenberger, AA7KC, Stacey Mills, W4SM, and Richard Limebear, G3RWL, for this report]
(Uplink 145.980 MHz FM, Downlink 436.5 MHz FM, 9600 Baud FSK.)
Operational. Jim, AA7KC, reports KO-25 operating normally.
[ANS thanks Jim Weisenberger, AA7KC, for this report]
(Uplink 145.85 MHz FM, Downlink: 436.792 MHz FM)
Operational. Widely used especially during weekend passes.
[ANS thanks Michael Wyrick, N4USI, AO-27 Control-op for this update]
(Uplink 145.9-146.0 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 435.8-435.9 MHz CW/USB)
(Uplink 145.85, 145.87, 145.910 MHz FM, Downlink 435.910 MHz FM 9600 baud BPSK)
Kazu, JJ1WTK, reports FO-29 was switched into mode JA on the 0800 UTC, 16 March pass. Mode JA will continue until 23 March, when a new operation schedule will be announced.
[ANS thanks Kazu Sakamoto, JJ1WTK, for this report.]
(Uplink 435.030-435.18 MHz CW/LSB, Downlink 145.975-145.825 MHz CW/USB)
Operational. Despite brief moments of deep QSB, AO-10's downlink signals have been excellent (even at apogee), with heavy stateside and DX activity. Now is the time to be active on this bird. Jon, N0JK, reports GD0TEP has been active on CW usually starting around 2030 to 0015 UTC. Dan, NN0DJ, reports working VK4AFL, ZL2BLC, JA5LG, UA3PAB, OE3JIS and F6EMC recently.
AO-10's apogee has continued to move into the northern hemisphere. Apogee will continue to rise higher to the north for the rest of 1998, peaking in December.
W4SM has updated his AO-10 web page, use the following URL:
[ANS thanks Stacey Mills, W4SM, Jon Jones, N0JK, and Dan James, NN0DJ for this update]
(Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 baud PSK. Beacon 2401.500 MHz.)
Operational. The telemetry is nominal. Reception reports of the 2 meter beacon or on 2401 MHz should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ANS thanks Clive Wallis, G3CWV, for this information.]
(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. The telemetry is nominal. The S band transmitter is off.
Time is Fri Mar 20 22:05:15 1998 uptime is 1279/16:34:32 Bat 1 V 1.278 V Bat 2 V 1.262 V Bat 3 V 1.262 V Bat 4 V 1.260 V Bat 5 V 1.250 V Bat 6 V 1.270 V Bat 7 V 1.244 V Bat 8 V 1.279 V +5V Bus 4.812 V +8.5V Bus 7.819 V +10V Bus 10.200 V Total Array C= 0.000 Bat Ch Cur=-0.527 Ifb= 0.271 I+10V= 0.279 TX:010B BCR:1E PWRC:59E BT: A WC:25 EDAC:3C
Information about telemetry values and WOD files can be found at http://www.arrakis.es/~ea1bcu/wod.htm
[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]
(Downlink 145.825 MHz FM, 1200 Baud AFSK. Beacon 2401.220 MHz)
Currently non-operational. DO-17 appears to have experienced a problem. The 145.825 MHz downlink is off the air. Jim, WD0E, reports he will attempt to correct the situation as time permits.
[ANS thanks Jim White, WD0E, for this update]
(Downlink 437.104 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK AX.25)
Currently non-operational. WO-18 is in MBL mode after a software crash. Attempts are being made to find and correct the cause of the suspected seasonal crashes.
[ANS thanks the WO-18 Command Team for this news.]
(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. The telemetry is nominal.
Time is Fri Mar 20 23:04:18 1998 uptime is 1004/08:59:08 Bat 1 V 1.297 V Bat 2 V 1.286 V Bat 3 V 1.302 V Bat 4 V 1.296 V Bat 5 V 1.294 V Bat 6 V 1.284 V Bat 7 V 1.303 V Bat 8 V 1.274 V +5V Bus 4.812 V +8.5V Bus 7.822 V +10V Bus 10.275 V Total Array C= 0.008 Bat Ch Cur=-0.252 Ifb= 0.144 I+10V= 0.114 TX:016 BCR:7B PWRC:36E BT:3C WC: 0
General information and telemetry samples can be found at:
[ANS thanks Miguel A. Menendez, EA1BCU, for this report.]
(Uplink 145.9 or 145.975 MHz FM; Downlink 435.120 MHz FM 9600 Baud FSK.)
Operational. Chris, G7UPN reports UO-22 is operating normally.
[ANS thanks Chris Jackson, G7UPN / ZL2TPO, Groundstation and Operations Manager of UO-22, for this report.]
(Uplink 145.875, 145.9, 145.925, 145.95 MHz FM, Downlink 435.822 MHz SSB, 1200 Baud PSK.)
Operational. On 16 March, ITAMSAT Command Stations IK2XRO and IW2EGC, successfully switched the satellite to active status from the safe MBL mode it had been in. The command stations also reloaded the high level IHT97 code. The spacecraft is now sending the full set of 64 telemetry channels and collecting Whole Orbit Data survey information. After a full check is completed, the digipeater will be turned on and the file system code reloading process will begin.
Alberto, I2KBD, reports the satellite appears to be in a healthy state, with all the subsystems working nominally.
Telemetry is downloaded on 435.822 MHz at 1200 baud PSK.
[ANS thanks Alberto Zagni, I2KBD, ITAMSAT Mission Director for this information]
[Please send your Satellite or News reports to the ANS Editors at email@example.com, or to new ANS Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, email@example.com.