August 26, 2001

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AO-40 Update

AO-40 command station members Stacey Mills, W4SM, and James Miller, G3RUH, conducted another momentum wheel testing session during orbit 365, with very good success.

The wheels were spun up to +100 RPM. This was accomplished with a quick lock on all three wheels. They were left at this speed for some 30 minutes. Telemetry before and after the spin-up was nominal and it is possible to deduce (with some caution) that we have a working 3-axis control system. More tests will be done over the next few weeks, before we will transfer the spacecraft from spin stabilization into a 3-axis stabilization.

The AO-40 team hopes to will to use the reaction wheels to aim the satellite's antennas and, eventually, its solar panels. The latest testing paves the way for possible deployment of the solar array and better signals on the ground.

AO-40 is about to enter a long period during which the Earth eclipses the Sun near perigee. These actually begin about August 28th, and once they start they will rapidly increase in length. They will continue well into June of next year.

During September, eclipses will peak at 85 minutes in duration. In order to conserve the batteries the S-2 transmitter -- including the middle beacon -- will be off from MA 220 to 250. The on/off times will be adjusted slightly as the eclipse times move.

ALON/ALAT has just been tweaked and is currently showing 350/2. ALON will decrease about 1.5 degrees each perigee due to the mystery effect. It will be adjusted again in several days to stay in the range of 340/350 degrees.

Stay tuned to ANS, the official source of AO-40 information.

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA, AMSAT-DL and the ARRL for this information]

August President's Letter

Once each month ANS will feature information from AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH. This feature is known as the President's Letter. The following is the August 2001 installment:

Every month that I write to you, it seems that there is another facet of AO-40 that is up and running. This month we are all delighted to learn that the SCOPE camera is operational using the RUDAK system, and although we may have had some problems in the early stages of AO-40 commissioning, the bird is living up to expectations.

Yes, there are those who miss the V-band and U-band transmissions, but the S-2 S-band downlink is generally performing very well, and the S-band downlink it is simple to operate with only a minimum of expenditure. Recent conversation on the AMSAT-BB talked about portable operation with small UHF beam uplinks and various simple antennas for the S-Band downlink. This could hardly be called an elitist operation. James Miller, G3RUH, and Freddy DeGuchteneire, ON6UG, both gave excellent demonstrations of receiving AO-40 portable at the recent AMSAT-UK Colloquium.

At the Colloquium Jerry Brown, K5OE, received an award for the best paper given by a new person and Gene Marcus, W3PM, won the award for a new AO-40 logo. Both prize recipients had stiff competition. Gene's logo will now start appearing on related AMSAT items. Jerry's presentation will be repeated at Atlanta in October. Congratulations to both Jerry and Gene.

I am pleased to report that following last month's President's letter (and my request at Surrey for help on the JJ project) we have started to have several overseas volunteers join the team, and although Project JJ will be managed by AMSAT-NA, we look forward to involving our international friends in their areas of technical expertise.

A group of AMSAT-NA Vice Presidents recently met in Washington, DC to consider how to co-ordinate our AMSAT-NA business programs and to develop the funding for Project JJ. Certainly, becoming a sustaining donor to the President's Club is one way that you can significantly help, and it is one way that can by relatively painless! Why not start your donations now?

I hope that by the time I write next month, more great things may be happening on AO-40, and, like you, I hope to be having lots of fun on the birds!

Robin Haighton, VE3FRH
President AMSAT-NA

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA for this information]

PacsatTools Version 0.9 Released

PacsatTools is a collection of Linux utilities designed to help facilitate communication with PacSat satellites operating in the amateur radio service. Included are utilities that prepare files for upload to PacSat satellites, process downloaded files and display satellite directory information. A utility that converts narrow-angle CCD Earth Imaging Camera images taken by the UO-22 and KO-25 satellites to a PGM format is also included.

PacsatTools was written by John A. Magliacane, KD2BD, and is an excellent addition to the PB/PG Pacsat communication suite by Bent Bagger, OZ6BL.

Full documentation and sample data files are included.

PacsatTools may be downloaded from

PacsatTools is free software, and is released under the GNU General Public License as an open-source software product.

[ANS thanks John A. Magliacane, KD2BD, for this information]

ANS in Brief

ANS news in brief this week includes the following:

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS . RS-12 . RS-13 . RS-15 . AO-10 . UO-11 . UO-14 . AO-16 . DO-17 . WO-18 . LO-19 . FO-20 . UO-22 . KO-23 . KO-25 . IO-26 . AO-27 . FO-29 . TO-31 . GO-32 . SO-33 . PO-34 . SO-35 . UO-36 . AO-40 . SO-41 . SO-42

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at, or to ANS Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT  News Service editor Dan James, NN0DJ.