November 24, 2002

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ISS Packet Mail "Message 33" Bug

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

There is a minor yet reoccurring problem with the amateur radio Personal
Message System (PMS) on board ISS. Intermittently the PMS will fail to display the list of messages stored in the memory of the PMS and the PMS will not save any new messages. The OLD messages have not been lost, they are still in RAM memory. This problem seems to be happening once or twice a week. We have been seeing this problem frequently over the past few months. The problem is called the "Message 33 bug" and it seems to clear up by itself. The longest we have seen this bug on consecutive orbits is 8 hours, however, most times it clears up within a few minutes. When the problem does clear, all of the old mail still appears to be saved in memory without any loss of old mail.

All new mail received while in the Message 33 bug mode is lost. If you attempt to send a packet message into the PMS, while it is stuck in the "Message 33 bug" mode, your new message will NOT be saved.

Here is what seems to be happening:

How to tell if the TNC is in Message 33 bug mode:

We do not want to use up too much bandwidth, by having everyone using the LIST command before sending a packet mail message. That would be just too wasteful. Instead, I will suggest that you use the M (read Mine) command. After you have successfully uploaded a NEW message into the PMS and closed the NEW message with the /EX command. Then use the M command to list all of the message TO/FROM your call sign. The M command will only list message with you call sign in the To or From fields. The M command will save time and if your new message number is listed, then your message has been SAVED.

Help list definition:
M(ine) M [CR] lists the 10 latest messages to/from your callsign.


Msg # Stat  Date     Time  To     From   @ BBS  Subject
 1743 P     02/09/01 00:18 RS0ISS  WF1F        FREQUENCIES
 1741 P     02/09/01 00:04 WF1F   RS0ISS        HELLO

Here is what the Message 33 Bug looks like:

When the normal List command is issued, the TNC will display only 1 message, and that message will always have the number 33. If you know the TNC is having this problem, then please do not try to upload any new mail. Just log off and try again on a different day.

Msg # Stat  Date     Time    To          From        @ BBS
   33 P     30/20/79   61:4D   7, 200   1m99i>      m99MR     9?>@9>>

15368 Bytes free

Only message number 33 was listed. This message appears to be an old corrupted messages. You should also note, that over 70% of the memory has been used up. The Date is also the 30th month of the year 1979.

What Causes the Message 33 Bug:

We do not know for sure. There are a few theories which are being looked into. Here are some suggestions that may help reduce the frequency of the problem:

  1. Do not log into the unused keyboard port. The RS0ISS port is not used. Just use the Mail box call sign RS0ISS-1 port.
  2. Always end your email messages with the /EX command. Never use the Control-Z command.

Old mail manually cleared:

Last week I noticed the 64k mail box on ISS was getting full. Since we have been seeing the Message 33 bug frequently, I informed commander Valery Korzun of the problems and asked him to clear out some of the old junk mail.

Memory November 10, 2002 = 29737 Bytes free

On November 18, the mail box had been cleared of all except 11 new messages and the free memory had increased

60990 Bytes free
Next message Number 601
Mailbox selected: 0

If you are not sure of the correct procedures for using the ISS PMS, please review the information on the MAREX web page. The information has been posted in three languages.

Copyright 2002 Miles Mann, All Rights Reserved. This document may be freely distributed via the following means:

Until we meet again

[ANS thanks JoAnne Maenpaa WB9JEJ for the above information.]

Weekly Operating Update

ANS welcomes the opportunity to publish your good news of success in working a new satellite, new DX, new mode, etc. We also print reports about what space related activities your local satellite groups and ham clubs are doing. Send your operating reports to ANS Editor JoAnne Maenpaa ( and they will be printed here.

[ANS congratulates and thanks WU3I, KB9ZLB, KB9WXO, and KK5DO for this week's operating news.]

Microsat Blitz

Canada Launches MicroSat Program

Ottawa - Nov 18, 2002 - The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced today the awarding of six contracts, worth a total of $930,000, to Canadian space companies for developing generic small-satellite and micro-satellite buses to meet the future needs of the Canadian space program.

[ANS thanks JoAnne Maenpaa WB9JEJ for the above information.]

AMSAT P3 Meeting

First AMSAT Phase 3-E Design/Experimenters Meeting

Peter Glzow, DB2OS; Frank Sperber, DL6DBN
Translated by Georges Mathgen, LX1BB

In October 2002, more than 30 experts from ten countries met in working groups at AMSAT-DL in Marburg, Germany. In the end, the first design criteria for the next project, AMSAT Phase 3-E (P3-E), were settled. The amateur radio communication satellite should be in the 150kg class, very similar to its predecessors AO-10 (P3-B) and AO-13 (P3-C). The goals are to provide analogous and digital radio communication, essentially between 145 MHz and 2400 MHz. Experimental modes for wavelengths in the cm and mm range were also proposed.

A press kit with unformatted text and images is available for download at (1 MB) or can be ordered by e-mail.

[ANS thanks Frank Sperber DL6DBN/AA9KJ for the above information.]

ANS Editors Wanted

ANS is looking for additional Editors, if you are interested in joining the team please contact Robin Haighton

[ANS Thanks Robin Haighton, President AMSAT-NA, for this information]

OSCAR-11 Report

21 November 2002

OSCAR-11 is currently operating in a default mode, controlled by the watch-dog timer. The satellite transmits continuous ASCII telemetry for about seven days on 145.826 MHz, followed by about 14 days of silence. However the mode-S beacon on 2401.5 MHz is ON continuously. If the present status continues the satellite should be heard again, starting about 29 November.

At the present time, ground control are unable to command the satellite, due to low temperatures affecting the command decoder. They will attempt to command the satellite when the command decoder temperature has risen to 15C.

During the period 18 October to 20 November the 145.826 MHz beacon has been heard transmitting continuous ASCII telemetry from 18 to 25 October and 08 to 14 November.

The internal temperatures have increased by one degree C. They are now +8.6C, 7.0C and 13.6 for battery, telemetry electronics, and command decoder respectively. Eclipse predictions, show the solar illumination to peak around the start of November, and then gradually decrease. In previous years the peak temperatures have always been a little later than predicted. The current temperatures should assist ground control in commanding the satellite.

The battery voltage observed during daylight passes has varied between 13.6 and 14.0 volts, with an average value of 13.8 volts.

The attitude is now being controlled solely by the passive gravity boom gradient, and there is no control over spin rate. The continuous telemetry has enabled the spin period to be calculated from the X & Y magnetometer readings. The spin period has varied from 407 to 234 seconds. The attitude is normal.

The mode-S beacon has been heard by Dick WD8PRX, Ken WD8PRX and Christian F1AFZ. All report good signals. Dick uses 24 dBi parabolic dish, with SSB UEK converter. Ken uses a 60 cm offset dish, with G3RUH patch, DownEast pre-amp, and Drake converter. Christian uses a 95 cm dish, 3.5t helix feed, and 3733 converter. Many thanks for all those reports.

The mode-S beacon is ON, nominally transmitting an unmodulated carrier on 2401.5 MHz. There is however a VERY low level of AFSK modulation which has been detected on strong signals. Telemetry indicates that the beacon has partially failed, and is delivering half power. This beacon is a useful test source for those testing mode-S converters, as an alternative to OSCAR-40. However the signals are very weak, and there is a lot of Doppler. Users should also note that the polarisation of OSCAR-11 is LHC. Even if you can't hear OSCAR-11, your equipment may still be OK for OSCAR-40. Any reports of reception on 2401.5 MHz would be most welcome. Please e-mail

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.

Listeners to OSCAR-11 may be interested in visiting my web site.

The web site contains details of hardware required and some software for capturing data, and decoding ASCII telemetry and WOD. There is an archive of raw data for analysis, which is continually being expanded, as new data is captured. Originally this was for WOD, but it is now being expanded to include ASCII telemetry. At the present time the telemetry is just for 2002, and 2001. I will add other years as time permits. In parallel there is a news archive which provides an overview of the state of the satellite, at the times when the telemetry was captured.

Telemetry from 1993 to 2000 should be relatively easy to archive, as I already have the data on disk. Data prior to 1993 will take a lot longer to archive, as I have to convert it from tape to disk. A tedious process! The early data is often of poor quality, and there are many long gaps where no recordings were made.

If anyone out there can provide any data, particularly for the 1984 to 1993 years, this would be most appreciated. Please e-mail me with details. However please DO NOT SEND ANY FILES, before further discussion.

Also included are some audio files, examples of each type of data transmitted by OSCAR-11, each one plays for about ten seconds. There are also examples of mode-S reception. All the audio files are zipped, so that they can be played off-line. These should help listeners identify the various types of data, and give an indication of the signal quality required for successful decoding.

The URL is

If you place this bulletin on a terrestrial packet network, please use the bulletin identifier $BID:U2RPT79.CWV, to prevent duplication.

73 Clive G3CWV

[ANS thanks JoAnne Maenpaa WB9JEJ for the above information.]

ARISS Contact Schedule

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule as of 2002-11-22 02:00 UTC

The ARISS (a joint effort of AMSAT, the ARRL, NASA, the ARISS international partners including Canada, Russia, the European Partners, and Japan) operations team wishes to announce the following very tentative schedule for ARISS school contacts. This schedule is very fluid and may change at the last minute. Remember that amateur radio use on the ISS is considered secondary. Please check the various AMSAT and ARISS webpages for the latest announcements. Changes from the last announcement are in italics. Also, please check for possible live retransmissions ( Listen for the ISS on the downlink of 145.80 MHz.

For information about educational materials available from ISS partner space agencies, please refer to links on the ARISS Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you are interested in supporting an ARISS contact, then you must fill in an application. The ARISS operations mentor team will not accept a direct request to support an ARISS contact.

You should also note that many schools think that they can request a specific date and time. It does not work that way. Once an application has been accepted, the ARISS mentors will work with the school to determine a mutually agreeable date.

Websites that may be of interest include:

Your completely filled out application should be returned to the nearest coordinating ARISS region if your specific region is not listed. E-mail is the preferred method of submitting an application.

Here are the email addresses:

ARISS-Canada and all other countries not covered: (Daniel Lamoureux VE2KA)
ARISS-Europe: (J. Hahn, DL3LUM / PA1MUC)
ARISS-Japan and all Region 3 countries: (Keigo Komuro JA1KAB)
ARISS-Russia: (Valerie Agabekov N2WW/UA6HZ)
ARISS-USA: (The American Radio Relay League)

ISS Expedition 5 crew:
Peggy Whitson KC5ZTD
Sergei Treschev RZ3FU
Valeri Korzun RZ3FK

ISS Expedition 6 crew:
Kenneth Bowersox KD5JBP
Nikolai Budarin RV3FB
Donald Pettit KD5MDT

Expedition 6 is scheduled to go up on STS-113. The launch is scheduled for No Earlier Than 2002-11-23. Scheduled ARISS contacts are off limits for the first 3 weeks after the handover. Scheduled ARISS contacts will probably resume in mid December 2002 or early January 2003.

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago, Illinois direct via AJ9N
Look for possible live streaming video, the website is

Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA, Direct via KM1CC
TBD week of 2003-01-13

World Scout Jamboree 2003, Sattahip, Thailand, Direct via E20AJ
TBD from 2002-12-28 to 2003-01-07

Hochwald-Gymnasium, Wadern, Germany, Direct via DN1TA
TBD 2003-02

Cowichan Secondary School, Duncan, BC, Canada, Direct via VE7POH
TBD after 2003-01-20

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list in now available on the ARISS web site. Several ways to get there:
click on English (sorry I don't know French)
you are now at
click on News

Currently the ARISS operations team has a list of over 60 schools that we hope will be able to have a contact during 2002-2003. As the schedule becomes more solidified, we will be letting everyone know. Current plans call for an average of one scheduled school contact per week.

Charlie Sufana AJ9N
One of the ARISS operation team mentors

[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana AJ9N for the above information.]

Beacon QRMs Space

Within 48 hours of turning up his new 1296.300 MHz beacon in Derry, New Hampshire, Ed Parsons K1TR, received a phone call and a signal report from the Chief Engineer at the Millstone Hill Observatory in Westford, MA. This would turn out to be the first, last and only QSN report the beacon would receive.

The good news: the observatory hearing it loud and clear! The bad news: The observatory was hearing it loud and clear. So loud that the engineer told K1TR that the beacon's signal was impacting the observatory's capability to track satellites in certain directions. Also, that the recipient of the satellite tracking information, the US Air Force, would not be pleased.

It seem that the Air Force radar uses about 8 MHz of spectrum centered at 1295 MHz. They use an 8-foot dish for an antenna. The K1TR beacon was less than 30 miles line of sight from the observatory.

So the Ed's 23cm beacon is off the air while he finds a new home for it. Anyone with a good UHF site more than 50 miles from the town of Westford but still in New England, and who is willing to host the beacon, should contact K1TR by e-mail to

[ANS thanks Bill Pasternak WA6ITF and Amateur Radio Newsline for the above information.]

News in Brief

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. TO-31. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Rich Krajewski, WB2CRD,