December 22, 2002

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December President's Letter

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Since I wrote the November Letter, a number of events have taken place which have had an impact on AMSAT. Firstly at the end of November the TRW amateur Radio Club in Los Angeles invited me to be the guest speaker at their awards night. Very generously they paid all the expenses, and I was able to talk about AMSAT and our new projects. One of my Power Point slides showed OSCAR 4 which was build at TRW in 1965. Several members of the Team that built that satellite were present at the awards night meeting.

Earlier this month the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) team held one of their semi-annual meetings at Goddard Space Flight Center (GFSC) near Washington D.C. with International Delegates from the US, Canada, Japan, Europe and Russia. The objective of this meeting was to review the progress being made with new Amateur Programs, to try and solve any problems, to co-ordinate future programs, and to see that they meet the IARU amateur requirements.

On this occasion the elections for ARISS officers took place and the results were as follows, Chairman - Frank Bauer KA3HDO, Vice Chairman Gaston Bertels ON4WF, Secretary Rosalie White WA1STO. Congratulations to all three. The three day meeting was considered a success and approval was given to Bob Bruninga to incorporate an APRS transceiver into a US Navy solar cell experiment which is to be launched in the middle of next year (2003) and which will be attached to ISS for one year. Details of Bob's PCSat2 may be found elsewhere on the web.

For those of you who wish to follow the events of ISS closely, you can subscribe to This is easily done by sending a one line message to the one line being subscribe sarex

During the Christmas shopping rush, it occurred to me that many of us often wish we were buying ourselves a suitable present! well now is your chance to do that and show that you are an AMSAT supporter - Why not become a donor to the AMSAT President's club? - get the lapel pin and put it on your club Jacket - they sure look good at a club meeting! - The President's Club donor form is now available on the AMSAT web page.

Once more may I wish a Happy Holiday to everyone

Robin Haighton VE3FRH
President AMSAT-NA

[ANS thanks Robin, VE3FRH, for the above information]

Dnepr Launches SAFIR-M

The German amateur radio satellite SAFIR-M was launched by a converted Russian ballistic missile into orbit Friday, December 19, 2002, with a cluster of five other satellites for a variety of organizations around the world.

The Dnepr booster blasted out of its missile silo from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at approximately 1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST). Initial reports indicate that the payloads achieved their intended orbits of 400 miles high with an inclination of 65 degrees.

SAFIR-M is a project of a group called Arbeitskreis Amateurfunk und Telekommunikation in der Schule, or AATiS e.V. Its English translation means "Working Group for Amateur Radio and Telecommunications in Schools."

SAFIR-M was developed in close cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim, Germany under the leadership of Henning Rech DF9IC and his team. The main purpose of the satellite is to give students easy access to space communications. It will have a downlink at 145.825 MHz with AX.25, 9k6 packet as well as an optional voice message beacon. The uplink is at 435.275 MHz (AX.25, 1k2), offering Mode B operation. The callsign will be DP0AIS.

SAFIR-M is designed as a "store and broadcast" system for APRS based messages, dedicated for the use of schools in combination with the existing WX-Net and planned buoy experiments in Germany. It extends German space educational activities to an European and global base.

Details on SAFIR-M can be found on Information about AATiS e.V. is available under The SAFIR-M homepage is still in German, but work is underway to add the information in English.

[ANS thanks Oliver DG6BCE ( for the above information.]

PCsat Status

PCSat is still fully functional and so the "Priority" store-and-forward test to let HT or Mobile users anywhere in the remotest areas of the planet to report their position and status has been continued.

To use this function, a wilderness traveler simply sets his TH-D7 or TMD-700 APRS radio to select a "PRIORITY" or "SPECIAL" or "CUSTOM" flag in their position/status packet. Then set their beacon to once every 3 minutes on the special travelers un-published PCsat uplink frequency.

Any special, priority, emergency, or custom position/status report will be stored and repeated once every 3 minutes on the 144.39 downlink. When PCsat flies over the USA with dozens of IGates listening on 144.39, then the network will capture it to the web page for all to see.

If you live OUTSIDE of Europe or USA in a remote area of the world and just happen to have an APRS HT (D7 or D700 mobile) and can participate in this test, please let us know.

[ANS thanks Bob, WB4APR, for the above information]

AO-40 Q&A

Stacey Mill, W4SM, recently took some time to answer a few questions recently posted via the AMSAT-BB email reflector.

Q: Why is LEILA only switched into the U-band uplink when stations on L-Band are much stronger? Is there a technical problem with LEILA?

A: There are no technical problems, per se. Everything related to Leila works as it should, as far as I know. However, if you review the telemetry specs. you will see that U-band can be connected to either Leila-1 or Leila-2. L1 can only be connected to Leila-1 and L2 can only be connected to Leila-2. Therefore, we have several options. We can run L1 and U through Leila-1 and disconnect L2, we can run L2 and U through Leila-2 and disconnect L1, or we can run both LEILAs. Because LEILAs are not perfect and they often chase "ghosts" having both LEILAs connected means twice as many false alarms on the passband, disrupting QSO's and draining transmitter power for the siren. The command team would prefer not to pursue this option at the moment.

The huge AGC suppressions on U-band (I saw -23 dB last night!) mandate that Leila remain active on this band. Otherwise, a few powerful signals will suppress the U-band AGC to the point that others cannot use the passband. This is a major cause of the "fades" heard on the downlink from time to time. The AGC on L-band shows little or no response to the uplink signals, so signals on L-band are not suppressing L-band receiver sensitivity. They may ultimately affect the S2 ALC, but I see no evidence of that in the recent telemetry. Nonetheless, it is likely that as L-band use grows Leila will need to be added to this uplink from time to time. To do so will require shutting down one of the L-band links and it will also mean that Leila will be spread "thinner" in the sense of having two uplinks to police. This means that while Leila is notching out a strong L-band signal which is not suppressing the L-band AGC or affecting the S2 ALC, other U-band signals may be severely depressing the U-band AGC.

Leila is not a cure all, and is no substitute for common sense and good operating practices. Fortunately, the great majority of AO-40 operators are very good in this regard. However, telemetry capture is still hampered by occasional individuals who insist on zero beating the beacon or repeatedly swishing through it. Although S2 has 250 kHz of passband, from time to time someone feels the need to tune directly on top of another QSO. Leila cannot affect these occasional poor operating practices. Leila does not treat all signals the same. CW signals stronger than the beacon are not uncommon and will escape LEILA's attention. SSTV signals are relatively immune to Leila. Even the tone of ones voice seems to affect LEILA's "attention." LEILA's current sensitivity setting seems about optimal. Turning the sensitivity up will result in too many false alarms, decreasing sensitivity would lead to even more AGC suppression. Leila, like everything else in life, is a compromise.

Q: How long we can remain at ALON/ALAT = 0/0?

A: We can hold this position until early March 2003, at which point we must begin slowly moving ALON toward 35+ degrees, running ahead of the sun. This will allow some time for the sun to move up the ecliptic. In mid- to late April, we can then raise ALAT to about +25 deg, drift past the sun for a couple of weeks, drop ALAT back to 0 at ALON ~325, then chase the sun back to 0/0, as before.

[ANS thanks Stacey, W4SM, for the above information]

AO-40 RUDAK Status

RUDAK report Dec 14, 2002

The RUDAK window was used tonight to load the kernel and initial housekeeping task into both processors to reduce power consumption. The short window allowed only the main housekeeping task to be loaded and started in the B processor. The A load remains to be completed during the next visible window. After that all task software will be loaded into A in order to begin testing of new command software. In the process we will test the experiment hardware including the DSPs to assure it all still works.

[ANS thanks Jim for the above information]

Weekly Operating News

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 JoAnne ( and they will be printed here.

[ANS thanks KK5DO, and congratulates KA5EYH, KG6GMT, TG9ATX, and TG9ANF for this week's operating news.]

OSCAR-11 Report

17 December 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 19 December, for seven days.

During the period 20 November to 16 December the 145.826 MHz beacon has been heard transmitting continuous ASCII telemetry from 29 November to 05 December.

The internal temperatures have remained constant at +8.6C, 7.0C and 13.4C 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 peak has probably now been reached, and temperatures are expected to fall slowly as the solar eclipse times lengthen.

The battery voltage observed during daylight passes is unchanged. Observations have varied between 13.7 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 247 to 273 seconds. Comparison with WOD taken some time ago indicates that the spin direction is unchanged, i.e., Y-axis leading in phase. The attitude is normal.

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 polarization 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. It can only be heard on rare occasions 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:U2RPT80.CWV, to prevent duplication.

73 Clive G3CWV

[ANS thanks Clive, G3CWV, for the above information]

ARISS Contact Schedule

Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule as of 2002-12-18 16:00 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 web pages for the latest announcements. Changes from the last announcement are noted with (***). 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.

Web sites 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 6 crew:
Kenneth Bowersox KD5JBP
Nikolai Budarin RV3FB
Donald Pettit KD5MDT

World Scout Jamboree 2003, Sattahip, Thailand, Direct via E20AJ
Contact is on for Saturday 2002-12-28 08:40 UTC
Don Pettit is the scheduled astronaut.

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago, Illinois direct via AJ9N
Contact is on for 2002-12-29 18:21 UTC
Ken Bowersox is the scheduled astronaut.

Look for possible live streaming video/audio, the web site is

Groupe scolaire "René Mure", Commelle-Vernay, France
1st choice 2003-01-02 10:03 UTC
2nd choice 2002-12-31 10:18 UTC

Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA, Telebridge
1st choice Monday 2003-01-13 18:35 UTC via WH6PN 59 deg
2nd choice Wednesday 2003-01-15 17:29 UTC via ZS6BTD 58 deg
3rd choice Thursday 2003-01-16 17:20 UTC via WH6PN 51 deg

Ecole Immaculle Conception, Brest, France, Direct
1st choice Monday 2003-01-06 07:54 UTC 86 deg
2nd choice Wednesday 2003-01-08 07:37 UTC 62 deg
3rd choice Tuesday 2003-01-07 08:33 UTC 36 deg

Sacajawea Middle School, Montana Direct
1st choice Wednesday 2003-01-08 15:19 UTC 90 deg
2nd choice Friday 2003-01-10 15:03 UTC 50 deg
3rd choice Tuesday 2003-01-07 16:16 UTC 48 deg

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.

[ANS thanks Charlie, AJ9N, 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. RS-20. 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. 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 Lee McLamb, KU4OS,