The following update was provided today on the DELFI-N3XT satellite launched in November 2013:
Dear radio amateurs,
It has been a while since we have provided an update, so it is time to brief you again.
The satellite is doing fine and is in healthy shape. We are now almost 3 months in orbit and have fulfilled a major part of the primary mission objectives. This means that we are close to a mission success. This does not mean that everything works flawlessly as there are several subsystems with issues. Given the amount of payloads and new technologies, I can only say that this was to be expected and accounted for in the mission. Delfi satellites are developing platforms and Delfi-n3Xt is an in-orbit test facility. The good thing is that issues encountered are not even a final verdict on the subsystems performance. The attitude determination and control subsystem currently is hampered by a high magnetic noise, but might still be tweaked and tune to see if we can get it to work properly. This however takes some time, so we are glad that the satellite seems to be in healthy state and we can take more time to experiment with it.
We are still working on an improved version of DUDe to tackle several issues which we and many of you have discovered and reported. Unfortunately, many of these issues are more difficult to tackle than anticipated and will still take a while before we can release a new solid version of DUDe. One of the main issues is the fact that the software freezes after receiving noise for some time, meaning that DUDe needs to be restarted each time. Attached is a version of DUDe with a dirty fix which resets the PLL every minute. The penalty is that a 1 or 2 frames are lost each minute, so the performance is less than version 5.1. It is however much more convenient for automated ground stations (like our own) and therefore we decided to release this version.
We are going to test the transponder functionality of Delfi-n3Xt this week. I have to be honest that this functionality was implemented last minute on the satellite and was only tested briefly in a non-representative setup. I therefore estimate the chance that it will work at 50/50.
Our first test series will be:
Thursday 20-02-2014 at about 10:50 UTC
Friday 21-02-2014 at about 9:50 UTC
Friday 21-02-2014 at about 11:25 UTC
After a few initial tests, and provided that it works, you are free to use the transponder for communication. We will leave it in this mode for the remainder of the sunlit part of the orbit, so only in Europe and Africa it is possible to use this mode for now. If successful we will turn on the transponder more often and for longer periods of time such that everyone can enjoy it.
(Editor’s note : Downlink 145.880 -145.920MHz, Uplink 435.530-435.570MHz, Telemetry on 145.870MHz and 145.930MHz and a high speed downlink on 2405.00MHz)
There seems to be a problem on the S-band transmitter causing the current protection to kick in occasionally. Maybe this is due to charging or some other effect, as the board is not protected by The Onboard Computer leaves the transmitter off after several attempts as part of an internal safety mechanism. We can still turn on the S-band transmitter through telecommand, but this will only last for a few passes. Most cases the S-band transmitter will thus be off and it reporting that we have turned it might not be very effective since it might be off again by the time you read the message. If you are still interested to try and receive the beacon signal of the S-band, please check the regular telemetry in DUDe under ‘Status’à’Satellite Status’à ‘Subsystem Status STX’ to see if it is actually on.
J. (Jasper) Bouwmeester, MSc.
Delfi Nanosatellite Program Manager &
Researcher Small Satellite Technology
Chair of Space Systems Engineering
Delft University of Technology