AMSAT NEWS SERVICE
The AMSAT News Service bulletins are a free, weekly news and information service of AMSAT, The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation. ANS publishes news related to Amateur Radio in Space including reports on the activities of a worldwide group of Amateur Radio operators who share an active interest in designing, building, launching and communicating through analog and digital Amateur Radio satellites.
The news feed on http://www.amsat.org publishes news of Amateur Radio in Space as soon as our volunteers can post it.
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In this edition:
- Debugging AO-109: An Update
- AO-92 Returned to Service for Daylight Operations Only
- VUCC Awards-Endorsements for August 1, 2021
- ARISS News
- Upcoming Satellite Operations
- Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
- Satellite Shorts From All Over
ANS-220 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins
To: All RADIO AMATEURS
From: Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
712 H Street NE, Suite 1653
Washington, DC 20002
DATE 2021 Aug 08
Debugging AO-109: An Update
At the end of our article in the May/June AMSAT Journal, we said “By the time you read this, AO109 may be opened for general amateur use.” The opening announcement, in fact, came on July 19, just shortly after the Journal was available. Very shortly after that, we started getting reports that some SatNOGS stations had seen telemetry signal from AO-109 as early as May 2021. Chris, G0KLA managed to partially decode one frame from SatNOGS. It was hard work and there were too many errors for our Forward Error Correction algorithm to fix, but by ignoring errors, we could see some data; however we had to guess which data was wrong.
We asked for more people to try to get telemetry, and we were pleased to receive 29 frames over several days from W7KKE, W7FWF, and K8DP. Thanks so much to all of them! Thanks to them we can now say a few more things about the AO-109 situation.
What we have seen and learned from telemetry
First the telemetry we have received confirms what we inferred from our earlier experiments:
• The antenna telemetry shows that they are open (more on that later)
• AO-109 is in transponder mode
• AO-109 does receive commands successfully, especially from a strong command station
In addition, telemetry shows some other anomalies that let us make better hypotheses for other behavior that we have seen.
• First the telemetry IS working, which tends to exonerate the telemetry modulator and software.
• The transmitter is sending telemetry with power output between 6 and 8 mW. You can compare this to our pre-launch testing which showed power output of somewhat over 100mW, as designed.
• The power amplifier current is higher than expected based on pre-launch testing.
• The min/max telemetry shows that the maximum power output since launch was about 440mW implying that the transmitter was likely working immediately after launch. (During the attempted early commissioning period, we tried both transponding, and increasing the telemetry gain, which could explain the relatively high power output.)
• It is even more clear seeing the telemetry downlink on a waterfall that the signal
strength varies cyclically. The period seems to be around 25 seconds.
After a discussion with Dan W9EQ, one of our transmitter engineers, we believe a reasonable hypothesis for the low power is that one of the dual power amplifier chips has failed shorted. This not only increases the current to the PA, but reduces the power available to the other PA chip. Dan also hypothesizes that running high power into a poorly deployed antenna might cause the blowout, although it is still hard to understand why we initially had no reception at all. Note that even if the 70cm antenna was not fully deployed, it does not cross over itself to make it electrically shorter even when stowed.
Since getting this telemetry, we commanded higher output from the telemetry modulator into the mixer and power amplifier, but saw essentially no change in the output power telemetry. According to W9EQ, this is to be expected with a shorted PA. (It may imply that 8mW is the highest to expect from the transponder as well).
As we hypothesized in the last paper, the cyclic strength of the telemetry beacon could be explained by the antenna being only partly released and blocked by the satellite part of the time as the satellite rotates. Similarly, if the receive antenna were only partly released, it would make commanding difficult for the same reason.
One further hypothesis: Carl, N3MIM proposed that the Nitinol wire used for our antennas was too cold to fully restore to its original shape after it was released. This could explain why both receive and transmit have problems, but does not explain why this satellite in particular should have problems that the other Foxes did not.
Vanderbilt University Experiment Data
As we said in the previous article, one of our goals is to provide data for the Vanderbilt University COTS radiation experiment. This experiment not only funded the AO-109 flight but also will, in the long term, provide great information for satellite builders who can only afford common off-the-shelf parts in their birds. We are happy to say that we have been able to provide some data for Vanderbilt. Of course, more data over a longer period will be that much better, but at least Vanderbilt is getting something.
Where is the data?
The data from AO-109 is on AMSAT server at the same location as all Fox data. You can see the entire dataset by using FoxTelem and downloading Fox-1E (the latest versions of FoxTelem do not require you to download all the other satellites.) You will see that despite having only 29 frames, there are a lot more health records than that in the WOD tab. This is because of AO-109’s new capability: Whole Orbit Data, which captures a full set of health data every 60 seconds, stores it in memory, and transmits several of these WOD data payloads in each frame. Similarly, Vanderbilt data is stored as WOD, so more science information than you might expect is also available.
In addition, you can see the AMSAT web page for AO-109 health at https://www.amsat.org/tlm/health.php?id=5&port=
Unfortunately, it seems that it requires a fairly “hefty” station to receive AO-109 telemetry. A normal end-mounted M2 LEO Pack, for example, is not enough. Everyone we have seen who has been successful has had a longer yagi, a preamp, and short coax. One person felt that the ability to reverse circular polarity also helped. Several SatNOGS stations have received a signal, but so far we have not been able to cleanly decode any of them.
Both for Vanderbilt University and for our own engineering testing, we would really appreciate even a few frames of telemetry that any stations can receive. One way to do this is to use FoxTelem directly via a Fun Cube Dongle Pro Plus (FCDPP) and an antenna as mentioned above. Another way that we know works is to record the IF or AF from an ICOM 9700 that is being doppler corrected during an AO-109 pass. The best chance for useful frames may be to record IQ using SDR# or HDSDR with something like an FCDPP or Airspy SDR Dongle, and then playing it back into FoxTLM.
We continue to thank all of our supporters and data collectors around the world! Please keep trying!
[ANS thanks Burns Fisher, WB1FJ, AMSAT Flight Software, and Mark Hammond, N8MH, AMSAT Director and Command Station Operator, for the above information]
Join the 2021 President’s Club!
Score your 2″ 4-Color Accent Commemorative Coin.
This gold finished coin comes with
Full Color Certificate and Embroidered “Remove Before Flight” Key Tag
Donate today at
You won’t want to miss it!
AO-92 Returned to Service for Daylight Operations Only
On August 1, 2021 at about 16:30 UTC, AO-92 was commanded into carrier operated repeater mode. In this mode, AO-92 operates as a simple FM repeater. The IHU and experiments are disabled and there is no telemetry transmitted.
As the battery condition is poor, please only use the satellite when it is illuminated by the sun. The satellite may shut off even while illuminated if the bus voltage drops below a point at which the transmitter cannot operator.
[ANS thanks Mark Hammond, N8MH, AMSAT Director and Command Station for the above information]
Need new satellite antennas? Purchase Arrows, Alaskan Arrows,
and M2 LEO-Packs from the AMSAT Store. When you purchase through
AMSAT, a portion of the proceeds goes towards
Keeping Amateur Radio in Space.
VUCC Awards-Endorsements for August 1, 2021
Here are the endorsements and new VUCC Satellite Awards issued by the ARRL for the period July 1, 2021 through August 1, 2021. Congratulations to all those who made the list this month!
Congratulations to Michael McCoy KC9ELU on acheiving the AMSAT GridMaster.
CALL July August
KO4MA 1783 1786
N8RO 1096 1100
NS3L 697 702
K9UO 631 653
N9FN 550 561
AF5CC 525 547
MI6GTY 461 462
WA4HFN 413 454
S57NML 291 409
DL6IAN 154 335
EA2AA 280 314
KQ4DO New 306
AB1OC 285 291
KE8RJU 101 256
NA1ME 225 250
N3CAL 204 214
N5EKO 152 207
KC5TT 100 135
WD9EWK (DM45) 127 135
W3FGP 100 130
K6SFO New 129
KB3IAI New 103
DL6GBM New 100
KE4IP New 100
If you find errors or omissions. please contact me off-list at <mycall>@<mycall>.com and I’ll revise the announcement. This list was developed by comparing the ARRL .pdf listings for the two months. It’s a visual comparison so omissions are possible. Apologies if your call was not mentioned. Thanks to all those who are roving to grids that are rarely on the birds. They are doing a lot of the work!
[ANS thanks Ron Parsons, W5RKN for the above information]
AMSAT’s GOLF Program is about getting back to higher orbits, and it all
begins with GOLF-TEE – a technology demonstrator for deployable solar
panels, propulsion, and attitude control, now manifested for launch on
NASA’s ELaNa 46 mission. Come along for the ride. The journey will be
Amateurs and others around the world may listen in on contacts between amateurs operating in schools and allowing students to interact with astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station. The downlink frequency on which to listen is 145.800 MHz worldwide.
Notre Dame Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School, Kyoto, Japan, direct via 8N3ND
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be NA1SS
The downlink frequency is presently scheduled to be 145.800 MHz
The scheduled astronaut is Thomas Pesquet KG5FYG
Contact was unsuccessful: Tue 2021-08-03 11:10:15 UTC 77 deg (***)
ARISS is working to understand the issue. (***)
Watch for livestream at https://youtu.be/4uL-kHi1Bsw
1st Ono Group Hyogo Council Scout Association of Japan, Ono, Japan, direct via 8J3ONO (***)
The ISS callsign is presently scheduled to be NA1SS
The downlink frequency is presently scheduled to be 145.800 MHz
The scheduled astronaut is Shane Kimbrough KE5HOD
Contact is go for: Wed 2021-08-11 08:05:06 UTC 82 deg (***)
Next mode change is expected to take place in late August 2021.
The latest information on the operation mode can be found at https://www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.html
The latest list of frequencies in use can be found at https://www.ariss.org/contact-the-iss.html
[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, one of the ARISS operation team mentors for the above information]
AMSAT, along with our ARISS partners, is developing an Amateur
Radio package, including two-way communication capability, to
be carried on-board Gateway in lunar orbit.
Support AMSAT’s projects today at https://www.amsat.org/donate/
Upcoming Satellite Operations
VE7KPM: CN78, upcoming. 9/2 approx.
EA8/EA4NF: Phillippe will be on the Fuerteventura island and Gran Canary island SAT DXpedition. He will use Linear & FM satellites August 1-14, 2021. IL27, IL28, IL38
KE2QI: Will be roving FN44 Sunday. Both FM and linear. He will try to maximize the RS-44 apogee passes for Europe.
EN56, 57, 67: N8MR will be in EN57, EN67 and EN56 from Aug 7 thru Aug 14. Using an Icom 9700, Arrow antenna and SatPC32 to control uplink and downlink for Doppler.
EN12, EN13: W0AAE will be roving in the EN12-13 grids this upcoming week from August 1-6. He will be doing both linear and FM satellites
VE7KPM: CN78, upcoming. 9/2 approx.
David AD7DB is planning a rove starting August 16 on FM satellites.
Mon 8/16 DM09 in Reno area.
Tue 8/17 DN00, DN10 & 11 later, near Lovelock and Winnemucca.
Wed 8/18 DN10, DN20 & 21 later, near Elko.
Thu 8/19 DN21, DN20 & 30 later, near Wells and Wendover.
Fri 8/20 DN20 and 30, near Wendover.
The actual satellite passes and times are still being worked out but plans are for AO-91, AO-92, SO-50, AO-27 and PO-101.
You can go to twitter.com/ad7db for the latest updates during the rove.
Wl7T – August 21-27:
BP44, BP45, BP46, BP47, BP54, BP55, BP57, BP58, BP59, BP64, BP65, BP75, BP84, BP85
[ANS thanks Paul Overn, KE0PBR, AMSAT rover page manager, for the above information]
Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
AMSAT Ambassadors provide presentations, demonstrate communicating through amateur satellites, and host information tables at club meetings, hamfests, conventions, maker faires, and other events.
AMSAT Ambassador Clint Bradford, K6LCS, has online Zoom presentations scheduled in coming weeks with amateur groups in
Central New Hampshire
Conejo Valley CA
Sonoma County CA
Antelope Valley CA
Contact Clint to arrange other events:
Clint Bradford K6LCS, AMSAT Ambassador; ARRL instructor
Email: clintbradford AT mac DOT com
(909) 999-SATS (7287) – voicemail/message
[ANS thanks Paul Overn, KE0PBR, AMSAT Events page manager, for the above information]
Want to fly the colors on your own grid expedition?
Get your AMSAT car flag and other neat stuff
from our Zazzle store!
25% of the purchase price of each product goes
towards Keeping Amateur Radio in Space
Satellite Shorts From All Over
+ The newly revised, printable Amateur Satellite Frequency Guide is now available for AMSAT members at https://launch.amsat.org/Member_Resources
+ NU1U has posted a tutorial on YouTube for running WSJT-X and SatPC32 simultaneously with an Icom IC-9700 in order to make satellite QSOs using FT4. The video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhfUSRUP910
+ The first SSB QSO has been reported via AO-109. Doug Papay, K8DP, and John Papay, K8YSE, completed two QSOs via CW and two QSOs via SSB between EN62 and EN91 between July 31st and August 3rd.
+ On July 30th at 19:40 UTC, F4DXV and A65GC completed a record 5,300 km QSO via JO-97. This is the longest claimed QSO completed on any of the FUNcube transponders.
+ A new distance record has been set on the QO-100 narrowband transponder. PR8KW in GI27pn49rs worked YC5YC in OJ00rl66we at 23:06 UTC on 10-Jul-2021, covering a distance of 17,378 km. More records can be found at https://www.amsat.org/satellite-distance-records/
+ AMSAT Rover Award #60 was issued to Larry, KF6JOQ. For more information on the AMSAT Rover Award, visit https://www.amsat.org/amsat-rover-award/ (Thanks Bruce Paige, KK5DO, AMSAT Director of Contests and Awards)
+ The ARRL has released TQSL config file version 11.15. This update allows QSOs on AO-109 and UVSQ-SAT (as UVSQ) to be uploaded. TQSL should prompt you to update your config file when launching the application.
+ Three videos from the AMSAT-SA Space Symposium, held July 10th, have been uploaded to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLA7TGecJAILXTwm9HSQ4cw/videos. Other talks will be uploaded later (Thanks to AMSAT-SA and AMSAT-UK)
+ A video of John Brier, KG4AKV, operating portable via RS-44, filmed and edited by W4MPS, has been posted to YouTube at https://youtu.be/8xg5VLrcttU
+ The first call for papers has been issued for the 39th AMSAT Space Symposium to be held on the weekend of October 29-31, 2021 at the Crowne Plaza AiRE hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota. Proposals for symposium presentations are invited on any topic of interest to the amateur satellite community. We request a tentative title of your presentation as soon as possible, with final copy submitted by October 18 for inclusion in the symposium proceedings. Abstracts and papers should be sent to Dan Schultz, N8FGV at n8fgv at amsat.org.
+ Registration is open for the 39th AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting, to be held Friday through Sunday, October 29-31, 2021, at the Crowne Plaza AiRE in Bloomington, Minnesota. Crowne Plaza AiRE is located at 3 Appletree Square, Bloomington, MN 55245. For more information, visit https://www.amsat.org/39th-annual-amsat-space-symposium-and-annual-general-meeting/
Join AMSAT today at https://launch.amsat.org/
In addition to regular membership, AMSAT offers membership to:
* Societies (a recognized group, clubs or organization).
* Primary and secondary school students are eligible for membership at one-half the standard yearly rate.
* Post-secondary school students enrolled in at least half time status shall be eligible for the student rate for a maximum of 6 post-secondary years in this status.
* Memberships are available for annual and lifetime terms.
Contact info [at] amsat.org for additional membership information.
73 and remember to help Keep Amateur Radio in Space!
This week’s ANS Editor,
Paul Stoetzer, N8HM
n8hm at amsat dot org