Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 Commissioning Status

Following the launch of Fox-1Cliff/AO-95, AMSAT Engineering began the commissioning process, with the help of AMSAT Operations, on Tuesday December 4. Satellite telemetry indicates that the bird is healthy, and I thank all of the stations who have captured and relayed the telemetry that enabled us to monitor and determine the health of the various systems on board. Fox-1Cliff required an extended period monitoring battery and power levels due to the anomaly and fix that was applied back in February of 2016 during environmental testing, and the result of that is positive.

However, during the next steps of commissioning we discovered an anomaly with her receive capability. After a few days of tests, analysis, and discussion, it appears that Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 will not be commissioned as our fourth Fox-1 amateur radio satellite.

AMSAT Engineering will continue to evaluate and test Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 for solutions to the anomaly and your continued help in providing telemetry is appreciated so that we can have data throughout her daily orbits rather than limited data over our U.S. stations. The data, analysis, and testing could lead to a positive solution but at the very least will be important to AMSAT’s satellite programs in providing information that would help us and others, as we do freely share our successes and failures, to avoid similar situations with future missions.

I would like to thank all of the AMSAT Fox Engineering volunteers who made Fox-1Cliff possible and continue to build our new satellites, becoming even better as we move forward.

I will provide more information on the anomaly and any determination we make regarding the possible cause or causes as well as information on the possibility of recovery, over time. Please be patient regarding that. Many of you have probably built a project and had to troubleshoot it on your bench, we are in a troubleshooting situation here with the additional challenge of being 600 km away from our bench.

73
Jerry Buxton, N0JY
AMSAT Vice President of Engineering

[ANS thanks Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President of Engineering for the above information]

Fox-1Cliff Launch – Your Help is Needed!

Following the successful launch and deployment of Fox-1Cliff, all amateur radio satellite enthusiasts can play an important part in the commissioning of the new satellite. Telemetry helps us tremendously, starting ASAP after startup (~59 minutes after deployment*) and for the next 72-96 hours at least (for the life of the satellite is preferred!) as we look for successful startup, watch the general health and function as the satellite begins to acclimate to space, and start to perform the on orbit checkout. The first station to successfully receive and submit telemetry to the AMSAT server will receive a special 3D printed QSL card acknowledging their contribution.

If you are capturing telemetry with FoxTelem, please be sure that “Upload to Server” is checked in your settings and your Ground Station Params are filled in as well. You can help AMSAT and everyone waiting to get on the air with Fox-1Cliff tremendously, by capturing Fox-1Cliff telemetry.

In the initial Safe Mode after startup, which we actually call Beacon Mode, the transmitter is limited to 10 seconds on time then does the two minutes off cycle. For those of you capturing telemetry, that means that you will only see Current frames and no High or Low frames because the High and Low are truncated as it takes just over 10 seconds to send two frames. You will hear Veronica announcing “Fox-1Cliff Safe Mode” while in Beacon Mode.

We will likely leave the satellite in Beacon Mode for 24 hours to observe power telemetry. If we are seeing good readings from what you gather, when it comes over the U.S. for the first good pass after that holding period we will command it from Beacon Mode to normal Safe Mode. That puts Fox-1Cliff in full (still Safe Mode though) operation and transmits a full two frames of telemetry which is one Current frame followed by, and alternating each ID cycle, a High or a Low frame.

We will begin the rest of the in orbit checklist activities at that time, and it is expected to take 7 to 10 days given the Thanksgiving holiday.

Help your friends and all of our satellite ham friends get on the air and have fun sooner by being polite and patient!

The in orbit checkout procedure is similar to Fox-1D and could be completed in as little as 7 days if we have the cooperation of the users. It is very important, not to mention just plain good Amateur Operating Practice, to refrain from using the transponder uplink so we can do the on orbit tests, including when we turn on transponder mode for testing. I cannot stress enough, the importance of this cooperation not just for us but also for all users, simply having a little patience so we can conduct the tests as quickly and accurately as possible.

AMSAT will make it broadly known when the tests are complete and the transponder is available for all to use. If you hear someone on the transponder, please do not assume that it is open for general use – check our website, Facebook, Twitter, to be sure you are not accidentally jumping in with and unwittingly causing interference as well.

Many hams put thousands of volunteer hours of their time into making Fox-1Cliff happen. Just like any ham radio project you might undertake, we build satellites. We do it because we like to, and when we are done, we freely share our project with hams everywhere as is the spirit of amateur radio. I have to say though, that the incidents we have experienced in the past with stations intentionally disregarding the command stations requests to keep the frequency clear during testing not only delays the commissioning, but also negatively impacts the enthusiasm that our volunteers feel toward handing over a new bird to the members and users as soon as possible.

I am asking all satellite hams to contribute just a little bit of your time to the fun now, by being patient and just gathering telemetry, not using the transponder uplink, and helping us complete the last few days of getting Fox-1Cliff in orbit and operating for all of you.

Thank you very much, see you on the bird!

Jerry Buxton,  N0JY
(AMSAT VP Engineering)

*Time of deployment will be made generally available through AMSAT as soon as Spaceflight provides the information to us.

Videos of RadFxSat-2 (Fox-1E) Flight Model Testing

AMSAT Vice President Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, has been streaming live videos of testing of the flight model of RadFxSat-2 (Fox-1E) from Fox Labs in Granbury, TX.

You can view archived videos at https://www.twitch.tv/n0jy/videos/all.

Follow @N0JY on Twitter for announcements of future live streams of RadFxSat-2 flight model testing. You can also follow N0JY on Twitch for notifications of live streams.

RadFxSat-2 is scheduled to launch later this year on the ELaNa XX mission aboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne air-launch-to-orbit system. The satellite carries a 30 kHz wide V/u linear transponder and radiation experiments for Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Space and Defense Electronics.

RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E Flight Model Arrives at Fox Labs for Testing

On March 31st, the RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E flight model arrived at Fox Labs in Granbury, TX where it will undergo testing prior to launch later this year on the ELaNa XX mission aboard Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne air-launch-to-orbit system. RadFxSat-2 carries a 30 kHz wide V/u linear transponder and radiation experiments for Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Space and Defense Electronics.

 

RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E in its Pelican case.

AMSAT Vice-President Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, posted the following video showing off the flight model of RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E for the first time.