FoxTelem Version 1.08 Released

I am releasing Version 1.08 of FoxTelem.  This release provides several enhancements and needed changes for FOX-1E and HuskySat, a partnership with the University of Washington.

You will need to download this version to successfully decode data from 2 new spacecraft which will transmit BPSK telemetry on 70cm.  Oh, and now is a good time to put up a 70cm antenna if you do not have one 🙂

You can download it from:

Key Changes

  • Make PSK decoders easier to select
  • Automatically change the band from 2m to 70cm and the mode from FSK to PSK  if needed (and enabled).  Allow default mode to be set for each spacecraft
  • No longer overwrite the user settings (such as max/min frequency) when spacecraft files updated
  • Save the properties whenever they are changed (rather than just at exit)
  • Allow the user to change the display name for a spacecraft without changing the KEPS name
  • Prevent FOXDB from being corrupted when power restarted
  • Better memory management so that long running FoxTelem sessions do not end  up out of memory
  • Allow MAX and MIN records to be displayed in table on the telemetry tab.
  • Show the Capture Date for the record being displayed e.g. RT, MAX, MIN
  • Delete existing files when server data downloaded
  • Tie the STP date more accurately to the position of the SYNC word in the bit buffer to avoid stamping frames with the same date
  • Fixed many small bugs and crashes
  • And many other bug fixes.

Full list of changes here:

Feel free to email me any questions, suggestions or bug reports.




A quick addition to Chris’ announcement.  This version of FoxTelem has been tested on Fox-in-a-Box installations (that is, FoxTelem running on a Raspberry Pi).  Starting immediately, (serial number 110) V1.08r will be on the SD card that you order from the AMSAT store.

If you have a Fox-in-a-Box with an older version and you wish to upgrade it (highly recommended), just download to the Desktop using the browser on your FIAB and double click it to extract a directory (folder) named FoxTelem_1.08r_linux.  Now stop the running FoxTelem and edit the file on your desktop called StartFoxTelem (right click and choose Text Editor).  On about the third line from the bottom change”foxtelem_1.07_linux” to FoxTelem_1.08r_linux” (be sure to get the capital letters right). Exit from the editor and double click on StartFoxTelem and then chose “Execute”.  The new FoxTelem will start running, and as described in the manual you will start getting questions about whether you want to upgrade things.  Say yes to each question.  After FoxTelem has started successfully, you should be all set, and FoxTelem should start automatically every time your reboot.

If you have any issues, please let me know.  [email protected]




FoxTelem Version 1.07 Released

I’m officially releasing version 1.07 of FoxTelem. A test version has been out for a while, but it had several issues, including a lower decode rate than 1.06. That prevented release for a while. Those issues (and something like 65 other defects) are now all fixed and this decoder performs better than 1.06. Feel free to test them side by side and report back if that is not the case for you. We are always interested in any comparative results.

In addition to defects in FoxTelem 1.06 and earlier versions of 1.07, this also introduces Doppler calculation with automatic adjustment of the decoder frequency. This is especially useful for decoding beacons and has been helpful in testing for Fox-1A / AO-85 and Fox-1Cliff / AO-95 which are both in SAFE mode. Decoding from Doppler takes a bit of configuration to get right. Have a read of the new sections in the manual or ask for help if you want to give it a try. There are pros and cons vs “Find Signal” for sure.

Version 1.07 changes the core SDR within FoxTelem to use a Numerically Controlled Oscillator (NCO) rather than an FFT Filter for the conversion to base-band. This produces better decodes and will allow the support of wider bandwidth SDRs in the future. The old decoder is available still if needed from the settings screen. Read the manual for details.

Version 1.07 also introduces two new BPSK decoders in advance of the Fox-1E launch. (I have no inside information about when that will be, but I have the decoder ready 🙂 I also wrote some notes on the comparison between the two decoders, which you can read if you are interested in BPSK decoding performance, or just wonder what I do with my time in the evenings:

The releases are here:

* Ability to add a new spacecraft from the menu. You can also remove them.
* Doppler calculation and tracking as an option instead of “Find Signal”
* A better SDR based on a Numerically Controlled Oscillator, ready for wider SDRs
* Two new PSK decoders – Costas Loop and Dotproduct
* RTL dongle implemented for testing, though more work to do
* Stops downloading keps when position calc is off
* Allows toggling of high speed / DUV display when in auto mode
* Fixed plotting issues for Earth plots
* Fixes several crashes and bugs
* Fixes copy paste issues with tables
* Respects left/right audio preference when processing wav files
* Implements formats for later spacecraft – Fox-1E and HuskySat
* Linux and Mac launch script updated to locate the JVM (especially on Mac). Please report if when this works/does not work
* MEMS gyro calibration updated
* Fixed a bug where AO-85 data from the server could not be stepped through

And many other bug fixes. Full list of changes here:

Let me know any feedback.


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.

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.