Andy MacAllister, W5ACM, SK

Andy, W5ACM (ex WA5ZIB), became a Silent Key on May 19, 2021. He has been a close friend of mine since I became a ham in 1993. That was when I found satellites and AMSAT. Andy had been doing the Houston AMSAT Net and I became involved in the net. We have done over 1400 episodes of the net since then. Andy and I had a great time at many AMSAT Symposiums where we would work satellites from parking lots of restaurants or outside a hotel. During the AMSAT Symposium in 2016, we worked each other from the deck of the cruise ship when we were standing about 3 feet from each other.

Andy spent some time in the early 90’s on the AMSAT Board of Directors. Many of today’s hams would not remember the K2ZRO tests on AO-13. When the satellite was at apogee, Andy would transmit a string of CW characters. He would then reduce his power by 50% and transmit another string of characters. This would be done 8 times to a point where the signals were very weak. Hams around the world would participate and receive a certificate with an endorsement for the level you achieved.

Andy got into balloon launches. I do not remember when BLT-1 was launched but BLT-12 was launched in 1993 and they are into the 60’s now. The balloons have gone up with all types of experiments on them and have come down in many a strange place. One came down in the Gulf of Mexico, picked up by a fishing boat and they called the number on the package. Of course that one was not reusable as everything was a tad bit wet. The balloon came down in someone’s front yard once and they picked it up and took it inside. GPS told the tale and knocking on the door, the homeowner returned the package. A few recent balloon launches have traversed the globe one or two times.

Andy had worked at NASA and was a member of the Johnson Space Center ARC as well as the Brazos Valley ARC in Houston, the ARRL and AMSAT. More recently he was the Chief Engineer for the radio station, KTRU, at Rice University in Houston. Andy gave talks and demos at many Houston area hamfests.

It was only a few months ago in February that Andy went in for a quick procedure and they found something that should not be. He was sent home for hospice care. You will be missed my friend. … _._

73…Bruce

A funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 27th 2021 at 12:30 PM at the Pines Presbyterian Church (12751 Kimberley Ln, Houston, TX 77024-4097). A graveside service will be held on Thursday, May 27th 2021 at 2:30 PM at the Memorial Oaks Cemetery (13001 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77079). Andy’s wife, Heather, has requested that donations in his name be made to AMSAT or the Brazos Valley Amateur Radio Club,  P.O. Box 2997, Sugar Land, TX 77487-2997 (reference the Andy MacAllister BLT Memorial Fund). Donations to AMSAT in his name may be made through the form below.

In Memory of Andy MacAllister, W5ACM

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Donation Total: $25.00 One Time

Call for Nominations – 2021 AMSAT Board of Directors Election

AMSAT solicits nominations for the 2021 AMSAT Board of Directors election, to be held in the third quarter of the year. The seats of the following four incumbent Directors expire in 2021 and will be filled by this year’s election:

Jerry Buxton N0JY
Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA
Patrick Stoddard WD9EWK
Michelle Thompson W5NYV

Further, up to two Alternate Directors may be elected for one-year terms.

A valid nomination for Director must be written and requires either one Member Society or five current individual members in good standing to nominate an AMSAT member. Written nominations, with the nominee’s name, call sign, and contact information, as well as the nominators’ names, call signs, and contact information, should be sent to the AMSAT Secretary:

Jeff Davis, KE9V
1909 S. Batavia Avenue
Muncie, IN 47302-2044
ke9v at amsat.org

A copy should be sent to Executive Vice President Paul Stoetzer, at n8hm at amsat.org.

The AMSAT bylaws require that the nomination be written and in the form specified by the Secretary. The Secretary has elected to accept written nomination materials via mail or in electronic form, including e-mail or electronic image of a paper document. Fax transmissions cannot be accepted.

No matter what means are used, petitions MUST be received by the Secretary no later than June 15th. The Secretary will verify the qualifications of candidates and nominating members or Member Societies as petitions are received, and will notify candidates whether their nominations are in order by the end of June.

RadFxSat-2 Identified, Testing Continues

Testing and characterization of RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E continues.  After user reports and additional verification that the linear transponder is at least partially functioning with a low level downlink signal, the Engineering and Operations teams worked to identify which satellite, or Object, orbited from the Virgin Orbit Launch Demo 2 is actually RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E.   Several objects have been suspected (D, C, and M), with Object C being suggested recently by Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA.  Recently, these satellites have sufficiently spread apart to allow testing to determine which object is RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E.

During the 2 Feb 2021 0240 UTC passes, command station Mark Hammond, N8MH, compared Objects D, C, and M for the “best fit” for received signals with Doppler correction on both the uplink and downlink frequencies for each of the candidate objects.  Objects D and M were quickly eliminated from further consideration, due to poor frequency predictions of Doppler correction compared to observed signals. The clear best fit is Object C, which is known OBJECT C, INTELDES 2021-002C, and NORAD CAT ID 47311.   Therefore, AMSAT is happy to identify Object C/2021-002C/47311U as RadFxSat-2/Fox-1E.    Thank to Alan Biddle, WA4SCA, for support during the identification.

It should be noted that 18 SPS has not yet approved the identification for cataloguing.  Final determination of the object assignment comes from the squadron.

The Engineering and Operations teams appreciate the community’s cooperation thus far and affirm the request that users do not attempt to use the transponder until further notice.  The proper identification will allow further characterization of the satellite’s condition through additional testing.

On behalf of the Engineering and Operations Team,

Mark Hammond N8MH

RadFxSat-2 Update – January 29, 2021

From AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY:

Thanks go to W5SAT, who applied the amateur radio spirit of exploration and innovation to helping find out “what’s up?” with RadFxSat-2.

We appreciate his work and immediately applied it to our processes as we discover/recover RadFxSat-2.

Why was it not heard or found week ago?  There could be an unexplained behavior such that it could not and was not able to occur until the other day.  Our stations attempted transponder use under various conjectured and commanded states throughout this period as part of the exploration of the anomaly, but did not detect any signals.  They were able to confirm their signals the night of the 27th.

Following that we turned attention to the beacon, as you know.  We have not discovered the beacon yet and we have contacted some top class “big gun” stations, asking for their help.  The signal will obviously be pipsqueak and may not even be there.  The drive to find it, or if it is not detected then to take possible actions to activate it, is the information in the telemetry that is paramount to knowing through satellite data exactly what is going on.  We asked you that the transponder not be used because any power to signals in the transponder downlink is power stolen from the beacon strength.  We have asked everybody to listen, as from the beginning, to help find it and find status and solutions faster.  It may sound boring or useless but it is at the heart of every satellite launch and commissioning phase and perhaps the biggest part the general satellite community can play in the lifetime of the satellite.  The payoff is important to all of us, and I invite anyone to join the hunt and share in the enjoyment of – whatever happens.

I can’t say what we will be doing tomorrow for sure, we will be looking for any reports and telemetry as more and larger stations join and because we have seen behavior that is not clearly understood.  Procedures and conclusions that are not carefully thought out could result in losing what we have now.  It is comparable to NASA taking careful time in dealing with anomalies (barring safety-related issues).  Very importantly, we will be watching to see if anyone captured anything at all from the telemetry in the beacon.  All you have to do is hunt and catch one frame and you are a hero in this game.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Unless there is some big news over the weekend, I expect that Monday evening would be the next opportunity for a short update, time permitting.