Fox-1Cliff Launch Membership Drive: Free Digital Copy of “Getting Started with Amateur Satellites” for New or Renewing Members

The next AMSAT Fox-1 satellite, Fox-1Cliff, is scheduled to launch on Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Fox-1Cliff carries the Fox-1 U/v FM repeater as well as AMSAT’s L-Band Downshifter.

Uplink: 435.300 MHz FM voice (67.0 Hz CTCSS tone) / 1267.300 MHz FM voice (67.0 Hz CTCSS tone)
Downlink: 145.920 MHz FM voice; AFSK digital data up to 9600 bps
Transmit power: 600 mW nominal

As part of the preparations for the launch of Fox-1Cliff, AMSAT is making the “Getting Started With Amateur Satellites” book available for a limited time as a download with any paid new or renewal membership purchased via the AMSAT Store. This offer is only available with purchases completed online, and for only a limited time. A perennial favorite, Getting Started is updated every year with the latest amateur satellite information, and is the premier primer of satellite operation. The 186 page book is presented in PDF format, in full color, and covers all aspects of making your first contacts on a ham radio satellite.

Please take advantage of this offer today by visiting the AMSAT store at https://www.amsat.org/shop/ and selecting any membership option. While there, check out AMSAT’s other items, including the M2 LEOpack antenna system, Arrow antennas, AMSAT shirts, and other swag. Be sure to view your cart before going to checkout. If you add a membership and then go directly to checkout, you’ll never see an option to add your free gift.

Fox-1Cliff carries the flight spare of the AO-85 Vanderbilt University Low Energy Proton (LEP) radiation experiment, and the standard Fox-1 Penn State University–Erie gyroscope experiment. Virginia Tech provided a VGA camera which is the same as AO-92 but will provide images at a higher 640 x 480 resolution. These non-SSTV images will be decoded in the FoxTelem software.

Fox-1Cliff, unlike the other three Fox-1 FM spacecraft, does not have an active AFC (Automatic Frequency Control) on the uplinks.

Fox-1Cliff’s Data Under Voice (low-speed telemetry) will be the same as for AO-85, AO-91, and AO-92. It will be supported by the same FoxTelem software already released.

As with AO-92, a high-speed mode will be used to support the Virginia Tech VGA camera experiment. This mode will be active for 40 minutes by ground command before reverting to standard U/v repeater voice operation.

Fox-1Cliff is named in honor of long-time AMSAT member, contributor, and benefactor Cliff Buttschardt, K7RR (SK), who passed away in 2006. Cliff’s contributions to AMSAT and other amateur satellite programs, including serving as an adviser during the initial development of the CubeSat specification at California Polytechnic State University, earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from Project OSCAR in 2006.

CAMSAT Submits Frequency Coordination Requests for 3 Satellites Scheduled for September 2018 Launch

CAMSAT, the Chinese Amateur Satellite Group, has submitted requests to the IARU for frequency coordination for three new amateur satellites.

CAS-5A is a 6U CubeSat with several amateur transponders: A 30 kHz wide 15 meter to 10 meter linear transponder, a 15 kHz wide 15 meter to 70 cm linear transponder, a 30 kHz wide 2 meter to 70 cm linear transponder, and a 2 meter to 70 cm FM repeater. The satellite also has 10 meter and 70 cm CW beacons as well as a 70 cm 4.8k / 9.6k GMSK telemetry downlink.

CAS-5B is a 90 mm L x 80 mm W x 50 mm H 0.5 kg femtosatellite with a 70 cm CW beacon.

CAS-5A and CAS-5B are scheduled to launch in September from Jiuguan Launch Center into a 539 km x 533 km 97.5 degree inclination orbit.

CAS-6 is an amateur payload aboard a 50 kg microsatellite with a 20 kHz wide 70 cm to 2 m linear transponder, a VHF CW beacon, and a 4.8k GMSK telemetry downlink. Launch is planned from a Sea Launch Pad from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in September into a 579 km x 579 km 45 degree inclination orbit.

CAS-5A coordination request: http://www.amsatuk.me.uk/iaru/formal_detail.php?serialnum=619

CAS-5B coordination request: http://www.amsatuk.me.uk/iaru/formal_detail.php?serialnum=620

CAS-6 coordination request: http://www.amsatuk.me.uk/iaru/formal_detail.php?serialnum=622

 

AO-92 Commissioned, Open for Amateur Use

On the 03:25 UTC pass on January 26, 2018, AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, announced that AO-92 had been commissioned and formally turned the satellite over to AMSAT Operations. AMSAT Vice President – Operations Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, then declared that AO-92 was now open for amateur use. Audio of the handover and first operational pass can be heard here:

 

Initially, the U/v FM transponder will be open continuously for a period of one week. After the first week, operations will be scheduled among the U/v FM transponder, L-Band Downshifter, Virginia Tech Camera, and the University of Iowa’s High Energy Radiation CubeSat Instrument (HERCI).

Schedule updates will appear in the AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins and will also be posted to the AMSAT-BB, AMSAT’s Twitter account (@AMSAT), the AMSAT North America Facebook group, and the AMSAT website at https://www.amsat.org/satellite-schedules/

AO-92 was launched on the PSLV-C40 mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on January 12, 2018. For the past two weeks, the AMSAT Engineering and Operations teams have been testing the various modes and experiments on board. Testing has shown that both the U/v FM transponder and L-Band Downshifter work very well. The Virginia Tech camera has returned stunning photos and data from HERCI has been successfully downlinked.

AMSAT thanks the 178 stations worldwide that have used FoxTelem to collect telemetry and experiment data from AO-92 during the commissioning process. The collection of this data is crucial to the missions of AMSAT’s Fox-1 satellites. Please continue to collect data from AO-85, AO-91, and AO-92.

Radio Programming Charts

AO-92 Doppler Shift Correction (Mode U/v)

Memory

Your Transmit Frequency

(With 67 Hz Tone)

Your Receive Frequency

Acquisition of Signal (AOS) 435.340 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 435.345 MHz 145.880 MHz
Time of Closest Approach (TCA) 435.350 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 435.355 MHz 145.880 MHz
Loss of Signal (LOS) 435.360 MHz 145.880 MHz

AO-92 Doppler Shift Correction (Mode L/v)

Memory

Your Transmit Frequency

(With 67 Hz Tone)

Your Receive Frequency

Acquisition of Signal (AOS) 1267.320 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 1 1267.325 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 2 1267.330 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 3 1267.335 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 4 1267.340 MHz 145.880 MHz
Approaching 5 1267.345 MHz 145.880 MHz
Time of Closest Approach (TCA) 1267.350 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 1 1267.355 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 2 1267.360 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 3 1267.365 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 4 1267.370 MHz 145.880 MHz
Departing 5 1267.375 MHz 145.880 MHz
Loss of Signal (LOS) 1267.380 MHz 145.880 MHz

AO-92 Commissioning Update: HERCI Experiment and L-Band Downshifter Tested

The AMSAT Engineering and Operations teams have been hard at work testing the various modes and experiments aboard AO-92 since its launch on January 12th. Since the last update, testing has concentrated on the University of Iowa’s High Energy CubeSat Radiation Instrument (HERCI) experiment and the AMSAT L-Band Downshifter.

The HERCI experiment was activated for the first time on January 18, 2018. According to Don Kirchner, KDØL, Research Engineer at the University of Iowa, “HERCI is intended to provide a mapping of radiation in a low earth orbit. This is of scientific interest for planning CubeSat test flights for low energy X-Ray detectors.”

“The instrument consists of a digital processing unit (DPU) derived from processors currently in orbit around Saturn on Cassini and on the way to Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft,” said Kirchner during a 2015 interview. “The DPU was shrunk to a CubeSat form factor with funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.”

While the HERCI experiment collects data continuously while the transponder is in operation, the data is only downlinked in the satellite’s high-speed data.

The HERCI Engineering Model boards prior to initial test. The boards will be tested before installation of the radiation detector and hybrid circuits. The digital processor board is the first use of the Y90 microprocessor firmware which was donated by Monte Dalrymple, KR6DC, of Systemyde Corporation.

 

In a Space Physics laboratory in Van Allen Hall, University of Iowa Electrical Engineering students Patrick Maloney, KD9CPD; Tyler Dunkel, KE0CHR; Kevin Klosterman, KD9CPF; and Bryan Senchuk, KD9CPE inspect the HERCI development boards.

After testing operation of the HERCI experiment and the downlinking of the experiment data, focus turned to the AMSAT L-Band Downshifter. When enabled, the L-Band Downshifter converts signals received on 1267.350 MHz and injects them into the satellite’s 435 MHz receiver. Due to the increased path loss on 1267 MHz and the utilization of the satellite’s 435 MHz receive antenna on 1267 MHz, pre-launch estimates suggested that around 100 watts ERP may be required for horizon to horizon access in this mode. As always, pre-launch estimates are subject to change after real-world testing in-orbit.

At 02:19 UTC on January 20, 2018, the L-Band Downshifter was commanded on for the first time. Initial testing showed promising results. Your author was able to access the transponder with an Alinco DJ-G7T HT with 1 watt output into a Comet CYA-1216E yagi. Telemetry analysis showed that the Downshifter was functioning normally and AMSAT announced open testing.

Reports flowed in of QSOs occurring over Europe and Japan. Many reported QSOs made with 10 watts or less to modest yagi antennas. EB1AO reported success using 2-3 watts output to a small yagi. IW1DTU reported using 10 watts to a horizontally polarized 10 element loop yagi. IU2EFA reported two QSOs made using 10 watts to a vertical groundplane antenna. Reports from Japan were similar. JK2XXK reported two QSOs with 10 watts to a vertically polarized 17 element loop yagi and JA6PL reported a QSO with 10 watts to a horizontally polarized 23 element yagi.

EB1AO setting up for his first pass of AO-92 in Mode L/v

The first open pass over North America occurred at around 02:00 UTC on January 21, 2018. Seven stations were heard, your author, KE4AL, WB8OTH, WB8RJY, NS3L, N8TLV, and VE4AMU. KE4AL and VE4AMU were using similar stations, KE4AL was using a Kenwood TM-942A (10 watts output) and a Comet CYA-1216E yagi modified with holes drilled in the boom to add 2 meter Arrow II elements. VE4AMU was using the same antenna with a Kenwood TM-941A mobile radio. Your author was also using that antenna, but with an Alinco DJ-G7T handheld and was able to open the transponder at around 10 degrees of elevation. Most impressively, N8TLV was heard using just a Yaesu FT-104 handheld transceiver and the stock rubber duck for the uplink. He was weak, but readable from around 35-38 degrees of elevation. AMSAT plans to publish articles in the future discussing equipment options for use on the L-Band uplink.

Rick Behma, VE4AMU, working AO-92 in Mode L/v with a Kenwood TM-941 mobile transceiver and Comet CYA-1216E yagi crossed with 2 meter Arrow II elements.

Audio from your author’s recording of the AO-92 Mode L/v pass over North America can be heard here:

 

The L-Band Downshifter operates on a 24 hour timer and shut off on schedule around 02:19 UTC on January 21, 2018. Tests of the various modes and experiments continue. AO-92 is on track to be commissioned and handed over to AMSAT Operations on Friday, January 26th.