Author Archives: Russ Steele

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

Calling Radio Amateurs: Help Find OPS-SAT!

Note: The download links in the text are not working. Use the link below and open the PDF on Github for the download links.  The software and documentation are on github: https://github.com/esa/gr-opssat/blob/master/docs/os-uhf-specs.pdf

ESA OPS-SAT Community Platform with Link to Software Download


by Staff Writers Space Dailey
Paris (ESA) Dec 16, 2019


Ops-Sat will be a catalyst for change in space operations.

Calling all radio amateurs! ESA is challenging anyone with amateur radio equipment to catch the first signals from OPS-SAT, ESA’s brand new space software laboratory.

On 17 December, OPS-SAT will be launched into low-Earth orbit on a Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, together with ESA’s Cheops exoplanet-tracker.

Once launched, the satellite will deploy its solar panels and ultra-high frequency antenna, and then start to send signals back home.

Could you be the first on Earth to catch them? ESA’s mission control team in Darmstadt are asking for your help to find the fledgling CubeSat.

In-space laboratory
OPS-SAT is a first-of-its-kind CubeSat dedicated purely to experimentation. It carries a wide variety of advanced payloads allowing ‘Experimenters’ to deploy and test their software and apps in space.

Anyone can apply to be an Experimenter! Find out more about the mission, and how to apply, here.

The nitty gritty
Lift-off is scheduled for 08:54:20 UTC on 17 December. Deployment will begin 15044.6 seconds later (T+15044.6 seconds), expected to be at 13:05:04 UTC.

OPS-SAT will begin transmitting 15 minutes after satellite deployment and after ultra-high frequency (UHF) antenna and solar array deployment have been confirmed. The first two passes over Europe are expected on the same evening.

To track OPS-SAT, a preliminary launch TLE is available here, and will be updated as soon as new orbital information is available.

Set up your own mission control
The OPS-SAT flight control team has developed open source software which allows anyone to receive the UHF beacon of OPS-SAT and decode it. A set of ‘GnuRadio’ applications have been developed and are available here.

You can use a wide range of ‘software-defined radios’ (SDR’s) supported by GNURadio to receive the UHF signal. The application toolkit consists of a receiver and demodulator flowgraph as well as a GUI telemetry desktop, decoding data packets coming from space in real-time.

The first three radio amateurs to receive at least five correctly decoded frames and submit them to ESA get an exclusive invite to the OPS-SAT Experimenter day in March 2020, as well as a tour of the control facilities and ground stations at ESA in Darmstadt, and of course a certificate.

OPS-SAT link: https://www.esa.int/Enabling_Support/Operations/OPS-SAT

Link to YouTube Video;  https://youtu.be/_uEvGfipmAw

 

New President

HamRadio
Stuart Gallant Group New President at First Lincoln Hills Field Day

A new year brings some new changes for the Amateur Radio Group. Stuart Gallant ( K3RZB ), a 59 year veteran of amateur radio, was elected President of our Group. He is taking over from Jim Darby ( K6GYM ), who graciously gave up his chair after many years of dedication. John Griffin ( NQ6Q ) has volunteered to take over the Repeater Trustee duties from Doug Thom ( N6OYU ). He accepted the position with the assurance that we would all help maintain the repeater site when there were chores to be done.

Stuart is a bio-engineer who developed medical devices for the management of multiple medical conditions. He retired from Apple in 2017 and moved to Lincoln Hills. Stuart is a ham radio operator with an Extra Class License and is fully engaged on multiple bands and modes. He has plans for the ARG to become more active and engaged in 2020, introducing a list of activities for consideration and discussion at our last meeting.

Come to one of our Monday night meetings and meet Stuart.

Field Day Contact Details

Taking a more detailed look at the Field Day data submitted to the ARRL, I was able to plot the States and Providence that were contacted.  The number of contacts per state is shown in the graphic at the bottom of the post. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 9.50.50 AM

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 9.55.59 AM

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 10.13.44 AM

If you spot an error in these numbers please let me know.

First Field Day Huge Success

D. lharg sign

According to all the participant, our first annual field day was a huge success. Here are some photos:

A. Gary Setting Up Station

Gary setting up his station

B. John at Digital Station

John at digital station waits for the starting bell.

C. Stuart at Station

Stewart making a QSO

The log file submitted to the ARRL Field Day Coordinator is here: W6LHR Field Day-2019

Though not shown in the photos other ARG members provided support by loaning equipment, bring donuts and pizza and keeping the coffee pot perking.  They also provided the visitors’ tours and answered questions.  Public outreach was most satisfying.

Jim operated the forth station but I did not get a photo of him this year. However, my wife Ellen got a great shot of his portable station.

Jim's Radio

Jim’s Portable Station

The ARG has starting to make plans for the 2nd Annual Field Day in 2020, come and get involved.