Tag Archives: ISS

Radio Waves: Signals from Mars, Two More Hamstronauts, M17 Digital Voice Mode, and Climbing Trees for a Better Signal

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Troy Riedel, LG, Ron and the ARRL News for the following tips:


Radio Signals from Mars (Spaceweather.com)

How close is Mars? Close enough for radio reception. On Oct. 4th, amateur radio operator Scott Tilley picked up a carrier wave from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) circling the Red Planet. Turn up the volume and listen to the Martian Doppler shift:

Tilley is a leader in the field of satellite radio. Dead satellites, zombie satellites, spy satellites: He routinely finds and tracks them. “But this was a first for me,” he says. “A satellite around Mars!”

It’s not easy picking up radio signals from distant planets. NASA does it using the giant antennas of the Deep Space Network. Tilley uses a modest 60 cm dish in his backyard in Roberts Creek, BC. This week’s close encounter with Mars set the stage for his detection.

“MRO’s signal is weak, but it is one of the louder signals in Mars orbit,” says Tilley. “The spacecraft has a large dish antenna it uses as a relay for other Mars missions. With the proximity of Mars these days, it was the perfect time to try.”[]

Two More Astronauts Earn Amateur Radio Licenses (ARRL News)

Although the lockdown of Johnson Space Center (JSC) postponed amateur radio training and licensing over the past 7 months, NASA ISS Ham Project Coordinator Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, was able to work with all of the new astronaut-class graduates, as well as offer some refresher courses with already-licensed astronauts. Licensed astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) may operate the on-station ham radio equipment without restrictions.

Astronauts often participate in Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts with schools and groups on Earth.

NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron, who completed her introductory course in June and received basic ham radio operations training in late September, recently tested and received the call sign KI5LAL.

European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer passed his amateur radio exam on July 30, and he got his basic ham operations training in July. He now is KI5KFH.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough, KE5HOD, and Shannon Walker, KD5DXB, completed the refresher course earlier this year. Two other new astronauts are in the queue to take the Technician license exam. — Thanks to Rosalie White, K1STO[]

M17 Aims to replace proprietary ham radio protocols (Hackaday.io)

While M17 might sound like a new kind of automatic rifle (as actually, it is), we were referring to an open source project to create a ham radio transceiver. Instead of paraphrasing the project’s goals, we’ll simply quote them:

The goal here should be to kick the proprietary protocols off the airwaves, replace DMR, Fusion, D-Star, etc. To do that, it’s not just good enough to be open, it has to be legitimately competitive.

Like some other commercial protocols, M17 uses 4FSK along with error correction. The protocol allows for encryption, streaming, and the encoding of callsigns in messages. There are also provisions for framing IP packets to carry data. The protocol can handle voice and data in a point-to-point or broadcast topology.

On the hardware side, the TR-9 is a UHF handheld that can do FM voice or M17 with up to 3 watts out. The RF portion uses an ADF7021 chip which is specifically made to do 4FSK. There’s also an Arm CPU to handle the digital work.[]

Armed with a radio, Cambodian girl climbs tree to access education (SE Asia Globe)

When Cambodian schools closed due to Covid-19, poor internet access and a lack of minority language materials made distance learning in rural communities near impossible. But armed with a simple radio, children are rising above these obstacles to their education

Jumping down from the tree near her home, Srey Ka assumes her spot in the shade underneath as she adjusts the dials on her radio. Her pet piglet remains asleep at her feet, twitching his nose as he dreams, his belly full of leftover rice. Around her, cows meander by, their ringing bells competing with the sound of static from her radio.

While her school is still closed due to Covid-19 regulations, she still wears her Grade 3 uniform as she attempts to locate a signal. She’s listening out for distance learning programmes – six hours of educational radio broadcasts per week for children in Grades 1-3, some of which are in her ethnic minority language.

It was August and Srey Ka had just received a radio from international nonprofit Aide et Action, two weeks before her school reopened as pandemic measures eased in Cambodia in early September.

From the Phnong ethnic minority group, Srey Ka struggled to find learning resources in her language during school closures. Eager to cram as much as she can before returning to school, Srey Ka tied the antenna of her radio to the highest point of a tree to get the best reception. Even a clear radio signal is hard to come by in the small fishing village of Pun Thachea, located along a remote stretch of the Mekong river in Cambodia’s northeast Kratié province.[]


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Radio Waves: Digital Broadcasts in South Africa, Cold War Broadcasting in Late Soviet Era, Possible Ban on RFI Producers in Sweden, and Ham Radio on the ISS

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul, Michael Bird,  William Lee, Rob PE9PE, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


SABA partners with T&A and Sentech to deliver digital radio in SADC (Advanced Television)

The Southern African community will soon enjoy digital audio broadcasts, thanks to an initiative lead by a South African based entity, Thembeka & Associates that has taken the lead in implementing the much anticipated interactive radio solution.

This was announced by the Secretary-General of the Southern African Broadcasting Association, SABA, Mr Cecil Jarurakouje Nguvauva, following the conclusion of initial agreements between the participating entities. Welcoming the digital radio solution to the SADC region, Nguvauva emphasised the need for rural communities to be engaged fully in the developmental agenda of the respective African governments if the planned development is to add value to the lives of the most disadvantaged members of our society.

Chief Executive Officer of Thembeka & Associates, Madam Thembeka Kaka has hailed this initiative a huge success for the continent and a dream come true for her institution. Madam Kaka added that as a member of the National Committee on ICT Chamber Accessible Broadcasting for People Living with Disabilities, she has passionately driven this project for a long while. Madam Kaka added that “Following the announcement of the Policy Directive that has introduced Digital Sound Broadcasting by the South African Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in July this year. I have since realised that greater opportunities have emerged for the broadcast industry as a whole. And this initialises an evolution of radio broadcasts going forward,” she stated.

Sentech’s Meyerton Radio Shortwave site in South Africa will carry the Digital Sound Broadcasting Shortwave Transmission from the broadcast centre in Southern Africa to the rest of SADC countries.

For the initial stage, only six countries are earmarked for the coverage, before it is rolled out to the rest of the SADC Region. The targeted countries are Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and South Africa. The rapid deployment is planned to work alongside the existing analogue radio service, which will seamlessly transition to a fully-fledged Digital Radio transmission in SADC. The receivers to be deployed will have the capabilities to receive and transmit both Analogue and Digital radio signal on FM and AM.

The primary purpose of the initiative is for governments and various newsmakers to urgently provide vital information to all citizens, especially the rural, remote and marginalised vulnerable communities. The outbreak of COVID-19 has amplified the need for this undertaking, that has highlighted risk areas in our various communities. Particular emphasis will be given to the following sectors in the respective communities: Education Sector; Health Sector; Socio-Economic factors; Gender issues; Youth & Disability.[]

Listening Out, Listening For, Listening In: Cold War Radio Broadcasting and the Late Soviet Audience (Wiley Online Library)

Abstract

This article interrogates the well?known phenomenon of western broadcasting to the Soviet Union from the little?known vantage point of the audience’s sonic experience and expression. I use the example of the BBC’s main popular music program in the late USSR, Rok posevy, with its remarkable presenter, Seva Novgorodsev, to explore fundamental questions about the who, how, and why of listening to the so?called “enemy voices.” The popularity of Novgorodsev’s show, I argue, is best understood in the context of the Soviet soundscape and, in particular, of longstanding Soviet media practices, including radio jamming and Soviet ideologies of the voice. Novgorodsev’s Rok posevy presented listeners with a powerful alternative sociocultural space, one that promoted models of authority and community very different from Soviet norms and, indeed, antithetical to Soviet norms.[]

Swedish Electrical Safety Agency threatens ban on sale of optimizers (Southgate ARC)

In Sweden the Swedish Electrical Safety Agency may ban the sale of optimizers used in Solar Panel installations due to the high level of RF Pollution they produce

A translation of an SSA post reads:

The Swedish Electrical Safety Agency wants to remove optimizers that spread interference. “It should be easy for the electrician to do the right thing.”

– We want to remove all solar cell products that spread disruption from the market. It should be easy for the electrician to do the right thing, and if you choose CE-marked gadgets and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the system should be nice, says Martin Gustafsson, who is an inspector in market control at the Swedish Electrical Safety Agency. reports of disturbing solar cells. In addition to radio amateurs such as Anders Ljunggren, the  mobile operator Telia is among those affected . The Swedish Electrical Safety Board has made inspection visits to disturbing facilities, and carried out a market review of optimizers and inverters from eleven different manufacturers.

“They take advantage of a gap in the standard and instead hide behind a general EMC standard.”

The report is not complete yet. However, one of the conclusions is that a number of manufacturers of interfering products have chosen not to use the standard developed for photovoltaic products, but which has not yet been harmonized by the European Commission.

– They use a gap in the standard and instead hide behind a general EMC standard, which does not make any demands on the dc side. This makes our evidentiary situation difficult. But if the disruption problems are not solved, the products can be banned from sale, says Martin Gustafsson.

Text:  Charlotta von Schultz – www.elinstallatoren.se

Thank you SM5TJH / Janne for the information
Source SSA https://tinyurl.com/SwedenSSA

New Ham Radio Onboard The ISS Is On The Air (K0LWC Blog)

Ham Radio operators have enjoyed making contact with the ISS for many years. The holy grail has always been talking to ISS astronauts on FM simplex (145.800) — but those can be rare chance encounters. Ham radio operators have also enjoyed slow-scan television (SSTV) broadcasts and APRS packet radio via the ISS digipeater. Now we get to work the world’s most expensive FM repeater thanks to the new InterOperable Radio System (IORS) installed on the ISS.

The InterOperable Radio System (IORS) replaces an ancient Ericsson radio system and packet module that were certified for spaceflight over two decades ago. The 5 watt HT that was aboard the ISS was getting worn out after many years of use. The Ericsson radio looks like something from a 1990s episode of Cops.

The new IORS was launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 6, 2020 onboard the SpaceX CRS-20 resupply mission. It consists of a custom space-modified Kenwood D710GA transceiver and an ARISS-developed multi-voltage power supply. The equipment was installed by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (KF5KDR).

New Kenwood D710G ‘Space Flight Edition’

The radio now being used is a Kenwood D710G and was engineered specifically for space flight. JVCKENWOOD USA and the ARISS worked closely to modify the D710G. The upgrades were performed by JVCKENWOOD and include:

  • Output power is hardware limited to 25 watts for the safety of the International Space Station
  • Custom firmware and menus tailored for operation onboard the ISS.
  • Higher output/high-reliability fan to allow continuous repeater operation.

Continuous fan operation is an important feature in space for the reliability of the radio. There is no convection in microgravity, so all heat-generating components need to be cooled by moving air or conduction. If the radio burns up, there isn’t a Ham Radio Outlet down the street to grab parts.[Continue reading the the full article at K0LWC’s blog…]


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The International Space Station now has an accessible FM Repeater

If you’ve been following ham radio news lately, no doubt you’ve heard that the International Space Station now has an FM repeater in operation. Pretty much any amateur radio operator can use this repeater with a capable dual band radio and (ideally) a directional antenna.

Here’s the information about the new system from an ARISS news release:

First Element of ARISS Next Generation (Next-Gen)
Radio System 
Installed in ISS Columbus Module

September 2, 2020—The ARISS team is pleased to announce that set up and installation of the first element of our next generation radio system was completed and amateur radio operations with it are now underway. This first element, dubbed the InterOperable Radio System (IORS), was installed in the International Space Station Columbus module. The IORS replaces the Ericsson radio system and packet module that were originally certified for spaceflight on July 26, 2000.

Initial operation of the new radio system is in FM cross band repeater mode using an uplink frequency of 145.99 MHz with an access tone of 67 Hz and a downlink frequency of 437.800 MHz. System activation was first observed at 01:02 UTC on September 2. Special operations will continue to be announced.

The IORS was launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 6, 2020 on board the SpaceX CRS-20 resupply mission. It consists of a special, space-modified JVC Kenwood D710GA transceiver, an ARISS developed multi-voltage power supply and interconnecting cables. The design, development, fabrication, testing, and launch of the first IORS was an incredible five-year engineering achievement accomplished by the ARISS hardware volunteer team. It will enable new, exciting capabilities for ham radio operators, students, and the general public. Capabilities include a higher power radio, voice repeater, digital packet radio (APRS) capabilities and a Kenwood VC-H1 slow scan television (SSTV) system.

A second IORS undergoes flight certification and will be launched later for installation in the Russian Service module. This second system enables dual, simultaneous operations, (e.g. voice repeater and APRS packet), providing diverse opportunities for radio amateurs. It also provides on-orbit redundancy to ensure continuous operations in the event of an IORS component failure.

Next-gen development efforts continue. For the IORS, parts are being procured and a total of ten systems are being fabricated to support flight, additional flight spares, ground testing and astronaut training. Follow-on next generation radio system elements include an L-band repeater uplink capability, currently in development, and a flight Raspberry-Pi, dubbed “ARISS-Pi,” that is just beginning the design phase. The ARISS-Pi promises operations autonomy and enhanced SSTV operations.

ARISS is run almost entirely by volunteers, and with the help of generous contributions from ARISS sponsors and individuals. Donations to the ARISS program for next generation hardware developments, operations, education, and administration are welcome — please go to https://www.ariss.org/donate.html to contribute to these efforts.

ARISS–Celebrating 20 years of continuous amateur radio operations on the ISS!

If you’d like to get a taste for what it’s like making contacts via the ISS repeater, check out this video from K0LWC (thanks for the tip, Paul):

Of course, you don’t have to be an amateur radio operator to listen to the traffic on the ISS repeater. All you need is a scanner or receiver that can tune to the downlink frequency of 437.800 MHz and coordinate your listening session with an ISS pass (I like using NASA’s Spot the Station service). You’ll stand a much better chance of working or listening to the ISS repeater with a high pass.

Have you made a successful contact via the ISS repeater already or listened to the repeater traffic? Please comment!

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Tate Modern ISS installation doubles as ham radio antenna

Photo by @helenleigh

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matthew, who shares the following tweet from Helen Leigh:

This sculpture at the Tate Modern blew my mind this week. It’s a wire sculpture inspired by the International Space Station that functions as an antenna for a ham radio.

Photo by @helenleigh

Twice a day it plays live audio and data transmissions from the ISS as it passes overhead.

Click here to view on Twitter.

Fascinating!  Goes to show that the Tate Modern is always chock-full of amazing discoveries. Thank you for sharing this, Matthew!

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SSTV Special Event from the International Space Station on Saturday, October 27

(Source: ARRL News)

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has scheduled a slow-scan television (SSTV) event to begin on Saturday, October 27, at about 1000 UTC. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Department will support the event. SCaN manages NASA’s three most important communications networks — The Space Network (SN), Near-Earth Network (NEN), and the Deep Space Network (DSN). Participants in the SSTV event can qualify for a special endorsement for NASA on the Air (NOTA), celebrating the space agency’s 60th anniversary.

As during past ARISS SSTV events, 12 images will be transmitted. Six will feature SCaN educational activities, while the other six images will commemorate  major NASA anniversaries, including the establishment of NASA and the moon landing. Transmissions are expected to take place on 145.800 MHz using PD-120 SSTV mode. Received images can be posted and viewed online. The event is dependent on other ISS activities, schedules, and crew responsibilities, and the schedule is subject to change at any time.

More information be posted to the AMSAT and ARISS websites as well as to the ARISS-BB, to the ARISS Facebook page, and via Twitter (@ARISS_status).

Click here to read the full article at the ARRL News.

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Lilian decodes SSTV images from International Space Station

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Lilian Putin?, who writes:

Greetings, my name is Lilian Putina and I am from Moldova. I’ve been following your blog for a long time, with the help of it I’ve purchased a short wave radio, SDR, and WRTH almanac.
I take everything a little bit: shortwave, FM DX, weather images from meteorological satellites, decoding of NAVTEX, WSPR and FT-8 etc.

I’m sending you two SSTV images received from ISS on June 30, 2018.

Many thanks, Lilian!  I’m also very pleased that you’re enjoying all aspects of radio–to me, that’s what makes this all so very fun!

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Al decodes SSTV image from International Space Station

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Holt, who shares the decoded SSTV image above via Twitter and notes:

A two-fer, excellent!! Here’s what I caught during its pass over Florida @ ~0914z, a 3-star pass. Had my HT on freq. but dropped it on the floor and got a burp which produced the break in the upper 1/3 of the image…Doh! -73

Ha ha! Thanks for sharing, Al! Based on such a short gap in the image, you must have recovered that HT rather quickly!

Post readers: Has anyone else decoded SSTV during an ISS pass?

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