With less than 24 hours to go for our live on-air contact between the students of All Saints Academy and Astronaut Jeff Williams aboard the International Space Station, we are happy to report that our final practice session was glitch free. Both primary and secondary stations were verified as well as the event sound gear. The students had another walkthrough practicing their questions. In fact, things went so smoothly that we had keyboard QSOs with two hams during our second pass: K8OE and WB3CSY.
Rick, WB3CSY posted this to the AMSAT Bulletin Board this afternoon:
RICK WALTER <WB3CSY@xxxxx.com> 3:00 PM (1 hour ago)
Just made a packet contact via the ISS with N1ASA on the last pass. This is
the student station that will be making contact with the astronaut on board
the ISS tomorrow.
*N1ASA>CQ,RS0ISS*,FN41IM,+/ [05/05/16 17:38:15] <UI C>:*
*N1ASA>CQ,RS0ISS*,FN41IM,+/ [05/05/16 17:39:59] <UI C>:**All Saints
*WB3CSY-11>CQ,RS0ISS* [05/05/16 17:40:29] <UI R>:**N1ASA DE WB3CSY-11*
*N1ASA>CQ,RS0ISS*,FN41IM,+/ [05/05/16 17:40:38] <UI C>:**WB3CSY Hello*
*WB3CSY-11>CQ,RS0ISS* [05/05/16 17:41:03] <UI R>:**N1ASA DE WB3CSY-11
*N1ASA>CQ,RS0ISS*,FN41IM,+/ [05/05/16 17:41:12] <UI C>:**QSL WB3CSY*
*WB3CSY-11>CQ,RS0ISS* [05/05/16 17:42:21] <UI R>:**N1ASA DE WB3CSY-11 TU
Jim, KA1ZOU, spoke with host Will Gilbert of Channel 12’s Rhode Show about the upcoming Space Chat with the International Space Station this Friday May 6th.
You can watch the interview here: http://wpri.com/2016/05/03/newport-radio-club-space-talk/
Remember, you can listen to the event live beginning at 11:45:
Free Tickets to attend the event in person are available at:
All Saints Academy (ASA), N1ASA, received a QSL card from the International Space Station (ISS) for digital messages that were successfully received by the ISS and retransmitted to earth by the Packet Repeater, RS0ISS.
The QSL was dated on 23 April 2016 at 16:51:48 UTC, on 145.825 MHz.
Of course N1ASA will be receiving the most rare of QSLs in the future when ASA students and students from across RI have the first direct radio contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station this Friday, May 6. The pre-event show beings at 11:45 AM, and will conclude shortly after 1 PM.
You may see and hear the event live, beginning at 11:45 AM, by using this link:
Free Tickets to attend the event in person are available at:
You can follow the latest news on the event by using this link:
Or click the ISS-News tab on our own webstie
We had another practice session today with two viable passes:
13:09L 17 degree max elevation (SW – N – E)
14:45L 66 degree max elevation (SW – S – SE)
The backup antenna was verified and was working as expected. The primary antenna was also working fine. The polarity switch was rewired and powered from the primary radio supply and worked fine.
A total of three PCs were verified as working correctly. Only two are required to be working on event day. The backup radio (another IC-9100) is now in-hand.
It appears that all we have to do is get SatPC running, then start the Green Heron tracking software, enable tracking/disable tracking, then enable it again to have things work correctly from the very beginning.
The antennas were pre-positioned prior to both passes which allowed us to hear a few packets prior to the ISS rising above the horizon.
The first pass was at 13:09L (17 degree max):
– First packet heard at 13:10:28 (5 degrees elevation)
– First packet repeat at 13:13:15 (10 degrees elevation)
– Last packet repeat at 13:18:54 (6 degrees elevation)
– Last packet heard at 13:19:30 (2 degrees elevation)
So a very low-long distance pass resulted in 5m39s of solid packet connectivity. I suspect voice would have actually worked about 8 minutes of the pass.
The second pass at 14:45L (66 degree max):
– First packet heard at 14:46:35 (1 degree elevation)
– First packet repeat at 14:47:15 (4 degrees elevation)
– Last packet repeat at 14:55:03 (8 degrees elevation)
– Last packet heard at 14:56:30 (1 degree elevation)
So a much closer pass resulted in 7m48s of solid packet coverage. There was a rather pronounced fade toward the end of the pass, which prompted us to use the polarity switch. The ISS immediately picked up about 5 S-units of signal strength, and we were able to continue packet exchanges until 14:56:00 — so solid packet coverage for 8m45 seconds by using the polarity switch. I suspect voice would have worked for almost 9 minutes of the pass.
Bottom line: Excellent session. Everything worked correctly.
Next practice session on Thursday May 5. RF Crew to report by 11 AM. First pass at noon. Second pass at 13:35. NOTE: second pass is almost identical to our event pass on Friday. We expect to be working with the kids again on Thursday (so on-air mic tests).
ASA Student Practices Calling for the Space Station NA1SS
Today was another ARISS Practice Session for the RF-Crew, plus our first opportunity to do walkthroughs with the kids asking their questions.
From beginning to end, all the inside RF gear took 31 minutes for one person to set up, which meant that things were ready to go about 15 minutes before a 10:03 AM pass. The primary and backup doppler computers were set up as the Doppler and Tracking PC. That worked well, the only glitch, which we have seen before, is that the Green Heron middleware tracking software (listens to the SatPC32 DDE Server and talks to the USB ports) had to be shut down and restarted to have it start sending commands to the rotor box, even though it was already communicating with the rotor controller.
We had 100% packet coverage for 6.5 minutes of the pass (47 degree max elevation — about what we can expect next Friday). That corresponded to a 20 degree elevation when rising, and 8 degree elevation when setting. But we could tell the ISS was hearing us (much more ERP on our end) pretty much from horizon to horizon. Since packet requires a higher S/N level, I suspect this means we will have about 8 minutes of good quality audio next Friday.
We did some testing of the antenna array polarity switch and found that no current was being drawn, initially feeling that indicated the switch or cable wasn’t working. However it dawned on us that an isolated power supply was being used, and it was not tied to the power supply running the radio. Therefore there was no ground return through the coax. This Saturday we will power it from the radio supply.
The photo above shows the gear in use. From left to right: Green Heron Az/El Rotor Controller, Laptop controlling rotor, Icom IC-9100 Transceiver, SCS DR-7400 packet modem (on top of rig), Laptop controlling Doppler.
From about 10:30 AM on, the focus switched to a live walkthrough with the kids asking their questions using the on-air mic and PTT switch. Things went very well with that, and there was the time to cycle all the kids through twice. If we were lucky enough have horizon to horizon communication, I am sure we would get through all the questions, but no doubt some of the kids won’t get a chance to ask their questions before the pass window closes.
ASA Student asks “How do you cut your hair and nails in space”