FO-29 – Amateur Satellite

With the right gear this amateur satellite can be easy to work!

Name: Fuji-OSCAR-29 aka Fuji-3 and JAS-2
Callsign: 8J1JCS
NASA Catalog Number: 24278
Launched: August 17, 1996
Launch vehicle: Japanese H-II No. 4
Launch location: Tanegashima Space Center of NASDA, Tanegashima Island, Japan
Weight: 50 kg
Orbit: Polar LEO (Low Earth Orbit)
Size: 44 cm wide x 47 cm high
Period:112 minutes

BBS Message System (digital store-and-forward)
Analog Communications Transponder
Attitude Control
Testing of newly developed solar cells in space

Beacon (100 milliWatt) Telemetry Format

435.795 MHz – CW (12 wpm)
435.910 MHz – PSK digital – Digi-Talker

Digital Transponder – Mode JD (1 Watt)

Uplinks: AFSK (FM) 1200 bps, AX.25, Manchester Encoded
145.850 MHz
145.870 MHz (the only 9600 bps uplink frequency)
145.890 MHz
145.910 MHz

Downlink: BPSK 1200 bps or FSK 9600 bps
435.910 MHz (also Digi-Talker frequency)

Analog Transponder – Mode JA (1 Watt)

Uplink: 145.900 – 146.000 MHz – LSB/CW
Downlink: 435.800 – 435.900 MHz – USB/CW



SO-50 – Amateur Satellite

SO-50 satellite information

SO-50 carries several experiments, including a mode J FM amateur repeater experiment operating on 145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink. The repeater is available to amateurs worldwide as power permits, using a 67.0 Hertz PL tone on the uplink, for on-demand activation. SO-50 also has a 10 minute timer that must be armed before use. Transmit a 2 second carrier with a PL tone of 74.4 to arm the timer.

The repeater consists of a miniature VHF receiver with sensitivity of -124dBm, having an IF bandwidth of 15 KHz. The receive antenna is a 1/4 wave vertical mounted in the top corner of the spacecraft. The receive audio is filtered and conditioned then gated in the control electronics prior to feeding it to the 250mW UHF transmitter. The downlink antenna is a 1/4 wave mounted in the bottom corner of the spacecraft and canted at 45 degrees inward.

AMSAT: Your support keeps the satellites flying! Donate to the Fox-1 project!

“Given the sad news on AO-51,” AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “we highlighted at the recent 2011 Symposium that AMSAT is actively developing Fox-1, a new spacecraft that is designed to replace AO-51. Fox-1 development now takes on a great sense of urgency.”

AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Tony Monteiro, AA2TX says, “Fox-1 will advance single-channel FM repeater satellite operation beyond the experience of AO-51. It will advance AMSAT to the next generation of AO-51 class satellites.”

Fox-1 is designed for longer operational life with these features:

  • Fox-1 is designed to operate in sunlight without batteries once the battery system fails. This applies lessons learned from AO-51 and ARISSat-1 operations.
  • In case of IHU failure Fox-1 will continue to operate its FM repeater in a basic, ‘zombie sat’ mode, so that the repeater remains on-the-air.
  • Fox-1 is designed as the immediate replacement for AO-51. Its U/V (Mode B) transponder will make it even easier to work with modest equipment.
  • From the ground user’s perspective, the same FM amateur radio equipment used for AO-51 may be used for Fox-1.
  • Extending the design, Fox-2 will benefit from the development work of Fox-1 by adding more sophisticated power management and Software Defined Transponder (SDX)  communications systems.

Barry concluded, “AMSAT’s ability to provide a replacement spacecraft and get it launched is dependent upon the active support of donors who wish to see Fox-1 fly.”

Several opportunities to make your donation include:

November 9 2011, the day the TV went off

The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.

The first Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will be carried out on November 9, 2011

AubieSat-1 cube satellite to be launched Oct. 27th

AubieSat-1 - A CubeSat to be launched October 27 2011The satellite is a “cubesat,” which is a 4-inch, cube-shaped satellite that is used primarily for research. Once released from the rocket, AubieSat-1 will have two antennas come out – one for receiving signals from Auburn University and one for sending signals back to Auburn. The students have built a control center in the Physics Department from which they will give the satellite commands to execute, as well as receive, data from the satellite such as temperature, battery charge and voltage, and power from the solar cells. The students will ultimately measure the decrease of solar cell efficiency over time on protected versus non-protected solar panels.

The construction of the satellite is part of the Auburn University Student Space Program, and AubieSat-1 is the first student-built satellite in the state to be accepted by NASA for launch. The satellite will launch aboard a NASA-sponsored Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once in space, the satellite will communicate with Auburn students in Morse Code, and the phrase “War Eagle” is the signal that the launch was successful and the satellite is in orbit and operating correctly.

The students designed, built and tested the satellite, and took it to California for a Mission Readiness Review, which they passed with flying colors. Finally, the satellite underwent some tests before being shipped to California for integration into a Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer, a satellite deployer known as a P-POD, that will be placed in the launching rocket with the four other cubesats. 

Auburn University’s famous battle cry, “War Eagle,” will be heard from space Oct. 27 when it is transmitted to earth from a student-built satellite known as “AubieSat-1.”

The Auburn University Student Space Program is part of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. AubieSat-1 is sponsored by Auburn University and the Alabama Space Grant Consortium. For more information on AubieSat-1, go to the website at

Fun Facts regarding the AubieSat-1

  • AubieSat-1 is the first student built satellite in Alabama.
  • It is a 1U CubeSat: 1000cm3 in volume and weighing 1.03-kg.
  • It is entirely designed and built and tested by Auburn University undergraduate students, without using components off the shelf.
  • It will study radio wave propagation through the ionosphere and test solar panel protective films.
  • It is part of the ELaNa3 Mission.


Alabama: Alabama students to chat with the ISS

The ISS or International space stationStudents gathered at Carver High School in Birmingham, Alabama, will speak with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum aboard the International Space Station at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 21. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama also will join the students. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and include video of Fossum. To attend the event, reporters must contact Allison Abney in Sewell’s office at 202-225-1710 or by 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Carver High School is located at 3900 24th St. N. in Birmingham.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grades will ask Fossum questions about life, work and research in space. They have been taking part in a series of activities leading up to the event, which is focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This in-flight education downlink is one in a series with educational organizations in the United States and abroad to improve STEM teaching and learning. It is an integral component of NASA’s Teaching From Space education program, which promotes learning opportunities and builds partnerships with the education community using the unique environment of space and NASA’s human spaceflight program.

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:
For information about NASA’s education programs, visit:
For information about the International Space Station, visit:

BARC and Jeffco ARES in Alabama before and after the tornados

Pleasant Grove Alabama Tornado 2011-Devastation for milesI was impressed by the immense turnout on the BARC(146.88 tone88.5) repeater in Birmingham Alabama as the storms approached. Storm spotters reporting in, various other ham radio operators reporting conditions. The unity and control of the net was obvious. I listen more than I talk and enjoyed being a fly on the wall. This disaster is one that I personally will never forget for many reasons.

The main reason I will not forget this disaster is because of the voices on the radio that I heard throughout the disaster helping people they may never meet or see. Communicating across great distances where other forms of communication failed us. I especially noted N4HUB and WX4RON, two well trained and caring people that have great experience in the radio community. Though no one would wish this kind of devastation on anyone the two individuals were ready for the challenge of the tornados and the chaos that ensued. These two coordinated a large network of volunteer radio operators across the state in the recovery and support operations. There hard work justifies this hobby for all of us. They exemplify what all of us should do with this great hobby. All of us need to be prepared for a disaster and the preparedness of BARC, Jeffco ARES, Many unnamed ham radio operators not only saved life’s but helped many agencies including the EMA and the Red Cross. Well done N4HUB and WX4RON! Your leadership during this disaster was unparalleled. I am sure I am not the only one to say this but, Thank you for everything you guys do!

Birmingham airport radio frequencies-BHM-Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport

This information is so oddly useless that when I needed it, I could not find it, so now I have posted it for me (and you) to have.   I have flown in and out of this airport many times and find its small and outdated facilities have a ‘hometown’ feel. 

Birmingham, Alabama

BHM-Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport
Birmingham AL
  Time Zone: CT 
Lat: N 3333.8     Long: W 08645.1     Elev: 650     Var: +03  Longest Runway: 12002
Clr Del: 125.67       Dept. ATIS: 119.4     Arr. ATIS: 119.4   Ground: 121.7     Tower: 118.25/119.9


BHM-Birmingham airport runways in AlabamaBirmingham Airport Communications & Frequencies
ATIS Frequencies: Hours(local) of Operation: CONTINUOUS
119.4 270.1
Birmingham Tower Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
118.25 119.9 317.725
Birmingham Ground Frequencies:
121.7 348.6
Birmingham Clearance Delivery Frequencies:
125.675 305.2
Birmingham Emergency Frequencies:
121.5 243.0

Birmingham Unicom Frequency: 122.950

Birmingham Primary Approach Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)
Birmingham Primary Departure Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)

Class C Frequencies:
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)

Biggest solar flare in years set to blast Earth’s atmosphere; could impact GPS, communication, power grids

The Sun is reaching out to us…Monday’s eruption, considered an X-class flare, is the biggest solar flare in four years. It is already being blamed for disrupting radio communication in China, and could potentially affect power grids and satellite communication around the globe.

Solar flare to hit earthA massive solar flare could make for a beautiful night for people in the northern United States – provided it doesn’t knock the lights out.
Common sense but, if you don’t need to have it(computers,radios,chargers,etc) turned on or plugged in right now, you should go ahead and turn it off and unplug it. I am not a “doom and gloom” kind of person, more it just makes sense that if there is an event (this thing hits us) and the device is not connected to the grid it will be more likely to survive. I digress…

The blast of charged particles unleashed from the sun earlier this week has been peppering the Earth over the last few days, but it’s biggest punch is expected to hit the Earth’s atmosphere on Thursday.

Monday’s eruption, considered an X-class flare, is the biggest solar flare in four years. It is already being blamed for disrupting radio communication in China, and could potentially affect power grids and satellite communication around the globe.

However, for the United States, the most likely outcome from this latest space storm could be a colorful night sky over New England and even parts of New York State.

“It won’t hit us dead-on,” physicist Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, told National Geographic.

The moon may make it difficult to see, but stargazers may be able to catch a reddish glow among the stars.

x-class solar flare will not be a direct hit“X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms,” NASA said on Tuesday.

The China Meteorological Administration reported that Monday’s solar flare caused “sudden ionospheric disturbances” in the atmosphere above China and jammed short-wave radio communications in the southern part of the country.

And Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency reported there was a high probability that large solar flares would appear over the next three days.

Solar flares in 2006 are blamed for causing disruptions of GPS systems, according to New Scientist magazine. Another in 1973 knocked out power in Canada, impacted six million people.

IFR am/fm-1200: Two-way radio repair, not yet (update 5 more pictures)

IFR am/fm-1200 arrived on time as expected but the IFR am/fm-1200 has more issues than the seller lead me to believe. I am still hopeful that I can figure this one out but at thispoint I am a little bit frustrated. I am still looking through the various boards and changing out the fuses. Maybe I will get this service monitor up and running soon… maybe not.

Edit 1 (1 hr in): 3 fuses later the unit is up and running in a basic FM narrow receive mode. Audio is good and receive seems to be on frequency. Scope seems to be having an issue and I have found multiple broken parts. The IFR am/fm-1200 is missing the antenna, AC and DC power cords, operation manual (3 ring binder is present but manual has been removed). It does have the Illustrated Parts Catalog for the fm/am-1200 communications service monitor.

Edit 2: Well, was able to tune a few radio but have no spectrum analyzer working.  When I turn on the scope I get a checksum error and then a memory error.   I sent an email to Kurt Graber at KG electronics but he is a business and suggested I ship it in.  Not much help there I guess unless I just want someone else to do it.  I will take the scope out and take a look at the power control board for it.  Surely I will find the melted part (at least one would hope…).  So for now the IFR FM/AM-1200 sits here on my desk, is able to do a variety of things but is without scope.  The scope on the IFR communications monitor is something I was looking forward to using so this is a pretty big set back. 

Sidenote: Sent an email to the person who sold me the device, they claimed another issue was “only” thing wrong with it.  Feeling a little burned at the moment, no pun intended. Now off to find the burned parts…..

ifr am/fm-1200 scope power supply board burned resistorifr am/fm-1200 scope power supply board burned by resistorEdit 3: Found the issue in the power control board of the IFR am/fm-1200. Now to decypher the results as my schematics do not match but I am 99% sure of the resistor in question… anyway here are the pictures, note the heavy board burn where the resistor on the ifr am/fm-1200’s spectrum/scope power supply shorted.  I imagine the smoke would have been a dead giveaway that the service monitor was in need of some internal love.  

Edit 4: in looking at the entire board and tracing out the current flow I have found more suspect parts, in particular is a irf520 that seems to be shorted. I am reviewing the spec sheet for that part and will be running some more tests.  Pictures are here and you can see the heat bubble in the pcb board where that resistor had overheated and failed.  following the schematics of the ifr am/fm-1200 I found that the source of the overvoltage in the resitor was the irf-520.  It is reading a short(see pictures).

Another view of the irf-520 is shorted and burned on the scope power supply in my ifr am/fm-1200

this spectrum scope power supply pcb board got hot enough to bubble. damage is still being assesed

irf-520 is shorted and burned on the scope power supply in my ifr am/fm-1200

  Thank you for all the great support and emails!  They have been great and very helpful!  Keep them coming!

more to come

P.S.  If you have any ideas or have one of these yourself, I would love to hear from you!!!

Thank you

more to come soon…