New Amateur Satellites – AggieSat and Bevo-2

Aggie Sat was launched from the ISSA package of two satellites carrying Amateur Radio payloads has been deployed into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaborative Texas A&M and University of Texas at Austin research effort. Built by Texas A&M students, AggieSat4 (AGS4) will release UT’s Bevo-2 CubeSat in about a month, once it is far enough away from the ISS. Both schools received support from NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center (JSC) for the design, construction, testing, and launch phases. The goal of the overarching LONESTAR (Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking) program is for the two satellites to individually rendezvous with each other and perform docking and undocking maneuvers.

“The overall objective is to find ways for small spacecraft to join together autonomously in space,” Helen Reed, KD7GPX, professor of aerospace engineering and director of the AggieSat Lab at Texas A&M told NASA. “We need simple systems that will allow rendezvous and docking with little to no help from a human, which will become especially important as we venture farther out into space. Applications could include in-space assembly or reconfiguration of larger structures or systems as well as servicing and repair.”

The AggieSat team received its first beacon signal from the satellite at its Texas A&M Riverside Campus ground station. The AggieSat4 team is asking any Amateur Radio operators receiving the beacon signal to send any data to the AGS4 team. AggieSat4 will transmit 9.6 kbps FSK telemetry and 153.6 kbps FSK on 436.250 MHz. Once it’s placed into its own orbit, Bevo-2 will transmit on 437.325 on CW and 38.4 kbps FSK.

Both satellites were launched to the space station during a December 6, 2015, resupply mission. Earlier last week, Astronauts Tim Peake, KG5BVI, and Scott Kelly made preparations to deploy the sizeable LONESTAR phase 2 mission satellite package from the ISS, using the SSIKLOPS deployer. The satellite mission also will demonstrate communication cross links, data exchange, GPS-based navigation, and other tasks. AggieSat4 will capture images of the Bevo-2 release.

The satellites were independently developed by student teams at the two universities. Both teams were responsible for development plans for their satellite and had to meet established mission objectives.

The Bevo-2 Satellite was designed, built, and tested in the Texas Spacecraft Lab (TSL) at the University of Texas at Austin. “This whole experience is very exciting,” TSL Director Glenn Lightsey, KE5DDG, said last fall as undergraduate and graduate students were in the final stages of their project. “It’s great to have a research program where our students can build satellites that fly in space.” Reed and Lightsey are co-investigators for the LONESTAR 2 project.

GREAmerica PSR-800 GRE PSR-800 EZ Scan Digital P25 Trunking HH Scanner

The GRECOM GRE PSR-800 pre-programmed digital scanner represents another step forward in this new era of scanner design. For experienced scanner users the PSR-800 is certainly radical. There’s no keypad, but rather a set of buttons reminiscent of an MP3 music player. For scanner novices or even experienced users who will be traveling and don’t wish to program the scanner for every city they’re visiting, the PSR-800 is a great option. The radio is about the exact size of a deck of playing cards although an inch taller. It’s very convenient size is perfect for scanning on-the-go. It will conveniently fit in your pocket which its direct competitor, the Uniden HomePatrol, is far bulkier. The PSR-800 is pre-programmed with the RadioReference national database for the U.S. and Canada. To program the radio you press a Menu key, select Browse Library and you then follow a hierarchical tree structure for selecting state, county, municipality and agency. You can select at one level, such as county, and the radio will program everything within the county; or, you can drill down to the public works in a particular town and just select that department for scanning. Each group of channels is then assigned to a Scanlist and you select which Scanlists you want to scan. The audio on the PSR-800 is very good and as usual with GRE the APCO-25 digital audio decoding is excellent. With its backlighting on the PSR-800 display is very bright and easy to read and the unique multi-colored LED which can be matched to specific groups or channels, has been expandedl. The top-mounted control is for squelch only while volume is handled on the rocker panel on the radio’s front face. With service searches, Spectrum Sweeper and a number of other functions the radio the PSR-800 is a trend-setter.

GREAmerica PSR-600 GRE PSR-600 Digital Apco-25 Triple Trunking Base Scanner

The GRE PSR-600 employs cutting edge technology to bring a high level of performance and innovative features. This model clearly raises the bar in the area of advanced trunking scanners. 1800 memories are available and may be dynamically structured to bank sizes you prefer. Plus you can store 21 virtual scanners (so that is a total of 37,800 objects). The large backlit LCD is four lines by 16 characters. The keys are also backlit. Supported trunking systems include Motorola Analog, EDACS, LTR and Digital APCO (9600 bps). There is a a weather alert function, SAME technology and Skywarn features. You also get an exclusive multicolor ALERT-LED that provides a visual indication of activity on selected channels or talkgroups. The Global Menu features allows you to alter many operational parameters to your personal preference. There is a useful spectrum sweeper function that seeks out nearby RF sources. Operates from 13.8 VDC Includes telescopic BNC antenna, GRE USB PC Interface Cable, PC CD, mounting bracket, AC adapter and DC power cable.

GREAmerica PSR-100 GRE PSR-100 200 Channel Standard Handheld Analog Scanner

The GRE PSR-100 is an affordable scanner with innovative features. 200 memories and five pre-programmed bands (Marine, Fire/Police, Air, Amateur and Weather). There is also a built-in priority channel. The weather alert capability features SAME receiving with 10 FIPS area memories plus there is a Skywarn function. There is a lock-out review key to confirm lock frequencies. There is a key lock for safety and the LCD is backlit. You can turn on the display’s backlight for easy viewing in the dark. The Spectrum Sweeper features allows you to sweep the entire range of the scanner’s design frequencies, or you can specify those frequency ranges that you wish to sweep and exclude ranges that you do not want to sweep. This allows you to omit frequency ranges with constant strong frequency activity, such as those with paging or broadcast transmitters. This radio is PC programmable and supports unit-to-unit cloning. There is a 9VDC external power jack and an earphone jack (3.5mm stereo). The PSR-100 comes with a flexible BNC antenna, belt clip, manual, AC adapter, alkaline battery holder and rechargeable battery holder. It requires four AA cells (not supplied). This scanner has a built-in charging circuit that lets you charge nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) or nickel cadmium (Ni-CD) rechargeable batteries (not supplied) while they are in the scanner. To charge rechargeable batteries, you need to use the supplied AC adaptor.

GREAmerica PSR-120 800MHz Conventional Scanning Receiver (Black)

The PSR-120 is ideal for use in applications where trunked radio system tracking is not required. These affordable scanners feature the latest, state-of-the-art receiver designs in sleek, modern enclosures also covers 800MHz band. The PSR-120 include Service Search Bank, allowing you to quickly search frequencies most commonly used by Public Safety, Marine, Aircraft, and Amateur Radio users.

GREAmerica PSR-410 GRE PSR-410 Analog Mobile Scanner

The GRE PSR-410 triple trunking desktop-mobile scanner offers excellent receive coverage and some new capabilities. This radio includes coverage of the new 700 MHz band, new 380 MHz federal band and has upgradable CPU firmware in support of future rebanding. The vast memory system can store 40744 objects in 20 dynamically allocated scan lists. The multi-system trunking capability scans most common trunked radio system signaling formats, including Motorola, EDACS Standard, EDACS Narrow, and LTR trunked radio systems. Talkgroup call and individual call monitoring are supported. You get CTCSS and DCS sub-audible encoded squelch modes. A spectrum sweep function detects nearby unknown signals. Five pre-programmed band searches are available (Marine, Fire/Police, Air, Amateur and Weather). Programmable multi-color LED can be configured to illuminate or flash when certain objects are active. The full dot matrix bitmap LCD display has a real-time S-Meter. The weather alert capability features SAME receiving with 10 FIPS area memories plus there is a Skywarn function for one button access to to storm spotter networks. This radio scans at 55 channel per second and sweeps at 90 steps per second. This radio comes with a conventional vehicle mounting bracket and is also DIN-E in-dash mountable (with optional sleeve). The PSR-410 comes with a BNC telescopic antenna, manual, mounting bracket, AC adapter and DC power cord.

GREAmerica PSR-310 GRE PSR-310 Analog Handheld Scanner

The GRE PSR-310 triple trunking handheld scanner offers a host of features and some new technologies. This radio includes coverage of the new 700 MHz band, new 380 MHz federal band and has upgradable CPU firmware in support of future rebanding. The vast memory system can store 40744 objects in 20 dynamically allocated scan lists. The multi-system trunking capability scans most common trunked radio system signaling formats, including Motorola, EDACS Standard, EDACS Narrow, and LTR trunked radio systems. Talkgroup call and individual call monitoring are supported. You get CTCSS and DCS sub-audible encoded squelch modes. A spectrum sweep function detects nearby unknown signals. Five pre-programmed band searches are available (Marine, Fire/Police, Air, Amateur and Weather). Programmable multi-color LED can be configured to illuminate or flash when certain objects are active. The full dot matrix bitmap LCD display has a real-time S-Meter. The weather alert capability features SAME receiving with 10 FIPS area memories plus there is a Skywarn function for one button access to to storm spotter networks. This radio scans at 55 channel per second and sweeps at 90 steps per second. The PSR-310 comes with a flexible BNC antenna, manual, belt clip, AC adapter, alkaline battery holder (black) and rechargeable battery holder (yellow).

Amateur Radio Study included in House-Passed Payroll Tax Bill

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 (HR 3630) — the bill to extend the payroll tax reduction that passed the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 13 — includes among its many other provisions the “Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum Act” or “JOBS Act” that passed the Communications and Technology Subcommittee on December 1. The JOBS Act makes up Title IV of HR 3630 and includes the following:

SEC. 4205. STUDY ON EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS BY AMATEUR RADIO AND IMPEDIMENTS TO AMATEUR RADIO COMMUNICATIONS.

•(a) In General- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the [Federal Communications] Commission, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Communications in the Department of Homeland Security, shall–
•(1) complete a study on the uses and capabilities of amateur radio service communications in emergencies and disaster relief; and
•(2) submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report on the findings of such study.
•(b) Contents- The study required by subsection (a) shall include–
•(1)(A) a review of the importance of emergency amateur radio service communications relating to disasters, severe weather, and other threats to lives and property in the United States; and
•(B) recommendations for–
•(i) enhancements in the voluntary deployment of amateur radio operators in disaster and emergency communications and disaster relief efforts; and
•(ii) improved integration of amateur radio operators in the planning and furtherance of initiatives of the Federal Government; and
•(2)(A) an identification of impediments to enhanced amateur radio service communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations; and
•(B) recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments.
•(c) Expertise- In conducting the study required by subsection (a), the Commission shall use the expertise of stakeholder entities and organizations, including the amateur radio, emergency response, and disaster communications communities.
Such a study has long been sought by the ARRL.

HR 3630 is now up for consideration in the Senate where its prospects for passage are dimmed by the inclusion of a controversial provision concerning a pipeline project.

Ham Radio: Wednesday Central Alabama Simplex Net

  • NCS – WX4RON, Ronnie in the Birmingam area
  • Time – 8:30 PM every Wednesday Night
  • FREQUENCY – 146.580

This net is a new addition to the normal Sunday Central Alabama simplex net. It is another great opportunity to teach/remind us all what it is like to work a large net without repeaters.  A repeater failure can occur at any point and all of us should be aware of how to communicate in VHF without one.  This net provides a great opportunity to test our simplex communications capabilities, equipment, antenna systems, etc.  This net also has rotating NCS duties giving more people an opportunity to learn how to relay communications from various operating locations across the state.   A truly great net to listen for and participate in if possible!

December 12, 1961-First Amateur Radio satellite took to the skies, OSCAR 1

History – On December 12, 1961 the first Amateur Radio satellite took to the skies. Known as OSCAR 1 (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio), the satellite was part of a payload launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard an Agena rocket. It was inserted into a 431 X 245 kilometer orbit inclined about 81 degrees to the Earth’s equator.

The satellite was in orbit for 22 days and was heard by more than 570 amateurs in 28 countries as it sent “HI” in high speed Morse code on 2 meters. (Listen to an original audio recording here.) OSCAR 1 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on January 31, 1962.