AO-92 Commissioning Update: HERCI Experiment and L-Band Downshifter Tested

By Paul Stoetzer

The AMSAT Engineering and Operations teams have been hard at work testing the various modes and experiments aboard AO-92 since its launch on January 12th. Since the last update, testing has concentrated on the University of Iowa’s High Energy CubeSat Radiation Instrument (HERCI) experiment and the AMSAT L-Band Downshifter.

The HERCI experiment was activated for the first time on January 18, 2018. According to Don Kirchner, KDØL, Research Engineer at the University of Iowa, “HERCI is intended to provide a mapping of radiation in a low earth orbit. This is of scientific interest for planning CubeSat test flights for low energy X-Ray detectors.”

“The instrument consists of a digital processing unit (DPU) derived from processors currently in orbit around Saturn on Cassini and on the way to Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft,” said Kirchner during a 2015 interview. “The DPU was shrunk to a CubeSat form factor with funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.”

While the HERCI experiment collects data continuously while the transponder is in operation, the data is only downlinked in the satellite’s high-speed data.

The HERCI Engineering Model boards prior to initial test. The boards will be tested before installation of the radiation detector and hybrid circuits. The digital processor board is the first use of the Y90 microprocessor firmware which was donated by Monte Dalrymple, KR6DC, of Systemyde Corporation.

In a Space Physics laboratory in Van Allen Hall, University of Iowa Electrical Engineering students Patrick Maloney, KD9CPD; Tyler Dunkel, KE0CHR; Kevin Klosterman, KD9CPF; and Bryan Senchuk, KD9CPE inspect the HERCI development boards.

After testing operation of the HERCI experiment and the downlinking of the experiment data, focus turned to the AMSAT L-Band Downshifter. When enabled, the L-Band Downshifter converts signals received on 1267.350 MHz and injects them into the satellite’s 435 MHz receiver. Due to the increased path loss on 1267 MHz and the utilization of the satellite’s 435 MHz receive antenna on 1267 MHz, prelaunch estimates suggested that around 100 watts ERP may be required for horizon to horizon access in this mode. As always, pre-launch estimates are subject to change after real-world testing in-orbit.

At 02:19 UTC on January 20, 2018, the L-Band Downshifter was commanded on for the first time. Initial testing showed promising results. Your author was able to access the transponder with an Alinco DJ-G7T HT with 1 watt output into a Comet CYA-1216E yagi. Telemetry analysis showed that the Downshifter was functioning normally and AMSAT announced open testing.

Reports flowed in of QSOs occurring over Europe and Japan. Many reported QSOs made with 10 watts or less to modest yagi antennas. EB1AO reported success using 2-3 watts output to a small yagi. IW1DTU reported using 10 watts to a horizontally polarized 10 element loop yagi. IU2EFA reported two QSOs made using 10 watts to a vertical groundplane antenna. Reports from Japan were similar. JK2XXK reported two QSOs with 10 watts to a vertically polarized 17 element loop yagi and JA6PL reported a QSO with 10 watts to a horizontally polarized 23 element yagi.

EB1AO setting up for his first pass of AO-92 in Mode L/v

The first open pass over North America occurred at around 02:00 UTC on January 21, 2018. Seven stations were heard, your author, KE4AL, WB8OTH, WB8RJY, NS3L, N8TLV, and VE4AMU. KE4AL and VE4AMU were using similar stations, KE4AL was using a Kenwood TM-741A with the 23 cm module (10 watts output) and a Comet CYA-1216E yagi modified with holes drilled in the boom to add 2 meter Arrow II elements. VE4AMU was using the same antenna with a Kenwood TM-941A mobile radio. Your author was also using that antenna, but with an Alinco DJ-G7T handheld and was able to open the transponder at around 10 degrees of elevation. Most impressively, N8TLV was heard using just a Yaesu FT-104 handheld transceiver and the stock rubber duck for the uplink. He was weak, but readable from around 35-38 degrees of elevation. AMSAT plans to publish articles in the future discussing equipment options for use on the L-Band uplink.

Rick Behma, VE4AMU, working AO-92 in Mode L/v with a Kenwood TM-941 mobile transceiver and Comet CYA-1216E yagi crossed with 2 meter Arrow II elements.

Audio from your author’s recording of the AO-92 Mode L/v pass over North America can be heard here:

The L-Band Downshifter operates on a 24 hour timer and shut off on schedule around 02:19 UTC on January 21, 2018. Tests of the various modes and experiments continue. AO-92 is on track to be commissioned and handed over to AMSAT Operations on Friday, January 26th.

Source:: AMSAT-NA

Board Re-Elects Rick Roderick, K5UR, as ARRL President; Barry Shelley, N1VXY, is CEO-Elect

Incumbent ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, has been re-elected by the League’s Board of Directors for a second term. The Board convened for its Annual Meeting on January 19-and 20. President Roderick, the League’s 16th President, received 9 votes, while the only other nominee, New England Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, received 6 votes. Current ARRL Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY,…

Source:: ARRL News

Grid Chasers: Make Sure TQSL Includes Your Grid Square

ARRL International Grid Chase (IGC) participants are encouraged to make sure that that each Logbook of The World (LoTW) station location in TQSL includes your grid square. To check, open TQSL, click on Station Locations, then on Display Station Location Properties. If no grid square is indicated, click on Edit a Station Location and insert the grid square for that location.

If TQSL does not cont…

Source:: ARRL News

FCC Announces Plans for Partial Government Shutdown

By qrznow

The 2 Meter Coffee Can Antenna

The FCC has issued a brief statement regarding its plans in the event of a partial government shutdown, which could start on January 20.

“In the event of a partial government shutdown, because of available funding, the Federal Communications Commission plans to remain open and pay staff at least through the close of business on Friday, January 26,” the FCC said.

This means the FCC will continue to accept and process Amateur Radio license applications and grants at least for another week. During the 16-day 2013 government shutdown, the FCC retained eight employees “to conduct interference detection, mitigation, and disaster response operations.” Only one “senior management official” was left in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau — which oversees Amateur Radio.

Source:ARRL

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Source:: QRZ Now

FCC Announces Plans for Partial Government Shutdown

The FCC has issued a brief statement regarding its plans in the event of a partial government shutdown, which could start on January 20.

“In the event of a partial government shutdown, because of available funding, the Federal Communications Commission plans to remain open and pay staff at least through the close of business on Friday, January 26,” the FCC said.

This means the FCC will continue t…

Source:: ARRL News

The K7RA Solar Update

It was a quiet week in space weather (January 11-17) with zero sunspots over the weekend and geomagnetic indicators rising only slightly.

Compared to last week, average daily sunspot numbers declined from 11.9 to 7, but average daily solar flux went from 69.9 to 70.7. Seems counter-intuitive that sunspot and solar flux would move in opposite directions, but these are all very low numbers anyway,…

Source:: ARRL News

Neville Cheadle, G3NUG, Silent Key

By rsgb It is with great sadness that the RSGB reports that Eric Neville Cheadle, G3NUG passed away unexpectedly on 14 January 2018. Neville was an amateur’s amateur. A gentleman of the airwaves, he was also a terrific and prolific operator. Chairman of Chiltern DX Club for many years, Neville was a keen contester and the driving […]

Source:: RSGB

GMDX Group sponsors new contest

By rsgb The GMDX Group is sponsoring a new annual competition to promote VHF-UHF DX and contesting activity in the geographical north and west of the British Isles, and to give stations everywhere an opportunity to work those areas. The competition is based on the GMDX Celtic Knot Award, which is for working stations in GM, GI, […]

Source:: RSGB

15 new SOTA associations added in 2017

By rsgb Fifteen new SOTA associations were added during the year 2017, bringing the total to 136 worldwide. These included IA, Isole Africane d’Italia, VO1, Canada—Newfoundland, FG, Guadeloupe, VY1, Canada—Yukon and ZB2, Gibraltar. For any countries not yet represented, the SOTA management team is happy to provide advice and support in the aim of bringing qualifying areas […]

Source:: RSGB

News for England South-West – 21 January 2018

By rsgb On Monday Weston-super-Mare Radio Society is having a construction, operating and natter night. Contact Martin Jones, G7UWI, on 01934 613 094. On Tuesday Blackmoor Vale Amateur Radio Society is having an HF evening. Details from Keith, M0TMO, on 01747 851 260. On Wednesday Gordano Amateur Radio Group is having a club night. More information from […]

Source:: RSGB