Monday, 3 January 2022

SSTV from the International Space Station

Receiving SSTV is one of the easier things to do when it comes to space communications. Two or three times are year the ISS broadcasts SSTV images on the 2 metre band. The most recent one finished a few days ago and was themed on Lunar Exploration. The signals are strong, and cycle constantly (2 minutes on, 2 minutes off) so there's a good chance of copying lots of them.

Sending SSTV could be done with a old school tape player, as it is just audio. The images are likely not encoded into audio right there on the ISS, but only exist in audio form. Still, for many who never done it, it's quite fun. The majority of passes in my area were during the night, so I left the radio and computer running and just looked at what I'd received in the morning, as did other members of the club. John VE3IPS went minimalist and copied an image by holding a smartphone microphone up to the speaker of a handheld.

I used my home VHF station, MMSSTV software, with an ICOM-7100 (removed from the car shortly after the pandemic shutdowns) and a Diamond X300-NA antenna at 25'. Verticals aren't idea for satellite communications but they do work. I heard the first ham transmission from the space shuttle by Owen Garriott W5LFL (SK) in 1983 using my mobile radio and a mag-mount antenna on the roof of my Volvo.

I tracked the ISS using gpredict, a multi-platform free open source software package. Through the (also free open source) programs rigctld and rotorctl it can compensate for Doppler shift and point your antennas at the spacecraft. With less than 3kHz shift it is hardly necessary to do Doppler compensation but I did anyway because I could, and with a vertical I certainly didn't need the rotor control capability. 

One small complaint about the organization of the event was that the 12 images were almost perfectly timed with the orbital period, so I received many copies of some, few of others and none of #5. On each pass I'd received 2 to 3 images and while most of them time there was some noise, when I received 3 images one of them was usually only partially copied.

Here's the best of each. These are unedited files. If I combined several into a single image, it could be cleaned up considerably.





5/12 - I missed this one, but Mike VE3EYS copied it and sent it to me. 

I did not copy image #5








Sunday, 2 January 2022

Local Nets for YRARC Members

Here's a list of the nets that YRARC is running or in which YRARC members participate. Let me know if there are any others that should be added to list, with the criteria that at least two members should be regular check-ins.

YRARC-Sponsored Nets

  • YRARC Health & Welfare Net: On the VE3YRA/V (145.350-, 103.5 Hz CTCSS) and VE3YRC/U (444.225+, no CTCSS at present), every evening from 8:30 to approximately 9:15 except on club meeting nights (first Tuesday of month September to June). This net requests the status of the participants with respect to COVID-19 and the operational state of their radios, and asks a single "10 second question" on a variety of topics.
  •  YRARC 6m net: On 50.135 MHz upper sideband horizontally polarized from 8:00pm to 8:25pm Mondays and Wednesdays. Moderated discussion on recent activities by participants or anything else of interest.
  • Ragchew Ramble Net: On VE3YRA/V and VE3YRC/U from 4-5pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Moderated by Joseph, VE3FMQ, on topics of interest to the participant, which are usually related to amateur radio. 
  • New: YRARC "Fusion Friday", will run every Friday from 8:00 to 8:25 PM on the VE3YRC/V Fusion repeater on 147.225MHz. VE3YRC repeater is also connected to the VE3YRC-ROOM, so can be connected through WIRES-X or directly through the repeater. This will initially have no net control and will run as a round-robin net.
  • New: YRARC "Simplex Saturday", every Saturday from 10 to 11AM, on 146.550MHz (YRARC channel #24) and see who you can contact. This will initially have no net control and will run as a round-robin net. Please keep a record of who you can hear and or manage to connect to. Commences 2022-01-08.
  • New: YRARC Winlink Wednesday, every Wednesday at any time. Use the Check-In template form to report how you have connected, e.g. Telnet, Packet, VARA, HF, ARDOP, the equipment used, the radio, TNC, Soundcard, band, mode, operating system, software client, the RMS gateway if used, and the Winlink client program. Send the email to Mike Crabtree, VA3MCT, the York Region Emergency Coordinator, who will report the results the following day.

Other Nets

  • ONTARS: None of our members is currently a net controller, but several have been in the past and several current members participate in this net which runs on 3.755 MHz (80M) lower sideband every day from 7AM to 6PM. See their web site for more information