Scouts on Long Island Contact the ISS via Amateur Radio

Matinecock District Scout ISS Contact

Matinecock District Scout ISS Contact

I once again had the pleasure to help a group of young people make contact with an Astronaut on the International Space Station this past week.

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren

Scouts from the Matinecock District made a contact with Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, KO5MOS on the International Space Station on Saturday, June 4th, 2022.  You can watch and listen to the contact on YouTube by clicking below.  The actual contact begins at about 40:35 into the video.

The Scouts’ contact lasted for approximately 10 minutes. The Scouts asked and Kjell answered 18 of their 20 questions and there was time at the end of the contact for “Thank Yous”.  Here are the questions that the Scouts asked:

1. What do you have to study after HS in order to have a career as an Astronaut?
2. Could the ISS ever be self-sustaining and not need care packages of food/water/oxygen from Earth?
3. Are ISS teams only picked based on skills or does NASA try to match personalities as well?
4. How does the ISS stay safe from all the “space junk” floating around the Earth?
5. Do you only do experiments in your field of expertise on the ISS or because of limited resources do you find yourself assisting others doing things you’re not as comfortable with?
6. Is automated piloting better than manual piloting in terms of flight controls and docking?
7. What one thing did you do as a young adult that you felt was your first significant step to becoming an astronaut?
8. I’ve heard being in space can change your taste buds. Have you created any interesting or creative recipes to make space food taste better?
9. How do they supply the ISS with constant oxygen?
10. We saw a video of a gorilla suit prank on the ISS a few months ago. Have there been any other funny pranks?
11. What jobs do you have to do on the ship?
12. Do the astronauts get to bring something from home with them to space?
13. I’ve heard astronauts from different countries will trade food. What country has the most popular dish on the ISS?
14. In your personal opinion, what is the best and least good thing about being on the ISS?
15. Can you swim in space when you’re floating?
16. Can you feel the effects being in space has on your body? If so, what’s it like?
17. Can you yo-yo upside down in space?
18. Does the ISS have technology installed that could capture Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)like the US Navy has recently? Have you seen anything up there that you can’t explain?
19. What does it feel like to go to space?
20. I read that there was once water on Mars. Where did all the water go?
AB1OC ARISS Ground Station Operations

AB1OC ARISS Ground Station Operations

This contact was made in a Telebridge format using my Ground Station here in New Hampshire, USA. The linkup with the Scouts on Long Island was via a Zoom conference call. You can learn more about our ground station here.
ARISS Ground Station

ARISS Ground Station

Helping young people make contact with astronauts on the ISS using Amateur Radio is great fun. My work with ARISS is near the top of my list in terms of the most rewarding work that I do with Amateur Radio.

Best and 73,

Fred, AB1OC

Scouts in Australia Contact the ISS via Amateur Radio

Scout Making Contact with the ISS

Scouts in Victoria, Australia Making Contact with the ISS at VicJam

I once again had the pleasure to help a group of young people make contact with an Astronaut on the International Space Station this past week. The Scouts were participating in a Jamboree in Victoria, Australia. You can learn more about the event, called VicJam, here.

Astronaut Mark VandeHei, KG5GNP

Astronaut Mark VandeHei, KG5GNP

The Scouts made contact with Astronaut Mark VandeHei, KG5GNP this past Tuesday, January 4th, 2022. You can watch and listen to the contact on YouTube by clicking below. The actual contact begins at about 8:25 into the video.

The Scout’s contact lasted for approximately 10 minutes. The Scouts asked and Mark answered all of their questions and there was time at the end of the contact for “Thank You’s” and “Good Wishes”. Here are the questions that the Scouts asked:

  1. What 3 things do you miss from Earth? My Mum worked on a ship and missed; sleeping with the window open, the smell of cut grass, and the sound of rain on the roof.
  2. What do you have to do to become an astronaut?
  3. What would happen if someone were seriously ill on the ISS, and what would you do?
  4. How do you prepare and eat your meals while up in the space station?
  5. What is it like to float around in no gravity without friction?
  6. How does it feel going from zero gravity in space back to earth’s gravity? Does it hurt??
  7. What is the scariest thing to happen to you whilst you have been in space?
  8. How do you shower and go to the toilet in space?
  9. After being in the space station for so many months, how does it feel to experience planet Earth and nature again with all your senses, especially smell?
  10. How do the seasons affect the veggie production system on the ISS? How often do you get to eat fresh food?
  11. Did you always want to be an astronaut and how did you make it happen?
  12. Why do people go into space and how long is an average mission?
  13. How did you feel when you first learned of your selection to go to space and has this been a life-long ambition for you?
  14. Can you share some of the science that was worked on in space that we can now see on earth?
  15. Is there sound or much noise in space?
  16. Multiple nations have had space stations each bestowed with a specific name – Russia had Mir, NASA had Skylab, and China Tiangong-1. As a truly international effort and the largest man-made object in space, does the ISS have a Nickname, or is there a name that the astronauts use for the individual components?
  17. What energy supply do you use to power the station. If nuclear, what type of reactor do you use? If solar, how many solar panels do you use, and what is their power density?
ARISS Ground Station

ARISS Ground Station

This contact was made in a Telebridge format using my Ground Station here in New Hampshire, USA. The linkup with the Scouts in Australia was via a telephone connection using a phone patch in my shack. You can learn more about our ground station here.

AB1OC ARISS Ground Station Operations

AB1OC ARISS Ground Station Operations

Helping young people make contact with astronauts on the ISS using Amateur Radio is great fun. My work with ARISS is near the top of my list in terms of the most rewarding work that I do with Amateur Radio.

Best and 73,

Fred, AB1OC

YOTA 2021 ISS Contact

International Space Station (ISS)

International Space Station (ISS)

I had the pleasure of serving as the ARISS contact moderator for the Youth On The Air (YOTA) 2021 Camp’s contact with the International Space Station (ISS) using Amateur Radio today. Young Hams spent the week at the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station in West Chester, OH engaging in a variety of Amateur Radio Activities…

Source: YOTA 2021 ISS Contact

You can view the video of YOTA 2021 Camp’s contact with astronaut Aki Hoshide, KE5DNI via the link above.

Fred, AB1OC

Helping Amateur Radio Grow

Fred, AB1OC Helping a School Make Contact with an Astronaut on the ISS

Helping a School Make Contact with an Astronaut on the ISS

As many of you know, I have been dedicating much of my time over the last 6 years to helping folks to get into Amateur Radio, to learn new skills through our hobby, and to experience the joy and sense of accomplishment that Amateur Radio brings. I hope to further this effort in the position of New England Director in the ARRL…

Source: Helping Amateur Radio Grow – Nashua Area Radio Society

Several friends and supporters have approached me about running for the position of New England Division Director in the ARRL. Directors serve on the Board of Directors of the ARRL for a Term of 3 years and are elected by the members of the ARRL in the Director’s Division. In our case, this encompasses ARRL members in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

After much consultation with friends, the NARS Executive Committee, my wife Anita, and others who have played major roles in the ARRL, I have decided to take on this challenge by running this fall. I am doing this, in part, to try to help Clubs and Hams here in New England and across the ARRL to grow participation in the Amateur Radio Service and to benefit from the many learning opportunities that it provides.

You can read more about what I am hoping to accomplish as New England Division Director of the ARRL via the link above.

Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC

ISS Voice Repeater is QRV!

International Space Station (ISS)

International Space Station (ISS)

Thanks to some great work by the ARISS Team, a new Voice Repeater system is operating on the International Space Station! Here is the access information:

  • Mode: FM Voice
  • Uplink Frequency: 145.990 MHz, PL 67.0 Hz
  • Downlink Frequency: 437.800 MHz
IORS Hardware

IORS Hardware and Kenwood Radio

The repeater uses the new InterOperable Radio System (IORS), a space-modified JVC Kenwood D710GA transceiver, and an ARISS developed power supply system.

Kenwood D710GA

Kenwood D710GA

Here’s some more information from the ARISS Press Release:

The ARISS team is pleased to announce that the setup and installation of the first element of our next-generation radio system was completed and amateur radio operations with it are now underway. This first element, dubbed the InterOperable Radio System (IORS), was installed in the International Space Station Columbus module. The IORS replaces the Ericsson radio system and packet module that were originally certified for spaceflight on July 26, 2000.

The initial operation of the new radio system is in FM cross-band repeater mode using an uplink frequency of 145.99 MHz with an access tone of 67 Hz and a downlink frequency of 437.800 MHz. System activation was first observed at 01:02 UTC on September 2. Special operations will continue to be announced.

The IORS was launched from Kennedy Space Center on March 6, 2020, on board the SpaceX CRS-20 resupply mission. It consists of a special, space-modified JVC Kenwood D710GA transceiver, an ARISS developed multi-voltage power supply, and interconnecting cables. The design, development, fabrication, testing, and launch of the first IORS was an incredible five-year engineering achievement accomplished by the ARISS hardware volunteer team. It will enable new, exciting capabilities for ham radio operators, students, and the general public. Capabilities include a higher power radio, voice repeater, digital packet radio (APRS) capabilities, and a Kenwood VC-H1 slow-scan television (SSTV) system…

You can view the full ARISS Press Release here.

I was able to work several stations using the new ISS Voice Repeater this morning. It is very sensitive and uses 5 watts of downlink power with a good antenna on the ISS. I was able to make solid contacts using the Ground Station here using only 1.5 watts uplink power when the ISS was at 10 degrees above the horizon. At least one of my contacts was with a station using an HT with a whip antenna!

The voice repeater is sensitive enough and uses a power level that will enable folks with an HT and a whip antenna to make contacts using the ISS when it is close to the horizon. It should also be easy to make contacts using mobile rigs that can support cross-band operation as well. Program your radios!

I’m looking forward to working you through the ISS!

Fred, AB1OC

 

Listen to the ISS Contact Scheduled for April 30th, 2020

International Space Station (ISS)

International Space Station (ISS)

We have successfully tested the Telebridge capabilities here at our station. ARISS has scheduled a Multipoint Telebridge an ISS school contact using our Ground Station for Thursday, April 30th beginning at 13:35 UTC (9:35 am Eastern Time). The Multipoint Telebridge format enables the students to contact the ISS from their homes via telephone connections.

Space Communications Ground Station at AB1OC-AB1QB

Space Communications Ground Station at AB1OC-AB1QB

Our station will provide the ground to the ISS link for the contact between Chris Cassidy KF5KDR, an astronaut on-board the ISS, and the Northern Virginia Schools Group, Woodbridge VA.

IP Camera View of New Tower

IP Camera View of VHF/UHF Tower at AB1OC

ARISS will Livestream video and audio during the contact including a view of the antennas here as they track the ISS. The Livestream of the pre-contact program will begin at around 30 minutes before the ISS comes up. You can click on the YouTube stream below just before the contact to see the pre-contact program and to listen to our contact with the ISS.

Stations in the Northeastern USA should be able to receive the downlink signal from ISS during the contact on 145.800 MHz FM, Rx only. We hope that you’ll join us for the upcoming contact with the ISS!

Fred, AB1OC

Satellite Station 4.0 Part 11 – Phone Patch/Telebridge Capability

Council Rock South Students Contact the ISS

Council Rock South Students Contact the ISS

I have joined the ARISS Program as a Mentor to help schools make contacts with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). School contacts as part of the ARISS program can take two forms – Direct Contacts and Telebridge Contacts.

ARISS Direct Contacts

Direct contacts involve setting up a space communications ground station at the school making the contact.

ARISS Direct Contact Ground Station Antennas at Council Rock HS

ARISS Direct Contact Ground Station Antennas at Council Rock HS

Direct Contacts involve a great deal of preparation and a local Ham Club which has considerable VHF weak-signal experience and equipment to partner with on a school’s contact. There can also be considerable expense involved in assembling the necessary ground station for a Direct Contact. In addition, some locations are much better than others in terms of access to good, high-angle ISS passes and an environment that is relatively free of nearby obstructions like buildings, hills, etc.

Our radio club, The Nashua Area Radio Society, supported a Direct Contact at Hudson Memorial School in December 2018. It was a fantastic experience. You can read more about what was involved here.

ARISS Telebridge Contacts

students at Maani Ulujuk High School in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Students at Maani Ulujuk High School in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Telebridge contacts involve using an existing ground station in a different location with an audio link to the school making the contact via telephone. This type of contact provides a high-quality experience with an astronaut on the ISS without the need to construct a ground station at the school. It enables the teachers involved in the contact process to focus on the educational aspects of their contact with the ISS.

All of the ARISS Telebridge Ground stations are built and operated to very high standards.

Also, schools in difficult locations or those who don’t have the needed support of a local Ham Radio club with the necessary space ground station equipment can still enjoy making a contact with an astronaut on the ISS. In addition, a Telebridge contact also enables the supporting Amateur Radio Club to focus on providing great Amateur Radio activities and educational support to their partner school.

Adding Telebridge Capability to Our Station

Space Communications Ground Station at AB1OC-AB1QB

Space Communications Ground Station at AB1OC-AB1QB

We’ve used the station here to make many satellite contacts and to listen to ARISS contacts from the ISS. We’ve also used our station to receive images from the ISS during ISS SSTV events. We’ve decided to add a Phone Patch to our station here to enable it to be used as a testbed for schools preparing for Telebridge contacts.

Adding A Telephone Patch

Phone Patch To Enable Telebridges

Phone Patch To Enable Testing and Hosting Telebridge Contacts

A Telephone Patch enables a third party to communicate over an Amateur Radio link using a telephone. A Phone Patch provides a connection between a Transceiver and a telephone line. It also handles creating a proper balance at the 2-wire Hybrid Interface that connects to the telephone line to the radio. A typical Phone Patch device also provides for Transmit and Receive level adjustments.

Phone Patch units are not used all that much anymore. Fortunately, MFJ still makes the MFJ-624E Hybrid Phone Patch.

Setting up the MFJ Phone Patch was pretty straightforward. All that was required to work with our IC-9700 Transceiver was to set the internal jumpers in the MFJ Phone Patch to configure its microphone connection properly. The MFJ Phone Patch came with a cable to connect to the round microphone jack on the IC-9700 Transceiver. A connection between our audio amplifier to bring audio into the Phone Patch was made to complete the installation.

Testing On The Air

The MFJ Phone Patch was adjusted to achieve a good balance on the 2-wire Hybrid Interface to the telephone line and the Transmit and Receive levels were properly adjusted prior to on-the-air use. These procedures are clearly explained in the manual for the MFJ-624E and are easy to complete.

With these steps complete, we set up a telephone call and made several contacts using FM stateless on the air. We received good audio reports and could easily understand the downlink audio using a standard telephone receiver.

Becoming an ARISS Telebridge Ground Station

My initial purpose for adding Telebridge capability to our ground station was to enable it to be used to perform testing of the audio systems in schools that will be hosting Telebridge contacts. I am also going to apply to become one of the ARISS Telebridge Ground Stations in North America. We have an emergency backup power system here and our station’s location in our home makes it a good choice for situations where contacts need to be made at any time of the day or night. More to come on this in the future.

More About Our Ground Station

Here are links to some additional posts about our Satellite Ground Stations:

Fred, AB1OC

RSU 21 Students to Communicate to Outer Space – Portland Press Herald

Ann Stockbridge, Educator at Kennebunk’s Sea Road School

Ann Stockbridge, Educator at Kennebunk’s Sea Road School

Regional School Unit 21 has been selected for an out-of-this-world opportunity. An international association of space agencies and Amateur Radio organizations has chosen RSU 21, represented by Sea Road School, to advance in a process climaxing in a conversation between students and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

RSU 21 was one of 10 schools selected nationally to continue through the multi-month acceptance process. The contact event with the ISS could occur between July and December of this year.

The opportunity is provided by ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station), an association that includes NASA, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the American Radio Relay League, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, and space agencies in Canada, Japan, Europe, and Russia. They collaborate to enable students to communicate with ISS astronauts and help inspire interest in space, communications and STEM coursework.

Source: RSU 21 students to communicate to outer space – Portland Press Herald

As our readers may know, I have joined the ARISS program as a Mentor to help schools prepare for and make successful contacts with Astronauts on the International Space Station. I am working with Regional School Unit 21 Sea Road School teachers and local Ham Radio folks in Maine, USA to help them make contact with the ISS during 2H2020. The link above shares more about the STEM learning program that is being created around this contact.

Fred, AB1OC

December 2019 ISS SSTV Event

Source: December 2019 ISS SSTV Event – Nashua Area Radio Society

Slow-Scan TV from the International Space Station (ISS) was on the air again late in December 2019.  The ISS SSTV event was in memory of cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. We had our satellite station running to track the ISS and capture the SSTV images during the event. It’s pretty easy to receive these images – it can be done with an HT, hand-held antenna, and a laptop…

This article includes a gallery of the images that we received during the December 2019 ISS SSTV event and some how-to information that you can use to receive SSTV images from the ISS with just an HT and a handheld antenna.

Anita, AB1QB and Fred, AB1OC

An Amazing Experience – Council Rock HS South ISS Contact

Council Rock South Students Contact the ISS

Council Rock South Students Contact the ISS

Its been about a year since we helped students at Hudson Memorial School make contact with the ISS. That contact was enabled by ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station). ARISS is an organization that coordinates and sponsors Amateur Radio Activities aboard the ISS.

After our contact, I decided to become an ARISS Mentor so I could help other schools make contacts with astronauts aboard the ISS. I spent the last year working with Dave Jordan, AA4KN to learn how the ARISS program works and how to help schools make successful ISS contacts. Dave did a great job coaching me as I worked with Council Rock H.S. South in Holland, PA to prepare for their ISS Contact…

Source: An Amazing Experience – Council Rock HS South ISS Contact

I recently had the privilege of helping Council Rock H.S. South in Holland, PA to make contact with astronaut Drew Morgan on the ISS. The link above shares the story of this amazing experience and my journey to become an ARISS Mentor. The article also contains videos and photos that capture and share the experience. I hope that you enjoy it!

Fred, AB1OC
ARISS Mentor