Author Topic: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!  (Read 8917 times)

Offline pberrett

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I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« on: 08/24/2009 12:53 PM »
Hi all

Tonight I hooked up my ham radio (on 144 mhz) up to my sound card on my computer, and using a packet radio program (a program that breaks communications up into packets of data) I successfully communicated with a bulletin board on a similar setup in the ISS as it flew over Melbourne Australia at greater than 7kms per second.

I was only able to get a few commands and responses in before the ISS went down below the horizon but the pass was not ideal.

A little later this week I will do the same again but this time upload a message to the bulletin board that other Amateur radio operators around the world will be able to download and see.
 
The radio I was using is an ex fire services 2 way radio (fm900) modified to work on the 144 mhz band. And it cost just $100!

The only other equipment was a simple vertical antenna, my computer and an interface with a few simple components.

Many years ago I did the same thing and communicated with the MIR space station using packet radio. I have a confirmatory (QSL) card to prove it.

Space is fun to read about but its even more fun when you actually get involved. One day I hope to talk to one of the Astronauts using my radio equipment. But you have to be lucky.

All good fun!

cheers Peter VK3PB

Offline Hungry4info3

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #1 on: 08/25/2009 12:00 AM »
You sent the ISS commands?  ???
(forgive me, but I know very little about such topics, this sentence just struck me as something that would have guys in dark suits / sunglasses knocking on your door)

Offline Variable

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #2 on: 08/25/2009 03:16 AM »
You sent the ISS commands?  ???
(forgive me, but I know very little about such topics, this sentence just struck me as something that would have guys in dark suits / sunglasses knocking on your door)

Sounds like he was sysadmin-ing the BBS?  Is that right Peter?
I'll get a ladder...

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #3 on: 08/25/2009 08:41 AM »
The ISS, for various reasons, carries ham radio on 144mhz. A lot of the time that is left hooked up to a terminal node controller (TNC) which is kind of like a small computer. This is all independant of the ISS computers and other radio equipment.

The tnc runs a basic bbs type of software. One can upload messages to the bulletin board for all to see or send a particular user a private message.

Someone connecting to the bbs via radio can download a list of the latest messages posted, view a particular message, send a message, get a list of the most recent callsigns that have connected to the bbs or have a keyboard to keyboard chat with an astronaut if there is one using the equipment at that juncture.

The radio equipment is also used by astronauts for communicating with schools for prearranged question and answer sessions with students or for just talking to radio amateurs in their leisure time. Many of the astronauts are licensed radio amateurs.

When I connected I had a quick look at who had recently connected. I wanted to read a few messages but ran out of time on that pass.

The speed of the connection is slow - 1200 baud half duplex which is way slower than dialup. but it is fast enough to send and receive text.

Here are some links for more information

http://www.issfanclub.com

http://www.marexmg.org/fileshtml/isspacketmanual.html
 
cheers Peter 

Offline HyperTay

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #4 on: 08/25/2009 12:52 PM »
The radio equipment is also used by astronauts for communicating with schools for prearranged question and answer sessions with students or for just talking to radio amateurs in their leisure time. Many of the astronauts are licensed radio amateurs.

Here are some links for more information

http://www.issfanclub.com

http://www.marexmg.org/fileshtml/isspacketmanual.html
 
cheers Peter 

My dad was a ham radio enthusiast for most of his life, and when I was a child I was fascinated hearing voices from around the world talking to him in his little shop. He talked to all sorts of famous people but I don't remember them now. I got his radio callsign badge as a keepsake after he died. I wish I had his technical side.

I am jealous!
« Last Edit: 08/25/2009 12:53 PM by HyperTay »
"If you're not having fun in space, you're obviously doing something wrong!"-  C.J. Sturckow, CDR STS-128

Can't keep my mind from the circling skies... Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I - Pink Floyd

Online ItsyAndy

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #5 on: 08/25/2009 05:55 PM »
Fascinating! Good job Peter.
-- Andy

Offline Norm Hartnett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #6 on: 08/25/2009 05:56 PM »
The speed of the connection is slow - 1200 baud half duplex which is way slower than dialup. but it is fast enough to send and receive text.
cheers Peter 

I can remember when I would have killed someone for 1200 baud half duplex on my dialup.  ;D

I'm not sure I'm jealous but congratulations in any case.
“You can’t take a traditional approach and expect anything but the traditional results, which has been broken budgets and not fielding any flight hardware.” Mike Gold - Apollo, STS, CxP; those that don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it: SLS.

Offline Variable

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #7 on: 08/25/2009 07:25 PM »
The speed of the connection is slow - 1200 baud half duplex which is way slower than dialup. but it is fast enough to send and receive text.
cheers Peter 

I can remember when I would have killed someone for 1200 baud half duplex on my dialup.  ;D

I'm not sure I'm jealous but congratulations in any case.

300 baud and on GENIE.  WOW!!  the good ole days
I'll get a ladder...

Offline StuffOfInterest

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #8 on: 08/26/2009 01:24 PM »
It has been a few years, but I once managed to work the ISS ham radio packet repeater using a Kenwood TH-D7AG (5 Watts power) uisng an antenna mounted in my attic.   It was an amazing thrill to see the computer screen show the same text message I had sent up coming back down.  This was no small task from Northern Virginia where there are a lot of people trying to access the repeater on each pass.  I did it again a few years later during a trip to Hawaii (using a hand-held yagi antenna) and was the only one talking to it that time.   At the time I had only a Technician level license and it was this experience which drove me to explore more aspects of HAM radio and go on to get an Amateur Extra class license.

I kept a diary of my activity up to and through the success in contacting IIS.  The big event happened on 29 May 2001.  I've been off the air the last few years due to a move and a major house remodel taking place but I hope to get active again before too much longer.  It will be interesting to see if I can repeat the contact.

Congratulations on your successess working under a shoestring budget!

73 de NQ4S
« Last Edit: 08/26/2009 02:08 PM by StuffOfInterest »

Offline dromito

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #9 on: 08/26/2009 01:30 PM »
It has been a few years, but I once managed to work the ISS ham radio packet repeater using a Kenwood TH-D7AG (5 Watts power) uisng an antenna mounted in my attic.   It was an amazing thrill to see the computer screen show the same text message I had sent up coming back down.  This was no small task from Northern Virginia where there are a lot of people trying to access the repeater on each pass.  I did it again a few years later during a trip to Hawaii (using a hand-held yagi antenna) and was the only one talking to it that time.   At the time I had only a Technician level license and it was this experience which drove me to explore more aspects of HAM radio and go on to get an Amateur Extra class license.

I kept a diary of my activity up to and through the success in contacting IIS.  The big event happened on 29 May 2001.  I've been off the air the last few years due to a move and a major house remodel taking place but I hope to get active again before too much longer.  It will be interesting to see if I can repeat the contact.

73 de NQ4S

I have been active on the packet relay for the last few months. Nothing like sending a message to the ISS and seeing it come back down.

73, KC9PWN

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #10 on: 08/28/2009 11:54 AM »
HyperTay

I help produce an IPTV show about Amateur radio called 'Amateurlogic' with 3 guys in Mississippi (I am in Melbourne Australia). 24 episodes have been produced of which I have contributed during the last 12.

http://Http://www.amateurlogic.com

You can download episodes from the website or watch them on Youtube. I note that you are in Mississippi. Why not drop my cohosts a line and I'm sure they would be happy to give you a tour of one of their shacks if you are ever in Jackson. Also why not get your own license - its easier than you think.

As of next episode (25) we will be going High Definition and I hope to do my segment about communicating with the ISS on packet. It will be to some extent inspired by Top Gear (UK tv show) and may involve a challenge ie communicating with the ISS for a set budget.
 
One inetersting thing is that I am using my computer's sound card as the packet radio modem. it works quite well (using AGPWE and Winpack software)

Keep an eye out for a helmeted special guest :)

cheers Peter VK3PB
« Last Edit: 08/28/2009 12:21 PM by pberrett »

Offline StuffOfInterest

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #11 on: 08/28/2009 02:19 PM »
As of next episode (25) we will be going High Definition and I hope to do my segment about communicating with the ISS on packet. It will be to some extent inspired by Top Gear (UK tv show) and may involve a challenge ie communicating with the ISS for a set budget.
 
One inetersting thing is that I am using my computer's sound card as the packet radio modem. it works quite well (using AGPWE and Winpack software)

Considering that I was able to use software based decoders for packet seven years ago, it should be possible with a garage sale special PC these days.  The interface cable can be made out of spare parts.  The most complicated part is just the transmit relay, but there are plenty of diagrams out there on how to whip one up.

Using a garage sale computer and radio, I wouldn't be surprised if you could do the whole setup for under $150 US and bounce a packet off of ISS.

Quote
Keep an eye out for a helmeted special guest :)

You got the Stig?!?  :o

(yes, there are a few of us here in the US who watch Top Gear)

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #12 on: 08/29/2009 02:37 AM »

I am trying to get hold of a cheap Simpson helmet so that an unnamed helmeted driver can make an appearance. As to whether he is the Stig - how would you know? :)

Dennis (kc9pwn)  - check your email on the ISS. I just uploaded a message successfully.

cheers Peter vk3pb

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #13 on: 08/31/2009 01:48 PM »
A further accomplishment achived last night.

I used a program called UIVIEW to upload my positional information to the ISS as it passed over using packet radio. This information was relayed to the ground and fed into a giant database.

http://www.ariss.net/

http://www2.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?VK3PB

amazing. What next I wonder? Well I was looking up at the moon tonight and thinking... how can I work/communicate with it?

cheers Peter VK3PB
« Last Edit: 08/31/2009 01:49 PM by pberrett »

Offline Hungry4info3

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #14 on: 08/31/2009 02:33 PM »
pberret, before long, you're going to be a back-up for mission control  ;)

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #15 on: 09/01/2009 08:12 AM »
In all seriousness if for some reason the ISS or shuttle radios failed for any reason ham radio would be a backup and could well be a lifesaver in certain circumstances. Imagine for example had Apollo 13's radio been blown up and they had had ham radio on board.

It's unlikely to happen but not impossible. Maybe a critical power failure could take out all the ISS electrical systems leaving them with just the ham radio and battery power. 

Apollo 13 The Sequel...
« Last Edit: 09/01/2009 08:14 AM by pberrett »

Offline Andrewwski

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #16 on: 09/03/2009 02:16 AM »
I believe in the book "Dragonfly," it was mentioned that one of the American astro's (Linenger maybe?) used the ham radio extensively to talk to people when off-duty and out of comm.
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Offline rdale

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #17 on: 09/03/2009 02:19 AM »
In all seriousness if for some reason the ISS or shuttle radios failed for any reason ham radio would be a backup

Actually the Russian VHF comms are the first backup as far as I know... They test them periodically when passing over the US on the 143MHz frequencies (the ones we used to hear them on all the time prior to TDRS.)

Next in line is probably the Soyuz comms, and then the satellite phones? In any case, ham radio is very far down the line. If things were so bad that they needed to use it to call a ham and tell them to call Houston - it's something they would have abandoned ship for.

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #18 on: 12/04/2009 05:56 AM »
Several of the US Astronauts (and possibly some of the Russian Cosmonauts) are ham radio operators and use the ham radio to talk to hams on earth in their spare time. I once heard Andy Thomas working a station when flying over Melbourne Australia in MIR.

Also I have finished my segment and this has been uploaded to the US. On Monday morning the hosting will be filmed and I expect that by the end of next week Episode 25 will be available in glorious hd.

And yes - keep an eye out for "the Mystery Guest" and evil and unconscionable things being done to a ham radio:)

cheers Peter
« Last Edit: 12/04/2009 05:56 AM by pberrett »

Offline pberrett

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Re: I worked the ISS tonight - be jealous!
« Reply #19 on: 12/15/2009 06:51 AM »
Hi again

Episode 25 has now been released.

Search for Amateurlogic episode 25 at Youtube or download at

http://www.amateurlogic.com

I hope you enjoy it. My bit about the ISS is about 10 mins or so into the video.

cheers Peter

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