Students design and build ISS Radio...
Students in Toronto designed, built, and used a home-brew radio to contact The International Space Station (I understand it was a graduate project). The article is real thin, but tickles the imagination. The article is here:
Students use homemade radio to contact astronaut
Students use homemade radio to contact astronaut
Updated Tue. Feb. 3 2009 10:15 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Using a radio they designed and built themselves, a group of Ontario students managed to contact the International Space Station -- a goal their professor said he initially believed was "pie-in-the-sky."
Humber College radio communications professor Mark Rector said he was skeptical when his students first came to him about a year ago, suggesting the project as a practical way of applying their skills.
"In the back of my mind I thought you guys are out of your tree. This is pie-in-the-sky. You don't just call the International Space Station. I mean the technical hurdles are almost impossible to explain to a lay person," Rector told CTV's Canada AM the day after contact was made.
Three students managed to convince Rector they were serious about the project, and they worked with him to overcome the technical hurdles and design the technology they needed to make the call.
It all came to a climax Monday. After working out a few last minute bugs, the nervous students sent their message at just after 12:30 p.m. ET.
A short while later, with frayed nerves, they made a second attempt. This time their efforts were rewarded, as they heard the voice of astronaut Sandra Magnus.
The group exploded with emotion -- one student crying, Rector pounding his fist in excitement and relief, the group embracing.
"We had reached our goal, reached our dream and we were just ecstatic," Gino ####hi, one of the students who worked on the project, told Canada AM.
"All of the hard work we put into it came down to that moment right there and something just came out of us."
Rector said it was a powerful moment.
"It was a huge hurdle and for them to pull it off, I was just bursting with pride and bursting with relief that we actually pulled this off with the world watching."
The students had 10 minutes to speak with Magnus. They asked technical questions and posed queries submitted by students at Humber, before the window closed.
Magnus was asked how it felt to see Earth from space.
"Up here I've seen the world from a different viewpoint," she replied. "I see it as a whole system, I don't see it as a group of individual people or individual countries.
"We are one huge group of people and we're all in it together."
The students are being honoured by Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame for their accomplishment, which is believed to be a first.
Other student groups have communicated with astronauts on the ISS, but those conversations were held using traditional HAM radios.
Rector said all four students will be strong additions to Canada's space industry, and it has been an honour to work with them.
"For them to live that dream and for me to see it and help facilitate it and train them to do this stuff, it's the highlight of my teaching career."
The student ham leading this project was interviewed on CBC "As it Happens" show. From that interview, it seems the project was to build a computer "interface-controller", which kept the yagi antenna pointed at the ISS during the orbital pass. They used a commercial 2m FM transceiver for the radio portion. Listen to the interview here;
To listen to the AIH audio, fetch
http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/asithapp...0202-aih-1.wmv & QSY to a
time ~16 min 50 sec. The ISS audio is really great at ~21 min 30 sec.
Agree there seems to be (news media) confusion over whether this was an actual home-brew (TX) contact with the ISS. The student blog tracking the project mentions purchase of an Icom transceiver.
People of the Community,
I wish to apologize for the glaring error in the use of the word 'homebrew' in my description and title. After reading the blog of the students, various articles, and piecing together of information, the students did not design and build a transceiver.
From what I gather, they built an antenna guidance and tracking system controlled by software. Their triumph is that they went through the red tape of authorization and actually talking to the ISS.
What amazes me is that they were granted authorization to converse with the ISS using Amateur Radio Allocated Frequencies, and that authorization came from NASA, without mention of anyone having Licencsure from the Canadian Amateur Radio governing body. It seems that there should have been a Station Controller at the school (I saw antennas the looked suspicously like Amateur Frequency-sized Yagi-Uda's), but there was no mention of such.
My submission of the article was in error as titled, and I apoligize for the error.
Last edited by KE7ONE; 02-04-2009 at 08:35 PM.
The student ham leading the project has an advanced class license, which is the highest class licence in Canada. Yes, the Astronaut on board ISS, is also a licensed USA ham. Yes, amateur radio is authorized for this puprose, under the ARISS program. Check out ARRL.org for more detail on this program.
Thanks for the clarification. I feel a little better, but I'm still bitter at the newsies for being so unclear. The blog was a little hard to follow, too.
Learning about ARISS
I'd like to offer a bit more information. ARISS is an acronym for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station. ARISS is an international organization with significant contributions from a number of countries (Russia, UK, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan etc). In the USA, ARISS activity involves AMSAT, ARRL and NASA. In addition to the ARRL web site, you can find a lot of information on AMSAT's web site at http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/ariss/.
Most of the Space Station & Shuttle astronauts hold amateur licenses, and are on-the-air most every day. A couple of times each week they conduct a classroom discussion similar to the Humber College activity that started this thread. You can read a weekly report (compiled by Carol Jackson, KB3LKI) on the AMSAT web site at http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/ariss/ariss_news.php. For example, this week's report contains information on 4 planned school contacts in Canada (Feb.2), England (Feb.6), Germany (Feb.7) and India (Feb.8).
Onboard the ISS right now, the active ham-astronauts are Mike Fincke (KE5AIT), Yuri Lonchakov (RA3DT) and Sandra Magnus (KE5FYE). in the CBC As It Happens audio at http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/asithapp...0202-aih-1.wmv, if you QSY to a time ~21:30, you will hear how excited Sandra gets about the questions coming from Humber.
We can be proud that our amateur radio resources can be used to bring the reality of space to students around the world .
73 de Tom, K3IO (ex W3IWI)
Thank you, also!
I am glad you did your posting, Rich. It gave QRZ readers a chance to figure out what really happened. It took me a while to digest it also. Most news media people have no idea that Amateur Radio exists, let alone any details of how it works, or anything like the wonderful ARISS program. For the curious, if you listen to the audio track which was refered to earlier, you will hear at the end of the QSO, the student gives his callsign, VA3JUV.
Thank you also, Tom, for it was your initial e-mail to RAC, and their subsequent bulletin, which pointed me to the As it Happens audio track. I had seen the CBC television report, but the audio track interview, and QSO snip, gave a more clear "picture" of the event.