First contact

I guess it is about time to get things going. The ground station at F’SATI has reached a point where we can start to track satellites. There is however quite a bit work still to be done. One of which is to check that we are actually pointing in the direction we are pointing in šŸ™‚ . SANSA Space Science (former HMO) in Hermanus was kind enough to lend me a proper nice magnetic compass, so I will probably be aligning our antennas to north in the next week or two. Even with the not-so-accurate pointing we have been able to successfully tack some satellites. Most of these however were morse (CW) beacon payloads. That is, until Friday.

Friday I decided to try and see if I could get some telemetry data from Delfi-C3. I was not very optimistic because up to that point we have not had much luck receiving telemetry data and the maximum elevation for Friday morning’s pass was only 26Ā°.

So with SatPC32 and RASCAL fired up I started tracking the pass. The point of maximum elevation came and went without so much as a peep and with the CubeSat starting to move closer to theĀ horizonĀ I resorted to manual adjusting of the radio, rather than having SatPC32 do it.

After a bit of fiddling and tuning we started to hear theĀ distinctiveĀ sound of telemetry data over the radio, but no decoded messages were showing up in RASCAL yet. So more fiddling and tuning was needed. By this point the satellite was getting pretty low on the horizon and I was about to give when two telemetry messages showed up in the little terminal screen of RASCAL.

We had successfully received our first telemetry data from a CubeSat using our newly constructed ground station!

And with that the first pass/tracking report was sent off from F’SATI to theĀ Delfi-C3 Team in the Netherlands. I was quite impressed that we were able to track Delfi to almost on the horizon with our ground station (LNA’s enabled). Here are some of the datails:

Our location: Ā  JF96HB (33Ā° 55′ 55.6 S 18Ā° 38′ 35.8 E)
AOS (AcquisitionĀ of signal – start of pass): 08:55 UTC
LOS (Los of signal – end of pass): 09:08 UTC

Primary telemetry downlink frequency near LOS: 145.861 MHz.

MĀ² Antennas (VHF/UHF): 2MCP22 and 436CP42
Advanced Receiver Research LNAs
Icom IC-910H transceiver

And the telemetry data received via RASCAL looks a little something like this:

from: DLFIC3 to: TLM Ā  Ā a8 98 9b 40 40 40 00 88 98 8c 92 86 66 01 03
f0 e1 08 a0 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 01 00 01 00 01 00
01 00 01 00 01 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 c3 a6 00 00 00 00 4e 5e 01 1d a1 05 a9 7b 52 00 03 63 60 1e
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 50

As far as I can tell this is telemetry data from the AWSS (Autonomous Wireless Sun Sensor) payload on Delfi. Hopefully we’ll be able to get more data on the next attempt early next week.

Ground station - mast and antennas

Ground station - mast and antennas


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About Leon

Building small-satellites on the tip of Africa. My other ride is a CubeSat.

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