Astronaut Luca Parmitano active on Ham Radio from the ISS

Just a quick update after so much time without “shaking” the blog to reactivate it a bit and to note, to those of you who still might not have received these good news, that ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano has got the “ham radio bug” while in space and is very active carrying out random contacts with ham radio operators on the ground! He has even written an entry on his blog on his ham radio experience: http://blogs.esa.int/luca-parmitano/2013/08/13/message-in-a-bottle/. Thanks Luca!

Presumably he’s using the Ericsson M-PA VHF handheld radio in the Columbus module, as the strength of the signal I’ve been receiving, on passes in which he was active, is quite weaker than that of other passes in which I positively knew that the Kenwood TM-D700 transceiver in the Zvezda module was the one used. But I’ve still been able to listen to him using the “default” FA-S270C rubber duck antenna in my IC-R5 scanner without difficulties.

Some useful advice on receiving (or contacting) Luca from the ISS:

  • Pass predictions: I personally use the great http://www.heavens-above.com/ website, which is packed with all the necessary information needed, not only for the ISS, but for an extensive database of objects in orbit including, naturally, all the rest of amateur radio satellites in orbit.
  • Astronaut radio activity information: The reference for this is http://www.issfanclub.com/, where, amongst other useful information, reports of ISS radio activity can be found, be it voice, Packet Radio/APRS, SSTV (Slow Scan TV), operation of the built-in repeater function in the TM-D700 radio (rarely used now), or even non-ham Russian voice transmissions which can be heard in 143.625 MHz or 130.167 MHz (both in the FM mode) when the station passes over Russia (and most frequently during spacewalks). Luca is also using his Twitter account to announce sometimes that he will be active shortly before a pass over the area of the world he will contact. Finally, another method for knowing whether Luca is on the radio or not is to monitor 145.825 FM, the Packet Radio frequency. If during a pass nothing is heard there, it is most likely that he is on 145.800 on voice (although it may not be very accurate as I think that sometimes the Kenwood radio is left active on packet while Luca is on voice using the Ericsson transceiver).
  • Other frequencies: Being all of them in the FM mode, and apart from the downlink frequencies mentioned above, for all of you who are ham radio operators and want to contact Luca, and according to the ISS Fan Club website, the uplinks are 145.200 for ITU Region 1 (Europe-Middle East-Africa-North Asia) and 144.490 for ITU Regions 2 & 3 (North and South America-Caribbean-Greenland-Australia-South Asia).

As of now I’ve been able to pick him over Arén (a small town in Aragón, Spain, but immediately next to the Catalan limits) on at least four passes carrying out contacts with European hams. As far as I know, he has also been active over the USA.

Good times again for ham radio on the ISS!

David / raptor22stealth 🙂

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RTL-SDR!!!

This summer I’ve been enjoying a new receiver which has terribly cheaply (for just 16.82€, or $19.20!!!!) joined the rest of my radio material. It is an ezcap ezTV645 DVB-T USB dongle and yes, you’ve read well, it is nothing more than… an USB dongle normally used to watch DVB-T TV broadcasts (DVB-T is an European standard for digital TV) in a computer!!! This highly performing device (specially when one considers its price) is my very first SDR (Software Defined Radio) receiver and has allowed me to have my very first succesful experiences in the SDR world!

The ezcap ezTV645 DVB-T Digital TV dongle.

Click here to see and read more…

Posted in Receivers & Radio Equipment | 40 Comments

Introducing… the MSI Pole!!!

[First of all, I would like to excuse myself for having not updated this blog in a loooot of time… this has been due to my “free moments” being very restricted because of the time I had to invest in studying for successfully completing my second year of Aviation Maintenance studies. Now that I’ve started my summer holidays I’ll try to get the blog active and update it as regularly as it is possible to me with new content. I don’t forget the ARISSat-1 series of posts of which for the moment there’s only Part 1; I’ll continue them in between the rest of entries]

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Now let’s go to what’s of interest to us in this entry of the blog… 🙂

The MSI Pole in a storage configuration on my provisional workbench.

Click here to see and read more…

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to this newly-created blog!

As my interest for radio scanning, or radio listening, is growing, I’ve decided to create a brand new blog so as to have a new and dedicated space in which to drop material related with this activity. Until now I posted stuff related to radio at Passion for Aviation, my other blog, which is about my huge aviation and space hobby. Now I’ve decided to have a blog for aviation and space, and another for radio, so that I can separate both subjects, and be able to develop each one more in their corresponding blogs. However, when an entry is appliable both to aviation (or space) and to radio, such as when it is related to air band listening or to listening to a spacecraft (not necesarily being an amateur radio satellite), I’ll publish the same entry both in Passion for Aviation and in Scanning the Bands.

As it can be seen, I’ve imported a pair of radio posts from Passion for Aviation. The most recent is about ARISSat-1. Although it is some time now since it reentered and disappeared in the high atmosphere, I’ll retake this little series of posts till I finish them. Meanwhile (time permitting) I’ll post other entries on other interesting stuff.

Note that the blog is still under construction as it is very new… these days I’ll improve it a bit by doing works such as adding a header image or an “About me” page, besides other things.

Nothing more to say… enjoy this brand new blog!

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ARISSat-1 – Part 1: What is it?

A small satellite named ARISSat-1 (and “Kedr” or “Radioskaf-B” by the Russians, as ARISSat-1 is officially a Russian experiment) has been providing me with a lot of fun and satisfactions since August 3rd, when it was released from the ISS, or International Space Station, by the Russian cosmonauts during a spacewalk from the Pirs airlock located in the Russian segment of the station.ARISSat-1 logo

Click here to read more…

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Receiving the ISS…

Yup! Not only I could see a great nightly and visual pass of both Discovery and the ISS flying together for the last time over the place where I live, in the final days of mission STS-133 (some time after Discovery undocked from the ISS and after it did a flyaround of the station), but some time later, I was able to hear Paolo Nespoli, the Italian ESA astronaut who’s in the station in a long duration mission, talking to some students in Italian schools in two different contacts via the ham radio equipment installed in the Zvezda module in the Russian segment of the station. And the best part of it is that I was using no more than an ICOM IC-R5 radio scanner  (the same I use to listen to the local airport comm’s), an old dipole “rabbit ears”  TV antenna, and a pair of homemade adaptors (one for adapting the TV coaxial connector of the antenna to the SMA one in the scanner, and the other being a mono-stereo adaptor so that I could hear the sound in both ears when using headphones). I discovered I could listen to astronauts speaking from the ISS with my scanner not so much ago and the truth is that I’m enjoying this a lot, although for some days now the folks at the ISS have turned down the radio… not only in voice, but also in packet (data) and SSTV (“Slow Scan Television”, imagery)… hope they activate it again and I can hear something!

Here’s the video of the joint pass of Discovery and the ISS…

…and here’s the one for Nespoli’s radio contacts. The schools contacted were Istituto Comprensivo di Verano Brianza — Scuola Media, in Verano Brianza on 03/23/11 and Istituto Tecnico Industriale Statale “Leonardo da Vinci”, in Pratola Peligna on 04/02/11:

More details in the video descriptions. Regards! 😉

Posted in International Space Station, Satellites | 1 Comment