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 🙂