Monday, January 25, 2021

Update on the Status of RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 024.01

DATE January 24, 2021

RadFxSat-2 was launched Sunday, January 17, on Virgin Orbit LauncherOne launch vehicle.  Reports from the launch provider stated that telemetry confirmed that the deploy commands had been sent and that all of the doors opened successfully, resulting in payload orbits that were all within the ICD limits.

Nominally, we expected to see “First (digital) Veronica” from the RadFxSat-2 telemetry beacon commencing 54 minutes after our deployment from the launch vehicle.  That did not occur as expected.

For each of our launches, we follow a number of steps documented in the “In Orbit Checklist” (IOC) spreadsheet.  Confirmation of launch and deployment are the first steps and then, confirmation of beacon reception.  All other steps follow that but there are steps in case of anomaly, beginning with the detection of the beacon.

As always, from the moment we are deployed we look for signs of the beacon through the ears of amateur radio operators and other means, SatNOGS and webSDR to name a few.  The antenna deployment and full start of the IHU to bring up the beacon can occur anywhere around the globe.  AMSAT greatly appreciates the ongoing and reliable help we receive from you and it is by far the best satellite ground network even beyond that of many commercial players, for LEO orbits.

Command coverage is limited to the United States for various reasons including regulatory requirements, so the opportunity to exercise the steps of the IOC occurs a few times per day as the orbit passes over us.

With no sign of the beacon after a few orbits offering good footprints for reception, we proceeded with the contingency steps to verify the presence of or activate the beacon.  This past week our Engineering and Operations Team members have been at work literally 20 hours per day exercising all of the contingencies outlined in the IOC steps.  These steps have grown and matured with each launch of a Fox-1 program CubeSat and are tailored to the specific satellite.  RadFxSat-2, while she may seem to be much the same as the others with the exception of the transponder vs. FM radio, does present a number of variations to be included in the IOC.  As the results of those steps were exhausted with no beacon detected, we added meetings and increased emails including all of our engineers to discuss possible causes by any of the systems and to develop further steps.

From those we drew new steps of command sequences that might overcome whatever anomaly existed and make the beacon heard.  As the week drew on, we continued brainstorming and steps to activate other functions that would provide proof of life.  We continue to do so today and for whatever time until we exhaust all possibilities that we are able to draw from the expertise and satellite experience of our Engineering Team and Operations Team drawing from the design of RadFxSat-2 and lessons learned in the Fox-1 program as well as any from missions prior to AMSAT’s first CubeSats.

AMSAT still needs your help as always, to help detect any sign of activity from RadFxSat-2.  This includes ability to listen for local oscillators or transponder driver output in the case of a failed PA.

I personally ask that those of you who are and have been interested in the entire process of bringing a new amateur radio satellite to orbit and through end of life to continue to contribute your curiosity and enthusiasm in exploring from your own station, to pursue the possibilities of a successful RadFxSat-2 mission along with us.  I have received reports and queries from some of you, and I greatly appreciate your contributions.  You are in fact volunteers in the AMSAT Engineering Team through your contribution.

If you are interested, I ask that you do due diligence in your procedure if you think you have identified a signal by re-creating (if possible) and verifying to yourself that what you have is credible, as we do, before contacting us.  That “standard” procedure is what adds value by making the information actionable rather than placing the onus of determining if it is even real upon us, because we are of course quite busy with that already.  Please email your findings to and allow us a day or two to acknowledge and/or reply.

While we tend to talk about our involvement with RadFxSat-2 above all, a real effect reaches outside our mutual desire for amateur radio satellite fun.  RadFxSat-2 is sponsored by Vanderbilt University as part of our long partnership going back to Fox-1A.  RadFxSat-2’s mission belongs to Vanderbilt University as part of their RadFX series of missions seeking to verify and explore radiation effects on COTS components.  Their mission coincides well with AMSAT’s desire to fly lower cost satellite missions using COTS components, in the unfriendly radiation environment of Earth orbit and beyond.  Vanderbilt also sponsored the CSLI for RadFxSat (one) in our Fox-1B spacecraft back in 2012.  Their proposal was selected by NASA, flown on the ELaNa XIV mission in November of 2017.

RadFxSat’s mission was very successful in the information provided through the combined telemetry-gathering of all of those who pursue our missions through FoxTelem.  Vanderbilt University published their results giving praise to AMSAT and our Fox-1 CubeSats. The experiments we host are built by students and Vanderbilt shares the experiences with the educational community in their area.  That is a success for AMSAT as well in our goal to provide STEM and other educational contributions.

While the RadFxSat-2 mission is problematic at this time, we will pursue every possibility to make her work for the amateur community and for our partner.  I certainly hope to continue our partnership with Vanderbilt, the mutual benefit is a wonderful and fun undertaking that adds to the value of our satellites.

[ANS thanks Jerry Buxton, N0JY, AMSAT Vice President – Engineering, for the above information]

Saturday, January 02, 2021

10 Dec 2020 was a MW LA Night in Btown

 Have been reviewing an SDR IQ run I made on 10 Dec 2020 on the medium wave band and it appears thank to a weak geo storm, managed to log some nice Latins around 0000 UTC.

Here are just some of the stations heard:

539.8 18:55 19:06 YNOW Radio Corporación Managua, NCG (new Btown country)
600.0 18:55 19:06 CMBA Radio Rebelde San German, Urano Noris HO CUB
610.0 18:55 19:06 CMBA Radio Rebelde Guane, Guane PR CUB
620.0 18:55 19:06 CMBA Radio Rebelde Colon MA CUB
640.0 18:55 19:06 CMBC Radio Progreso Guanabacoa CH CUB
670.0 18:55 19:06 CMBA Radio Rebelde Arroyo Arenas CH CUB
690.0 18:55 19:06 CMBC Radio Progreso Progreso, Santa Clara VC CUB
710.0 18:55 19:06 CMBA Radio Rebelde Marti MA CUB
720.0 18:55 19:00 WRZN The Shepherd         Hernando FL
760.0 18:55 19:06 CMBC Radio Progreso Guane, Guane PR CUB
1180.0 18:57 18:58 WJNT Newstalk 1180 Pearl MS
580.0 18:59 19:00 WGAC                              Augusta GA
780.3 18:59 19:01 HJZG La Vox de Dios Cali, CLM
680.0 19:03 19:06 CFTR Global Radio Radio Toronto/Grimsby ON CAN

There is more in their IQ recording and I will add additional logs to this post. Should note there were more Cubans but these were the ones I added to the log others such as CMBQ Radio Enciclopedia Guanabaccao CH CUB and CMBA Radio Rebelde Guantanamo GU CUB both on 530 kHz were quite audible.