Successful Fox-1 Battery Test

APIC Safety Lead for the GRACE mission and the LSP Range Safety required AMSAT Engineering to demonstrate the safety of the Sanyo KR-1400AE cells used in the Fox-1A satellite, in light of the cells having no UL listing nor available manufacturer documentation on the cell case pressure and venting pressure.

After a few weeks spent on planning, obtaining components, construction, and rehearsal (there are no “do-overs” once the circuit is closed!) a small team consisting of Bob Fitzpatrick KB5SQG, Shura Buxton KD5FCQ, and Jerry Buxton NØJY performed the test on Sunday afternoon, December 7, 2014.  The cell was subjected to a direct short circuit and the current, temperature, and physical behavior were observed, logged, and captured on video.  While the report to APIC is For Official Use Only, the video is not and so you are invited to view the raw footage (minus a couple of spots where audio has been muted for expletives or chatter unrelated to the test) on YouTube.

The test was successful, as it was demonstrated that the cell did not burst nor greatly deform, there was no fire or damage, and no liquid leakage.  There was quite a surprise, though!

The multimeter is reading mV DC across a .001 ohm current sense resistor, so the reading you see directly corresponds to current.  Temperature is in degrees Celsius.

And Murphy was of course present, as a natural part of anything involving amateur radio activities.  Fortunately, the stopwatch wound up almost exactly 10 seconds behind so translation of the readings was pretty simple!

AMSAT-NA Board Approves Technology Development Seed Funding

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The AMSAT Board of Directors met on December 2, 2014. As a part of AMSAT’s “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge, the Board of Directors approved $5000, within the 2015 engineering budget, to be used as seed money for future satellite development. Additional fund raising sources will also be investigated and pursued.

AMSAT President Barry Baines, WD4ASW, said, “We’re prepared to return to space starting in 2015 with a fleet of satellites that will equal, if not exceed, the performance, and availability to the average ham, of our previously popular AMSAT OSCAR 51. Meanwhile, we are preparing for the future looking to potentially leverage new technologies, to provide the best opportunities for enhancing amateur radio’s presence in space.”

Director Tom Clark, K3IO, noted the need for a defined future systems program. Tom said, “We saw a significant number of both new and old members who want to see the development of critical system elements for future opportunities by 2018-20. As I see it, critical ‘tall poles’ in applying potential technologies require significant work to begin now to ensure success.”

AMSAT is interested in supporting technology ideas that enhance the utility of using the CubeSat form factor to support more robust amateur satellite capabilities.   The scope of potential interest in not limited; some examples of  technology enhancement might include:

+ Microwave technology suitable for use in amateur spacecraft. This   includes the need to identify optimum frequency bands.

+ Complementary, low-cost ground systems, including an effective ~1º antenna pointing system.

+ Define and develop optimum coding and modulation schemes for low power microwave use.

+ Attitude determination & control systems to point the spacecraft   antennas towards the user while maximizing solar panel production.

Individuals interested in learning more about this initiative should contact AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY (n0jy at amsat.org).

Meanwhile, the development of AMSAT’s current series of the Fox-1 cubesats continues on schedule. AMSAT Vice-President of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, N0JY reported during the Board meeting that construction and testing of five Fox satellites is on schedule:

+ Fox-1A will launch on a NASA ELaNa flight during the 3rd quarter of 2015 from Vandenberg AFB,

+ Fox-1B will fly with the Vanderbilt University radiation   experiments expected in 2016.

+ Fox-1C will launch on Spaceflight’s maiden mission of the   SHERPA multi-cubesat deployer during the 3rd quarter of 2015.   This flight was purchased by AMSAT.

+ Fox-1D is a flight spare for Fox-1C. If not needed as a spare   it will become available to launch on any open launch slot which   becomes available and be submitted in a CSLI proposal in 2015.

+ Fox-1E is built as a flight spare for Fox-1B but has been   included in a student science proposal as part of the November,   2014 Cubesat Launch Initiative (CSLI) for an ELaNa flight slot.   If selected the Fox-1B spare will fly as Fox-1E.

More details of the “Design The Next AMSAT Satellite” challenge can be found on-line at:
http://www.amsat.org/?p=3395 – and – in the November/December 2014 AMSAT Journal, currently in-transit to your QTH.

[ANS thanks the AMSAT Board Of Directors for the above information]

Fox-1A On the Air and In Your Hand at Symposium

The Fox-1A Engineering Unit transponder was on the air at 2014 Space Symposium.  Attendees were able to work each other through the transponder and pose for pictures while holding the actual engineering unit.  In addition, the slow speed telemetry that accompanies every voice ID beacon and transponder conversation was being received, decoded, and displayed for all to see.

Fox-1A Engineering Unit

Fox-1A Engineering Unit and Telemetry Display

W2BFJ and WD9EWK have a DX QSO

W2BFJ and WD9EWK have a DX QSO

CO6CBF with Fox-1A EU

CO6CBF with Fox-1A EU