Fox-1C and Fox-1D Include L-Band Uplink; Fox-1E Linear Transponder Announced

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AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, announced plans to incorporate an L band receiver in Fox-1C and Fox-1D. The addition will allow ground commanded selection of the U/v (normal Fox-1 bands) or the new L/v 1.2 GHz (23 cm) mode. Both bands will operate as FM single channel.

Rather than adding a complete new receiver, the L band “Project Downshifter” will convert the received L band signal down to the Fox-1 uplink frequency and feed it to the regular UHF receiver on the Fox-1satellite. The design will not require an additional antenna on the satellite because the existing UHF antenna will work for L band receive as well.

In concert with the development of the satellite segment, a new group of volunteers is working on a companion uplink station to convert UHF to the L band uplink frequencies:

+ Bruce Herrick, WW1M
+ Dan Hubert, VE9DAN
+ Elizabeth Schenk, KC1AXX
+ Dave Smith, W6TE
+ Alfred Watts, AF5VH

The team is planning to have an affordable L band uplink ground station available to amateurs by the time Fox-1C is on orbit.

In further news, Jerry announced the plan to construct a Fox-1E “Evolution” variation of the Fox-1 series which will carry a Mode J linear transponder. The transponder is planned to be 30 kHz wide and will also have a 1200 bps BPSK telemetry beacon.

The purpose of the project is to test a design for a linear transponder that could be made available to CubeSat builders as a secondary, or even primary radio payload thus bringing more opportunities for amateur radio in space as well as offering AMSAT’s proven communications skills as a telemetry option.

AMSAT has been approached for a launch opportunity for Fox-1E in 2016, but launch details can not be shared at this time.

Jerry concluded, “It is important that we find additional resources to help the Fox-1 Team with these new endeavors. We are looking for volunteers who have solid RF building and testing experience to work on both the downshifter and the transponder prototyping and construction.” If you would like to help and be a part of the success of Fox-1C/D and Fox-1E, please contact Jerry through the AMSAT Engineering volunteer form page on-line at:  http://ww2.amsat.org/?page_id=1121.

What’s Next for Fox-1A?

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APRIL 14, 2015 – Mission logos on the NPSCuL shipping container for the GRACE mission, including Fox-1A.

GRACE NPSCuL shipping container

APRIL 9, 2015 UPDATE – Today the NPS team completed both X and Y axis acceptance vibration tests on the NPSCuL with no issues. (Z axis vibe was completed April 8.)  Roll tests were conducted after each axis and no loose parts were heard. GRACE is now sealed up in the shipping container and ready for transport. Next stop: VAFB!

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

NPSCuL vibe testing complete

UPDATE – The P-PODs were delivered to Naval Postgraduate School this week and have been integrated in the NPSCuL.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.

GRACE mission P-PODs including Fox-1, at NPS for NPSCuL integration.  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL

GRACE mission P-PODs in the NPSCuL  Photo courtesy of Justin Foley, Cal Poly.

The video linked below was provided to all of the GRACE mission CubeSat teams by Justin Foley of Cal Poly.

Justin says “A few years back we put together a video that outlines the process we go through to get CubeSats on the Atlas V. This video follows the payload we put on NROL-36, aka OUTSat, which launched from VAFB and carried 11 cubes. The process is very similar to what your satellites are going through now.”

You saw the photos of the P-POD integration in the Cal Poly clean room yesterday, which is where this video begins the story. The last two CubeSats were being integrated in their P-POD today (March 26). All of the P-PODs will then head up to the Naval Postgraduate School next week for integration in the NPSCuL and acceptance testing, and then be sent on to Vandenberg (cue video) –

(Thanks to Justin D. Foley for the YouTube video link.)

Fox-1 Goes to Cal Poly

Fox-1 is headed to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA for integration into the P-POD that will later be mounted in the NPSCuL* and on the launch vehicle.

While the NPSCuL may be coach class, Fox-1 gets to travel first class to San Luis Obispo with some express assistance from the friendly TSA at DFW Airport.  AMSAT Vice President – Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, worked with the TSA and a supervisory officer will meet him at the security checkpoint Tuesday morning in order to provide safe passage and handling of Fox-1 through the TSA security checkpoint and inspection process.  ESD protection and gloves are required as well as gentle handling, so everything is in the box with Fox.  Fox-1 needs to be guaranteed a safe arrival at Cal Poly for integration.

Photos below show Fox-1 in her final steps for shipping, with the last set of solar panel covers added (thanks to all who contributed to the solar panels!) and packed in her own Pelican case for the ride.  An small entourage of support equipment is still required including a way to safely return the solar panel covers to Texas to later be delivered to their donors, so the bigger “all in one” case still goes as checked baggage.

Stay tuned for more news as Fox-1 undergoes integration on Wednesday, March 25!

*Please see http://tinyurl.com/lcmfndc for a pdf describing the NPSCuL

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AMSAT and University of Iowa News

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AMSAT and University of Iowa Partner on Scientific Payload for Fox-1D

AMSAT and the University of Iowa have agreed to include the University’s
HERCI (High Energy Radiation CubeSat Instrument) radiation mapping
experiment on Fox-1D. According to Don Kirchner, KDØL, Research Engineer at
the University of Iowa, “HERCI is intended to provide a mapping of radiation
in a low earth orbit. This is of scientific interest for planning CubeSat
test flights for low energy X-Ray detectors.”

“The instrument consists of a digital processing unit (DPU) derived from
processors currently in orbit around Saturn on Cassini and on the way to
Jupiter on the Juno spacecraft,” says Kirchner. “The DPU was shrunk to a CubeSat
form factor with funding from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.”

The University of Iowa’s history in spaceflight research dates back to the
earliest satellites. As Kirchner puts it, “HERCI can be considered a direct
descendent of the first University of Iowa spaceflight instrument flown on
Explorer I in 1958. The instrument is being constructed as a Senior Design
Project by four Electrical Engineering students from the UI College of
Engineering, under supervision of Space Physics engineering staff from the
Department of Physics and Astronomy.”

AMSAT’s VP of Engineering, Jerry Buxton, NØJY, noted the win-win benefits of
the agreement, stating, “This partnership with the University of Iowa
illustrates our strategy of leveraging the new CubeSat design to assist
universities that need a way to fly scientific payloads while providing a
viable ongoing platform for amateur radio.”

 

HERCI_photo_1

In a Space Physics laboratory in Van Allen Hall, University of Iowa senior Electrical Engineering students Patrick Maloney, KD9CPD; Tyler Dunkel, KE0CHR; Kevin Klosterman, KD9CPF; and Bryan Senchuk, KD9CPE inspect the HERCI development boards.

HERCI_photo_2

The HERCI Engineering Model boards prior to initial test. The boards will be tested before installation of the radiation detector and hybrid circuits. The digital processor board is the first use of the Y90 microprocessor firmware which was donated by Monte Dalrymple,KR6DC, of Systemyde Corporation.

 

Photos courtesy of William Robison, KC0JFQ.