Amateur Radio Payload Beacons Heard Following June 19 Launch


The FUNcube-3 payload has reached orbit, and its 145.815 MHz beacon signal has been copied. FUNcube-3 is a transponder-only payload on the QB50 precursor CubeSat, QB50P1, which launched on June 19 from Russia. FUNcube-3 carries an inverting 400 mW SSB/CW transponder, with an uplink passband of 435.035-435.065 MHz (LSB) and a downlink passband of 145.935-145.965 MHz (USB).

The QB50P1 and QB50P2 precursor CubeSats were among some 3 dozen satellites launched, about one-third of them carrying Amateur Radio payloads. The QB50p2 package carries a 435/145 MHz FM voice transponder as well as packet on 145.880 MHz, 1200bps BPSK and 145.840 MHz, 9600 bps FSK. The QB50 satellites will become active for radio amateurs after 6 months of testing.

The Dnepr launch vehicle blasted off from Russia’s Yasny site right on schedule at 1911 UTC on June 19. The launch briefly was threatened by a front of severe weather passing through the area. In the hours immediately after launch signals also were reported from POPSAT, QB50p1, QB50p2, UniSat-6, BugSat-1 — the first satellite to be deployed after launch — NanosatC-BR1, Duchifat-1, TabletSat-Aurora, and DTUsat-2. BugSat-1 contains an Amateur Radio digipeater, which will be activated after the satellite’s primary mission has been completed.

TabletSat-Aurora carries a D-STAR parrot (store-and-forward) repeater running 0.8 W (GMSK) on 437.050 MHz (±10 kHz). It can store a voice message of up to 8 seconds.

Two other transceivers on the satellite operate on 435.550 MHz and 436.100 MHz. Their power can be varied by ground-station command from between 0.8 and 2.0 W. They will be used for command and control and transmit GMSK telemetry data. Unofficial reports indicate that the D-STAR repeater could become operational in early July and that when the D-STAR repeater is active telemetry will be turned off.

The UniSat-6 microsatellite carried Tigrisat, Lemur 1, ANTELSat, and AeroCube 6 for deployment on June 20. ANTELSat is the first Uruguayan satellite. It carries a telemetry downlink and a command uplink (437.575 MHz 1200 bps AFSK) with a 2403.000 MHz 1 Mbit GFSK/MSK downlink for payload data, and a 437.280 MHz CW beacon. UniSat-6 carries 437.425 MHz 9600 bps GMSK.

CW beacon signals were heard by Andre Van Deventer, ZS2BK, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Brian Best, ZS5SB, and Leon Steenkamp, ZS1HD, also reported receiving signals. Richard Dailey, N8UX, in Kentucky, the Southampton University Wireless Society WebSDR to receive the QB50P2 beacon while the satellite was in range of the UK.