“Ham Video” Set for Installation, Commissioning
The “Ham Video” transmitter aboard the International Space Station is scheduled to be installed on March 6, with commissioning to follow. The European Space Agency (ESA) postponed the installation and commissioning of the Ham Video system last month because NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG — who is handling the installation and commissioning — had other priorities. Amateur Radio on the International Space Station-Europe (ARISS-EU) Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, said that a couple of the commissioning steps now may be combined, to condense the process. Hopkins will also install the camera and support arm. Following installation the transmitter will be powered on just long enough to check cable and antenna connections.
The first commissioning step is planned for March 8, when Hopkins will power up the Ham Video transmitter in “Configuration 1” — using ARISS antenna 41 on the ISS Columbus module at a frequency 2.422 GHz and a symbol rate of 1.3 Ms/s. Transmission will start shortly before the ISS passes over the Matera ground station in Southern Italy (at approximately 1329 UTC). The ground station will stream the video over the BATC server (select Member Streams and ISS).
During the pass, various configurations will be tested, and following the pass, the Ham Video transmitter will remain powered up and in Configuration 1 until the next commissioning step, planned for March 9 (approximately 1240 UTC). For about 24 hours, the digital Amateur Radio TV signal will be transmitted steadily, but with the camera powered down (called “blank transmission”). Bertels said the camera will remain off because it is powered by battery, and no provisions have been made aboard the ISS for frequent battery replacement.
Commissioning step 2 will test various configurations using ARISS antenna 43, and the Matera ground station again will stream the video over the BATC server. Blank transmissions may occur between commissioning step 2 and step 3, which is yet to be planned.
“We will circulate Ham TV bulletins to inform on blank transmissions,” Bertels said. “Reports on reception of blank transmissions are very welcome.” Bertels said participants using the Tutioune receiving software developed by Jean Pierre Courjaud, F6DZP, can record as well as stream detailed parameters of the received signal.
The European Space Agency conducted commissioning simulations on January 23 and 24, in collaboration with ARISS — an update of simulations carried out last September. The ARISS-EU team will handle signal reception during commissioning. Once commissioning is complete, the Ham Video system will be used for ARISS contacts with schools in Europe. There are no plans at present to use the system for North American ARISS school events, in part because no ground stations have been planned. — Thanks to Gaston Bertels, ON4WF; AMSAT News Service; ARISS