Phonesat – Pictures

The Nasa Phonesat team have now put up the partially completed jigsaw puzzle formed from the submitted picture packets received from Graham and Bell over the past week. They can be viewed here

Over the last few days I have been getting quite a decent number of packets, including pictures from all three phonesats however a number of the picture packets despite being verified and accepted when submitted to the website have returned seemingly invalid webp files.

It appears the images are being broadcast in three forms, a low resolution background, then a medium resolution followed by a high resolution, slowly building up the final images.

The picture from Graham
 
The picture from Bell

More PhoneSat pictures and other packets

Had chance to process the 14:05BST PhoneSat pass IQ file and have got some more image pieces (again I have scaled them up from the original 20 x 15 pixel size)

Also decode a few more data packets,  from Graham and Bell the PhoneSat 1.0 Satellites

Also got a sensor packet from Alexandra (the PhoneSat 2.0 Beta Satellite)

These packets not be encoded; and are plain ASCII characters. There are 5 types of packet:

Sensors from the phone

  • Time: unix time time in milli seconds.
  • Reboot: number of reboots of the phone.
  • Counter: number of packets sent since the beginning of the mission.
  • Packet type: for this packet will be sensors from the phone (1).
  • Phase: phase in which the satellite is (we have 3 phases).
  • Compass: magnetic field value for X, Y, Z axes from the phone sensor in nanoTesla.
  • Gyro: spin rate for X, Y, Z axes from the phone sensor in deg/sec.
  • Accel: accelerometer value of X, Y, Z axes from the phone sensor in m/sec2
  • Format: [Time, Reboot, Counter, Packet Type, Phase, CompassX, CompassY, CompassZ, GyroX, GyroY, GyroZ, AccelX, AccelY, AccelZ]

My packet was
[1262348062776;11;489;1;3;30.4;38.8;13.2;80.2;-5.7;-68.5;-0.5;0.1;-0.6]

So 1262348062776 milliseconds (this doesn’t look right, gives 01 January 2010 12:14:23!)
Reboot number 11
489 packets
Packet type 1
Phase 3
Compass X = 30.4, Y = 38.8, Z = 13.2
Gyro X = 80.2, Y = -5.7, Z = -68.5
Accel X =  -0.5, Y=  0.1, X= -0.6

All three Phonesats received and decoded

Yesterday the delayed Antares rocket launched and successfully deployed the three Phonesats

After downloading the TLE http://www.phonesat.org/phonesat.txt this morning and checking the orbital prediction I found as luck would have it that a decent pass would occur when I am home during my lunch break.

So it was out with the 70cm yagi on the tripod fixed pointing south at around 45 degrees elevation and my older FUNCube Dongle on the laptop running SDRSharp (SDR#). It was pleasant sitting on the bench at the top of the garden in the sunshine with the dogs eating my lunch waiting for the pass, and yes at around 14:17BST (13:17UTC) I started to get signals, which came in very strongly.

I recorded the IQ file for later analysis and decoding

I originally tried decoding using Multipsk which I have used extensively to decode APRS from the International Space Station but wasn’t having any luck so I downloaded the free and simple to use Qtmm AFSK1200 Decoder, I simply feed it the audio (using virtual audio cable) and it was soon decoding. However I did have to widen the bandwidth quite a lot to accommodate the full signal. 

The resulting decodes were saved into a text file, here is a selection

15:35:11$ fm KJ6KRW-2 to CQ-0 via TELEM-0 UI  PID=F0
          .5l^lb!<<*”#ljr1N;rq`/H>bN!#!j*83h7os$Ma_0ggo;0tp”AjZcJL_`j`(W^1Y*!(!(S!(&Gkzzzzzzzz!,,q[Ci:G.Ec5e;FD,5.@<Q.%.
15:35:45$ fm KJ6KRW-0 to CQ-0 via TELEM-0 UI  PID=F0
          charging809,0,0,0
15:36:59$ fm KJ6KRW-1 to CQ-0 via TCPIP-0 UI  PID=F0
          .63$uc!<<*”$NL/4)ZTjAR/d3e!#!lB1I-%V’17sg=$r.DW4f*7ks$0O$GWe[Gec]I!5W.F!5a59zzzzzzzz!,,q[Ci:G.Ec5e;FD,5.@<Q.%.

Note due to quite large doppler shift I had to keep replaying the IQ file to adjust for it and the time shown is the time I decoded it, not the time it was received.

Going to the Phonesat website, you can register and submit the packet data which checks and displays the decoded information, which I did.

I had to discard the first and last decimal point in the data to successfully submit it the website

I also managed some good signals using the discone in the loft.

More Russian Passes

This weekend I was supposed to be off to North Yorkshire for a weekend dog agility event. Unfortunately due to a family emergency we were forced to change plans. So yesterday I found my self at home and in between doing some much needed odd jobs I had the chance to get out the 2 meter YAGI and capture a couple of passes of those Russian navigation satellites I blogged about last week.

Each pass lasted the best part of 15 minutes from the first faint signal acquisition to finally losing it as it sped out of range. Below is an except from the first pass at around 10:00 UTC. The signal is clear and the different tones used can be clearly distinguished. These captures should prove useful for testing any decoder.

Russian Parus Satellite 27-11-2011 by nerdsville
It is quite fun standing with the antenna and pointing in the direction where I expecting the satellite to appear and then once the signal is acquired then fettling it during the pass to maintain the best signal strength.

Not sure what my neighbours are making of all these antics, perhaps I should try to find that extension cable so I can use headphones to monitor the pass rather than letting it blast out the laptop speaker! It must look odd me standing there waving an huge antenna about and receiving strange foreign voices (from the ARISSat-1 satellite) and now this weird ‘morse code’

Dasvidania!

Russian Satellites

At the weekend I attended a dog agility show in the depths of Cambridgeshire, there is always a lot of waiting around in between runs and so I was sat in the foggy car park. To pass the time I had taken along my PRO-26 scanner. I monitored amateurs on GB3PY and GB3OV chatting about the tropospheric ‘lift’ they were experiencing, found a few taxi firms complaining about the fog, some hospital paging but it was pretty boring.

I was idly scanning around when I happened across a strange signal on 149.9375Mhz.  I could hear a definite doppler shift in the tones so it was a satellite. Checking my pretty useless 9th Edition UK Scanning Directory the frequency was identified as being in the Russian radio navigation and satellite beacon band.

Over the last couple of days I have done some research and discovered it is the Russian Parus Navigation System which dates back to the 1970s. The transmission was in fact on 149.940Mhz but I had the scanner set on 12.5kHz stepping. I have been trying to track and capture more of the signals but had been hampered by a persistent source of interference at home, but did get some audio
   
Russian Parus Satellite by nerdsville

I found an excellent thread on the UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum with some information supplied by Alan Cordwell who is/was developing a Java decoder.

cosmos 2407 149.970 22/07/2004 28380
cosmos 2414 149.970 20/01/2005 28521
cosmos 2429 150.030 11/09/2007 32052
cosmos 2454 149.940 21/07/2009 35635
cosmos 2463 149.940 27/04/2010 36519

These satellites are very easy to receive on a handheld scanner though obviously you’ll get better results on an external antenna. The tx power is about 10 watts (+40 dBm) so with a 140dB path loss on an overhead pass (alt = 1000 km) you’ll get about a microvolt in a zero-gain antenna, which is enough to hear.

The VHF frequency carries the time data and orbital parameters for the current and other satellites. There is a second transmission on around 400MHz- its in an 3:8 ratio with the VHF carrier frequency. This is unmodulated- i.e cw. It is used to measure the Doppler shift, to determine when the satellite is dead abeam the observer. The transmitted time, and the orbital data, tell you where the satellite was in the sky when that happened- or, put another way, if you know where the satellite is relative to you, then you know where you are- well, you’re somewhere on a line at right angles to the satellite’s track. You then wait for another satellite, and obtain another poition line- and where they cross, then bingo- that’s where you are. Hope that makes sense!

Parus could give you a fix in 1-2 hours; and had an accuracy of 100m anywhere on the earth’s surface. Okay that’s poor compared to GPS, but in the 1970’s it was revolutionary.

It isn’t just Doppler that determines the receiver bandwidth, although you do take it into account. Most satellites have a much higher FM deviation than a normal narrowband FM transmission- the NOAA met sats are about 19kHz deviation I think- and these nav sats are higher too, but not that much. But for decoding, you do need to resolve the 7kHz second markers which a narrow filter won’t easily do.

There is also a lot of information about the Soviet space program on the Zarya website

I would like to decode these signals at some point, providing I can sort out reception. I have found a number of historical guides and projects in addition to the articles linked to in the thread above.

A Time Code Reader/Display for Russian Tsikada Satellites by John M.Franke WA4WDL contained in the Proceedings of the AMSAT-NA14th Space Symposium and AMSAT Annual Meeting 1996
and Decoding the Russian LEO Navigation Satellites by John Corby, VA3KOT contained in the Ontario DX Association magazine Listening In Nov 2005, Dec 2005