ICUBE-1 Reception Reports Needed

I have been messaging with Dr Khurram Khurshid the manager of the ICube-1 team and they are struggling a little

 “.. we received icube for a couple of days using FunCube / HumSat TLE’s but not anymore we are looking for our own TLE’s but haven’t been able to track icube for the past few days”

They may officially ask for assistance but after unexpectedly making the first signal report back on the 21st November, I thought I was just ask if anyone could keep an ear out.

ICube-1 was released as part of the UNISAT-5 payload and if still functional is in CW mode on 145.947MHz and the message is “First Cubesat of Pakistan”

Some info/links

I have done an analysis of my first capture

 The ICube-1 facebook page

Thanks Andrew M6GTG

I’m famous! and ICube-1, MOVE and Velox-PII telemetry decodes

My confirmation of ICube-1 successful deployment was featured on the AMSAT-UK website on Sunday.

Screenshot of the Amsat-UK webpage

My very quick and patchy decode of the CW beacon was sufficient to identify and verify ICube-1 but I had only been able to decode the words ***ISTAN and CUBESAT. For my own pride I wanted to decode more of the CW message “iCUBE-1 First CubeSat of Pakistan”

I had the IQ file from SDR# so could process it as much as I needed and have used a couple of Morse/CW decoder tools before, but find the free ones often struggle with the faint Doppler shifting CW, just a little too much noise and not enough signal.

Audible decoding isn’t an option (yet) but I can visually decode, but the signal going up the waterfall shows the dots and dashes but is too quick for me, and ideally I would like it horizontal rather than vertically.

Then I remembered I had installed Spectravue a few years ago, Spectravue is a powerful spectral analysis/receiver program primarily for use with SDR devices, it was the program used to calibrate my first FUNCube Dongle.

Spectravue is able to take the IQ file and play it back at varying speeds, it can demodulate signals and importantly allows pausing of the playback and easy access to the section of interest, something SDR# is sadly lacking, also it allows a horizontal waterfall display and the ability to save images.

I set about processing and decoding and as you can see from the screenshots below, I managed to identify most of the message (the letters have been added later) The FUNcube-1 telemetry signal can be seen at the top of the images, along with some QRM.

Partial decode of ICube-1 CW beacon

Partial decode of ICube-1 CW beacon

During the process I also spotted two further signals from Velox-PII (145.980 MHz) and the First-Move Cubesat (145.970 MHz) – both of these were recorded in the first decent pass over the UK after deployment  (10:21 on 21 November 2013) the incorrect time shown on the bottom of the screen shots comes from the fact the files processed were copies and the file time stamp had been altered in the process.

I can only wonder when the first reception reports were made? Then again I shouldn’t be greedy, one first-to-report is probably enough 😉

Velox-PII Telemetry/CW beacon

First-Move Telemetry and partial ICube-1

VELOX-PII is the first Singapore picosatellite to operate in low-earth orbit, and was developed under the Nanyang Technological University’s Undergraduate Satellite Program. Details here including how to read the telemetry message.

FIRST-MOVE built by students at the Technical University of München. MOVE stands for München Orbital Verification Experiment. Details here

Did I make ICube-1’s first signal report?

Just like a excited child at the moment! Why you ask? 

Well this morning saw the launch of the numerous satellites from the Dnepr rocket including Funcube-1, and this morning saw the first passes over the UK. Like many others I eagerly sat in front of my computer awaiting the chance to decode the telemetry. However I was doing it remotely using a VNC connection as I was in work…

Sure enough at 10:21 the pass started and a nice strong signal appeared on the waterfall and the FUNCube dashboard sprang to life. I managed 29 packets on the first pass!

The upload ranking at the FUNcube data warehouse

However I noticed another CW signal further up the spectrum which seemed to be on the edge of the FUNCube transponder allocation (145.950MHz) I went to twitter and asked if FUNCube-1 was transmitting a CW beacon? Peter 2E0SQL thought it might be another satellite.

At start of earlier FUNCube-1 pass, what looks like CW on transponder downlink frequency? #funcube
— Andrew Garratt (@nerdsville) November 21, 2013

I had captured the pass as an IQ file, and set about trying to decode the CW. I had several attempt using fl-digi remotely but chasing a fast moving doppler on a laggy remote connection wasn’t good but I seemed to repeatedly get ***ISTAN.

On the next pass the same thing happened, this time I got the word CUBESAT several times..

The signal had the same doppler shift as FUNCube-1 so was from the same launch constellation and a quick check and I spotted ICube-1 the first cubesat launched by Institute of Space Technology in Pakistan.. which was listed as broadcasting on 145.947MHz using AFSK.

It must be.. ***ISTAN… CUBESAT…. So I sent them a message on their Facebook page and they confirmed that at this stage of the mission they were indeed supposedly broadcasting a CW beacon and what I decoded was part of the message!

Khurram project manager of ICube-1 said “Thanx Andrew … your message was a great relief for us”

and on their facebook page 

First Signal has been received from ICUBE-1 in UK … Alhamdulillah the ICUBE-1 mission is successful … Congrats everyone. Satellite will pass over IST around 9:30 pm today

So it seems lowly M6GTG may have made the first signal report confirming Pakistan’s first successful cubesat deployment!

I am grinning madly at the moment!