Phonesats are no more.

Sadly the Phonesats Alexandra, Graham and Bell are no more, they were always going to be shorted lived, but having launched on April 21st aboard the Orbital Sciences Antares test flight, they have sadly now deorbited.

As the Phonesat website now states

Our orbital analysis indicates that the PhoneSats have deorbited on April 27 and have burned up in Earth’s atmosphere as predicted. No one has been able to hear from the satellites since, which confirms the predictions.

The PhoneSat team is continuing to develop the PhoneSats using consumer technology to greatly increase the capability of the satellite whilst developing with a low cost – our next versions are launching late this year so stay tuned.

Thank you again for your support in making this technology demonstration successful!

Must say I really enjoyed chasing these, getting some decent results with very modest equipment.

In the inhibitable words of Dr. Eldon Tyrell

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

First Phonesat Image Piece

Before leaving for work this morning I set up the 70cm yagi on the tripod pointing due south at around 45 degrees inclination and my ancient laptop with the original FUNCube dongle, hoping to catch some more PhoneSat packets during this afternoons passes, the first at 12:30BST, the other around 14:05BST.

I was hoping to be home for the later one, but unfortunately I was held up and wasn’t, luckily I was able to set both of them to record by logging in remotely. But due to the fixed antenna meant I only was able to get the optimum signal for part of the pass.

Still I grabbed the file for the first pass and was able to analyse the resulting IQ file during a coffee break and successful decoded a handful of packets.

I was especially eager to see the result as in my mailbox this morning was a message from the PhoneSat team

Let the puzzle begin

As scheduled, Graham and Bell have just started transmitting picture packets, so please stay tuned to your radio. Since the picture packets need to be stitched to restore the complete Earth picture, we will need as many packets as possible. Ultimately a new page will be created to display the current construction of the pictures. Let the puzzle begin!

Best regards,
The PhoneSat team

Indeed one of the packets was an image piece, however my excitement was quickly tempered when I discovered it was infact just 20 x 15 pixels in size!

fm KJ6KRW-2 to CQ-0 via TELEM-0 UI  PID=F0
.5qjuM1K$e67WJJ/!*;TU:f^CP+D(TR!0REaSH12S!”T&n/J<h*!s!j:!*GO@$.A#;”qkt2UoORH!%-Lqr;^40b;k;a]Q,IYQ(B:[r-<:($p+rslDDQi<`UrfGn1-d^+^e8XV&5%nr[AFM,_?q18$!:`kk&-).

Produced this image, which I have scaled up to 200 x 150 pixels! A hint of blue, cloud and land?

The picture packets are decoded as.webp pictures. These pictures can be converted into png pictures using Google’s webp converter.

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.

CubeSats Galore!

No the Phonesats don’t look like this!

It is an interesting time if you are into chasing satellites as there is a plethora of CubeSat launches imminent.

Last night I settled down and logged into NASA-TV to watch the Orbital Sciences Antares Test Flight (A-ONE Misson) Antares is a new medium-class space launch vehicle. Following this test launch and a further demonstration mission it will hopefully become a cargo deliverly system to the International Space Station (ISS)

As part of this initial test there were a number of CubeSats on board due for deployment unfortunately with just twelve minutes on the clock the launch was halted due to a premature separation of a launch pad umbilical connection to the Antares upper stage used for data communications. Orbital is currently analysing what happened. The next launch attempt is tentatively set for no earlier than Friday pending a successful resolution of the issue and acceptable weather conditions.

The CubeSats due for deployment were part of the NASA PhoneSat project. Three CubeSats called Alexandra, Graham and Bell are 1U sized and similar to the British STRaND-1 CubeSat utilise Commericial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Electronics, namely a HTC Nexus One smartphone running the Android operating system for the Phonesat 1.0 satellites (Graham and Bell) and a Samsung Nexus S for the Phonesat 2.0 Beta satellite (Alexandra) The satellites also contain an external radio beacon, batteries and a circuit to reboot the phone if it stops transmitting, again all off the shelf commerical parts.

All three satellites are emitting packet transmission over the amateur radio band at 437.425 MHz, utilising the call sign KJ6KRW and will be spaced apart to allow reception of all three during a single pass. More details are available at http://www.phonesat.org

Also onboard Antares was the commericial DOVE-1 satellite, a technology development experiment. Originally intended to have a telemetry downlink on 145.825MHz this apparently is no longer the case.

More information about the Antares payload is at http://amsat-uk.org/2013/04/16/antares-cubesat-launch/

If the Antares does launch on Friday, it will share the skys with Soyuz-2-1a which is due to be launched at 10:00UTC from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Amongst its payload are four CubeSats with amateur radio payloads, OSSI-1, BEESAT-2, BEESAT-3 and SOMP. Again more details can be found at the AMSAT-UK website at http://amsat-uk.org/2013/04/17/soyuz-cubesat-launch/

Also next week the launch of CZ-2D from the Jiuquan Space Centre is planned on April 26, carrying the Mode J (145/435) linear transponder satellite TURKSAT-3USAT along with the Argentine CubeBug-1 and Ecuadorian NEE-01 Pegasus TV Cubesat

TURKSAT-3USAT – http://amsat-uk.org/satellites/turksat-3usat/
CubeBug-1 – http://amsat-uk.org/2013/03/22/cubebug-1/
NEE-01 Pegasus – http://amsat-uk.org/?p=14689

So it looks like being a busy time, once the orbits are known and the TLEs are published.

Sadly it seems STRaND-1, that got me so excited last month has fallen silent after its transmissions became intermittent over the Easter weekend. After failing to receive any radio transmissions the team are apparently asking the EME weak-signal community to listen for the STRaND-1 LO (Local Oscillator) at 312.5MHz to see if it is still alive.