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

Two SSTV Images from the ISS

I love Twitter!

Several messages appeared on my news feed indicating that the Russian Cosmonauts were testing the SSTV system on board the International Space Station, activity was continuing to around 16:00UTC, as luck would have it this coincided with as pass over the UK, at around 15:30UTC.

Getting setup and monitoring the pass with the FUNCube Dongle got two absolutely clear images (and one partial) with a very very strong signal being received via the 2m yagi.


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

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

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 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
15:35:45$ fm KJ6KRW-0 to CQ-0 via TELEM-0 UI  PID=F0
15:36:59$ fm KJ6KRW-1 to CQ-0 via TCPIP-0 UI  PID=F0

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.

STRATODEAN – High Altitude Balloon

After yesterdays successful first attempt at receiving the telemetry from HABs (High Altitude Balloons) I spotted another was being launched this morning, the STRATODEAN Project.

The STRATODEAN team is made up of Mark Ireland and Cassie Phelps, two graduates from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire who were launching their payload from their hometown.

The launch took place just after 10am, and I set the receiver going and was getting some faint signals but no successful decodes and took the dogs out for a morning walk, a few hours later I returned to find the signal had increased in strength and decodes were occuring.

I carried on receiving successful decodes after the balloon burst and it was making the decent, the final decode being received as it was around 700m from the ground, quite near the final landing spot.

I managed to get the tracker working (by turning off adblock plus) so was able to follow the track of the payload in real time as decodes were received.

Congratulations to the Stratodean project it was an enjoyable few hours.

99 Red Balloons, well actually 3 High Altitude Balloons on 434MHz

In my news feed this morning was an innocuous article from the Southgate Amateur Radio News website (which is a must have subscription for anyone interested in amateur radio)

It simply said “Several 434 MHz balloons launch today” but it was enough to pique my interest, the first launch this morning was the NSE/CHEAPO balloon set to launch at 9am from Bicknacre, Chelmsford, Essex, UK.

I was vaguely aware of these balloons and the High Altitude enthusiasts but I had never received or made any attempt at receiving them, but shortly after nine I started up the FUNCube Dongle and tuned to 434.650MHz with the discone in the loft and got a pretty decent signal, which I recognised as being RTTY.

A quick visit to the UKHAS UK High Altitude Society website and I had downloaded the dl-fldigi application which decodes the signal from and uploads the data to a central website.

I didn’t have any luck getting a decode from NSE but I was prepared for another attempt, so when I returned home this afternoon I managed to received the AURA balloon which launched from Great Malvern. I received quite a few success data packets which got uploaded.

I also received the last balloon this afternoon launched by the Queen Mary University from the Elsworth Site near Cambridge, around 4pm, but the signal was a little too scratchy for a successful decode.

I have since discovered that the transmitters in these balloons are only 10mW, but because of the line of sight they can manage several hundred miles, but even so the setup I was using wasn’t the most efficient for reception.

A similar balloon being launched

ISS – Russian EVA-32 Comms Received

The International Space Station is currently giving some nice evening passes at the moment, with clear skies and passing close to the crescent moon.

However today they were still undertaking an EVA to add some maintenance, so I programmed in a few frequencies I found on and had the FUNCube Dongle Pro+ connected to the discone in the loft and really wasn’t expecting much, until a doppler shifting signal appeared around 143.625MHz

Chuffed is an understatement!