UNITEC-1 Tracking Report

I’m sorry to report that despite coordinated efforts between Japanese and European teams we have not been able to receive any signal from UNITEC-1 over Europe. Japanese ground stations were able to receive both the orbit determination downlink and the major/minor data downlink during the first pass after launch; however, the signal has been lost during the first mission day sometime between LOS over Japan and AOS over Europe.

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5.8 GHz Helical Feed for the 90cm dish

Yesterday was day 2 where we were repairing the broken Azimuth rotator and making a small 90cm dish ready to track UNITEC-1 on 5.84 GHz. Actually, we already fixed the rotator on Monday but we ended up mounting it 180° off and we decided to fix it properly instead of just correcting it in software.

Fixing the orientation of the Azimuth rotoator was very quick – it took only 17 minutes to get up to the mast, lift the antenna construction, change the orientation of the rotator and fasten the nuts and bolts again. We had the practice from yesterday.

Next item on the agenda was to make a small helix with two turns to feed the 90cm dish so that we can use this smaller dish for tracking UNITEC-1 in the beginning of the interplanetary cruise. We found some online helical antenna calculator to generate the design but that was more than 1 GHz off and it took a lot of tweaking and tuning to get it close to 5.8 GHz. Here are the results, photos and videos.

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Smaller dish for tracking UNITEC-1

As you probably already know the UNITEC-1 launch got scrubbed today (17th May). Fortunately, there is a launch window every day for the next few weeks.

During the last few days I learned that tracking UNITEC-1 will be very difficult because the available trajectory data can be very uncertain. Therefore, we decided to use a smaller antenna with wider beam width in the first few days after launch. One option was to mount the IKEA dish to piggyback the 7m dish, another option was to use a 90cm dish which is currently equipped with a 2.4 GHz feed. We decided to go for the second option.

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Preparing the 7m antenna for UNITEC-1

AMSAT OZ staff are preparing the 7 meter dish for tracking the UNITEC-1 interplanetary spacecraft.

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Apollo 11 Anniversary Event on AO-51

On July 20, AMSAT will mark the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing with a special event on the AO-51 amateur radio satellite. During evening passes in the U.S. and Europe, AO-51 will transmit a message commemorating the event. The message will be transmitted on the 435.300 MHz FM downlink and will contain a Robot 36 SSTV image as well as a voice message. It is often possible to receive AO-51 with a simple NFM capable receiver + rubber-ducky antenna and you can use this online prediction tool to find out when AO-51 passes will occur at your location.

Apollo 11 photo

Source: July 2009 AO-51 Schedule