FUTURE NEWS REGARDING HAM-TV ON I.S.S
In the framework of an educational program, ESA has approved and funded the Amateur Television (HAMTV) project for the International Space Station (ISS), proposed by AMSAT Italia, a national radio-amateur organization, and ARCOL, a multinational Working Group dealing with amateur radio issues on-board the Columbus Module of the ISS.
The ARISS HAMTV project will make possible to view the astronauts and their ISS living habitat to ground stations operated by radio-amateurs, by means of a new audio/video transmitter payload, named HAMVIDEO, providing a one way audio/video link from the ISS to the ground, which can be received on earth with simple low cost receivers.
In the frame of ESA ESTEC / KAYSER ITALIA Contract n. 4000104115/11/NL/BJ “ARISS HAM VIDEO”, KAYSER ITALIA SRL (Livorno, Italy) is in charge as prime-contractor for the design and development of the flight and ground segment. KAYSER ITALIA ( KI ) is an Italian SME with deep expertise in the development of scientific payloads for space applications, with a record of more than 80 payloads flown during 50 space missions matured in the course of 25 years. AMSAT ITALIA, as Italian satellite amateur radio society acting on behalf of the ARISS organization, will provide its specific support in the design phase, and will be involved during the entire project.
HAMVIDEO, once installed into COLUMBUS, will be connected to the existing ARISS S-Band antenna, to the Video camera, and to the KI already developed “KuPS” Power Supply. The HAMVIDEO, complemented by a number of ground stations, will be operated in the frame of ARISS "Amateur Radio on the International Space Station". The international ARISS organization offers students from all over the world the opportunity to talk with astronauts onboard the ISS. This program is supported by the space agencies for the promotion of STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Until now, these "Space Talks" are done in half-duplex voice mode. HAMVIDEO will let the students see the astronauts in space talking to them and performing experiments. ARISS operations are conducted by volunteering radio amateurs, specialized in satellite communications.
The HAMVIDEO payload successfully went through the PDR phase in March 2012 and will be ready for launch in spring 2013.
Ham Video A DATV transmitter on Columbus
As far back as the year 2000, a proposal for an ATV system on the International Space Station was submitted to the ARISS Project Selection and Use Committee by Graham Shirville G3VZV. November 2002, a request for amateur radio facilities on the then under construction Columbus module was submitted to Mr Jörg Feustel-Büechl, Director of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity Directorate of the European Space Agency (ESA). The request was to install wideband amateur radio antennas on the nadir of Columbus, facing the earth. With such antennas, the on board amateur radio facilities could be extended to amateur TV. In 2003 the request was examined in detail and finally accepted. ARISS would pay for the development, manufacturing and qualification of the antennas. ESA would support the installation cost. ARISS-Europe started a funding campaign, all donations being published on the website.
In 2004 coaxial feed throughs were installed on the port cone of Columbus. This was needed for accessing the antennas with feedlines from inside the module. In 2005, the Royal Belgian Amateur Radio Society (UBA) signed a contract with the Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland for the development and manufacturing of the antennas. Whereas initial plans were for UHF, L-band and S-band antennas, only L- and S-band antennas could be ordered by lack of funding. The cost of the project was 47.000 Euro. Early 2006 the antennas were delivered to ESA. Meanwhile main Columbus contractor EADS and subcontractor Alenia Spazio had reviewed mechanical and thermal constraints. Wroclaw University proceeded to qualifications tests (cost 3.000 Euro) and the antennas failed. In 2007 an additional contract was signed with the Wroclaw University for the development of modified antennas. This amounted to 36.000 Euro. These antennas were accepted and installed on Columbus, October 2007. The cost of the antennas finally amounted to 86.000 Euro and was covered by a wordwide funding campaign. ESA supported the total installation cost of the antennas, including feed throughs and coaxial cables. After the successful launch of Columbus and its integration into the International Space Station complex, an ARISS-Europe working group started a study for the development of an amateur television transmitter on Columbus, using one of the the S-band antennas. A debate started between the supporters of analog television (ATV) and the proponents of digital television (DATV). The working group, which met monthly per teleconference, made progress, but was stuck by the lack of funding. Meanwhile a possibility opened for the installation of VHF/UHF antennas on Columbus. The European Space Agency wanted a VHF antenna for a specific payload and was interested in the manner ARISS antennas had been attached to handrails on the Russian service module. A similar system was adopted for Columbus and, in the same time, ESA accepted the installation of a dual band VHF/UHF antenna for ARISS. This antenna project was funded entirely by AMSAT-NA and volunteers who built the antennas for both the ESA experiment and for ARISS. The installation was done per EVA, 21 November 2009. Soon an Ericsson UHF transceiver, which had served in the early ARISS days, migrated from the Russian to the American segment of the Space Station and started Packet Radio operation. As time went by, the debate on ATV versus DATV evolved at the advantage of the latter, but no funding was in sight¼ Then, suddenly, supported by the enthusiasm of Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli IZ0PA, who had performed many ARISS school contacts during his 2010-2011 expedition aboard the Space Station, at the initiative of AMSAT Italia, an Italian manufacturer, Kayser Italia, presented a project for an amateur radio DATV transmitter to ESA's educational services. In 2012,
this proposal was accepted and ESA signed a contract with Kayser Italia for the development and the manufacturing of a DATV transmitter on S-band. This transmitter, dubbed "Ham Video", is presently slated for launch on HTV-4, August 4, 2013.
2. Ham Video The Ham Video DATV transmitter, developed for installation in the Columbus module, features the following characteristics:
Gaston Bertels, ON4WF ARISS-Europe chairman
Downlink frequencies: 2.422 GHz 2.437 GHz DVB-S standard (QPSK modulation) Symbol rates: 1.3 Ms/s and 2.0 Ms/s FEC : ½ SIF: 352x240 or D1:720x480 RF radiated power : approximately 10 W EIRP
• • • • • Ham Video will operate with a Canon XF-305 camera, provided by NASA. Power will be provided by a portable power supply, also known as KuPS, another Kayser Italia product. The KuPS is a standard equipment on Columbus, used for several experiments. It converts the 120VDC, which is the standard main voltage in the American segment, to 28VDC. Ham Video is downlink only. No DATV receiver is presently considered on board Columbus.
From a technical perspective, Ham Video is a standalone payload.
ESA puts Ham Video at the disposal of ARISS for educational outreach.
When video enhanced ARISS school contacts will be performed, the downlink audio and video signals will be produced by Ham Video and the uplink audio signals will be received with the Ericsson transceiver. In this two way setup, the global system is dubbed Ham TV.
3. Ham TV An important element of the Ham TV system is the ground segment.
Receiving DATV signals from Columbus will be far more demanding than receiving VHF or UHF. A careful study of the link budget, conducted by Piero Tognolatti I0KPT, shows that DATV decoding should be possible, for a ground station equipped with a 1.2m dish, when the ISS is within a range of about 800 - 1000km. This limits the time of DATV reception to about 3 - 4 minutes during a favourable pass. A 1.2m dish has a beam width of about 4 degrees (between -1 dB points). ISS tracking will be far more demanding than it is for receiving VHF signals. ARISS will establish a chain of 5 volunteering amateur ground stations, located at carefully chosen places along a typical ISS pass over Europe. These stations will receive and decode the DATV signals and stream the audio and the video over the Internet to the BATC server in UK. The school will connect to the BATC server which offers the possibility to visualise up to 6 images simultaneously. With this setup, Ham Video reception is expected to reach the 15 minutes goal ESA has fixed. ARISS' expectation is, that similar chains of ground stations will be established in other continents, allowing more flexibility for Ham Video enhanced ARISS school contacts. Ham Video transmissions will not be limited to school contacts. Automated transmission of recorded video can also be envisaged. Several amateur radio experiments can be developed, within the limits proper to the International Space Station. A new era opens for amateur radio on the International Space Station.
Ham Video DATV transmitter
Canon XF-305 camera
ARISS L/S-band patch antenna
LNB Mast mounted
AZ-EL motors + Tracking software
Ground Station for Ham Video reception
DVB-S receiver o
Parabolic dish o polarisation : RHCP o gain about 26 dB AZ-EL rotor o accuracy : +/- 2 degrees (1.2 m dish) o slew rate : 5°per second o range : 0-180 elevation & 0-360 azimuth LNB (Low Noise Block downconverter) o input frequency : S-band o output frequency : L-band o gain : at least 40 dB o frequency stability : +/- 20 kHz o noise figure : about 0.7 dB Tracking software o allowing flip mode
PCI Satellite Receiver (DVB-S)
Measurement and Display software
RF HamDesign ( https://www.rfhamdesign.com )
Two options are suitable :
Option 1 : KU LNC 25 TM ( centered 2450 MHz)
Ground station components
Comments - References - Sources
1. Parabolic dish with AZ-EL pointing The dish shall be mounted for azimuth and elevation pointing and moved by precision motors. with a total system pointing accuracy of 2°or less (including motor precision, antenna alignment, and pointing control software).
The elevation movement shall cover 180 degrees (flip mode capability). The azimuth movement shall cover 360 degrees or more.
A possible alternative to the flip mode for the elevation movement is the capability of azimuth movement up to 540 degrees to allow for reception of ISS passes over north.
Azimuth angular speed greater than 5°/sec allows for reception of ISS passes up to 90°elevation. Less angular speed will allow reception of passes with lower elevation.
The AZ-EL motors for the main European ground stations are made by Prosistel (https://www.prosistel.it ).
The driver is WISP DDE by CX6DD (https://www.mederoscnc.com/CX6DD/wispdde/wispdde.htm) modified by AMSAT Italia in order to interface Prosistel rotors in the Azimuth extended-range mode. This modified version of WISP DDE also allows automatic sweeping of the antenna around the Sun direction, in order both to check correct Az/El alignment and to measure G/T of receiving system.
2. Tracking software A number of shareware, freeware, cardware and commercial tracking softwares are available on the web.
Selection of the software shall take care of the capability to drive the AZ-EL motors, flip mode included.
The tracking software used for the on-going tests is Orbitron (https://www.stoff.pl/).
3. LHCP dish feed ARISS antennas on Columbus are right circularly polarised. Hence, for single reflector antennas, the feed shall be left hand circularly polarised, since each dish reflection reverses the polarisation.
The dish feed can be a patch type or a helix type, positioned in the focus of the parabola.
The dish feed used for ARISS-Europe ground stations is a product of
Type LH-13XL 2.1 - 2.7GHz Connector N-Female 50 ohm
4. LNB ARISS-Europe ground stations are equipped with an LNB downconverter produced by Kuhne Electronic. The LNB is designed for mast mounting near the parabola.
Frequency range : 2350 - 2550 MHz IF : 1433.5 - 1633.5 MHz Amplification : 40 dB https://www.kuhne-electronic.de/en/products/down-converters/ku-lnc-25-tm.html
Option 2 : KU LNC 23 TM (centered 2385 MHz) - specific DATV Frequency range: 2320 - 2450 MHz IF : 1404 - 1534 MHz Amplification : 40 dB https://www.kuhne-electronic.de/en/products/down-converters/mku-lnc-23-tm.html
The KU LNC 23 TM has a notch filter on 1.3 GHz for duplex operation : 1.3 GHz (transmit) and 2.3 GHz (receive). This could be useful from the perspective of a planned cross band voice transponder on Columbus.
5. DVB-S satellite receiver A suitable DVB-S satellite receiver PCI tuner card is produced by Techno Trend https://www.technotrend.eu/2920/TT-budget__S2-1600.html
The Techno Trend card fits in a PCI computer slot and supports HD TV (MPEG2 and MPEG4/ H.264) : • Computer OS : Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 • CPU for SDTV: at least 800 MHz • CPU for HDTV: at least P4 3,4 GHz or comparable AMD Athlon (Dual Core recommended) - not needed for Ham TV • 512MB main storage (1024MB recommended) at least 1GB free hard disc storage • Graphics card with at least 64MB and DirectX 9 support • Sound card with DirectX 9 support
Besides the TT-budget S2-1600 card, TechnoTrend produces the TT-S2-3200 card, also suitable.
In addition to the PCI card ground station solution described, it is understood that some specific DVB-S "set top" boxes are able to operate correctly at the symbol rates that will be used by the Ham TV system.
6. Measurement and Display software Jean Pierre Courjaud F6DZP has developed a free software utility providing radio amateurs and DVB technicians a tool that allows Digital ATV (DVB-S) to be measured precisely. Please see : https://www.vivadatv.org/page.php?p=tutioune-en
This software comes in two versions : • Tutioune V2.0 for use with the TT S2-3200 card https://www.vivadatv.org/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=205
• Tutioune 1600 V0.1 for use with the TT S2-1600 card https://www.vivadatv.org/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=214
With the above mentioned setup, Ham Video from Columbus can be received, decoded and visioned on a computer screen. Audio is also available.
7. Noise Power Measurement for antenna alignment As suggested by Piero Tognolatti I0KPT and with his collaboration, Jean Pierre F6DZP developed a special software for Noise Power Measurement.
With this software, a TT-S2-3200 or a TT-S2-1600 PCI card can be used for Dish alignment by measuring the Sun noise on S-band.
8. Streaming video on the Internet For H264 encoding and streaming video on the Internet, several software solutions exist:
Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) - free - Win XP, Win7, Win8 FFsplit - free - Win7, Win8 Open Broadcaster (OBS) - free - Win7n Win8 Xsplit - only basic functions are free - Win XP, Win7, Win8
• • • • Under Windows XP, the best solution is FMLE. For H264 encoding and streaming, a good Dual Core or a Quad Core CPU is needed.
Sending the video stream, produced by the DVB-S receiving software, to the Internet encoder/streamer software (FMLE, OBS¼) needs additional software such as Vcam.
The general ground station setup is shown in the two appended charts :
Solution 1 : based on a DVB-S PCI card Solution 2 : based on Set Top Box with Ethernet output
TechnoTrend TT S2-3200
S Band to L Band Converter
Desktop PC windows XP DVB-S PCI card
S Band to L Band Converter
Set Top Box with Ethernet output (e.g. DreamBox)
Ts via HTTP or UDP
Video via shared memory
Flash Video Live Converter
Flash Video Live Converter
All measures to Web server
H264 or VT6 video + audio streaming to Web server
H264 or VT6 video + audio streaming to Web
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