FUNcube1 reception on the cheap

Woooo – techie stuff! Receiving signals from the FUNcube1 educational / amateur radio satellite on a very cheap system – receiver cost £10, computer cost £35. (It’s an old monitor so that doesn’t count!) I will no doubt blog this stuff properly on my web pages in due course. Fun fun!

computer bits

Screen detail:


435MHz satellite antenna

This is the 70cm (435MHz) omnidirectional antenna for satellites I have just finished – called the “eggbeater” for obvious reasons. It also appears to work well – this afternoon I heard HO-68 telemetry, and FO-29 twice – once on a low pass to the north, then again on a much higher pass, during which I clearly heard Italian (IW3RGK) and German (DL5OCD) amateur stations calling through the satellite. This is very satisfactory for an omnidirectional antenna, especially as I find the receiver in the FT-817 radio is as deaf as a post on 70cm. I shall make a little preamplifier for it before I try any satellite contacts.


144MHz satellite antenna

I’ve made a new omnidirectional satellite antenna for 2m – a turnstile. Set it up on the balcony this morning (ignore the washing line ) and heard three satellites on 2m – the International Space Station, FUNcube-1 and UKube-1. Also heard HO-68 as a weak signal on 70cm. The next step is to make a 70cm omni antenna so I can hear the UHF signals better, and transmit through the FUNcube satellites.


Preparing for driving satellite antennas

From the “how to stop folks reading your Facebook page” department:

Woohooooo! I’ve managed to get altitude and azimuth data out of the Orbitron software (for tracking satellites), using the DDE interface, with a Python program. There is next to no documentation on the web for this, so it was a case of diligent Googling and intelligent (!) guesswork. But it WORKS! – screenshot shows the satellite data being dumped to a window, but now I have it I can send it to a (yet to be built) PIC interface for the hardware.

This is what computers are REALLY for.


FUNcube1 sound recording

Made a recording of the FUNcube-1 (AO-73) satellite this morning. Here it is, direct to you from space

You can hear the Doppler effect. The satellite is passing by a few hundred km away, so at its closest it’s neither approaching nor receding. As time passes it’s receding faster and faster from the receiver (though still at about the same speed in space) so we get the pitch of the sync frequency going down. Just like a fire engine or ambulance siren passing in the street!

If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of the “noise” between the beeps – it’s actually data – changing in pitch as well. It’s more noticeable at higher frequencies, and is hard to hear because it’s an approximation to white noise.

Receiving FUNcube-1 telemetry

Just received 51 frames of telemetry from the FUNcube-1 satellite, on its second orbit. All safely transmitted to the data warehouse! Had to poke the antenna out of a bedroom window. Fun!


I believe I was the first person in Scotland to hear it:


However I rapidly shot down the list of packet uploads as more people heard it around the world.