[amsat-bb] ISS & Amateur Voice Comms (R)

MM ka1rrw at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 4 05:13:54 PDT 2007

Hello Patrick,
Thank you very much for your comments on the Marex
Project proposal. We are always interested in hearing
pros and cons for all projects and welcome
constructive input.

We believe in the slogan Keep It Simple (KIS). 
When it comes to projects we sometimes Dumb them down
to make it easier for the ISS crew.  Sure these guys
are very smart, but they do not have time to find and
read the manuals for the 50+ radio, etc on ISS.

On Mir Marex flew the Kenwood TM-D7A.  This radio was
used to run the SSTV project and became the primary
Voice link.  This and other Kenwood’s have a row of
Program Mode buttons (I call them function buttons). 
They allow you to save different modes of operation
and can be very complicated.  After reading the
manuals several times and testing the PM buttons, we
decided it would be too complicated for the crew to
understand these buttons, so we disabled them. 
Actually I programmed all of the PM buttons to do just
the same two items, Go To Channel #1 and Set Transmit
Power to Low.  That way if the crew hit a PM button
they did not have to worry about rebooting the radio
into a different configuration.

Slow Scan TV:
On ISS, Silicon Pixels custom designed software just
for ISS.  We chose them because they had the best
solution at the time for SSTV. However, there off the
shelf version of software “CPIX” wold have been too
complicated for the crew to understand.  There were
many great features that the ISS crew just would not
have time to learn.  The Silicon Pixels team developed
a Dumbed down version of software that had just the
basic features that the ISS crew would need.  We tried
to make it as simple as possibly by deliberately
deleting features that were not needed.  And we made
the Buttons big so the crew could hit them easily
while floating in Zero-G.

For the new Dual band Radio proposal that Marex has
put forward, I wanted to again try to Keep it simple. 
I wanted to avoid the problems associated with a true
Dual-Band radio, such as two volume controls, two
squelches and a Band switch etc. The ISS crews have
been having problems with figuring out a “Function
Button” radio verses a Channel knob radio.  I wanted
to go back to 1 channel knob, 1 squelch and 1 volume
The Icom ID-800 seems to meet most of our requirements
for Keeping it Simple.  Once we program the radio on
the ground the ISS crew only needs to know the
following controls:

Power Switch
Channel Knob
Volume Knob
Squelch knob.
Instructions for changing frequencies, bands or Voice
Modes will be as follows.
Turn Channel knob to channel XYZ.

Turning on Packet will be as simple as:
Turn Channel knob to channel XYZ.
Push power button on TNC and look for Green LED on

Believe me, it’s a lot simpler to use than what we
currently have in space.

Digital Voice Modes:
The ID-800 does support digital voce modes and all
normal Analogue FM modes.  Since our goal is to reach
as many people as possible, the primary mode will be
Analog FM voice.  The digital modes wold most likely
be used for semi-private family communications, etc.

Deliver Time Frame:
This project is not approved at this time.  We only
have approval to continue with the Kantronics KPC-9612
Modem side the project.  Back in the Old Mir days, the
longest it took me to Pitch a theory to Switch on was
15 months (SSTV Mir, Pitch theory September 1997,
Switch on December 1998).  With ISS, it takes much
longer.  I am tying to use a radio that will still be
in production when we go into space.

The next project proposal demonstration is tentatively
planned for Moscow in Late 2007 or early 2008.  

Thanks for your input and support.



--- Patrick McGrane <N2OEQ at aceweb.com> wrote:

> Hi miles- de patrick n2oeq- nice to see you thinking
> of the future. I miss the MIR 
> days. I think there was a simple kenwood dual bander
> on the MIR. I looked at the icom 
> ID800 and my first impression was that it was not a
> simple radio and I am not 
> interested in buying a new digital radio to work the
> ISS. Since there is no rush, 
> please consider other radio models of SIMPLE design.
> Within the past couple of years I 
> purchased a very easy to operate Yaesu FT8800R dual
> band rig capable of cross-band 
> repeat, 9600 baud packet, and narrow FM operation to
> name a few. I looked at several 
> rigs before deciding on it. Of course, it was a
> personal preference and others may 
> prefer other models but I found this to be my choice
> for satellite work etc.
> I think it would be safer to consider a rig that has
> been around a while that has been 
> refined in production and proven in use. Most
> important is that it be as simple as 
> possible so as not to be disinteresting to the crew.
> Well, its all academic since it 
> has to be approved but I'm happy to see you working
> on it. Thank you!!!!!
> Take care, pat
> ------- Original Message -------
> From    : MM[mailto:ka1rrw at yahoo.com]
> Sent    : 6/2/2007 7:46:10 PM
> To      : sraas at optonline.net; amsat-bb at amsat.org
> Cc      : 
> Subject : RE: [amsat-bb] Re: ISS & Amateur Voice
> Comms
> The Amateur Radio stations on board ISS have not
> been
> open to regular public access since August 2006. 
> There have only be a few random days when the crew
> from ISS has been heard calling CQ since then.
> If you look back in the Amsat Archives, look for
> message from Ken Ransom for an explanation of the
> issues.
> The Marex team is working on proposals to replace
> the
> existing ISS ham system with a new simpler to use
> system. (We have found that on the Space Station Mir
> projects, some consumer grade ham gear seemed to
> only
> have a life span of 2-3 year in 24/7 service while
> orbiting in space.  All of the ham gear on ISS is
> over
> 3.5 years old)
> The unapproved Marex proposals would be comprised of
> the following hardware if approved.
> Icom ID-800 Dual band
> Kantronics KPC-9212 TNC
> Slow Scan TV
> (Off the shelf VOX box, multiple brands are
> currently
> being tested for SSTV)
> Marex welcomes your support
> www.marexmg.org
> --- Steve Raas <sraas at optonline.net> wrote:
> > Has any one been lucky enough to work the ISS on
> 2m
> > voice as of late? I call
> > NA1SS on every pass that Im available to and so
> far
> > no dice. ( 3 days 4 or 5
> > passes )
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > Thanks!
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > N2JDQ
> > 
> > Steven J. Raas
> > 
> > Locator FN20vg
> > 
> > QRV 2/432 ,  V/U U/V Sats & WSJT
> > 
> > Home Page & Sked Requests @
> >  http://n2jdq2007.tripod.com/ 
> > 
> > AMSAT Member # 36396
> > 
> >  
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
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