Ham video transmitter onboard Columbus

A DATV transmitter on S-band is being added to the ARISS equipment onboard the International Space Station has been related in an announcement recently circulated by the ARISS.  

The ARISS Ham Video transmitter is presently onboard Columbus.

The transmitter was delivered by Japanese cargo spacecraft HTV-4, which launched 4 August 2013 and docked 5 days later.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano IR0ISS reported that the bags are stored in Columbus. There are two bags: one for the transmitter, the other for the power, camera and antenna cables.

Installation will be done by US astronaut Michael Hopkins KF5LJG who has been trained for the commissioning of the Ham Video equipment.The commissioning is planned later in the year, possibly end October when there are favourable passes over Italy. Indeed, the tests transmissions for the commissioning of the onboard equipment will be received by the ground station of the “Centro di Geodesia Spaziale” of the Italian Space Agency, located in Matera, Southern Italy.

ARISS will report in due time on the commissioning procedure which will involve a series of tests to be performed during 3 or 4 ISS passes.

Possibly, the Ham Video transmitter will transmit continuously between the commissioning steps offering amateur ground stations the opportunity to test and tune their receiving equipment. The transmissions will be performed in automatic mode, without requiring crew time. The camera, which runs on a battery, will not be used and the ground stations will receive a black image.

Meanwhile, commissioning is being prepared steadily. The kick-off meeting took place November 2012 at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, located in Noordwijk the Netherlands. Detailed procedures are examined and finalized during weekly ESA/ARISS teleconferences. A preliminary EST (Experiment Sequence Test) is planned 28-29 August. The test will involve the ARISS ground station IK1SLD, located in Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy.

IK1SLD, which is an ARISS telebridge station often used for educational ARISS school contacts on VHF, has been upgraded for S-band reception. Ham Video manufacturer Kayser Italia has delivered a 1.2 meter dish, a down converter and precision tracking motors, which are part of the ESA funded equipment.

For the EST, the station will receive a DATV signal from a local low power S-band test transmitter. The decoded signal will be webstreamed to the BATC server. The British Amateur Television Club offers ARISS free access to their server. ESA examiners will connect to the BATC server and evaluate the reception. Test transmissions at IK1SLD will cover the different frequencies and symbol rates available on the Ham Video transmitter.

Web streaming will take advantage of the special software developed byJean Pierre Courjaud, F6DZP. References are available in the HamVideo.pdf.

When the Ham Video transmitter will become operational, it will be used for ARISS educational school contacts. Video will be for downlink only. Uplink will be VHF FM audio. The Ericsson transceiver onboard Columbus will be used for reception onboard. This cross band and double mode operation is called Ham TV. Ham Video is the name of the DATV transmitter.

Annocement - http://www.ariss-eu.org/HamVideo.pdf