Does the ISS still talk frequently?

Marauder

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I had never tried to contact or receive the space station, is it is still possible what are the best conditions to do so?

I had tuned in to the main downlink and watched it pass over on the map but heard not a thing. I am up in Dutchess county NY and it passed just a but under Long Island

I know they aren't going to be broadcasting every moment of the day but is it just not used as much these days to even try, do I need to have it pass closer to me?
 

krokus

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Which frequencies did you try? The ham radio is used for school contacts, and random bored occupants,most everything else is via satellite relay.
 

royldean

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The chance for random qso's with astronauts is slim to none. Serena Aunon-Chancellor was the last ISS occupant to "regularly" make unscheduled contacts with North American hams and that was over a year ago (maybe two?).

Having said that, they DO still make scheduled contacts with schools. The next one will be within the footprint of the North East US in a few days:
Fri 2020-07-10 10:49:51 UTC (taken from ARISS update in the AMSAT mailing list)
 

Marauder

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The chance for random qso's with astronauts is slim to none. Serena Aunon-Chancellor was the last ISS occupant to "regularly" make unscheduled contacts with North American hams and that was over a year ago (maybe two?).

Having said that, they DO still make scheduled contacts with schools. The next one will be within the footprint of the North East US in a few days:
Fri 2020-07-10 10:49:51 UTC (taken from ARISS update in the AMSAT mailing list)
Sweet. I will be listening then and will follow ARISS in the future , thanks!
 

Marauder

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Which frequencies did you try? The ham radio is used for school contacts, and random bored occupants,most everything else is via satellite relay.
I used the main downlink 145.80
It passes my area according to the tracking at around 3-4 AM EST I was curious if it was just too late to be hearing anyone with hams trying to contact the iss , have seen videos on it for ages and I had never tried to listen in. I read they got new Kenwood equipment in march 2020
 

n5ims

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Be aware that the ham transceiver on the US side of the ISS has been down for several years. Current operations are being done on the Russian area of the ISS, which is how the SSTV and classroom communication is being handled. This leaves very little time for casual conversation using the station.

It took a very long time to get a new, more modern, transceiver to be produced that will handle the power, interference, and other specs necessary for operation on the ISS. Recently the new radio was certified and has been shipped up to the ISS. Since it isn't a critical component, it's way down on the priority list for getting it installed and operational. Once it is installed it still won't be certified for general operation by licensed astronauts though since lots of testing will be required for the certification process. Don't think of this as a bad thing though since to do this testing, they'll have to operate the radio and this probably would be by making contacts using it.

Once this new radio is certified, other radios will be shipped to the ISS so both sides will have the same radio for operation and a backup will be available. There will also be backups available on earth that are certified and ready for launch if replacements are needed. This new radio will allow for more operation time and additional modes.
 

Marauder

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Be aware that the ham transceiver on the US side of the ISS has been down for several years. Current operations are being done on the Russian area of the ISS, which is how the SSTV and classroom communication is being handled. This leaves very little time for casual conversation using the station.

It took a very long time to get a new, more modern, transceiver to be produced that will handle the power, interference, and other specs necessary for operation on the ISS. Recently the new radio was certified and has been shipped up to the ISS. Since it isn't a critical component, it's way down on the priority list for getting it installed and operational. Once it is installed it still won't be certified for general operation by licensed astronauts though since lots of testing will be required for the certification process. Don't think of this as a bad thing though since to do this testing, they'll have to operate the radio and this probably would be by making contacts using it.

Once this new radio is certified, other radios will be shipped to the ISS so both sides will have the same radio for operation and a backup will be available. There will also be backups available on earth that are certified and ready for launch if replacements are needed. This new radio will allow for more operation time and additional modes.
Hmm according to ARISS they are doing a planned contact on July 7th 6:49 EST though ?
 

n5ims

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Perhaps they'll be doing what they have since the old radio on the US side failed and use the working radio on the Russian side. Since the classroom contacts are on the official schedule plans can be made for them to use whatever is needed to do what is planned. This contact will be one that uses the multi-telebridge system and not an in person group contact. This is how they've been handled when an appropriate orbit is not available for a scheduled classroom contact and how they handle them when the classroom must now be virtual due to COVID. The earth to ISS coms are still done using ham radio, but the bridge brings the students, teachers, and ham operators together with the telebridge acting like a large zoom or webex video conference.
 

royldean

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Be aware that the ham transceiver on the US side of the ISS has been down for several years. Current operations are being done on the Russian area of the ISS, which is how the SSTV and classroom communication is being handled. This leaves very little time for casual conversation using the station.
The only thing I'll disagree with is the statement "This leaves very little time for casual conversation using the station." I think if you analyzed usable passes over the US (or any specific area in general), you'd find that 95% of time is idle (ie, not being used for SSTV and student contacts).

For example, my SatNogs VHF station shows 145 pages (about 3600 passes) of "nothing heard" from the ISS:

However, if I change the filter to reflect "somethng heard", I get only 9 pages (225 passes):

Actully, that works out to about 93% idle time.
 

n5ims

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The only thing I'll disagree with is the statement "This leaves very little time for casual conversation using the station." I think if you analyzed usable passes over the US (or any specific area in general), you'd find that 95% of time is idle (ie, not being used for SSTV and student contacts).

For example, my SatNogs VHF station shows 145 pages (about 3600 passes) of "nothing heard" from the ISS:

However, if I change the filter to reflect "somethng heard", I get only 9 pages (225 passes):

Actully, that works out to about 93% idle time.
"Idle time" on the ISS is when they are not busy doing ISS related things, not when the radio is idle. They can only use the radio when they've completed every part of every mission scheduled for that day and use of that radio will not interfere with ISS operations of other crew members. If the radio is idle, chances are good that the crew is too busy doing mission related operations for them to be doing hobby related operations.
 

royldean

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"Idle time" on the ISS is when they are not busy doing ISS related things, not when the radio is idle. They can only use the radio when they've completed every part of every mission scheduled for that day and use of that radio will not interfere with ISS operations of other crew members. If the radio is idle, chances are good that the crew is too busy doing mission related operations for them to be doing hobby related operations.
It's a job like any other. They work an average of 40 hours a week, and have something like 1 or 2 days off every week (I can't remember the exact amount). They have plenty of "down" time to work the ham radio.... they just choose to do other stuff (apparently TV and movies are popular). Ever since the spacelab strike, NASA is smart enough to know that even astronauts need a workable schedule with plenty of "me time".

My point is this, however: The lack of casual contacts with the ISS crew has nothing to do with transceiver OR astronaut availability. It has everything to do with the astronauts simply not wanting to do it. Doug Wheelock and Serena Aunon-Chancellor did it regulaly because, it seems, they really enjoyed it.
 

chrismol1

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My point is this, however: The lack of casual contacts with the ISS crew has nothing to do with transceiver OR astronaut availability. It has everything to do with the astronauts simply not wanting to do it. Doug Wheelock and Serena Aunon-Chancellor did it regulaly because, it seems, they really enjoyed it.
Yup, you'd got to want to be there to do it, Ive seen the 2010 video with doug, its a pileup, I'd imagine you'd might as well put 100 watts into a yagi to get thru to them cause as soon as he puts out the ISS callsign, a million scanners and radios light up waiting for that one moment. probably the worlds largest pileup, like I said whoever has the stronger signal wins
 

royldean

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Yup, you'd got to want to be there to do it, Ive seen the 2010 video with doug, its a pileup, I'd imagine you'd might as well put 100 watts into a yagi to get thru to them cause as soon as he puts out the ISS callsign, a million scanners and radios light up waiting for that one moment. probably the worlds largest pileup, like I said whoever has the stronger signal wins
I was lucky... I made my contact with Serena with only 50watts. :)

 

wd9ewk

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Yup, you'd got to want to be there to do it, Ive seen the 2010 video with doug, its a pileup, I'd imagine you'd might as well put 100 watts into a yagi to get thru to them cause as soon as he puts out the ISS callsign, a million scanners and radios light up waiting for that one moment. probably the worlds largest pileup, like I said whoever has the stronger signal wins
You're right. With the ISS using FM, that video Doug Wheelock made in 2010 perfectly illustrates how a pileup sounds on the receiving end. I worked Doug 3 times in late 2010, including as a demonstration at a hamfest.

The crewmember who had been on the radio making random QSOs in late 2018, Serena Aunon-Chancellor, started on the radio late in her ISS tour. I had initially worked her with a TH-D74 HT at 5W and my handheld Elk log periodic from my house, and then with an IC-2730 mobile radio and the same antenna at a hamfest near Tucson:


I think I had the radio on high power (50W) for the contact during the hamfest.

Being out west in Arizona, I can catch the ISS as it is just starting to reach the continental USA from the west or south, before larger population centers to the east are in view. It would be nice to have more activity from the ISS crewmembers. I'm looking forward to hearing the new Kenwood TM-D710G that was sent up there a while back. The new radio can be configured to work as a packet/APRS digipeater, a cross-band voice repeater, or used for the scheduled or random QSOs with stations on the ground.

73!
 

royldean

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Reminder, school contact tomorrow:
Fri 2020-07-10 10:49:51 UTC

That's 6:49 EST for us east-coasters. I'll be in bed, but my satnogs station is scheduled to record it.
 
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