Friday, November 22, 2013

Having Fun with FUNcube!

Yesterday marked a successful launch of the UK's FUNcube amateur radio satellite.  The satellite contains both educational experiments and a linear transponder, and for these initial orbits the satellite is relaying telemetry containing data about the satellite's status (voltages, temperatures, etc).  The FUNcube designers have built software that will automatically read and decode the telemetry from an attached software-defined radio (the FUNcube Dongle Pro+), and relay this telemetry to a central data warehouse.  This way, students in the UK (and around the world) can see the status of the satellite in almost real-time!

Right before launch, I set up my home station with the software to record and upload the telemetry, and configured my satellite tracking program (SatPC32) to steer the antennas (a pair of VHF yagis) and track the satellite in the expected orbit.

The first visible pass of the satellite over California was around 9:30am yesterday morning, and all systems worked great!  Not only was the satellite operating perfectly, but the home station was able to decode and transmit its telemetry to the warehouse.  After the pass, I could see on the website that KB5WIA had uploaded 121 frames of data to the warehouse.

I'll leave the system tracking FUNcube for the next while, to add to the pool of satellite data that's being collected right now.  It's nice to be part of a truly global effort to help out with this satellite.  Fun stuff!

More details on the data being received at:

And lots more details on the FUNcube project itself at:


  1. You're receiving on 145.935, right?

    I'm leaving my TM-D710 parked there, but so far haven't heard a peep......

  2. Yeah, that's where I heard it last night. Right now, the station is running automatically, with the FUNcube dashboard software automatically controlling the FUNcube Dongle Pro+. The Pro+ sends 96kHz of data to the dashboard, and it auto-tunes through the received data to find the signal, so I'm not exactly sure where it's listening ... but when I tuned in with the analog radio last night, the TLM was right as expected, +/- a bit for Doppler of course.

  3. I downloaded the dashboard and have my FUNCube Dongle running right now. Looks like there should be a decent pass in about 20 minutes.

    I'll let you know if I receive any data.

  4. Also be careful about using the N2YO tracker that's on the FUNcube website right now -- at the moment it seems to be using erroneous keps and is showing the sat in a completely different part of the world than it actually is. Much better to use the most recent keps (get them from ) and your own tracking program.

  5. Yeah, I've seen several messages about that on the AMSAT reflector.

    Looks like it's time to "Add New Satellite" to SatPC32!

  6. Still not having any success as far as I can tell.

    I confirmed the FCD is on frequency by keying one of my hand-helds on 145.935, and the carrier came up right smack in the center of the passband.

    I let it run 24 hours connected to my discone, and this morning I connected it to my Comet GP-3, where I'll let it run all day and all night.

    The dashboard software is set to capture from the FCD, and I suppose I should look in the logs to see if it got anything, but all the telemetry parameters are still showing things like "Failed" in the display window. I would have thought that if I had received any telemetry that the parameter display would stay on the last received value.

  7. Put my M2 "Eggbeater" back up with a "spare" SSB preamp, and all is well.

    Discones might be good for scanners, but are really crummy for satellite use.

    I already suspected as much, but hey, the discone was already installed, and it took a while to dig out everything I needed to get the eggbeater back in the air.


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