By Chip Coker KD4C
After an extended outage due to equipment failure, the ability of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) to send SSTV is back! At long last, the ARISS Team is conducting tests of the SSTV system for the next few days. Welcome Back SSTV!
The test is scheduled from 27 Oct 7:15am to 29 Oct 1:50pm and then from 31 Oct 5:05am to 1 Nov 1:50pm (all times CDT), but there may be changes to the schedule.
The International Space Station (ISS) orbits around 250 miles overhead and the orbit period is around 90 minutes, which means that you can usually hear a couple of passes per day, and since the ISS is in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), you can hear it with a handheld and usually don’t need any special antennas (although they certainly help). And one of the easiest ways to hear the ISS is when they are operating Slow Scan Television (SSTV).
You can go to www.amsat.org/track/ or https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ and find when the ISS will be overhead. Passes that have the highest “Max Height” will be the best (lowest noise) and longest (you will need a relatively long pass to get a full SSTV frame).
For SSTV from the ISS, set your 2M FM receiver to 145.800 wideband FM. You can use your home 2M FM radio (best) or you can use a mobile or HT. Better and higher antennas will work better. The best antenna for satellite reception is circular polarization because there is some polarization-related fading, but a simple vertical will work as well. Doppler correction on FM usually isn’t necessary.
Once you have your pass schedule, you need to figure out how to receive the SSTV image. If you have a 2M radio with audio connected to a computer (for things like Winlink or FLdigi) then you just need an application that will decode SSTV. If you use windows, the most popular is MMSSTV (free) and for linux or raspberry pi the most popular is QSSTV (also free). For just receiving images, minimal configuration is required and there are lots of youtube tutorials on how to set them up.
Don’t have a connected computer? You can use your phone! There are SSTV apps for both iPhone and android phones. Just install the app and hold the phone next to the speaker on your HT or mobile radio. It couldn’t be easier!
If you’re successful in capturing an image or two, please share on discord or in groups.io. There is also a place to post on the ARISS blog.
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You can get predictions for the ISS pass times at https://www.amsat.org/track/
ARISS SSTV Blog https://ariss-sstv.blogspot.com/
Useful SSTV info and links https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/iss-sstv/
Helpful YouTube on Receiving SSTV from ISS with MMSSTV and smartphones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgY3saXXTXs