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Packet Connection To Rs0iss!

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Got up this morning and was surfing when I stopped by the NASA tracking site and saw that the ISS was about to pass near Alaska.


Plugged in my radio and got the packet up and running. I did not expect to connect, but wanted to try anyway.


To my shock, I got a connect with station RS0ISS-11, the space station PMS.


I just sat there like an idiot looking at the screen for a minute. By the time I regained my senses and started to send the list message command, the station had moved out of range and I lost the connection.


It was a big boost to my new ham ego to say the least. Now that I know my radio and antenna can make contact I will be better prepared for the next time. The window for contact is pretty small this far north. The ISS is not far above the horizon and is there only for 4-6 minutes at most.


I have an Alinco DJ-191 with a homebrew copper wire groundplane antenna on the roof.

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Actually, you discovered why it is considered "Bad Form" to connect TO the ISS. If you hit LOS , and leave the system hanging, there is a 5 minute period where the system is locked up. Until that lost connection times out and resets, it is unavaliable for use.


There are a few stations around the world using the mailbox to send and receive family-type messages to/from the ISS crew. They usually have everything set up to go, and get in and out in seconds.


Most usual is to digipeate THROUGH the ISS. That way, when LOS comes, you are not leaving a hanging connect.

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All I have read says that the crew cannot access the messages left on the bbs. They have a seperate email system for family messages.


The PMS is on the Kenwood rig on the station currently and the crew does not have the ability to view messages left on it. Any messages left for them cannot be viewed.


Packet on the ISS


And there is not much worry about the LOS from up here. They hang over the pacific for awhile before the footprint hits land agian. Unless a ship is trying to use the PMS it will not interfere with anyone. I tried to give the disconnect command, but lost contact before I could send. The ISS is about 5-10 degrees above the horizion up here and is only visible for about 4 minutes.


From my readings I have not seen any reference to the "bad form" about connecting to the ISS. All my readings have stated that it is a single user system and that you should get on and off as fast as you can to make way for the next guy. Nowhere does it discourage connecting to the PMS. Bad form is only mentioned when trying to connect while someone else is already on the system.


Here is where I have been reading:


ISS Fan Club


ISS tracking


Google search results

Edited by Bilder

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Well, there you go. Have at it. Or perhaps you might check the AMSAT web pages.




A direct connect to anything causes twice the number of transmissions. It is just the way packet works. Using UNPROTO is the most efficient and courteous means of working it. And as hams we all want to be courteous. Don't we? :blink:


BTW - the crew CAN use the PMS. Not by radio, but by direct connection through the keyboard. Think about it, who turns it off and on up there? However, they don't have time to read and answer much, so they save it for personal messages.

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I got the thing about the crew not being able to read messages from the first link I posted above. About half way down the thread you will find this:


Currently, the crew does not have a computer to access the PMS on the Kenwood so any messages left for the crew are never read.

Mike was able to change the beacon text using the front panel but that method doesn't have access to the PMS either.


This was dated August 1. Not sure if things have changed since then or not.


From what I have read (and I very well may be wrong, please clarify if I am), The digipeating is for those who are within the footprint of the ISS at that time. It allows everyone to converse and send messages to each other over a couple thousand mile footprint. Is this right? If it is right, then it really narrows down the possibilities for me contacting others with that method. The vast majority of the ISS foot print when it is in range of me is over open ocean. Perhaps that is why I can direct connect easily.


I was able to connect again Sunday morning as well. This time I was able to view the message list and do a proper dissconnect before they moved out of range. Quite a few messages up there btw.


If I am wrong please correct me. I dont want to step on anyones signal if I can help it.

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For the most part you are correct. But the footprint covers a large part of the country in a pass. I have digi-peated to both coasts, AK and HI this way. However, if you want to contact someone outside the footprint, the mbx is the only way. (But the internet is much more efficient).


The reason mbx operations are so difficult is that in most areas there is so much digi traffic the mbx never has time to get/give the full connection. Since you have never given a callsign, I have just assumed you were like the rest of us. Your comment about "The vast majority of the ISS foot print when it is in range of me is over open ocean. " tells me this is not true.


In your case, with the decided lack of other users, reliable mbx operation is not a problem.


As to the computer problem up there, who knows WHEN it will be right. All it takes is time.


I am waiting for them to enable the SSTV camera. The pictures from space are much more interesting than the digital comms.

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SSTV would be fun to play with.


Some passes up here are within range of Juneau and maybe Seattle. I am in Anchorage. If I were down on the panhandle around Juneau, contact with the lower 48 would be much easier. The ISS passes for me are distant. I think the nearest pass puts the ISS around 1500 miles southwest of me.


Will have to do some more research to see just how much of the footprint hits land. Would be fun to be in conference mode with others.

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The ISS foot print gets me some coverage of the lower 48 I found out.


Western parts of B.C, Washington, Oregon and the NW part of California are within the footprint just before I loose signal.


Monitored 3 passes today. Only get 3 or 4 passes up here. Here is what a typical day of passes is like:


Time Satellite Azm Elv Mag Range S.Azm S.Elv



2004-08-25 04:40:21 ISS 156.5 2.0 ecl 1992 39.8 -11.7

2004-08-25 04:41:29 ISS 141.9 2.6 1.7 1932 40.1 -11.6

2004-08-25 04:42:38 ISS 127.1 2.0 1.8 1994 40.4 -11.5


2004-08-25 06:12:18 ISS 210.1 2.0 1.7 1992 61.0 -3.3

2004-08-25 06:15:43 ISS 161.1 9.9 1.1 1341 61.8 -2.9

2004-08-25 06:19:08 ISS 112.0 2.0 2.2 1991 62.5 -2.6


2004-08-25 07:46:29 ISS 237.0 2.0 1.9 1992 81.6 7.5

2004-08-25 07:50:15 ISS 180.9 13.5 0.9 1147 82.4 7.9

2004-08-25 07:54:01 ISS 124.4 2.0 2.5 1986 83.2 8.4


2004-08-25 09:21:26 ISS 248.2 2.0 2.1 1991 102.6 18.7

2004-08-25 09:24:47 ISS 200.3 9.4 1.6 1368 103.4 19.1

2004-08-25 09:28:07 ISS 152.6 2.0 2.7 1983 104.1 19.5


Gonna have to get up for that 0746 pass. Looks like a nice opportunity.


I saw another callsign today for the first time while I was monitoring a pass. Was a call from northern California reporting his APRS. Saw the call about 45 seconds before LOS.


I am having fun with this. Can't wait for my dual band HT to get here so I can work the sattelites. Better contacts through them. The new Echo sattelite is really nice up here. Several of the hams up here have been using it and cannot say enough about how good the signal is. Comes in real handy for hams in remote areas to stay in touch with those in town.

Edited by Bilder

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