Working Tips and Rules for Packet Radio to MIR

The Russian Space Station is in obit approximately 200 miles above the earth. The Inclination of the orbit is 51 degrees, this means that MIR is in range of Amateur stations North and South of the equator up to 51 degrees latitude. Stations from the USA and southern Canada should not have problems hearing MIR during a good orbit. The Space Station typically comes in range 8-10 times per day for up to 10 minutes per pass. A good computer tracking program should be used for best tracking results, but that's another article.

The Space Station MIR is running 2 meter packet on 145.985 SIMPLEX at 5 or 20 watts with a duel band dipole mounted outside the space station ( by comparison, the NASA Space Shuttle uses 5 watts with a dipole stuck to the inside of a thick radiation resistant window). On most of the passes, the MIR BBS will be linked to another station. If you try to connect to the MIR BBS, you will get the message " R0MIR-1 Busy". If this happens, STOP calling the MIR BBS until you see the message "- Logged off" going to the station that is currently connected to the MIR's BBS.
Remember "ONLY ONE STATION CAN CONNECT TO THE MIR BBS AT A TIME". If you try to connect to the MIR BBS while it is busy, the following will happen:
1. You will cause QRM!
2. It will take longer for the station that is connected to the MIR BBS,
to finish and log off.
3. Your QRM will prevent the connected station from disconnecting before MIR goes out of range.
If you do cause QRM, you will have to wait for the MIR BBS packet station to time out and this may take over 7 minutes (a typical MIR pass, lasts a maximum of 10 minutes). Then, if you are lucky, the MIR BBS packet station may still be in range after the time out.

When is it appropriate to call the MIR Packet BBS:

First, configure your TNC to be able to monitor all packet information during transmit and receive, and turn on Time Stamp. Setting the correct TNC parameters will assist you in a successful connection with the minimum amount of QRM. By monitoring the control packet information at the end of each packet header, you can tell if the packet information is: C-Connect request, D-Disconnect request, DM-Disconnect mode, UA-Unnumbered Acknowledge, UI-Unconnected Information frame or I(n)-Information frame (n=0-7).

This is a sample of suggested TNC parameters for a KAM, your actual parameters may vary:

 AUTOCR         OFF
 LFADD          OFF
 MCON           ON
 MCOM           ON
 MONITOR        ON
 RETRY          8-10
Set your terminal program to save all data to disk. This will help you look back and see a lot of good data. And even if you are unable to connect to MIR, you can read what other people were sent.

Make sure you look at the doppler, on a 45 deg pass the doppler can be as high as +3.3 kc's. A normal radio band pass is about 2.5 kc's , so if you do not have a radio that will step in 1 kc inc's the best way to compansate for the doppler is to xmitt on 145.985 and then tune your radio to 145.985 and then when MIR is going away the doppler will fall neg. to as much as -3.3 kc's ,so do the rev. of the pos. doppler.

This is a sample of a station logging off from MIR:

 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [05/01/92  03:50:57]: <D>:  - Logged off

 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [05/01/92  03:50:57]: <D>:
 DISCONNECTED [05/01/92  03:50:57]

 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [05/01/92  03:50:59]: <UI>:  - Logged off

Look for the "<<D>>" Disconnect Request message. This is different from the "<<DM>>" Disconnect Busy message. In this example, LD7LDH (not his real call) has requested a Log off, but the MIR BBS has just gone out of range. Fortunately, the log off has started and MIR sends out several Disconnect Request messages to LD7LDH. After 10 <<D>> messages , MIR resets and sends out the desired "CQ , <<UI>>" packet (UI = unconnected Information frame).

 R0MIR-1>LD7LDH/V [04/25/92  23:02:36]: <I2>:  - Logged off
 R0MIR-1>LD7LDH/V [04/25/92  23:02:51]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/25/92  23:03:01]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>LD7LDH/V [04/25/92  23:03:11]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/25/92  23:03:19]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>LD7LDH/V [04/25/92  23:03:26]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/25/92  23:03:31]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [04/25/92  23:03:32]: <UI>:  - Logged off

Make sure you know how to abort calling MIR if some one else connects before you. On a KAM, the key sequence is Control-C, D . If you see any packet headers with Information frames (I0, I1,I2, etc) STOP transmitting.

This is what an Information frame looks like:

 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V[04/28/92  03:30:38]: <I2>:
This frame consist of, the Call of transmitting station, Call of receiving station, Time Stamp and Information frame number.

Due to QRM and other factors, you may not always see the

"R0MIR-1>CQ/V <UI>:  - Logged off" 
packet. However, if you see any <UI> packets, it is safe begin calling MIR.

 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [04/25/92  23:05:04]: <UI>:
 Logged on to R0MIR's Personal Message System

 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [04/25/92  23:05:04]: <UI>:

 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [04/25/92  23:05:04]: <UI>:
When you do connect, this is what it will look like:
 R0MIR-1>CQ/V [04/28/92  03:30:35]: <UI>:
 C R0MIR-1
 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [04/28/92  03:30:37]: <UA>:
 CONNECTED to R0MIR-1 [04/28/92  03:30:37]
 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [04/28/92  03:32:23]: <I0>:
 Logged on to R0MIR's Personal Message System
 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [04/28/92  03:30:38]: <I1>:
 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [04/28/92  03:30:38]: <I2>:
 R0MIR-1>N6JLH/V [04/28/92  03:32:22]: <I3>:
If you plan on sending mail to someone via MIR, keep the message short (2 or 3 lines). Long messages do not generally complete. The MIR PBBS only has room for approximately 22,000 bytes of information. Make sure you kill any messages to you on MIR and try not to put too many messages in the MIR PBBS at one time. If you are sending messages to the cosmonauts, phrase your questions carefully so they can understand it. And try to use Russian when ever possible, you will get a faster response to you questions if they are in Russian. * Remember English is a second language to the Cosmonauts. Please try not to use MIR's Help file, it

!!! NOTE!!!
Have a file all ready made up , this way you can send faster to the MIR pms - once you get the log on - contected to R0MIR-1 you do not have to wait for the cmd prompt, you can now do a

Then your message with a CTRL Z at end of line[CR] or a /ex on the next line [CR] , MIR pms will come back With
 Message saved and your message #
then the cmd line will appear, then do a

MIR is similar to most PBBS and I have included a copy below. of the Help

        B             LOGOUT
        LL n          LIST LAST n MESSAGES
        LO [+|-]      LISTING ORDER
        LT            LIST TRAFFIC
        LTn           DISPLAY LOCATION TEXT n=1-4
        K(ill) n      DELETE MESSAGE NUMBER n
        R(ead) n      DISPLAY MESSAGE NUMBER n
        S(end) call   SEND MESSAGE TO callsign
 !!!NOTE!!!   You can do a ^Z [ctrl Z] on same line - but not a /ex!!


This is an example of things you should not do when trying to work the Space Station MIR on packet. The MIR packet BBS can only connect to 1 (one) stations at a time. The MIR packet BBS can only connect to 1 (one) stations at a time (its worth repeating). And it is very easy to unintentionally cause QRM (Interference). In this example, you will see what happens when you keep calling, while MIR is connected to someone else.

Here is an actual example of how not to work MIR, a senerao that happens all too often.
It is early Thursday morning at 3:06 am PDT, MIR is just coming in range of California. As MIR approached SW coast of California a station in 6-land (L6IQA, not his real call) was connected and in the process of up loading a message to MIR. Unfortunately for L6IQA, the air was filled with Disconnect Messages (DM) mostly coming from another SO. CAL (XB6YLR, not his real call, I counted over 58 Disconnect Messages to just that one station, and there were probably more). In fairness there were other stations calling the MIR BBS too, KB7= 44 DM, N6K = 18 DM, VE6 = 1 DM, G3Z = 1 DM and WB5 = 1 DM.

The information below indicates that the L6IQA is in the process of uploading a message to MIR. The L6 station has about 3 more minutes to finish uploading his message to MIR and to log off. This is plenty of, but the QRM prevents the job from being completed.

 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:06:51]: <I3>:
 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:06:52]: <I4>:
The Space Station MIR will ignor all other contacts until L0IQA logs off or times out. On this pass it took 6 minutes and 58 seconds to time out. A good MIR pass only lasts for a maximum of 10 minutes. This pass lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds, minus the time-out gives you about 1.5 minutes of a pass. Can't do much in a minute and a half.

 R0MIR-1> 7 more Disconnect Messages 03:06:55]: <DM>:

The Disconnect messages are arriving every two seconds, L6IQA is heard for the last time, but there is too much QRM for L6IQA to finish his message.
 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:07:23]: <I5>:

Over a 108 Disconnect Messages later, the MIR BBS give up and tries to drop the link to L6IQA.

 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:13:08]: <D>:

The time-out began at 03:13:12, MIR tried ten times to disconnect from the L6IQA station, but L6IQA has been out of range for 3 minutes now.

 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:13:12]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>X7KPC/V [04/30/92  03:13:14]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:13:15]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:13:21]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:13:22]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:13:29]: <DM>:
 R0MIR-1>L6IQA/V [04/30/92  03:13:40]: <D>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:13:58]: <DM>:
The time-out has completed and MIR links up with the station that has been causing most of the QRM.
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:01]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:02]: <I1>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:02]: <I2>:
 You have mail waiting.

 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:02]: <I3>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:08]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:11]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:19]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:29]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:31]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:14:34]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:15:00]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:15:07]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:15:19]: <UA>:
 R0MIR-1>XB6YLR/V [04/30/92  03:15:22]: <UA>:
Ironically the time-out took so long, that the XB6YLR station is now out of range of MIR. MIR teases him with the message "You have mail waiting". Since this was the last pass of the day, XB6YLR will have to wait till the next evening to try again to find out what mail is waiting. I just hope this time he is more courteous.

This type of QRM does not happen all of the time. I have watched three local stations compete message uploads on a single pass. They just observed rules of courtesy, and waited until the other was finished. Do not use HF DX pile up calling format, you know the format, just keep yelling louder. We will all benefit with a little patiences.

How to digi through MIR

The best way to digi to someone is to do it in unproto set you unproto pram to CQ V R0MIR.
This way every time you hit the enter button , you will send a CQ through MIR'S digi [R0MIR] , but some times it is not turned on.

It is not a good idea to digi via R0MIR to someone else's mailbox! This just cause's more QRM.
Lets say you wanted to digi to y66bm then you would put in your contect stream c y66bm v r0mir - This to me is not the best way to send a hello to some - the best way is in unproto the way you do this is to make sure the satation you want to say "hi" too is make sure that the other station can also see MIR and decode the packets.
Then with your unproto pram in your tnc set to CQ V R0MIR all you you do is type hi [cr] It will look like this

 N66PO*>R0MIR>CQ <UI> 
The other person can do the same thing, only bad thing about this is both stations have to be able to uncode MIR packets.
The advanage of doing it this way instead of trying to contect to another station through MIR is, there will be a lot of re-trys between the 2 stations thus causing qrm on the freq, as you know your tnc has to have a good packet decode in order for it to decode If you do wish to do it this way , I have found the best way is to have NO contect text , as this is just more that has to be digi'ed through MIR so as soon as you get the contect from you firend you can type. Make sure you keep things very short - the longer the packet , the more qrm on the freq and again do not digi to someones else's mailbox.

One last note: If you hear the MIR on voice in contact with a school , please stand by and wait until they are done , Then you may try calling MIR Rember "KIDS OUR THE FUTURE," lets show them how ham radio works and

If you had success please mail me. If I get some feedback I know that this web page is worth to be kept up to date.