Between providing critical communications in times of disaster when
traditional means often fail, to enhancing international goodwill and
developing new and innovative applications of emerging technologies, the
Amateur Radio Service has a long and proud history
of serving society and helping to advance the state of electronic
Band (CB) radio, cellphone, or Internet users,
operators are licensed by the Federal Government to develop and implement
our own communication systems and infrastructure. We communicate among
ourselves, provide emergency communications, and experiment with various
radio techniques and technologies to further the understanding of radio
use and the development of new technologies.
Amateur Radio Operators developed effective wireless e-mail and text
messaging services along with a global digital network infrastructure in
the form of Packet
Radio more than 30 years ago. Today's cellphone technology has its
roots firmly planted in what Amateur Radio operators have been employing
repeater systems and telephone autopatch
interconnection systems for the past 40 years. Amateur Radio Operators
have been sharing pictures and real-time interactive video with one
another in the form of
television for over 50 years. Amateur Radio Operators are the only
civilians permitted to design, build, and license our own
bounce our signals off the Moon, and communicate
with astronauts in space.
While the Amateur Radio Service is often referred to as being a
stamps, coins, or sea shells does not require a proven mastery of
knowledge or skills, licensing, national and international regulation,
nor the allocation and use of publicly owned resources. Amateur
Radio does. In fact, the word "hobby" never appears in any
formal definition of the Amateur Radio Service, and Amateur Radio
licenses, like those of all other radio services, are issued in the
public interest, convenience, and necessity.
While it may seem odd to find individuals involved in such formal and
technically rigorous activities being referred to as "Amateurs",
the word actually derives from the Latin "amator" which means
"lover". To be both a competent professional and an Amateur
at the same time indicates the highest dedication to the advancement
of the science of communication. As such, it comes as no surprise
that many of the world's finest broadcast and wireless communication
engineers come from the world of Amateur Radio.
For me, Amateur Radio has always been a practical extension of my
life-long interest in electronics. As such, much of the radio hardware
and software that I employ on a regular basis are products of my own design.
What follows are descriptions of some of my accomplishments as an
Amateur Radio Operator, and the stories behind them.
It All Started...
As a Shortwave Listener (SWL)
in the 1970s, I often heard Amateur Radio Operators sending Slow-Scan
Television images to one another. It wasn't long before the concept
of sending, receiving, and recording video images using audio
equipment began to intrigue me.
I began doing research on the subject, and by 1980, had gathered
enough parts to build a circuit that appeared in the 1972 edition of
the ARRL Handbook entitled, "An SSTV Viewing Adapter For
Oscilloscopes" by Bill Briles, W7ABW, and Robert Gervenack,
W7FEN. The adapter was interfaced to my Father's (K2IIQ)
OM-2 Oscilloscope (that he later upgraded to a
Model O-11), that served as a display device.
The scope's original 5BP1 CRT was replaced with a 5UP7,
that had the long persistence phosphor needed for SSTV reception.
All of this was accomplished at 15 years of age, three years before
becoming an Amateur Radio Operator.
My Original SSTV "SWL" Station:
My Hammarlund receiver
and homebuilt SSTV equipment successfully received hundreds of slow-scan
television images from around the globe for several years. It was in
full operation during the
Voyager 2 fly-by of the planet Saturn in August 1981, when images taken
by Voyager were transmitted via SSTV by W6VIO
operating from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California shortly
after their reception on Earth.
QSL Card Confirming My Reception of SSTV From W6VIO:
Not long after completing the SSTV oscilloscope
adapter, I started gathering parts to build a higher-quality,
70A SSTV monitor. However, the advancement of color SSTV and video
scan converter technology in the early 1980s caused SSTV standards to
change dramatically over a short period of time, making my homebuilt
P7-based SSTV gear obsolete. It wouldn't be until about a decade
later when low-cost, PC-based SSTV communication techniques became
available that permitted slow-scan television reception without the
need for an expensive scan converter.
Getting My License
My interest in Slow-Scan
Television was a major incentive for me to become an Amateur Radio
Operator. So strong was my motivation that I took aim at getting
an Advanced Class License from the start, rather than beginning as
a Novice and upgrading step-by-step.
I earned both the basic certificate for
10 WPM copy, and the 15 WPM endorsement sticker prior to taking the
13 WPM FCC code test (Element 1B) required for my Advanced Class
License. A 25 WPM endorsement sticker was earned on October 12, 1983.
I took my Licensing Exams on July 19, 1983 at the FCC Field Office in
Langhorne, Pennsylvania. My license arrived in the mail four weeks
later. I used those four weeks to cobble together a transmitter so
I could get on the air when my license arrived.
Getting On The Air
While I never held a Novice Class
license, my start in Amateur Radio was initially confined to operating
CW on a crystal controlled transmitter in the Novice Class portion of
My first transmitter was constructed in the housing of an old
Space Spanner shortwave receiver, and used components from
this and other outdated electronic equipment that was on hand.
A 375 volt D.C. power supply powered the transmitter, and was
housed in a separate enclosure.
The transmitter consisted of a 6AQ5 crystal-controlled Colpitts
oscillator feeding a 6BQ5 power amplifier. With about 30-watts input
on the plate of the 6BQ5, and a quarter-wave end-fed wire antenna
just 15 feet above the ground, this transmitter provided many solid
CW contacts into 22 states, as well as the Canadian provinces of
Ontario and Quebec. It operated on a frequency of 7.137 MHz, and saw
its heaviest use between August 1983 and February 1984.
My First Transmitter
QSL Card Confirming My First QSO
My Hammarlund HQ-140-X receiver
was used in conjunction with my homebuilt transmitter. In the mid-1980s,
I re-designed the receiver using solid-state components. JFETs
replaced the 6C4 and 12AU7 triodes, and dual-gate MOSFETs replaced
the 6BA6s pentodes used in the original design. An LM1496 integrated
circuit replaced the 6BE6 pentagrid converter, and an LM380 chip
replaced the 6V6 audio output tube. An LM7812 voltage regulator became
the functional equivalent of the OC3 voltage regulator tube.
Although the basic functions of the receiver remained the same,
several performance enhancements were made to the receiver during
its conversion to a solid-state design. In particular, the AGC now
functions when the BFO is in use. In addition, a ceramic I.F. filter,
an FM detector, and noise-activated squelch were added to the basic
receiver design. The receiver now operates from an internal regulated
12 volt DC power supply. It requires no warm-up time, and exhibits
far less frequency drift than the original design.
A second transmitter was built in September 1983. This transmitter was
VFO controlled, and operated on the 75-meter band. It consisted of a Heathkit VF-1
VFO feeding a single 6BQ5 power amplifier. The 250 volts required
by the VF-1 was obtained from the Hammarlund receiver. The output
power from this arrangement was about 15 watts. Up to 30 watts was
possible using a pair of 6BQ5s in parallel. Plate modulation of the
6BQ5s allowed voice contacts on A.M.
Around December 1983, my Father's Swan 500 CX transceiver was pressed
into duty on SSB and CW using a multi-band dipole antenna 25 feet off
the ground. With over 300 watts of output power, this rig still packs
quite a punch along with exceptional audio quality.
In February 1984, a 10-meter FM transceiver was built around a
surplus Hy-Gain (Cybernet) C.B. radio chassis. Poly Paks (among other
distributors) sold the Hy-Gain circuit boards for $12.95. A second board
could be purchased for just one penny. Once converted to 10-meter FM,
this transceiver provided scores of solid contacts, including many that
took place through the 29.560/29.660 MHz W2IBJ repeater on the island of
St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Receiving SSTV From Space
In August 1985, astronaut
Dr. Tony England, W0̸ORE, flew on space shuttle Challenger
STS-51F/Spacelab-2, taking with him a Motorola model MX-340 handheld 2-meter
transceiver and a Robot Research model 1200C slow-scan television scan
converter. Tony used this equipment to make voice and slow-scan television
contacts with Amateur Radio Operators on the ground. In fact, Tony's SSTV
operation from the Space Shuttle represented the first exchange of
television images with a manned orbiter in human history.
I am privileged to have successfully received audio (listen to this clip) and SSTV images (see below)
from the Space Shuttle Challenger during that historic mission.
I was able to view the frame sequential color SSTV images transmitted
from the Space Shuttle as low-resolution black-and-white images on
my legacy SSTV equipment. Some ten years later, some of the
higher resolution color SSTV images captured in my recordings were
successfully decoded on a PC and are reproduced below.
SSTV Image of Astronaut Gordon Fullerton on-board the Space Shuttle Challenger
This color slow-scan television image was received
from the Space Shuttle Challenger in August, 1985. It shows
astronaut Gordon Fullerton wearing headphones in the lower right
against the front windows of the Space Shuttle during mission STS-51F/Spacelab
2. Some papers can be seen above Gordon's head towards the top of
the image, along with a keyboard and some instrumentation along the left.
SSTV Image of Astronaut Tony England on-board the Space Shuttle Challenger
The second image shows astronaut Dr. Tony England,
W0̸ORE. Both images were received on a frequency of 145.550 MHz
FM using an omni-directional turnstile antenna in my attic feeding a
low-noise preamplifier of my own design.
QSL Card Confirming My Reception of W0̸ORE
from the Space Shuttle Challenger, August 1985
This QSL card officially verifies my reception
of amateur radio signals from the Space Shuttle Challenger
during mission STS-51F, and commemorates my participation in this
A decade and a half later, slow-scan television equipment was installed
on the Russian space station Mir for the purpose of transmitting
pictures to Amateur Radio Operators on the Earth below. The following
color image, transmitted in Robot 36 mode on December 26, 1998, shows
a spectacular view of the Earth as seen out of one of Mir's
Earth-pointing windows. It was received during a pass over southeastern
Canada on a frequency of 145.985 MHz FM using a Yaesu FT-726R
transceiver, and a roof mounted 8-element yagi antenna.
SSTV Video Received From The Space Station Mir on December 26, 1998
The next image shows Mir
just prior to crossing the terminator and entering into the Earth's
shadow. Mir appears very bright against the dark earth
below. This image was received on January 31, 1999 on a frequency of
145.985 MHz. Mir was actually visible in the evening sky over New
Jersey when this image was transmitted by the spacecraft.
SSTV Video Received From The Space Station Mir on January 31, 1999
Entry Into Amateur Satellites and Related Software Development
The STS-51F mission inspired a strong
interest in satellite communications. As packet radio began to become
popular around 1987, an MFJ-1270B packet radio terminal node controller
was purchased. This TNC was used in conjunction with the then-popular Commodore 64 home
computer to facilitate AX.25 protocol communications. The TNC permitted
access to local packet radio bulletin board systems including NN2Z-4,
KS4HR-4, WB2COP-4, and the KA2QHD Unix-based Packet Radio <-->
UUCP Gateway, which opened the door to the world of Usenet newsgroups
and Internet-style e-mail in a completely wireless manner. Terminal
emulation software was written for the C-64, and the skill of writing
code in 6510 machine language was acquired in the process.
An interest in decoding the digital downlink signals of the
UoSAT-OSCAR-11 satellites developed concurrently with my earliest packet
radio activity. I constructed a 1200 baud AFSK demodulator and used it
in conjunction with my packet radio terminal emulation software to read
the data I was able to receive from space. I eventually developed
software specifically for this purpose, and donated it to
AMSAT-NA in support of the
Amateur Satellite Program.
Opening Screen for my UoSAT Data Capture & Display Program
QSL Card Confirming My Reception of OSCAR-11
on its 20th Anniversary
Archives of weekly news bulletins and telemetry I captured from the OSCAR-9
and OSCAR-11 satellites using my software were collected over the period
of several years, and may be
Having the need to predict reception times for the OSCAR-9 and OSCAR-11
satellites on a regular basis was a strong motivating factor for my
developing satellite orbital prediction software for my Commodore 64.
My early software utilized reference orbit data sent daily in Morse Code
by W1AW, propagated that
information forward in time, and predicted AOS and LOS times based on
my groundstation location and several other static orbital parameters.
This was the precursor to the development of much more sophisticated
satellite tracking software in the months and years that followed.
My first real-time satellite orbital prediction software called "EasyTrack" ran on the Commodore 64 computer.
* SpaceNews *
My growing interest in the Amateur
Space Program, combined with the unique information resources to which
I had access, provided inspiration for creating an electronic newsletter
for individuals with similar interests in satellite and space communications.
My newsletter was called
"SpaceNews", and weekly publication ran from November
1987 through January 2001.
"SpaceNews" circulation was via Packet Radio, the
Internet, and several Pacsat satellites, although it also appeared on many
dial-up Bulletin Board Systems and proprietary information networks as well.
Although written in English, circulation and interest in
"SpaceNews" grew so high that versions of my newsletter were
available in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Msg# TSP Size To @ BBS From Date Time
6755 PN 775 KD2BD K9HI 881031 0922
R:881031/0848z [email protected] F:221.11 [ Middletown, NJ ]
R:881031/0831z [email protected] [New York,NY] Z:11354 F:441.000/145.01
R:881031/0713z [email protected] [Farmingville,NY] NY-NJ-CT-RI-MA Z:11738
R:881031/0216z [email protected] [Newington, CT - NTS Node] Z:06111
R:881030/2251z @:K1UGM Wakefield, MA #:6278 Z:01880
R:881030/2207z @:N1BGG Boston, MA. #:9057 Z:02129
Just a short note to let you know that SpaceNews is being received up here
in the Boston area. I download it regularly off the PBBS and port it over
to our proprietary E-Mail system (WangNet) here at Wang Labs. My distribution
list includes about 100 hams/swl'ers, employees of the company. About a dozen
are in Australia and the Pacific, and another 6-8 are in England/Ireland.
73, Phil K9HI @ N1BGG
at Wang Laboratories, October 31, 1988
"SpaceNews" is referenced in the
Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion
My newsletter also played a role in the creation of the
sci.space.news Usenet Newsgroup in December 1991, and a method of accessing
"SpaceNews" via a live Internet connection was described in
of the Internet Gurus.
In the late 1980s, Amateur Radio operations from the Russian space station
Mir began. Operations included voice contacts with stations
on the ground, packet radio, and slow-scan television. Several
inhabitants of Mir read my "SpaceNews" reports while
living and working in space.
Msg # Stat Date Time To From @ BBS Subject
42 P 91/03/09 04:37 U2MIR KA1SU Hello Musa
41 PR 91/03/09 03:21 ALL U2MIR qsl
40 PR 91/03/09 03:02 U2MIR VO1SA Greetings
39 PR 91/03/09 03:00 U2MIR VO1XC GREETINGS
38 PR 91/03/09 02:54 U2MIR KI4TD GREETINGS
37 PR 91/03/09 02:51 U2MIR KC4UZA hello agai
36 PR 91/03/09 01:31 U2MIR F3NW TOMORROW
35 PR 91/03/08 20:37 U2MIR TR8CA * SpaceNews 04-Mar-91 *
34 PR 91/03/08 20:36 U2MIR TR8CA PHOTOS
33 P 91/03/08 16:30 KJ9U U2MIR LIST 02.03.91
2538 Bytes free
Next message Number 43
List of Active Messages on the Mir Packet
Radio Bulletin Board System, March 1991
"SpaceNews" appears in message 35 in
the Mir Personal Message System (PMS) listing above. It was
uploaded to Mir by Alain Combelles, TR8CA, in Gabon, Africa.
The letter R in the status column of message 35 means that
"SpaceNews" was accessed and read by Cosmonaut Musa
Manarov, U2MIR, who was stationed on Mir at the time.
I occasionally ran "Mini-Tutorials" in
"SpaceNews" on subjects I felt would be of interest to
Amateur Satellite enthusiasts. Out of my "Mini-Tutorials"
grew a series of "Spotlight" articles that profiled the
history and operation of different satellites each week. It
wasn't long before the value of my "Spotlight" articles
was recognized by AMSAT, and I
was subsequently invited to write similar, but more in-depth articles
for The AMSAT Journal, many of which are available on-line:
Nine years into
publication, "SpaceNews" earned a "Best of the 'Net"
Magellan Award from the McKinley
Group's professional editorial team.
Other Publications and Media Interviews
The success of "SpaceNews"
opened the door to even greater publishing opportunities.
In 1994, I was asked to serve as a Contributing Editor for
Radio! magazine that was sold through Radio Shack stores.
I also served as a columnist for Satellite Times
magazine for four years. My responsibilities included writing
a regular column on the subject of Amateur Radio Satellites, as
well as several special feature articles for both Satellite
Times and Monitoring Times magazines.
November/December 1996 issue of Satellite Times appeared
on the set of the movie
Theory, starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts.
On September 11, 1994, I was the featured guest on
"Spectrum" (Communications Technology News and Features "From DC to
Light"), broadcast worldwide via shortwave radio station
WWCR, Nashville, Tennessee.
(Listen to a short clip)
Less than two weeks later, I was the featured guest on "Bridging Gaps",
broadcast on radio station WBJB-FM,
Lincroft, New Jersey.
(Listen to a short clip)
In October 1996, I was a guest speaker at the Grove Communications
Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, where I spoke on the subject of Amateur Radio
I have given talks to nearly every amateur radio club in my local area.
More Speed and Applications, First Edition
My photograph was featured on the front
cover of the October 1997 issue of "CQ VHF" magazine.
PREDICT Satellite Tracking Software
Out of the simple orbital prediction
software I created to receive OSCAR-9 and OSCAR-11 satellite
downlinks in the late 1980s grew "SpaceTrack", a real-time
satellite tracking application for the Commodore 64.
"SpaceTrack" was written in a combination of BASIC
and 6510 machine language. Its operation was based on the use of
Keplerian orbital element sets, and was capable of rendering a
satellite's position against a bit-mapped Mercator projection
world map. "SpaceTrack" also supported a popular voice
synthesizer chip that provided articulation of satellite bearings
to assist in making visual observations of satellites traversing the
"SpaceTrack" included a World Map
Satellite Tracking mode that identified the satellite's position in
Although never released to the public, this early satellite tracking
software was often put on display in the Natural and Applied
Science building at Brookdale Community College during Space
Shuttle missions in the late 1980s. Astronaut audio received via WA3NAN at the Goddard Space
Flight Center was combined with real-time tracking video generated
by "SpaceTrack", and distributed to several television
monitors prominently displayed around the Electronics, Physics,
and Drafting labs.
In order to more quickly predict satellite passes than was possible
using software written in BASIC, work on an orbital prediction program
began using a "Super C" compiler for the Commodore 64.
This new program that I called PREDICT was then ported to several
Unix computers before making its way to DOS and finally released as
shareware in the early 1990s.
"PREDICT" running on a Commodore 64
"PREDICT" running on an AT&T 3B1 Unix PC
"PREDICT" running on a PC under DOS
I abandoned all Microsoft operating systems in 1994 in favor of the
Slackware Linux operating system, and began porting PREDICT
to my new (and still current) OS of choice. By the end of 1999,
PREDICT had grown sufficiently mature where I felt comfortable
releasing it under an Open Source Software License. Within a short
period of time, PREDICT grew to become the most popular
satellite tracking software on the Linux platform.
PREDICT's Single Satellite Tracking Mode running under Linux
PREDICT's Multi Satellite Tracking Mode running under Linux
The Linux version of "PREDICT" includes
support for several graphical client applications
Use of my "PREDICT" software at the
European Space Agency's Chilbolton Observatory
Today, PREDICT is employed at NASA, the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, the European Space Agency (pictured above),
Stanford University, Cornell University, CalTech, Stanford University's
Space Systems Development Laboratory, and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Holding true to its humble beginnings, it even talks
to you so you can keep your eyes toward the sky during a visual
PREDICT is the engine behind the satellite tracking and orbital
prediction services provided through the
ISS Fan Club and
Websites, as well as the ISS
Spotter iPhone App. PREDICT also serves as the basis for
many other Open-Source satellite tracking software applications, such
as Gpredict and
Ktrack. There's even
a version of PREDICT under development for the Android
SPLAT! RF Propagation and Terrain Analysis Software
SPLAT! is an RF Signal Propagation, Loss, And
Terrain analysis tool for the electromagnetic spectrum between
20 MHz and 20 GHz, that was originally developed to predict the operational
coverage of the Brookdale ATV Repeater System.
SPLAT! has since developed into a serious communications
tool, and is widely used for communication site engineering, wireless
network design, Amateur Radio communications, frequency coordination,
communication system design, and terrestrial analog and digital
television and radio broadcasting.
A SPLAT! signal strength contour map and
a point-to-point path analysis plot
Use of my SPLAT! software at the RabbitEars.info
As my interest in satellites and computers grew
during the late 1980s and early 1990s, I purchased a Yaesu FT-726R
multi-mode VHF/UHF transceiver so I could more seriously explore the
world of OSCAR satellites.
Having already had experience with terrestrial Packet Radio
communications and AFSK data decoding of UoSAT satellite downlinks,
my thoughts turned toward decoding the BPSK downlink signals I was
able to receive from the Pacsat satellites with my new transceiver.
With little technical information available on the subject, I designed
a simple 1200 bps BPSK demodulator to evaluate some design concepts
for a Pacsat modem I had in mind. After successfully decoding Pacsat
downlinks with my simple prototype, I immediately drew up plans for a
much more robust BPSK demodulator, along with a design for a matching
Manchester FSK encoder, so I could eventually establish full-duplex
communication links with Pacsat satellites.
The KD2BD Pacsat Modem
The final design of my KD2BD Pacsat Modem was published
in the August 1994 issue of QEX magazine and the July/August 1995
issue of The AMSAT Journal. A description of my Pacsat Modem also
begins Chapter 3 of the ARRL's Packet: Speed, More Speed, and
Applications, first edition. Details of my circuit design may
In August 1997, I successfully developed a 9600
baud FSK modem in just one week's time. Working in conjunction
with my MFJ-1270B and FT-726R, this modem provided access to
the UoSAT-OSCAR-22, KITSAT-OSCAR-23, and KITSAT-OSCAR-25 Pacsat
satellites. The design of my 9600 baud modem was later published in
the February, March, and April 1998 issues of Satellite Times
magazine, a copy of which may be read
In January 1998, I used my newly created modem to establish
communications with Andre Phillips, VK0MAP/VK5AAP/ZL3AW, an
Astrophysicist who was stationed at South Pole Station in Antarctica:
To : KD2BD
Date: 22 Jan 1998
South Pole Station
Thanks for the brief mention in SpaceNews and it would have been fun to chat
direct with Ron when he was down here. Most of your article comments apply
to this station as well. The rig here is a Kenwood TS-790A with PacComm
Tiny 2. It all works very nicely I must say. The up/downlink antennas are
a couple of Lindenblads fashioned from no. 8 fencing wire and they do an
excellent job. I get a solid 5+ minutes of connect time per pass. At the
Pole UO-22, KO-25 and POSAT all rise to an elevation of 34 degrees, and
KO-23 to 12 degrees.
Power is not a problem as Pole Station is an extremely well equipped
scientific* Antarctic base, and also with a very agreeable social atmosphere;
it's a fun place (*unlike many Antarctic bases whose role is mostly political).
I'll be uploading more information over the next few days. I'm keen to
promote Amateur satellite communications and fielding questions from kids
is one way to do it. If you know of any teachers who would like to forward
questions then I'll do my best to answer 'em briefly...
As I write there is a Herc taking off outside. They pass only a few hundred
feet from my window and are an impressive sight, especially when occasionally
generating condensation trails right from ground level. We get 2-5 Herc
flights in per day.
Do you know John Arnold's callsign, and whether he's active on pacsats at
present (he was in '94-'96)?
Dept of Astrophysics & Optics
UNSW, Sydney, NSW
ph: (61 2) 9385-5003, fax: 9385-6060
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/astro.html (UNSW Astrophysics)
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~mcba/aasto (AASTO project)
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~mgb/jacara.html (Antarctic astronomy)
A ten person Jamesway (accommodation module) at South Pole Station. Photo sent by Andre Phillips via the
KITSAT-OSCAR-25 satellite in 1998.
Astronaut and Cosmonaut Communications
I have had numerous Amateur Radio
contacts with Astronauts and Cosmonauts living in space. In fact, a
conversation between ISS astronaut Frank Culbertson and myself that
took place on October 19, 2001 was
featured on BBC Radio
3 on January 19, 2013. (Listen to
a short clip)
I was awarded a "Mir Achievement Award" in 1997 after
successfully establishing two-way UHF voice and VHF packet radio contact
with astronaut and fellow ham radio operator Michael Foale, KB5UAC
in August and September 1997 while he was stationed onboard the Russian
space station Mir.
I was awarded a Roy Neal International Space Station
Commemorative Certificate for successfully establishing 2-way voice
communications with the International Space Station on December 6,
In October 2008, I had the privilege of speaking with Richard Garriott,
W5KWQ, on-board the International Space Station.
I also received quite a number of SSTV transmissions
made by Richard during his stay on the ISS.
SSTV Video Received From The ISS On
October 12, 2008.
Montage of ISS SSTV images along with space-to-ground audio received during the third week of October 2008. A voice contact between myself and space tourist Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, on-board the ISS can be heard at 5:45.
Some audio recordings I've made of OSCAR satellites, Space Shuttle,
and International Space Station communications are available here:
On April 18, 2010, I successfully
received 432 MHz CW signals reflected off the moon that originated
from the 1000 foot radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
Competition-Grade Frequency Measurement
After constructing my Elecraft K2/100
(serial #3563) HF transceiver in the Spring of 2003, I found myself
in need of an accurate and reliable frequency reference with which
I could calibrate my new transceiver. Having had a long-term interest
in exploring the low-frequency radio spectrum, I decided to
investigate using the 60 kHz carrier of NIST radio station WWVB as
a frequency reference. Learning that the ARRL was going to conduct
a Frequency Measuring Test later that year only served to accelerate
the process, and by mid-October, I had successfully phase-locked a 10
MHz crystal oscillator to WWVB's carrier.
The rest (as they say) is history. I have been actively participating
in Frequency Measuring Tests, using
hardware of my own engineering, ever since.
My FMT work led to the development
of a very successful radio propagation experiment conducted during the
August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. My experiment accurately measured
amplitude and phase variations of 60 kHz WWVB reception during the course
of the eclipse using hardware and software of my own design. I was
subsequently invited to present the results of my experiment to the
first gathering of HamSCI held
at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in February 2018.
Further details on my solar
eclipse experiment can be found on my
I have also been involved in Amateur
Amateur Television (ATV), and engineered the 70-cm ATV
Repeater System at Brookdale Community College, in Lincroft, New Jersey
in the early 1990s. The repeater has been used to relay ATV signals
throughout the North Jersey exterior area,
to provide re-transmissions of NASA Television programming during U.S.
Space Shuttle missions, and serve as an educational resource for students
studying Electronics Technology and Electrical Engineering.
My video modulator was featured in the
The ARRL Image Communications Handbook, by Dr. Ralph Taggart, WB8DQT.
The design of my video operated relay was published
in the Spring 2000 issue of Amateur Television Quarterly, and the
operation of the repeater's "timeout" timer was the inspiration
behind an article written on the subject by Rich Moseson, W2VU, in the
July 1998 issue of CQ VHF magazine.
Dish antenna used for NASA-TV Reception
The TriplePIC SSTV Scan Converter
Except for engaging in SSTV reception from the Space Shuttle, Mir
Space Station, and International Space Station in the 1980s and
1990s, PC-based SSTV remained of little interest to me. Early in
2010, after realizing I had boxes of cassette tape recordings of old
SSTV transmissions still in my possession with no practical means
of viewing them, my thoughts began to turn toward developing the
"world's best SSTV scan converter" to be able to view my
old SSTV recordings, and re-visit the world of vintage slow-scan
television once again.
By year's end, I had created the TriplePIC SSTV video scan
converter, which has delivered outstanding performance, and is
breathing new life into vintage SSTV.
The KD2BD "TriplePIC" SSTV Scan Converter
The KD2BD "TriplePIC" SSTV Scan Converter Resolution Comparison