The VE3RCK Shuttle Earth Station Link
by Paul Cassel VE3SY, Webmaster
updated January 12, 2007
Here's some background on this KWARC initiative.
THE EARLY YEARS
A call was made to D.O.C. and they stated that if we were to retransmit NASA that approval would be required. Gerry asked and received approval from NASA followed by approval from I.C.
Andy took two Commercial ICOM ICU16 portable s quoted by ICOM as being a tough radio and connected one of the units to a commercial vox control. Gerry mean while was wiring his house and that wasn't impressing Linda so the radio was interfaced to the vox and connected to the satellite receiver by using duct tape to hold the microphone up-to earphones connected to the satellite receiver.
One half done, Ralph VE3EUK at the time was taking care of VE3RCK and detailed how to connect one of the UHF portable s to the repeater controller so it could be turned on or off without going to VE3RCK site. Well now came the big test what was it going to sound like? Not bad a little flat. Everything worked great at first but then the TX radio went into the overheat. Gerry called Andy all excited and said the TX radio's not working anymore and the display is all black...oops junk radio. Well the radio cooled down and it still actually worked.
After a few modifications to stabilize the VOX circuit, the "binder twine" lash up provided the rebroadcast of about ten shuttle missions when there was talk that the club needed a permanent site.
THE NEW and CURRENT DOWN-LINK
Editor note: When "Tool-Time Terry" builds anything, you can be sure it will withstand anything short of a direct 2 megaton thermonuclear blast.
With a new dish, (many have been added since as the photo shows) Terry was able to improve the audio by employing a commercial quality audio mixer and an improved VOX circuit designed and built by Doug Campbell VE3CHQ (now VA3DC). Rather than transmitting direct to RCK on 146.265, Terry installed a redundant point-to-point UHF radio link between his down-link facility and VE3RCK on Queen Street. With the VE3RCK receiver having priority over the UHF NASA link, it allows KWARC members to still use the repeater for urgent Phone Patch calls while the NASA link is in service. As well as redundant link equipment, a hot standby spare satellite received on a separate dish and mount is ready to kick in to assure uninterrupted service
As I stated earlier, Terry’s design criteria leaves nothing to chance. Should his facility be wiped out with that thermonuclear device, (just kidding Terry) a hot standby facility is in place at the QTH of Frank Parsons VE3OFH in Waterloo.
Here is the technical info for the equipment Terry uses for the NASA service:
Terry has stayed in touch with Steven Schindler of the NASA Voice Systems/Spectrum management group keeping him up-to-date on the KWARC shuttle link rebroadcast. Steve supplied the following links for those seeking more detailed information.
Those interested in reading more detail about the Shuttle Communications system in detail can CLICK HERE to access the NASA web site and read the full details. For full detail about the actual space flight tracking and data network CLICK HERE
Terry is employed by Bell Mobility as a Field Maintenance Technician where he is responsible for the care and feeding of those Cellular sites owned by Bell Mobility. Terry is not very active in the TX mode but does do a lot of SWLing especially in the Satellite microwave bands. If you hear Terry on the air, be sure to thank him for all of his efforts in maintaining this public service heard by many non-hams around Waterloo region.
Go back to the home page KW Amateur Radio Club Inc.