ARISS Contact in Decatur

On Friday, March 18th, the Decatur Amateur Radio Club was able to provide support to Tim Cunningham N8DEU and AMSAT as they conducted a contact from Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur with astronaut Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station.  The ARISS contact with NA1SS lasted just under 10 minutes, and 20 students were able to ask questions of the astronaut and hear the answers.  The event was practically flawless and everyone was suitably impressed by the whole thing.


Tim N8DEU did all of the legwork, provided most of the equipment, and was the control operator for the event.  He did a masterful job!

The Decatur Daily published an article on March 19 about the event.  They also posted a photo gallery and a 3-minute video clip.

For those who are interested, here’s Tim’s equipment list:

The basic station consists of the following:
1. Yaesu FT-847 connected to TE Systems amp and SSB Electronics SP-2000 preamp at the satellite yagi’s.
2. Yaesu FT-736 backup radio connected to Mirage 1018G amp to ground plane antenna.
3. Yaesu/Kenpro G5400 Az/El rotor.
4. Satellite tracker interface between computer and antenna system.
5. 50A power supply.
6. Laptop running SATPC32/SATPCISS for antenna and radio automation control (FT-847)
7. The FT-736 has programmed memories pre-programmed in case primary station has hiccups.


Here’s a photo of the antenna assembly on the roof of the school:
N8DEU Antenna for ARISS
There was also assistance from AMSAT, the Marshall Space Flight Center Radio Club, other hams from Athens and from Morgan County, and numerous others.  Thanks to all, and thanks especially to Tim for giving all of us (especially the lucky students) such an incredible opportunity.
Richard Matthews

Author: KB4CAY

Ham since 1981. Secretary of Decatur Amateur Radio Club since 2001. I like digital modes and listening to local repeaters.