Tagged: SSTV

Next International Space Station SSTV Event on April 11 – 14

Thank you to Alex Happysat for writing in and letting us know about the next upcoming ISS SSTV event which will begin on 11 April at about 18:00 UTC and end on 14 April 2019 18:00 UTC. If you were unaware, the International Space Station (ISS) transmits SSTV images several times a year to commemorate special space related events. SSTV or Slow Scan Television is an amateur radio mode which is used to transmit small images over radio signals.

The images will be transmitted constantly at 145.8 MHz over the active period and they are expected to be in the PD-120 SSTV format. To receive the images you can use a simple RTL-SDR dongle and the MMSSTV software. A tuned satellite antenna like a QFH, turnstile, or tracking Yagi would be preferred, but many people have had good success before using simpler antennas like a V-Dipole. Software like Orbitron, GPredict, various Android apps or NASA's Spot the Station website can be used to determine where the ISS is and predict when it will be over your location.

Over on the ARISS SSTV blog, they write:

The next big event will be the ARISS SSTV event that starts Thursday, April 11 about 18:00 UTC and will be operational until about 18:00 UTC on Sunday, April 14. Since this event will run continuously for 72 hours, folks in the higher latitudes should have a pretty good chance to receive all 12 of the images. Operators in the mid latitudes should be able to get most of them depending on location. Good Luck and Enjoy!

Alex also mentions that for this and other ISS events AMSAT Argentina is handing out ARISS-SSTV Diplomas to amateur radio operators who receive, record and upload at least 15 images received from the ISS, in at least two different radio operation with a month or more in between then.

If you cannot set up a receiver, it is possible to use R4UAB's WebSDR which will be available directly at websdr.r4uab.ru. However, note that internet reception is not valid for the AMSAT Diploma. An example of WebSDR SSTV reception and decoding from a smaller ISS SSTV event held a few days ago is shown below.

ISS SSTV R4UAB WEBSDR 12.04.2016 14:00 UTC

SignalsEverywhere: SDRAngel PlutoSDR Transmit Tutorial

Over on his YouTube channel SignalsEverywhere, Corrosive has uploaded a new video tutorial showing us how to transmit with a PlutoSDR and SDRAngel. His tutorial goes over the initial set up steps, selecting a modulator and changing modulator settings. He then goes on to demonstrate transmitting CW Morse code, using a CTCSS squelch tone and transmitting a Robot36 SSTV image via Virtual Audio Cable and MMSSTV.

SDRAngel Transmit Tutorial with PlutoSDR

RPiTX v2 Released: Easily Record and Replay with RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi

RPiTX is software for the Raspberry Pi which can turn it into a 5 kHz to 1500 MHz transmitter which can transmit any arbitrary signal. In order to transmit the software does not require any additional hardware apart from a wire plugged into a GPIO pin on the expansion header. It works by modulating the GPIO pin with square waves in such a way that the desired signal is generated. However, although additional hardware isn't required, if RPiTX is to be used in any actual application a band-pass filter is highly recommended in order to remove any harmonics which could interfere and jam other radio systems.

Earlier this month RPiTX was upgraded to version 2. One of the changes is a new GUI for testing the various transmission modes. Currently it is possible to transmit a chirp, FM with RDS, USB, SSTV, Opera, Pocsag, SSTV, Freedv. There is also a spectrum painter which allows you to display an image on a SDR's waterfall.

Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2
Painting an Image on a SDR Waterfall Display with RPiTX v2

The RPiTX v2 update also makes recording a signal with an RTL-SDR, and replaying that signal with RPiTX significantly easier. Previously it was necessary to go through a bunch of preprocessing steps (as described in our previous tutorial) in order to get a transmittable file, but now RPiTX is capable of transmitting a recorded IQ file directly. This makes copying things like 433 MHz ISM band remotes significantly easier. One application might be to use RPiTX as an internet connected home automation tool which could control all your wireless devices.

Finally, another application of the RPiTX and RTL-SDR combination is a live RF relay. The software is able to receive a signal at one frequency from the RTL-SDR, and then re-transmit it at another frequency in real time. Additionally, it is also capable of live transmodulation, where it receives an FM radio station, demodulates and then remodulates it as SSB to transmit on another frequency.

RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.
RPiTX v2 re-transmitting a broadcast FM signal live at 434 MHz.

A Tutorial on Receiving HF SSTV with a Raspberry Pi and RTL-SDR V3

Thank you to Giuseppe (IT9YBG) who has written in to share his tutorial about setting up a direct sampling RTL-SDR V3 based SSTV receiver on a Raspberry Pi. He writes that he uses the receiver to continuously receive images at 14.230 MHz, but with a frequency tweak in the command line code the system could also be used to receive the VHF SSTV images sent by the ISS.

In the tutorial he uses the free QSSTV software for decoding. An RTL-SDR together with the CSDR DSP software is used to set up a command line based receiver, which pipes the SSTV audio into a virtual audio sink, and then into QSSTV. The receiver setup procedure is similar to the method used in our RTL-SDR V3 QRP monitoring station tutorial, and is a very nice way of setting up an efficient command line based RTL-SDR audio output.

QSSTV Running on a Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR V3 Radio
QSSTV Running on a Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR V3 Radio

Thomas N1SPY Demonstrates Receiving SSTV Images from the ISS

Earlier in the month the International Space Station (ISS) was transmitting SSTV images down to the earth for anyone to receive an decode. The ISS does this several times a year to commemorate special space related events, such as the day Yuri Gagarin (first man in space) was launched.

In the video Thomas explains why the ISS does this, how to track the ISS, and then he demonstrates actually receiving and decoding the signal. Thomas uses an Airspy HF+ to receive the signal on 145.8 MHz, however an RTL-SDR could do the same job. For decoding he uses the MMSSTV software.

For new on when the ISS might transmit SSTV again, keep at eye on the ARISS Blog, and the ISS Ham Twitter page.

Thomas N1SPY receives SSTV signals from the ISS

Receiving SSTV Images from the ISS with a V-Dipole and RTL-SDR

During July 20 – 24, 2017 the ISS (International Space Station) was transmitting SSTV (Slow Scan Television) images down to earth in celebration of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the ISS) 20th Anniversary. The ISS transmits SSTV images on celebratory occasions several times a year. More information about upcoming ARISS events can be found on their website ariss.org.

Over on YouTube and his blog, user Tysonpower has created a video and writeup of his experiences with receiving the ISS SSTV images using an RTL-SDR, FM Trap filter and a V-Dipole antenna. The V-Dipole antenna is a super simple satellite antenna for NOAA/Meteor/ISS etc satellites that recently became popular due to Adam 9A4QV’s writeup on it.

Despite Laptop and PC troubles, he was able to capture several images. He also notes that he was able to use a Baofeng and Yagi antenna to receive the signal indoors.

Note that Tysonpower’s YouTube video is narrated in German, but there are English subtitles available if you turn on YouTube’s closed captions which should be on by default on this video.

[EN subs] ISS SSTV Event Juli 2017 – Empfang von drinnen und V-Dipole

SSTV From the ISS Scheduled for Dec 8 – 9

The International Space Station periodically schedules radio events where they transmit Slow Scan Television (SSTV) images down to earth for listeners to receive and collect. This time they have scheduled SSTV images for Dec 8 1235 – 1800 UTC, and December 9 1240-1740 UTC. The ARRL announcement reads:

Slow-scan television (SSTV) transmissions from the International Space Station (ISS) are scheduled for December 8-9. The SSTV images will be transmitted from RS0ISS on 145.800 MHz FM as part of the Moscow Aviation Institute MAI-75 Experiment, using the Kenwood TM-D710 transceiver in the ISS Service Module.

MAI-75 activities have been scheduled on December 8, 1235-1800 UTC, and December 9, 1240-1740 UTC. These times correspond to passes over Moscow, Russia. ISS transmissions on 145.800 MHz FM use 5-kHz deviation, and SSTV transmissions have used the PD120 and PD180 formats.

The ISS Fan Club website can show when the space station is within range of your station. On Windows PCs the free application MMSSTV can decode the signal. On Apple iOS devices, use the SSTV app.

These SSTV broadcasts can usually be easily heard with an RTL-SDR and appropriate satellite antenna such as a QFH, Turnstile or a hand held Yagi. Many listeners have reported in the past as being able to receive them even with non-satellite antennas such as discones, ground plane, rubber duck and long wire antennas, so try your luck even if you don’t have the right antenna.

We recommend using the Orbitron software to track the ISS, but you can also use the web tracker on issfanclub.com as recommended by the ARRL.

An SSTV image from the ISS sent last April
An SSTV image from the ISS sent last April from http://www.issfanclub.com/node/40913


International Space Station set to Transmit SSTV this Weekend (July 18 – 19)

To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz mission the International Space Station (ISS) is set to transmit 12 Slow Scan TV (SSTV) images this weekend. The images are set to transmit Saturday morning, July 18 10:30 UTC and will run through until Sunday, July 19 21:20 UTC, but they note that the dates are tentative and could be subject to change. The images will be transmitted at 145.80 MHz and will probably be sent in the PD180 SSTV mode with 3 minute breaks between each transmission.

SSTV is a type of radio protocol that is used to transmit low resolution images over radio. An RTL-SDR with appropriate antenna can be used to receive these images from the ISS. The signal is usually quite strong, so even a simple whip or long wire antenna may receive these images if placed in a good unobstructed view of the sky. 

As with the last ISS SSTV event we suggest that to decode the images you use SDR# and pipe the audio into MMSSTV, a freeware SSTV decoding software program. We also suggest using the settings recommended by “happysat”, which are enabling “Auto slant” and “Auto resync” under Options->Setup MMSTV->RX.

To know when the ISS is overhead you can track it online using heavens-above.com or isstracker.com. If using heavens-above to predict pass times remember to set it to show all passes, not just the visible ones. Received SSTV images can be submitted to the ARISS Gallery.

This event is being discussed on Reddit here. Here is the official release from ariss.org:

40 years ago this week, the historic joint Apollo-Soyuz mission was conducted.   Apollo-Soyuz (or Soyuz-Apollo in Russia) represented the first joint USA-Soviet mission and set the stage for follow-on Russia-USA space collaboration on the Space Shuttle, Mir Space Station and the International Space Station.  The Soyuz and Apollo vehicles were docked from July 17-19, 1975, during which time joint experiments and activities were accomplished with the 3 USA astronauts and 2 Soviet cosmonauts on-board.  Apollo-Soyuz was the final mission of the Apollo program and the last USA human spaceflight mission until the first space shuttle mission in 1981.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of this historic international event, the ARISS team has developed a series of 12 Slow Scan Television (SSTV) images that will be sent down for reception by schools, educational organizations and ham radio operators, worldwide.The SSTV images are planned to start sometime Saturday morning, July 18 and run through Sunday, July 19.  These dates are tentative and are subject to change. The SSTV images can be received on 145.80 MHz and displayed using several different SSTV computer programs that are available on the Internet. 

We encourage you to submit your best received SSTV images to:

The ARISS SSTV image gallery will post the best SSTV images received from this event at:

Also, as a special treat, on Saturday July 18 the ISS cosmonauts will take time out to conduct an ARISS contact with students attending the Moon Day/Frontiers of Flight Museum event in Dallas Texas.  This Russian cosmonaut-USA student contact is planned to start around 16:55 UTC through the W6SRJ ground station located in Santa Rosa, California.  ARISS will use the 145.80 MHz voice frequency downlink (same as the SSTV downlink) for the Moon Day contact. More details about these contacts are provided at Upcoming Contacts.

The ARISS international team would like to thank our ARISS-Russia colleague, Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, for his leadership on this historic commemoration.

An example SSTV image from the last ISS SSTV event
An example SSTV image from the last ISS SSTV event which was to commemorate first man to space Yuri Gagarin’s would be 80th birthday.