ARISS 20th Anniversary SSTV Event

Running from the 24th December 2020 to 31 December 2020 the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) SSTV event sent a series of 12 SSTV images from the International Space Station (ISS).

There are a couple of problems we need to overcome to receive them, firstly the ISS is orbiting around 250 miles above the earth’s surface and is travelling at a speed of approx 17,000 miles per hour, which means each orbit takes around 90 minutes, and its only in range for 10/15 minutes on a high pass. add to that the fact that for the duration of the event here in uk the 4 or 5 passes we had each day were between 0200utc and 1000utc.

In order to receive the images you need a few things in place (note that we will discuss my setup here. there is much more inexpensive equipment available but the principal is the same).

We need the following

  1. A radio capable of receiving the frequency of 145.800MHz
  2. A computer, smartphone or tablet
  3. Software to decode the image from the audio
  4. a suitable antenna.

The equoipment I am using is

  1. Icom IC-705
  2. Microsoft Surface Laptop
  4. Sirio 2m/70cm mobile antenna
Icom IC-705, Microsoft Surface Laptop connected by USB cable for CAT control and sound input/output
Sirio 2m/70cm antenna, mounted on the car using a magnetic mount

In addition I am also using Ham Radio Deluxe software to track the ISS and to provide automatic adjustment to the frequency to account for the doppler effect.

To find out when the ISS will be overhead I use the Heavens-Above android app. this app includes all radio satellites and the ISS pass data.

Heavens-Above android app

Once we know the time of the pass its a simple case powering up the radio running the software and waiting. I have found with this setup there was no real need to use a directional antenna, the sirio on the car received the signal with no problem for most of the pass once the ISS was above the horizon.

As I said before you dont need an expensive setup with all the equipment I used. you can use a cheap handheld 2m radio, a smartphone app (such as robot36 for android) tune the radio in , turn up the volume and hold the phone with the app running near the radio it can be as simple as that! So if you have never done this before why not give it a try next time?

Over the week I received 11 of the 12 images. I may have received part of the missing one as i also have 4 or 5 images that are not really viewable as they started/finished transmitting before the ISS rose or set.

Certificate I received from ARISS for receiving these images.