Category Archives: Satellites

Say “Hi” to Juno as it passes by Earth today

EFB_publicmap1-675Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Troy, who emailed me about a really fun and unique opportunity for amateur radio operators:  to send the NASA spacecraft Juno a Morse Code greeting [specifically, “HI”] when it passes over Earth tomorrow, starting around 18:00 UTC.

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains:

“NASA’s Juno spacecraft will fly past Earth on October 9, 2013, to receive a gravity assist from our planet, putting it on course for Jupiter. To celebrate this event, the Juno mission is inviting amateur radio operators around the world to say “HI” to Juno in a coordinated Morse Code message. Juno’s radio & plasma wave experiment, called Waves, should be able to detect the message if enough people participate. So please join in, and help spread the word to fellow amateur radio enthusiasts!

This page will be updated with additional information as the event approaches. In addition, we have created a Facebook event page where you are welcome to a discuss[ion of] this activity.”

ham_morsecode_ditsTo be clear, this is a coordinated and unified message to the Juno craft; there will be no opportunity to hear a response from it.  Rather, the Waves instrument data containing the message will be shared by the Juno team after the flyby.  But still, what fun!

If you’re a licensed ham, and this sounds like something that you’d like to be part of, please check out the the NASA JPL page dedicated to this event. It has all of the information you’ll need to transmit to Juno, including a countdown clock–or to simply listen to everyone who does. Be sure to check out Juno’s Technical FAQ (click on the FAQ link) which answers a lot of the questions participants have already asked.

I’ll certainly do my best to be a part of the unified greeting to Juno.

I should note that I’m pleased to see the JPL page is running despite the US government shutdown. Many other NASA web pages have been affected.

Hi, Juno; we send our greetings!


This article has been re-posted from my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post.

FITSAT-1 will write messages in the sky with CW


At first, I thought this news item was sience fiction, then I realized, “no, it’s just the coolest thing ever.”

Thanks for sharing, Eric!


The robotic Japanese cargo vessel now en route to the International Space Station is loaded with food, clothes, equipment — and a set of tiny amateur radio satellites, including one that will write Morse code messages in the sky.

[…]One of the [satellites], FITSAT-1, will write messages in the night sky with Morse code, helping researchers test out optical communication techniques for satellites, researchers said.

[…]One of FITSAT-1’s experimental duties is to twinkle as an artificial star, said project leader Takushi Tanaka, an FIT professor of computer science and engineering. Tanaka’s research interests include artificial intelligence, language processing, logic programming and robot soccer, in addition to cubesats.

Tipping the scales at just under 3 pounds (1.33 kilograms), FITSAT-1 carries high power light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that will produce extremely bright flashes.

“These, we hope, will be observable by the unaided eye or with small binoculars,” Tanaka says on a FITSAT-1 website.

After its deployment from the orbiting lab, the cubesat’s high-output LEDs will blink in flash mode, generating a Morse code beacon signal.

Read the full article on

Work a satellite–QRP style

Clint Bradford, K6LCS, recently posted a link to his website on the HF Pack group. He has a great article about working satellites AO-51 and SO-50 from low power rigs. QRP HF rigs like the Yaesu FT-817–which have VHF/UHF–are ideal for this type of satellite work. This article is well written and contains good references. I should mention that Clint is an AMSAT Area Coordinator in California and uses this document in his presentations.