AO-16 lives, in a very strange way…
This just came across the amsat-bb mailing list:
Since AO-16 was recovered approximately 6 months ago, the command team has attempted to reload the satellite software almost a dozen times without success. Subsequently a series of memory tests were performed which points towards a hardware failure which prevents restarting the spacecraft software successfully. This team included Bruce Rahn WB9ANQ and Jim White WD0E advising Mark Hammond N8MH as the primary groundstation. Mark put in many early hours during the multiple reloads and test sessions, with Bruce, Jim, and others advising. Thank you to all involved for your hard work. After the conclusion that the spacecraft computer system was damaged and as discussions about decommissioning were taking place, Jim recalled a series of low level commands included in the spacecraft design by Tom Clark, K3IO during construction. One of these commands allows an uplink receiver to be directly tied to a downlink transmitter. The twist is that the uplink is regular FM but the downlink via the BPSK transmitter is DSB (Double Sideband). Mark placed the satellite in this mode early this week and some testing was undertaken. The satellite hears VERY well, and the reduced bandwidth by using either USB or LSB on the groundstation receiver allows for a very robust downlink. Tuning the downlink is just like on a linear transponder, meaning it is tight and with fast Doppler. Uplink tuning is not required, just as with the FM mode V/U satellites. QSOs were made between N8MH, WD4ASW, KO4MA, K5QXJ, and WA6FWF. My personal observations include being able to access and hear the satellite within one degree of the horizon, much lower than any other current bird for my QTH. This should be an easy satellite with omni antennas and a 70cm preamp. With that explanation, I'm happy to open the satellite to general use on voice for a test period. Please submit reports either to the -bb or to firstname.lastname@example.org . The uplink is 145.920 FM, and the downlink is 437.026 SSB ± Doppler shift. Please restrict your uplink power to a reasonable level, and do not transmit without being able to hear the downlink. All the general single-channel guidelines apply. Enjoy this bird's new life! 73, Drew KO4MA AMSAT-NA VP Operations
Whacky! I don’t have any UHF SSB equipment, so it really doesn’t help me much, but I can imagine that using a cheap 2m handheld for the uplink, and either a TH-F6A or more capable transciever for the downlink would be possible. Neat! I’ll have to give this a try sometime.