P4XT Digital Multiplexing Transponder Project Program Proposal

Greetings all,

This is our P4XT Digital Multiplexing Transponder Project Program Proposal. It’s the result of multiple revisions and a lot of work.

We recognize Wally Ritchie WU1Y for taking on the majority of the writing duties. He has crafted quality work from a wide variety of input, commentary, argument, and critique. He has clarified our intentions and ambitions into a quality proposal. 

It is ready for publication and distribution. 

Current version can be found at: 

p4xt_proposal

Invitation – Digital Multiplexing Transponder Working Meeting at HamCation 2020

Open Research Institute is planning a working project kickoff session for the P4XT Digital Multiplexing Transponder Project, and you are invited!

This will be a half-day session to be held just after the closing of HamCation in Orlando on Sunday afternoon, February 9, 2020.

The goal of the P4XT project is to produce open source Digital Multiplexing Transponders (DMTs) for the Amateur Radio Service Microwave Bands, including fully tested and verified hardware, hardware descriptive language, and firmware. These DMTs will be suitable for deployment in Geostationary Orbit.

This will be a working session by the participants. The first half of the session will be technical. The second half will focus on project planning and budget issues.

During the HamCation, there will be a public one-hour high-level presentation of the project. There will also be another one hour presentation by ORI on GEO amateur satellites and a presentation about open source projects across amateur radio.

The written project proposal and the agenda for the meeting will be published in advance of the session.

The session will be held near the HamCation venue. The session will be from 3PM – 7PM on Sunday, February 9, 2020.

3PM – 3:30 PM will be a meet and greet. The formal agenda will be 3:30PM – 7PM.

As this is a working session, attendance is limited. It is not intended to be an open public event but rather a working session of key potential contributors and advisors. Therefore, an RSVP is required.

RSVP to [email protected] or 858 229 3399 (leave a message, texts are welcome)

We will hold this session in accordance with Open Research Institute Developer and Participant Policies. These can be found at https://openresearch.institute/developer-and-participant-policies/

See you there!

-Michelle Thompson W5NYV

Open Research Institute ITAR/EAR policy work – 2019 Update

Open Research Institute has a significant update to our ongoing amateur radio satellite communications policy work. This letter describes the work and includes a request for assistance.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) are two United States export control laws that affect the manufacturing, sales and distribution of technology. 

Open Research Institute (ORI) operates using the public domain carve-outs in ITAR and EAR. 

Our current policy is documented on our website. Here’s the direct links:
https://openresearch.institute/itar-and-ear-strategy/ and https://openresearch.institute/developer-and-participant-policies/

We believe these policies are sufficient. 

However,

1) Some potential funding sources want to see a formal legal opinion. 

2) Some organizations have made allegations that everything we do is illegal (and unethical, fattening, stupid, etc.).

Our choices were to continue insisting we are right, or to be effective. 

I chose to be effective. 

Therefore, in July 2019 Bruce Perens went out and found several law firms that were aligned with our goals and values. We selected one recommended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and began work. 

After the first round of conversation in August 2019, we had decided to 1) pay for a formal legal opinion and 2) apply for EAR certification with the US Department of Commerce. This would certify that the open source work we were doing was A-ok with the US government. 

There was a delay in beginning this work. I stepped up to lead the effort and initiated another round of conversation with the law firm.

This second round of conversation refined the goal.

My highest priority is ensuring risk reduction to our amazing volunteers. The open source and public domain carve outs deliver enormous risk reduction and offer wonderful international opportunities for meaningful collaboration. But, just like with proprietary ITAR/EAR work, you have to know what you’re doing in order to unlock all the benefits.

A formal legal opinion was still desired and will be obtained. That has not changed. But, instead of going for EAR Certification, which we considered to be an easier application process, we decided we would go for the top tier, and apply for ITAR Commodity Jurisdiction from the US Department of State.

If successful, then this finding solves EAR certification and also better defines a relationship with the Department of Defense, which is the third major entity involved in regulating the amateur radio satellite work we are doing. A Commodity Jurisdiction is widely considered to be the gold standard for work related to ITAR. 

ORI is asking that our programs of work be found explicitly *not* subject to ITAR. 

This application is appropriately lengthy and complex. This effort is not without risk. Instead of just continuing to happily do what we’ve been doing, which we believe to be entirely legal and above-board, we are instead deliberately attracting attention, scrutiny, and judgement. 

Why do this? Because others have not. The trinity of fear-uncertainty-doubt must be confronted and defeated. Open source is the way forward for amateur radio satellite work. 

The cover letter from the law firm has been delivered to us. This cover letter contains the draft of the source material for the application. We also have a copy of ITAR Category XV (Spacecraft and Related Articles), DDTC CJ Determinations list (to study the list of successful applications) and a copy of the Commerce Control List.

We will review and if necessary revise the cover letter, until it accurately and completely represents our work. Then we will prepare our application and then we will file it. 

Let’s talk about expenses. In August, we estimated the effort would cost $50,000. Current estimates, to get us up to the point of being able to apply, are much less than that at $5,000. I can pay for this.

ORI currently has $13,041 in the bank. These funds are intended for hardware development and boards, and not for legal. If the expenses end up exceeding my ability to pay, then I will ask for help. ORI hardware funds will not be diverted to cover legal costs. 

What do we need?

There is a section in the application where supporting organizations can contribute supportive comments. 

I ask all AMSAT organizations to seriously consider providing a statement of strong support for Open Research Institute’s Commodity Jurisdiction request. Describing the work that would be enabled by safe, sane, and legal legal open source collaboration would be of great benefit to this application. 

I humbly ask ARRL, ARISS, Libre Space Foundation, and any other group that has an interest in this work to consider formally supporting this effort with a statement that can be included with the request.

Our law firm can provide some guidance on statements if necessary. We deeply appreciate any assistance provided. 

Thank you all for the support, encouragement, comment, critique, questions, and motivation. 

-Michelle Thompson W5NYV
[email protected] 229 3399

Open Research Institute – Phase 4 Space Rent-a-GEO

Here is our grant proposal for Rent-a-GEO. The intended audience for this proposal is ARDC, ARRL, and FEMA.

Rent-a-GEO-Phase-4-Space

This project provides a way for amateur radio operators to communicate through a geosynchronous satellite over the continental US, parts of Canada, and parts of Mexico.

There are two main purposes served by this communications project. First is enhanced emergency communications support from amateur radio. Second is research and development of open source hardware that implements advanced digital communications functions.

Functions include field-configurable polyphase filterbank channelizers, queueing and multiplexing functions, digital signal processing, open source implementations of current communications protocols, and geosynchronous satellite communications best practices.

 

Open Research Institute – Phase 4 Space – Grant Application – Overview

Here is the overview document submitted to ARDC, at their invitation, on 22 August 2019 for the Open Research Institute Phase 4 Space project.

This project unites the global amateur radio community with an advanced microwave digital satellite system. Four geosynchronous amateur radio payloads, and four flight spares, are the product of the work that would be funded by this grant. All work is open source and open access and in full compliance with all developer and participant policies. Satellites to be placed 90 degrees apart for global coverage. All amateur satellite and amateur radio organizations will be invited to fully participate.

Detailed documentation of the communications payload development process is under review and will be published as soon as the review process is complete.

Open_Research_Institute_Phase_4_Space

FPGA iCEBreaker Workshop – digital communications for amateur satellites

Greetings all!

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are one of three fundamental types of digital architectures used for communications R&D.

The others are general purpose processors and graphical processing units (GPUs).

This fall, in San Diego, California, there will be an FPGA course sponsored by Open Research Institute. There are 10 spots with amateur communications as the focus of the work.

FPGAs are a primary technology in satellite communications. They’re used in R&D and in deployment. It is difficult to get started with FPGA design for several reasons. The tools have traditionally been proprietary. The companies that make the tools price them for large corporations to buy. Coursework for FPGA design is rare.

This is where iCEBreaker makes a difference.

An iCEBreaker Workshop 10 pack has been made available. They are described at this link https://www.crowdsupply.com/1bitsquared/icebreaker-fpga

I will use this hardware to put on a course for anyone interested in amateur radio satellite and terrestrial development. All course materials will be published.

The first course will be in San Diego. If you’re in the area, please get in touch! MakerPlace and CoLab are the likely sites.

Later workshops could be at places like Symposium, Xenia, or Hamcation. The full course cannot be accomplished in a day, but a workshop could get the basics across and provide a substantial boost to motivated amateur satellite engineering volunteers. Let me know what you think.

more soon!
-Michelle W5NYV

Video Report – Trans-Ionospheric Badge Update

Badge report! Brag Tape, Radio Peripheral update, and our ESP32 development board. It’s from hacker boxes and has a TFT display, programmable RGB LEDs, an SD card for storage, up down left right select user interface input, and some circuitry for charging a lithium ion battery. It’s a good platform for building up the executive function code for Phase 4 Ground radios.

What do we have working?

A high resolution display, SD card access, and bluetooth advertising that sends commands to the trans ionospheric badge.

ESP32 development can be done with the Arduino IDE, but this is very limited and hogs memory. For Phase 4 Ground we use the ESP IDF. This means command line, but Visual Studio Code works with some setup. This gives you context colors and build and run functions.

We highly recommend the ESP32 check it out at the links below. Our next report will be about multicast IP SDR work. See you then!

ESP32 info!

Overview:
https://www.espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp32/overview

Programming Guide:
https://docs.espressif.com/projects/esp-idf/en/latest/

Trans-Ionospheric is a successful fundraiser for our open source amateur radio satellite communications work.

Thank you so much for the support! Buy one here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/123328684692