ORI Fulfills ITAR Requirement

ORI has made its public technical data – all software, schematics, designs, and other information contained at http://openresearch.institute/public/ available for unlimited distribution at the 2018 Cal Poly Cubesat Developers Conference, in compliance with ITAR 121.11(a)(6).

ITAR 121.11 does not explicitly state that making data available on the Internet places that data in the “public domain” (their wording) – although we believe any court would consider this to be so.  Instead, it gives a number of methods including unlimited distribution at a conference, and making the data available at a public library (most of which do provide web access, and thus we believe this requirement is satisfied by internet data).

Notices of the availability of our online data were posted in several locations at the conference and on the conference’s online discussion system. WiFi and cellular data were available at the conference for the attendees to explore or download our information.

“Public domain” information, in the context of ITAR, is information available to the public, rather than the copyright sense of “public domain” which means information for which copyrights have been abandoned. ORI and its volunteers generally retain copyright on their information, but it is placed under an Open Source license which grants a set of rights including use, modification, and redistribution to the general public.

Correlator Troubleshooting

https://youtu.be/T6TwN2FvfAo

 

Here’s an update from the lab on correlator troubleshooting. We are trying to get correlation understood and under control over the air.

We have two flowgraphs that we believe aren’t working due to the Correlation Estimation Issue here https://github.com/gnuradio/gnuradio/issues/1207

We don’t think it’s operator error, but we’re relatively new to GNU Radio, and would welcome any comment or critique that helps to solve this!

FM_ARAP_to_downlink.grc is the flowgraph we are using for transmit side.

What does it do?

It collects up four analog FM channels, digitizes, and transmits a time division multiplexed signal out. This is, in general, a simple model of our uplink for a Groundsat or payload.

We see the expected transmitted signal on a spectrum analyzer and on a HackRF portapack and on the receiving system across the lab.

The receiving flowgraph is called TDM_downlink_rx.grc

What does it do?

It takes the time division multiplex signal and is supposed to break the channels back out.

This demo has worked in the past, but not anymore, and definitely not over the air now.

The problem seems to be the correlator, and it seems to be the same trouble reported in the issue.

We want to write a DVB-S2/X correlator. I think we can also help fix this correlation estimation block. In all cases, we want to comply with the tag scheme produced, so that downstream blocks already in GNU Radio get what they’re expecting, if they are expecting these types of tags.

Plenty more at https://github.com/phase4ground

Paid Ground-Station Control Operators and Amateur Satellites

Paid personnel are not allowed to be control operator or license grantee of Amateur Satellites. In the United States, this means that a paid employee of the sponsoring organization of the satellite, for example a professor at the university that has built the satellite, can not be a control operator or the license grantee.

I recently corresponded with our IARU Divison 2 representatives regarding this issue. Thanks to Edson W. R. Pereira PY2SDR and Ray Soifer W2RS for this information:

The issue regarding paid operators is due to the definition of the amateur radio service as defined by the ITU.

ARTICLE 1 Terms and definitions

  • No. 1.56 amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
  • No. 1.57 amateur-satellite service: A radiocommunication service using space stations on earth satellites for the same purposes as those of the amateur service.
  • No. 1.96 amateur station: A station in the amateur service.

The same definition is used by the FCC: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service

The key point here is the term “pecuniary interest” — in otther words, “without financial compensation”. The definition is related to the *operation* of an amateur radio station, as you have stated in your message. Persons, including amateur radio operators, could be financially compensated to design and build amateur satellites, but according to the regulations, as they are presently written, the person cannot be compensated to operate the station.

 If the station will operate under a US FCC amateur license, the control operator may not be an employee of the sponsoring organization, whether or not he is being directly compensated for operating the station.  The license grantee is also deemed to be the operator of the space station operating under his license.
For those reasons, FCC licenses most Cubesats as experimental, not amateur.  Experimental licenses do permit operators to be compensated.  However, experimental stations may not communicate with amateur stations.

Ground Station Weekly Report #409

Welcome to the Phase 4 Ground Weekly Report!

409!

Video link

https://youtu.be/6tW04jWZGjM

2 4 6 8 Everybody Correlate!

Correlator team had a conference call on Thursday 5 April 2018. Jordan, Brennan, Ed, and I talked on the conference bridge Ed set up for us for about 45 minutes. We covered a lot of ground and got some idea of next steps. We have a repository that has GNU Radio draft blocks that do the Pi/2 BPSK demodulation and decoding, and we need to get it working as a correlator.

We also have a correlation estimation block in GNU Radio that has an issue.

Brennan Ashton reviewed our block and didn’t see any major issues yet, and then went out to see what he could see about the correlation estimation block.

Please review Brennan’s pull request here:

https://github.com/gnuradio/gnuradio/pull/1725

This is an attempt to solve this issue here:

https://github.com/gnuradio/gnuradio/issues/1207

Which if successful will help us and a lot of other people.

This effort is in progress and will be updated as the code is reviewed and feedback from GNU Radio given.

10GHz Filter

We have a 10GHz filter design proposed from Jeffrey Pawlan.

It covers the 10GHz amateur band, has 0.1dB variation over the band, 0.1dB insertion loss, and 20-30dB return loss. It’s a high-performance filter and we are talking about how to get it published, how many prototypes to build, and what the potential market might be. Here’s the first four documents from Jeffrey. These are in the repository at the link in the notes. If you have feedback we want to hear it.

https://github.com/phase4ground/DVB-receiver/tree/master/Pawlan-10GHz-Filter

Block Party at GNU Radio Conference 2018

We are sponsoring a Block Party at GNU Radio Conference 2018. This is a multi-day hackfest, workshop, and summit all about making an open source DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X receiver in GNU Radio. Come and help. We have five solid technical docents for the event and could use more. The goal is to bring blocks and write blocks on site, test interoperability, and leave the conference with a working DVB-S2 receiver. This is the central mission for successful continued research and development and we need all hands on deck.

If you’ve have never coded a block in GNU Radio, then don’t worry. It wasn’t until the past year that I had ever coded up a block for GNU Radio. I just had never needed to. There is a series of guided tutorials from GNU Radio’s website. The link is in the notes.

https://wiki.gnuradio.org/index.php/Guided_Tutorials

Go there, or search them up with “gnu radio guided tutorials”, walk through them, and you will have the tools and the workflow experience to be able to contribute.

Having said that, if you are only comfortable coding in python or C++ then that’s ok too. If you have an idea for getting some part of the DVB-S2 digital signal processing done, and either don’t have time to work through block coding or pybombs distribution, then you can certainly still help by sharing your signal processing code. Don’t let GNU Radio block configuration stop you. You’re needed and appreciated.

KA9Q SDR – stereo field

Phil Karn has shared a work in progress with us. He calls it the KA9Q SDR. However, the module in this SDR code that I’d like to highlight is a stereo field audio adapter.

This works by taking in multicast audio streams. Each audio stream comes from an individual audio source, or participant. These participants in a round table audio conference are placed at different points in the stereo spectrum.

Phil Writes:

I’m writing a lightweight, modular SDR package that uses IP multicast
for inter-module communication. Multicasting is very flexible and
convenient for this sort of real-time application, and I really think
it should become standard practice.

One module is an audio decoder-player. I’m often running several SDRs
at once so I wrote it to handle multiple multicast streams. Since
several mixed audio streams can be confusing, I’ve been experimenting
with ways to help the user distinguish them.

I started with a simple text display that lists the streams and their
types and sources, highlighting those that are currently active. You
can individually adjust levels or ignore those you don’t want.

Since most sources are mono, I added the ability to give each one its
place in the stereo aural image. I’m trying to recreate the famous
“cocktail party effect” that, in person, helps you pick out one voice
from several talking at once.

Audio engineers typically place a source in a stereo image with a
mixer “pan pot” that adjusts its gain in each channel. This works –
sort of. I wanted to find something better.

So I read up auditory perception. I learned that we distinguish the
direction of a sound only partly by the level difference between our
ears, as that doesn’t actually change much as your head turns.  The
*real* cue is the difference in arrival time. The speed of sound is
about 340 m/s, so if our ears are 30 cm apart (measuring around the
head) that’s a little less than a millisecond.

This didn’t seem like much, but it was very easy to add these small
delays to the “pan pots” in my player. And it works! The effect is
almost eerie; you have to listen to each channel in turn to convince
yourself that the levels are almost the same.

Conference calls (or “round tables” as we hams call them) are very
important in communications. I’ve long thought we can make them much
better, especially in how we handle several simultaneous speakers.  If
we use this scheme to place each participant in a round table we
should get a lot closer to that “in person” experience that’s so
difficult to produce in electronic communications.

All this requires that each participant receives every other
participant as a separate stream — there’s no central “conference
bridge” that mixes everybody together. This is a perfect application
for IP multicasting. Not only can you put each participant in its
place, the status display shows you at a glance who’s talking. You can
squelch an individual who keeps disrupting the meeting, and you can
even have a private aside by sending unicast traffic rather than
multicasting to the entire group.

A lot of this was done as research in the early days of what became
‘voice over IP’ (VoIP) but it seems to have fallen by the wayside. It
really deserves to be more widely recognized and used.

Phil Karn, KA9Q
9 April 2018

Careful COTS SDR

We are making great progress on the Careful COTS re-layout of a USRP E310 with future plans to tackle the E320. We’re collaborating with AMSAT Golf on this and have gained enthusiastic support from Ettus Research engineering. The next steps are to negotiate what’s needed on the business side. Scheduling talks is in progress.

If you’re not familiar with the term, Careful COTS – COTS means commercial off the shelf – is taking something that wasn’t designed specifically for space and making it work for space environments. This is done by selection of the right components, designing in redundancy at the system level, and testing the entire system for radiation tolerance.

We have a high degree of confidence that the Ettus USRP will work and some volunteers willing to do the work. If you are interested in this part of the project, let me know.

Badge Update

The Transionospheric badge prototypes are being built at a contract manufacturer in San Diego right now. We are working hard to have them at Hamvention for sale. All proceeds benefit Phase 4 Ground! They aren’t just for show, they will be a radio peripheral for Phase 4 Ground radios, providing a lot of visual reinforcement on what your radio is doing and the health and status of your link. Whether you have a satellite or a terrestrial system, the same information will be stylishly displayed. We are working hard to make it possible to command other radios as well. More on that as it develops!

If you want to be part of the effort, then join our Slack and mailing list at http://lists.openresearch.institute/mailman/listinfo/ground-station

Write me for an invitation to Slack. All are welcome. This project is intended to spread enjoyment, appreciation, and success in broadband digital communications at microwave for amateur radio use. A lot of what we do is complex and challenging, but we are here to help and you can contribute at any level.

Thank you for all the support and interest. If you have suggestions or questions or something you think we need to know about, let us know. If all goes well, we’ll see you next week!

Open Research Institute Exhibiting at Hamvention 2018

Open Research Institute will show at Hamvention  held 18-20 May 2018.

Our booth will show projects associated with Palomar Amateur Radio Club, the AMSAT Member Society Open Research Institute‘s Phase 4 Program, GNU Radio , FaradayRF, and will host the first Trans-Ionospheric electronic badge sales.

Open Research Institute (ORI) is a non-profit research and development organization which provides all of its work to the general public under the principles of Open Source and Open Access to Research.

ORI includes Phase 4 Ground, an open source amateur radio project primarily intended for AMSAT. Our goal is to provide both designs and equipment for a radio that will operate with a 5GHz uplink and a 10GHz downlink. Our mission is to provide an open source implementation of DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X for both satellite and terrestrial amateur radio use. The reference design will be in GNU Radio, and a variety of radio recipes will be published. These solutions range from DIY to something you can purchase off-the-shelf. Phase 4 Ground radios are intended to be reusable and reconfigurable, supporting payloads at GEO (Phase 4B), HEO (Phase 3E), and beyond (Cube Quest Challenge). Additionally, these radios will work as terrestrial microwave stations. Groundsats on mountaintops or towers establish a fun and flexible digital microwave experience.

GNU Radio is a free & open-source software development toolkit that provides signal processing blocks to implement software radios. It can be used with readily-available low-cost external RF hardware to create software-defined radios, or without hardware in a simulation-like environment. It is widely used in research, industry, academia, government, and hobbyist environments to support both wireless communications research and real-world radio systems.

Faraday is more than just another Industrial, Scientific, and Medical band transceiver (ISM). Faraday takes advantage of the ISM hardware which works on the amateur radio 33cm band to let us focus on the real tasks we want to accomplish. The FaradayRF Master Plan details these tasks of which providing a well documented and educational digital wireless ham radio platform enabling an infrastructure to be built from is among the first goals. 500mW at 915MHz packs the power necessary to traverse over 40km required by last-mile communications infrastructure. The on-board Antennova M10478-A2 GPS adds location aware applications out of the box without the need for additional hardware. Overall, Faraday was designed to provide access to 33cm to radio amateurs and empower them to experiment and learn. A stronger ham radio is a more exciting ham radio.

Tickets are available now at http://hamvention.org/purchase-tickets/

European Space Agency and NASA Open Source Licenses Reviewed

As a member of the Open Source Initiative’s license-review committee, I reviewed licenses submitted by the European Space Agency and NASA. The ESA licenses are close to acceptance but need a little more work. The NASA license is more problematical in my opinion and I am not recommending that it be accepted without a significant rewrite. – Bruce Perens K6BP

2018-01-27 Executive Board Meeting Minutes

The January 27th board meeting was carried out via email, and proceeded until January 29. The directors received and approved the President’s report:

On January 9, I retained Foundation Group to handle our 501(c)3 application and our compliance with 501(c)3 requirements and filing of required forms through the end of 2018. The formation and compliance package cost $3500, which I paid from personal funds. This was not the cheapest vendor, but one which appeared to have good notices for successful formation of 501(c)3 organizations – which is no trivial feat. I generally bill about that much for a day’s intellectual property consulting, so I was happy to offload the work.
Foundation group filed our EIN application with IRS, our EIN is 82-3945232.
Foundation group has provided a set of formation documents, I will request that they amend the prototype bylaws to make it explicit that all required meetings may be carried out through electronic communications.
On January 27, I signed and mailed our corporation formation document (filled in by Foundation Group) to the Secretary of State of California, with $30 payment which I paid from personal funds. They are handling applications submitted about two weeks ago, so I expect to see a response in three weeks.

Organizational Progress

The State of California has accepted our articles of incorporation and our informational form for 2018. We have contracted a professional firm to carry out our 501(c)3 filing with the U.S. Internal Revenue service and to do our compliance filings from year to year. We have provided the firm with all necessary input.