Testing of Phase IIID 3D RF/Microwave equipment payloads

A fairly large group of the AMSAT International Spacecraft Integration Team were at our Spacecraft Integration laboratory in Orlando, Florida for several weeks to get the spacecraft ready for the final prelaunch test; the acceleration/ vibration test of the Phase IIID satellite.

The whole operation was supervised by the Phase IIID project leader, Professor Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC.

The laboratory is being run by Laboratory Manager Lou McFadin, W5DID, Rick Leon,KA1RHL, Stan Wood, WA4NFY and Bob Davis.

Also AMSAT-NA President, Keith Baker, KB1SF was in the lab with us too to run administrative matters and keep up the good spirits and work.

There were four members of the RUDAK team ( RUDAK is a digital transponder experiment that uses DSP and DDS for modulating and demodulating virtually ' any arbitrary signal desired ), John, Bdale Garbee, N3EUA, Lyle Johnson, WA7GXD and Harold Price, NK6K

More about RUDAK here. A lot of work and preparations go into this kind of payload testing as there are so many transmitters, receivers and other sources of IF to couple through for each test. All cables and couplers need to be calibrated for each frequency in question. Frequencies on the Phase IIID spacecraft range from the 100 kHz region all the way up to 24 GHz, but with teamwork the job can be done very efficiently. The measurement team consisted of Professor Matjaz Vidmar, S53MV, Professor Mirek Kazal, OK2AQK, OT Werner Haas DK5KQ, OM Freddie de Guchteneire, ON6UG and myself, OH2AUE.

Horst Wagner, DB2ZB and Wilfried Gladisch were on site and their help was once again invaluable to the project.

All equipment was found to be working perfectly, except for the Ka band transmitter, which had failed during The Thermal Vacuum tests last Autumn. The Ka band transmitter is undergoing emergency work to get it up and running before the vibration/acceleration test scheduled soon.

The RUDAK modules, IHU & YAHU, Scope, Monitor and the IF matrix + both LEILA units also were tested and found to be in perfect order. Measurement results were duly documented for future use.

The spacecraft was controlled by OM Peter Guelzow, DB2OS, whom controlled and commanded the equipment on board via either the RF link ( the real thing ) or via the umbilical system that is a hardwired control line setup.

Here is a list of some photos I took during this latest session:

- a capacitor I made to measure dielectric constant of our conformal coating (36k)

- the yakuzi was the meeting place every night after a hard days labour (72k)

- here is one of the space craft solar panels still protected with Kapton film (81k)

- professor Meinzer strikes again: he built this homebrew current probe onto one of his clothspegs for current analysis (64k)

- a close up image of the Clothspeg Special. The probe gives 20 mV/A out (63k)

- another happy professor, Mirek Kasal, checking out his handiwork (65k)

- an image of the RF test bench with the spacecraft in the clean room (90k)

- this is what the temporary RF bulkhead looks like on the spacecraft (72k)

- there are about 5000 alligators living in freedom around KSC alone !!! (42k)

- Werner does some fine tuning on his U-band TX ( Yes - that IS a hammer... ) (69k)

- a closeup image of the X-band SMA/circular waveguide adapter used for generating a RHCP transmission (61k)

- here are Lyle, Harold and the small vacuum test chamber with temperature control over -40 ... + 50 degrees C (80k)

- Stan is on the roof here, installing the temporary GPS antenna for testing the spacecraft receivers (41k)

- Freddie and Chuck put together an MMIC booster for the meagre GPS signals fed down from the roof outside (78k)

- Mirek and Peter take a break at the command station next to the RF test quarters (80k)

- Chuck Green is working on one of the RUDAK modules again... (75k)

- this is how an Anglo-Finn survives in tropical Florida: the air conditioning at full blast ! (66k)

- the crystal of the V-band receiver was changed and checked by Freddie, Karl and Werner (75k)

- professor Vidmar sets about improving the V-band transmitter efficiency into unheard of class (74k)

- this trip was sponsored by AMSAT-DL

Updated 19.05.2008/Michael Fletcher