STAC station at Strathclyde University is a student-driven experiment into low power, low cost Satellite communications for academic research purposes.
The station is also closely linked with WoSARS, who have been very supportive in the inital stages of the set up.
Currently the only person licensed to operate from the station is Dave, MM3ZRZ, but this is due to change in the near future!
For those curious to see what's happening inside the Control Room, here is a live video feed, or if you study at the university, pop up to James Weir 630b and have a look for yourself. Safest to drop us a twitter or email before you do to check that someone's in!
The station is centred around an ICOM IC-910, the classic satellite tracking radio, with a satellite mode built in and dual band capability.
There is a Yaesu FT817 as a back up radio.
Data communications at the Station are controlled by a Kantronics KAM for 1200baud, and a TNC31S is currently being implemented for 9600baud communication.
Both these TNCs are used for AFSK communications with satellites, and have been thoroughly tested with local packet communications and regular communications with the ISS.
Controlling our antennas' direction is a pair of M2 RC2800PX - one for AZ and a second for EL.
On top of the station, located on the University roof, we have two sets of stacked Yagi antennas for extra sensitivity.
For 144MHz, we have two M2 2MCP14, and for 430MHZ we have two M2 436CP30.
For those who are interested, here is a picture (3MB) of the antennae on install day, supervised by one of the undergraduates who helped with the construction.
These are driven by a set of SSB Preamps, with DCW2004B sequence controllers in the Control Room.
All this is powered by a Diamond GZV6000 power supply, and a computer to controll all our operations from!
Tracking is currently accomplished using Nova for Windows, one of the few programs properly compatable with the rotator controllers.
Plans are to move towards using GPredict as the main tracker, due to improved layout, shorter learning curve and the fact it is open. Also in the works is a new rotator controller to interface with this, and hopefully radio control also.
APRS, the Automatic Packet Reporting System is used for communication with other Radio Amateurs via the ISS, and also reports our location.
The software used to accomplish this is AGWTracker in conjunction with AGWPacketEngine to interface with the TNC.
This gives us the display of stations and their location, as well as incoming messages and lets us put out the status and link to the blog!