Unattended beaconing via ISS a scourge on ham radio

It is unfortunate that the ISS has been transmitting back on 2m/VHF packet for less than 48 hours and already many unattended stations are transmitting their beacon every 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. It is a selfish act of "I want to see that I was repeated" that takes place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are not at the keyboard and looking to make a QSO (conversation) then there is no reasonable purpose to transmit a position via RF. In fact, your station sending unattended packets is probably clogging up the single user channel and interfering with other people who are trying to engage in a contact with another human being.

It is very easy to run an IGATE/SGATE that is RX-only and does not beacon on the 145.825 MHz channel. Most software allows you to configure the beacon interval. Some software such as UISS SatGate allow you to Beacon only via the Internet.

I've discovered some stations simply have their station set to beacon all day, every day on 145.825 via ARISS. This is sad.

w5pfg – Sat, 2017 – 04 – 15 15:29

My point of view...

Because Packet Radio on ISS switched to UHF for too long, many users overload the waves like hungry people starved of food for a long time throwing themselves on supermarket. I think this situation will not continue in the future because they will end up being satiated.

I'm using Packet radio for educational reasons because contacting the crew with voice is reserved to an elite and is to expensive : We have to Schedule the contact some years before, antennas needs to be moved by site and azimuth rotator(still unaffordable) , many cables and so on...

I usually send my APRS position until it is repeated by ISS. At this moment I know that the Station hear me and I connect to the BBS with my students to leave a symbolic message to the crew that I know they will probably not read. But we succeed the challenge and hope they will read the 2 lines message from students which realize their dreams and prove themselves that we we want, we can. Most of my students comes from hard social context and this challenge help them to continue their efforts to build a best future and believe in school to get a social rise.

Actually I'm trying to improve transmission with QFH antenna and I send many APRS data for the tests but not every second. But I'm happy that Packet switch back to VHF because despite Doppler correction and many antennas (omni-directional, Egg-Beater, QFH, I only succeed in one or two APRS and it was very very hard to be repeated. So I know that most of you are bored with this amount of beacons but I prefer this situation than reading on the forum : "Active OK but not many users heard".

The best deal would be to have both VHF and UHF so everybody would be happy. Anyway, Before Thomas Pesquet, the French astronaut comes back to Earth, please don't ask to switch again on UHF and give my educational project a little chance to succeed like i did last June. I've been working since 2 years with UZ7HO for Doppler correction with my old and best transceiver Yaesu FT-847 on Linux system so my project works.

Have a look at my videos available on YouTube and on my website at http://f4bpp.raidghost.com and read the Press paper about my project. Last June the French Astronaut wasn't on ISS and now that he is, this would be the consecration of my work. To reach my goal, I need that the Packet frequency stay on VHF. So don't ask to come back to the last frequency if you want to support my project. The only thing we should ask from everyone is the respect of the good sense. Don't mislead the target.

Thanks for reading.

David (F4BPP).

Submitted by F4BPP on Fri, 2017-04-21 05:09.

Re: My point of view...

Hi David!

I tried posting a reply to your post on Friday, but it disappeared from the site. I'll try again now...

You said, "Because Packet Radio on ISS switched to UHF for too long". Too long? Since using the TM-D710G transceiver in the Russian service module wasn't apparently an option to keep ISS packet on 145.825 MHz, the options seemed simple enough: (1) Put the UHF radio into service for packet, for however long it takes to get a replacement radio up to the ISS, or (2) go without packet from the ISS. I am glad ARISS was able to have packet operational for a few months on UHF. It was a different challenge, and almost none of the unattended stations that clog up 145.825 MHz made it to 437.550 MHz. Having the UHF frequency available allowed me to experiment with different antennas, and transmitter power, on that band with a signal that was much stronger than almost any other amateur satellite currently in orbit.

Although some operators in North America, and apparently many more across Europe, didn't try working ISS packet on 437.550 MHz - it was workable. It took changes to the stations - at least a group of memories to deal with Doppler for those using HTs and FM mobile radios, and maybe a different antenna. If operators decided to not try UHF packet - who's fault is that? There were a few who figured out how to use the UHF frequency. Obviously not nearly the number of those who showed up on 145.825 MHz in the past week, but there were operators around.

Unless the replacement VHF radio suffers a failure like the original VHF radio, I don't expect that ISS packet will switch back to 437.550 MHz. That's a shame, in a way, given that so many think that iSS packet is only for squawking a beacon - or (too) many beacons - during ISS passes. Some stations do that much more often than most of the others, which is evident from looking on ariss.net since packet moved back to 145.825 MHz just over a week ago.

I understand how most operators have been happy to see ISS packet switch back to 145.825 MHz. On this forum and in other places, I have seen some who express opinions similar to me about how 145.825 MHz gets clogged with these beacons. I hope you're successful with your project, David. Keep in mind that trying to use the packet BBS on the ISS is generally considered poor form, a poor use of the ISS packet system. Especially considering how busy passes over Europe have been in the past few days.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

Submitted by WD9EWK on Sat, 2017-04-22 17:59.

Re: Unattended beaconing via ISS a scourge on ham radio


Thanks for posting this comment here. I agree 100%. Nobody would think of setting up an unattended station to periodically transmit a call sign and location to an FM or SSB/CW satellite, but it is acceptable for the digipeaters in orbit? That was an advantage for having the ISS packet on 437.550 MHz - almost none of the unattended stations operated on that frequency, leaving it clear for stations trying to work each other.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

Submitted by WD9EWK on Sat, 2017-04-15 20:45.

Re: Unattended beaconing via ISS a scourge on ham radio

On the other end, Clayton... if HAM radio contacts (via ISS) would be easy and no problem at all, then thís would become disheartening and boring in the end. So I have concluded for myself: HAM radio amateurs (must) love QRM/QRN! HI

;) Marc, PD4U

Submitted by pd4u on Thu, 2017-04-20 12:38.

Unattended beacons


Being new to working the ISS and making my share of mistakes along the way I have found that coming from UHF, which was my first exposure to working the ISS, to trying to work through the ISS on VHF has been most disheartening. I had read many comments about how VHF was loaded with unattended beacons and that it made it hard for anyone who is LIVE to even make a contact with another LIVE person. Listening to beacon stations that continually transmit every 2 seconds is unbelievable and even making a simple live QSO is a miracle.

I wish for UHF now ... but UHF would eventually end up being the same as VHF if it stayed on UHF. It is just so annoying listening to 5 beacon stations on a pass and each of them beaconing every 2 and 3 seconds .... "what an ever lovin mess".

Jerry W8LR

Submitted by W8LR on Wed, 2017-04-19 18:44.

Re: Unattended beacons

Hi Jerry!

I disagree with your comment about how the situation with the beacons would be the same on UHF as on VHF. Over five months of the ISS digipeater on UHF more than proved this would not be the case. The main issue for the beacons is that someone - or something - would have to adjust the UHF frequency to deal with Doppler. In some cases, the antenna used for VHF would not work, or not work as well, for UHF. It's really easy to set up a station on a single channel, without needing a computer or other mechanism to adjust the transmit and receive frequencies - even if those frequencies are stored in memory channels.

If you looked at ariss.net over the time UHF was active, there wasn't as much activity over the continental USA, and it was like most of continental Europe went on a five-month holiday from ISS packet. Compare that with the dramatic increase in activity last Friday and Saturday (14-15 April), after the VHF radio was turned on. Hopefully some of those stations didn't keep beaconing, while the ISS was operating on UHF.

Yesterday (Tuesday, 18 April), there was a station in the eastern USA that was copied through the ISS digipeater at a rate that was - at times - a packet every 2 to 3 seconds. This was excessive, and especially so if there was an operator at that station. W5PFG wrote two messages on the AMSAT-BB list about this station yesterday, including packet captures from two passes over the continental USA:



According to posts in other forums, this station has been contacted in the past about excessive beaconing, and the responses were generally dismissive. Before the school QSO today, I didn't see that call sign on any North American passes this morning or early afternoon.

On one ISS pass last night, I copied K1WY in grid FN31, Connecticut. This station was 3564km away from me, and this would have been a nice one to break current distance records for QSOs made through the ISS digipeater. With the congestion on the 145.825 MHz frequency over the past few days, being able to make a QSO like that is only a dream...

Hope to work you again sometime. I see NO-84's digipeater is back on, and maybe we can make it work on an ISS pass using 145.825 MHz.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

Submitted by WD9EWK on Wed, 2017-04-19 19:24.


Hi Patrick,

Well the links speak for themselves and you do have a point about the UHF time frame and how the Doppler effect comes into play. As for NO-84 - I am getting ready to try it so you may hear me on there if I am lucky (ha ha ha).

Jerry W8LR

Submitted by W8LR on Thu, 2017-04-20 20:05.

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