Holiday Party and DLT: Amateur Radio Satellite

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 at 6:30 PM

TI Auditorium


6:30 - 7:00 PM Networking & Refreshments
7:00 - 8:00 PM Presentation
8:00 - 8:15 PM Q&A
8:15 PM Speaker Appreciation & Adjournment

This event is FREE, open to every one. Pizza, snacks, fruits and dessert available at NO cost. Please RSVP for FREE food!

Chair: Sameer Herlekar / MP Divakar
Organizer: IEEE ComSoc SCV/SF/OEB chapters

Session Abstract:
The open-source movement in software and hardware has dramatically changed our engineering culture and economy for the better. With open-source on the ascendancy, and all the obvious advantages, amateur radio seems to be the perfect place for open-source software to triumph. Amateur radio experimenters have access to and an increasingly large amount of involvement within one of the most interesting and powerful open source projects in the radio world: GNU Radio. The amateur radio service includes satellites.

The history of amateur satellite service in the United States dates back to 1961 when the satellite Oscar 1 hitch-hiked a ride to space along with a government spy satellite. Quietly, hams pursued a half-century long, astonishingly successful private space program that is still little-known outside of ham radio today, but has launched over 80 satellites, almost all of them as hitch-hikers along with other payloads that were the main purpose of the launch.

The challenge that we face as amateur satellite developers is that Communications satellites were regulated as munitions under ITAR for many years. ITAR is the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Both amateur and commercial satellite development in the United States were very negatively impacted by ITAR. Open Source development, which we pursue, is all about openness and sharing.

This talk will cover the impact of regulatory decisions on the collaborative history of AMSAT, the current efforts to get back on track within AMSAT, how one particular AMSAT project was restructured to avoid ITAR, and how both AMSAT-DL and AMSAT-NA are working together to implement an amateur-radio centric open source version of DVB-S2 for use in amateur satellite payloads and satellite simulators. Technical details of the DVB-S2 and S2X protocol will be discussed. This project is called Phase 4 Ground and is ongoing.

Speaker: Jeffrey Pawlan

Bio: Jeffrey Pawlan (M 1989, SM 1996, Life SM 2017) WA6KBL has been a consultant as owner of Pawlan Communications for 25 years. Prior to that, he had worked for many companies in California in very diverse areas of analog, RF, and microwave design and has been an engineer for 40 years. Some of his work was for NASA projects including the very successful design of the SARSAT/COSPAS search and rescue satellite ground stations. He also taught engineering part-time. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, he attended UCLA and several other universities. He enjoyed learning many different fields and has 13 years of higher education including a Doctorate degree.

Title: Historical Perspectives of Project OSCAR in the Bay area

Abstract: There are few people remaining who remember that the early non-commercial satellites were built by amateur radio "ham" people at Lockheed in Sunnyvale. Jeffrey Pawlan will present some documents and early photos and drawings showing this work. This was called Project OSCAR. When it ended, it transitioned into the formation of the 50MHz and Up Group of Northern California. Some of the original builders of amateur radio satellites who are no longer with us will be honored. The AMSAT program grew separately when Project OSCAR finished because the satellites became very costly and needed international support. This history will be presented by Michelle.

Speaker: Michelle Thompson

Bio: Michelle Thompson W5NYV enjoys thinking and doing. Not necessary in that order. MSEE Information Theory from USC. Long-time DEFCON, Burning Man, and amateur radio participant. Vice Chair San Diego IEEE Information Theory Society Chapter. Lead for AMSAT Phase 4 Ground. Director of Organ Donor, an artificially intelligent pipe organ project. Lives in San Diego, CA and can be found as @abraxas3d on social media and at

Title: Amateur Radio Satellites