Planetary Society Lightsail has gone quiet, they are now relying on a classic IT bug excuse!

27 May 2015

The planetary society launched a prototype lightsail last week, and it appears that a known defect may have got to them! The manufacturer advised that they may have a buffer problem about 2 days before they may have had a buffer problem! Although they continue to try and reset, they are now hoping for that classic IT excuse for crashed PC’s,  Servers, Databases, Networks etc… “Your [xxxxxx] crashed because it was impacted by a stray space particle”. Turns out this really happens, and it happens so frequently to unshielded devices like cubesats that they expect it to occur within 3 weeks!

You can still try and listen out for them on: 437.435 MHz, AX.25, FSK, 9600, call sign KK6HIT.


Lots more info available at Lightsail Mission Control

And here is some possible viewing times over Sydney for the next week. Unfortunately the chances of seeing it at the moment are tiny! If the sail does unfold it is expected to be very bright.

Start Max altitude End
Date, Local time Az Local time Az El Local time Az
27-May 18:00 NW
18:05 NE
70° 18:10 SE
28-May 17:47 NW
17:52 SSW
88° 17:57 SE
29-May 17:34 NW
17:39 SW
67° 17:44 SE
30-May 17:21 NW
17:26 SW
51° 17:31 SE
31-May 17:08 NW
17:13 SW
40° 17:18 SE
1-Jun 16:55 WNW
17:00 SW
32° 17:05 SE
2-Jun 16:42 WNW
16:47 SW
26° 16:52 SE

Special Project Days

This year we will consider holding special project days where we can get together and demonstrate and use amateur radio.

Possibly not at Rose Bay but certainly nearby. Would amateurs like to suggest topics for these “special” project days please?

73 John VK2LJ

received my sm1000 smart mic today

2015-05-17 17.29.20

The sm1000 is an interesting bit of technology implemented as a microphone to bring digital voice to almost any ham receiver.  The microphone implements the codec2 voice codec designed by David Rowe in hardware, replacing the need for a pc running freedv.

Im looking forward to making some cables for my ic-7100 and ft-857d and trying it out.

It was nice to see David was recently awarded at the WIA conference for his contributions to amateur radio, specifically with Codec2, FreeDV and now the SM1000.


What’s in an instance

I’m happy with the performance of the web site on the new AWS Instance.   The initial instance was the ‘t1.micro’ which is the old option from Amazon using para-virtualisation (PVM), unfortunately performance on this instance was terrible as access was capped at 10% of the CPU and the cycles ‘stolen’ exceeded 90%.

Instead of sticking with the poor performing PVM I’ve opted to moved to a HVM instance which allows for bursts in processing capability above the subscription level, providing you have sufficient cpu credits available that is..   A CPU Credit is simply an accounting of when your not using the full amount of CPU your subscribed to, so you can use it to burst later.

I’ve also enabled caching via Amazon CloudFront, which will cost a little extra but delivers all the large content (images, style sheets, etc) via the AWS Cache and Proxy servers reducing load time for the user and reducing performance overheads on the virtual server.

The change in performance with both of these changes is significant with page rendering times down under 5 seconds for all content.   I’m hopeful that this will continue to be the case.

The site has been fully migrated to the new instance, and the mailing list migration will likely occur next week.

If you experience any issues, please let me know.

Jason (vk2vjb).


Web site migrated to new instance

Hi all,


The web site has been migrated to a new AWS instance to provide better performance as the original instance type simply wasn’t adequately resourced.   The new instance is already proving more capable and performant.

If there are any issues please email me at jason AT and I’ll get onto it ASAP.



Club Merchandise

A quick post to remind people that there is a variety of club merchandise available on Cafe Press. I’ll add a merchandise page to the web site just as soon as I find a cafe press plugin that actually works, in the meantime wander over, have a look, and buy something knowing a little of that purchase comes back to the club.



Site Speedup Enabled

The WARS home page should be significantly faster now as I’ve just switched enabled Amazon Cloudfront for all media files, this provides a very fast front end cache (aka CDN – Content Distribution Network) taking the load off the (small) server we have hosting the web site.

Hopefully this will also help with the occasional ‘stalls’ we are getting due to the current t1.micro instance, which will continue until I migrate the pages to a reserved instance.

If anybody experiences any issues with this, please let me know.