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13 September 2015


  ZS5FR's  Satellite Report on Amateur  RadioTODAY
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Stellenbosch University Student   to work  on the reduction of mass of the Kletskous space frame

Deon Coetzee, ZS1DE a keen DIY enthusiast, set out to develop the space frame and built several prototypes. The last one which showed the most promise, it features a fold-out mechanism for the solar panels and a release mechanism for the antennas, had one problem – it weighed too much. With a mass of nearly 500 grams it takes up 35% of the allowable mass of 1,33 kg.

He took the problem to Dr. G A Oosthuizen in the industrial engineering department at Stellenbosch University just in time for the allocation of final year projects for their students. Francois Oberholzer was allocated the project and set out examining Coetzee’s design – investigating how the space frame could be made lighter but would still have the required mechanical strength to withstand the harsh launch conditions on its journey in space. Read more

KLETSKOUS UPDATE  13 September 2015

SA AMSAT reports that the KLETSKOUS team made some major progress during the past few weeks.  Currently the team is researches a new type of battery. It was planned to use lithium Ion but one of the negatives about lithium Ion is that it may suffer thermal runaway which increases the risk of fire. Companies, like NEC, have developed a lithium-iron battery using lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) as the cathode material. Generally, anodes of most batteries are made of carbon.  As safety and reliability is the first concern for any battery being used a satellite it should not get overheated or catch fire in case of overcharging. The Lithium-iron battery has superior chemical and thermal stability.

The team is in the process of acquiring lithium iron batteries to run tests. If the decision is to switch to lithium iron, some modifications  will have to be made to the charging circuit in the power unit but Fritz Sutherland ZS6FSJ that it is not a major problem and will not delay the construction of the next prototype of the power unit.

Frik Wolff ZS6FZ with solar cells

Frik Wolff ZS6FZ has finalised the layout of the solar panels and Hannes Coetzee ZS6BZP will now proceed to mount the solar cells on a test board which has to be carried out in a vacuum chamber.

Work has also commenced on the magnetic stabilisation of Kletskous which will be achieved by the use of orthogonal rod magnets. ZS6FZ is current working on this and reported good progress with a prototype ready for testing.

Work on the On Board Controller (OBC) is also progressing well. The first two prototypes have been completed.  Brain McKenzie ZS6BNM  is now working closely with team members to establish their telemetry point requirements and interfaces.

Nico van Rensburg  ZS6QL has  been working on the specifications and  configuration management  and has put a first draft on the table.

The team meets via Skype on a fortnightly basis to discuss progress and plan the next steps.

Funding remains a major challenge. Radio Amateurs are urged to support the local CubeSat programme by making donations to the SA AMSAT CubeSat building fund. Donors are acknowledge on the SA AMSAT web



The SA AMSAT Space Symposium held on 19 May in Pretoria featured interesting papers and presentations. 

CPUT planning a successor to Africa’s first nanosatellite 

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) is planning a successor to its first CubeSat and has set it vision on ship-tracking. In a paper presented at the recent SAAMSAT space Symposium in Pretoria Daniel de Villiers, Development Engineer at French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI)  at CUPT, said that  ZACube-2 will be the second satellite in F’SATI’s ZACube-I nanosatellite mission series. These missions are developed at the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) and the Africa Space Innovation Centre (ASIC) at CPUT with funding principally from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). Development of some subsystems has been ongoing for a number of years and has yielded a suite of commercial CubeSat parts that is ready for use in the satellite.

Download the paper here

Talking to an Astronaut was a day to remember

Hans van de Groenendaal, ZS6AKV, President of SA AMSAT, Ebernitha ESterhuizen talking to Captain Samantha Cristoforetti   on the ISS with Oratile Selatlhedi intensely listening  as he was the next person to speak with the ISS.

It was a day they will long remember!  Learners from the Sol Plaatje primary school in Mmbatho linked up with the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti  on the International Space Station via a link established  by an radio amateur ground station on Saturday 2 May 2015.   Listen to the audio here

Commander Samantha Cristoforetti is spending almost six months on the International Space Station. She arrived on November 2014 as part of Expeditions 42 and 43 in a mission provided by Italy’s ASI space agency. Her main tasks are to run scientific experiments that cannot be performed on Earth and to maintain the microgravity laboratory that will be her home in space. She was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on 23 November with Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and NASA astronaut Terry Virts.

The Italian Embassy approached Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) to arrange an opportunity for a South African school to participate in the ARISS School Contacts activity.

The link to the ISS was established via a tele-bridge in the USA which connected the school in rural South Africa with an amateur radio ground station located in Casale Monferrato, in the north of Italy, operated by Claudio Arrotti IK1SLD. 

Tensions were running high when it was established that the telephone line extended to the hall could not receive incoming calls. “We frantically arranged with the tele-bridge in the USA that we would be calling them”, Hans van de Groenendaal, President of SA AMSAT (Southern Africa Amateur Radio Satellite Association) said. SA AMSAT was approached by the Italian Embassy to take care of the technical aspects of the connection and to facilitate the learners during the talk with the ISS. 

Prior to the ISS contact  Koos Fick ZR6KF, who is a learner at Helpmekaar High school and the South African Radio League’s youth activity coordinator,  made a brief presentation about   amateur radio and how it is helping him in his school career and how this scientific hobby is providing communication during emergencies, community and sporting events.  “He said that the link up with the ISS would not have been possible without amateur radio.” 

As the last few seconds ticked away the learners were poised to ask their questions and with the audience were visibly on tender hooks , but when the first words “Hi I am Samatha Cristoforetti were headed across the speakers there was a spontaneous applause followed by an intense 10 minutes of silence  as Sol Plaatje learners and learners at the Italian school alternately asked the questions. It was an event to remember for a life time.




SA AMSAT has decided to accelerate their CubeSat project, named KLETSkous and expect to have the first prototype version of the transponder and control system on the table for testing by end February."One of the reasons to speed up development is the quest to have the transponder included as an experimental payload on the ARMC project." Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP said. Jacques Roux, ZR1ADC   is working on the transponder while Brian McKenzie, ZS1BMN is responsible for the control systems.

More about KLETSkous

SA AMSAT is in need of funding and appeals to radio amateurs to make a financial contribution.


After launch DynaCube, a one-unit CubeSat being constructed by Interns at the Denel Dynamics Engineering Academy will be exploring the South Atlantic Anomaly during orbits over the area.

The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), off the coast of Brazil, is an area where the Earth's inner Van Allen radiation belt comes closest to the Earth's surface dipping down to an altitude of 200km This leads to an increased flux of energetic particles in this region and exposes orbiting satellites to higher than usual levels of radiation. The effect is caused by the non-concentricity of the Earth and its magnetic dipole. The South Atlantic Anomaly is of great significance to satellites and other spacecraft that orbit the Earth at several hundred kilometres altitude; these orbits take satellites through the anomaly periodically, exposing them to several minutes of strong radiation, caused by the trapped protons in the inner Van Allen belt.

The team, all engineers who graduated from various universities in South Africa, spent last year working on the project to gain practical experience before they are assigned to various departments in the company. The Interns were tasked with designing, manufacturing and commissioning a 1 U Cube Satellite and its associated ground support systems. Three teams were formed, with each team having specific objectives. Team Ground Zero was responsible for the Ground Control Station as well as communications equipment on-board the satellite. Team Virtuoso was responsible for the On-board Computer (OBC), the power system, the satellite structure and telemetry data. The main tasks of Team Frodo were to specify the satellite payload, the required sensors, the attitude control and the launch of the satellite.

Get the full story and audio file here




SA AMSAT needs your financial support

Please make your contribution. You may pay directly into our account electronically. Please send the payment details with your name, callsign, email and  postal address to .

You will receive an acknowledgment certificate and will be listed on the list of donors. The account details are:

SA AMSAT, ABSA Menlyn   Account no 560 153 171



RS, the component supplier in South Africa has become a component sponsor for the KLETSkous project.

RS Components is the market leader in the high service level distribution of electrical, electronic, mechanical & industrial products as well as tools.  Offering over 400 000 products across 2000 leading brands at, RS serves every sector of industry in the procurement of their products relating to maintenance, repair, operations, low volume production, research and development.

TRAX SPONSOR PCBs for KLETSkous More about  TRAX

Avnet Kopp: a broad line supplier of semiconductors,  passives, magnetics, enclosures, optoelectronic, GPS / GSM, interconnect, electromechanical, embedded products and components

Deon Coetzee ZR1DE
Tobile Koni ZS6TKO
Jan van Rooyen ZR5JR
Pravin Ashok
Donald Jacobs ZS2BW
Ray Webber ZS6RSW
Tarries Brink  ZS6MNO
Kempton Park  Amateur Radio Technical Society ZS6KTS
Ray WebberZS6RSW





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