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Satellite Tracking Partner School Program

Program Overview 

The Quest Institute for Quality Education developed the Satellite Tracking Partner Program in partnership with Valley Christian School’s AMSE Institute. It is designed to help schools start a very unique telecommunications STEM program in their learning environment. This program lasts for one school year, can be re-run yearly and can be structured as an after-school program or a classroom program. Either approach can be used.

The program begins with a two-day comprehensive summer training workshop for your teachers at the Quest Institute’s headquarters advanced STEM facilities of Valley Christian Schools’ Skyway Campus in San Jose.

Typically, the program teacher is a licensed ham radio operator from your school or community. The program teacher will be trained in how to teach your students to earn their FCC Technician Class Radio License, which includes learning exercises in the areas of basic electronics and circuits, radio wave propagation, antennas, transmitters, receivers, radio communications protocol, and safety. Additionally, students and teachers learn how to track satellites and about the science of small satellites called CubeSats.

Students and teachers in the program each receive their own 2M, 70CM, and 23CM hand-held transceiver so they can practice radio communications with each other, ham operators, as well as via earth-based repeaters and satellites acting as radio repeaters in the sky. In addition, each student and teacher receives a portable satellite tracking antenna allowing them to track satellites anywhere, having a clear view from the ground to the satellite they are tracking.

Video of one of our students on the air with their new license:

Teachers at the workshop will learn:

  • How to teach students the necessary skills to pass the FCC Technician Class License Exam with the aid of an online curriculum
  • How to teach students the skills necessary to understand how
    • CubeSats work
    • Types of CubeSats
    • CubeSat orbit the earth
    • Various tracking programs work
    • Different types of Satellite Tracking Antennas work
    • Calculate Radio Link Budgets
  • How modern-day VHF/UHF hand-held transceivers can receive and transmit signals to and from satellites
  • How to set-up a Satellite Tracking Station Transceiver and a VHF/UHF Antenna System at the school
  • How to set-up an HF Transceiver and a HF Antenna System at the school

Students will learn:

  • About basic electronics and circuits, radio wave propagation, antennas, transmitters, receivers, radio communications protocol, operating protocol, and safety.
  • How to pass the FCC Technician Class Radio License
  • Technologies in the Satellite Field, including how
    • CubeSats work
    • Types of CubeSats
    • CubeSat orbit the earth
    • Various tracking programs work
    • Different types of Satellite Tracking Antennas work
    • Radio Link Budgets are important
  • How modern-day VHF/UHF hand-held transceivers can receive and transmit signals to and from satellites
  • How to set-up a Satellite Tracking Station Transceiver and a VHF/UHF Antenna System at the school
  • How to set-up an HF Transceiver and a HF Antenna System at the school

Benefits to your school:

  • New, advanced STEM opportunities for students
  • New, advanced STEM opportunities for staff
  • Increased enrollment
  • Increased cross-department participation in science projects
  • Marketing boost
  • Philanthropic boost
  • Increased networking with local industry leaders

Facilities, Equipment, & Software Needed:

  • Facilities: Basic science or technology lab with flat work areas and good lighting. Access to roof area where the satellite tracking antenna and the HF antenna can be located
  • Equipment and Supplies:
    • One Kenwood Model TS-2000 HF-VHF-UHF Transceiver (supplied with the program)
    • At least six Alinco Model DJ-V7 VHF/UHF Handheld Transceivers (one for each teacher and student)
    • At least six Elk Model Log-Periodic 2M/70CM portable satellite tracking antennas (one for each teacher and student)
    • One 2M and 70CM M2 Model Loop Antennas for the school (supplied with the program)
    • One G5RV HF antenna for the school (supplied with the program)
    • At least a 30ft mast or pole to affix the VHF/UHF and HF antenna (supplied with the program)
    • Desktop or laptop computer and optionally, a TV 50” or larger, flat screen TV monitor (supplied by the school)
  • Software: Orbitron™, for PC’s or MacDoppler™, for Apple Computers (supplied by the school)

Typical satellites that can be tracked

  • International Space Station
  • Cal Poly Satellites
  • FunCube AO-73
  • Saudi Oscar Satellite SO-50
  • NOAA Satellites
  • Quest-1
  • Many more...

Size of Typical CubeSats 

  • Approximate size: 4”x4”x4”

Types of data that can been downloaded from CubeSats:

  • Solar Panel Voltages
  • Storage Battery Voltages
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Images
  • Slow Scan TV

More info…

  • Email wvavken@vcs.net for more information such as cost, program &  teacher application documents, etc.
  • Elementary School 1450 Leigh Avenue
  • San Jose, CA 95125 408.559.4400
  • Junior High 100 Skyway Drive, Ste. 130
  • San Jose, CA 95111 408.513.2460
  • High School 100 Skyway Drive, Ste. 110
  • San Jose, CA 95111 408.513.2400
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