Fuzzy Logic Science Show

Jason and Robert Brand on Canberra Radio

In April 2013, Jason and Robert Brand joined with Rod Taylor, the host of Canberra’s science show, Fuzzy Logic, for an hour of chat about space and what we are doing here in Australia. Jason got to talk about his involvement with high altitude balloon flights. He even got to back announce one the musical interludes. He had just turned 11 a few days earlier.

I discussed everything from my early days supporting space missions like Apollo 11 and right through to my work with Team Stellar.

You can listen to the show by clicking here

You can also use our flash player below:


“Canberra 2013-4-14 Interview about Space on the Fuzzy Logic Science program”

From Radio Interview Fuzzy Logic 2XX. Posted by Robert Brand on 4/15/2013 (6 items)

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Apollo 11 (Archives)

Robert Brand at Sydney ABC StudiosMy Apollo 11 History

*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Many of you may have realised that I have had some historic connection to space. It certainly was not anything to do with the space sector, just the terrestrial (ground) sector. It never resulted in getting into the space sector, although back in 1999 I did come close to working for a US company for Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad – United Space Networks. Unfortunately Pete Conrad lost his life that year in a tragic motorbike accident. I did not think of working in the space sector again. Until now.

I worked in support of many Apollo missions and Many Shuttle missions and ESA’s Giotto Mission to Halleys comet where I was sent to fix major problems with the terrestrial systems and eventually found ESA’s equipment to be at fault. They had been rattling the diplomatic chain to get the bad links fixed and it turned out to be their own problem! I was also at Parkes for NASA’s Voyager spacecraft and its encounters with Uranus and Neptune. It all sounds impressive and I even have an award for support of the STS-1 first shuttle launch. It was personally presented to me back in 1981. The fact is that it was always the regular circuits I was looking after and I was good at it. I was the guy that they sent to Parkes when things got “touchy” with the terrestrial sector.

So some 43 years ago at the age of 17, I was asked to do some interesting wiring.

You can listen to me here to the ABC science Show from recorded on 11-7-2009:

Click Here To Listen

or here to listen to Radio Australia’s Breakfast show from 26-6-2009:

Click Here To Listen

On a sad note, Neil Armstrong died this month making me want to again celebrate his achievements by publishing this story. There will be more like Neil, but he eptomises the spirit of a true space explorer.

This article was published by me (Robert Brand) as part of the Apollo 11 40th anniversary celebrations some years ago I worked at the time for Australia’s Overseas Telecommunications Commission – A government organisation that looked after Australia’s international telecommunications services before deregulation of the market place in 1992.

Apollo 11 40th anniversary Celebrations

This story was published 40 year after Apollo 11 took off and it was 57 hours into the relived flight:

Apollo 11 right now (minus 40 years) and 57+ hours into the mission

40 years ago ApolloSkip back 40 years to the minute with Apollo 11

Right now (minus 40 years) and 57+ hours into the mission – Neil and Buzz have just finished checking out the Lunar Module. They are about to enter the area where the moon has the greatest influence and mission control will switch to moon reference as the spacecraft begins to accelerate towards the moon.

I was just listening to the audio feed minus 40 years and heard them ask the Apollo 11 astronauts to “stir up the cryos”. It would have been a different story if they had gotten the tank that ended up on Apollo 13!

OTC PaddingtonThis takes me back to my personal involvement in the Apollo missions. I like many of my counterparts working at the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) – OTC – 40 years ago listen to the astronauts’ channel all day on my shifts. Not much else to do as it was “hands off” during the missions. Listening to the pops and crosstalk in the quiet periods I can tell that it was all carried on cable – narrow bandwidth compared to satellite channels (3.1kHz compared to 3.4kHz). During the quiet times I can also hear the noise and crosstalk. Occasionally a string of faint tones can be heard in the background. This was the CCITT No5 signalling that was predominant in international telephony at the time.Like the tones on modern telephones, but sent in a tight string by the switching equipment.

Send me your stories of what you were doing at the time and we will publish as many as we can. robert.brand@echoesofapollo.com

My involvement with Apollo 11 was mainly wiring up the Voice, data and video wiring for the mission at the Sydney terminal in Australia. Not a big job, but I was doing field training during my term breaks from college at the grand age of 17 years old. Fellow trainee Paul Davies and I were asked to wire some some NASA equipment and although I initially messed up the colour code, I got further work doing more wiring. I was working under Wayne Ozarko who was the only technician in the area that had TV experience. It must be remembered that international TV was pretty new and the Moree earth station had been built especially to suit the time-frame of Apollo missions. Moree was 6 hours drive north from Sydney and located in a radio free area in a shallow valley with farmland all around.

By the way, thanks to the CSIRO and the Honeysuckle Creek group for their photos and stories

At Paddington we had the NASA gear that controlled the switching for the mission. It was pretty much state of the art and there was no way that the communications work had seen modems capable of switching the massive bandwidth needed for the mission. Speeds that a standard dial-up modem exceeds today.

Without too many boring details, here are some pictures of the setup at our Paddington terminal in Sydney

Wayne Ozarko at Sydney Video Apollo 11 OTC Paddington

dick_holl_sydney_video_sm1

sydney_video_console-300x213

sydney_video_scanconv-300x2041

itoc_at_paddington_with_bob_goodman2

The last photo (above) was taken with the media present for the moon walk. The NASA video and switching gear is located inside the glass-off room. I watched the moon walk from back in my technical college with about 100 others on a small TV. I was a little bit more excited than the others knowing my small part.

For those that want more technical info please explore the CSIRO and Honeysuckle Creek sites:

http://www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au/news_events/apollo11/

http://www.honeysucklecreek.net/msfn_missions/index.html

Also remember that one of our sponsors is the OTVA (OTC and other international comms veterans). You can find more at:

http://www.otva.com

Now for some more technical details for the telecommunications geeks like me:

apollo 11 tv relay path

intelsat iii

Apollo 11 nasacom map

The images from Parkes were amazingly better and the world is searching for the lost data tapes. To give you some idea, here are a couple of Polaroid snaps from the TV screen at Parkes:

 parkes_apollo11_tv_commercial_iconparkes_apollo11_tv_sstv_polaroid_icon

Ignore the color differences – they were all black and white for Apollo 11. These comments directly from the CSIRO website:

Above are two images received by the Parkes Radio Telescope and taken at approximately the same time on 21 July 1969 (AEST). The image on the left is a Polaroid taken directly off the Parkes SSTV monitor, and the image on the right was the broadcast image taken at approximately the same time. The left Polaroid picture is an image of what was actually received by the Parkes Radio Telescope and the right image is after it was scan-converted to commercial TV standards and broadcast to the world.

Compare Armstrong’s reflection in Aldrin’s visor; the SSTV image clearly shows Armstrong whereas in the scan-converted image his reflection is barely recognisable. Compare also, the creases in the gold foil on the LM ladder leg. It is clear from these comparisons, that the pre scan-converted SSTV images were of a higher resolution and definition and contained much more detail than was actually broadcast to the world.

These images were provided courtesy of Bob Goodman, the OTC International Co-ordinator for all the transmissions between Australia and the USA. Bob was in charge of the International Telecommunications Operating Centre (ITOC) located at the OTC Paddington Terminal, Sydney in July 1969. The images were scanned by his son, Rob Goodman, in February and March 2004.

It should be noted that these pictures were taken before satellite transmission and media conversion for other standards such as the North American NTSC system. What other countries saw was far more degraded than what was seen locally in Australia. Most of the moon walk originated from transmissions received here in Australia – initially from the Honeysuckle Creek dish and then from the Parkes dish.

The images below are Honeysuckle Creek (left) and Parkes (right). Note that Parkes has been strengthened and modified for reception of higher frequencies and the dish has a near solid surface these days. Also the Honeysuckle Creek dish was relocated to NASA Tidbinbilla (nearby) and is possibly to be retired in August. We are awaiting the outcome of discussions about its future.

hsk_1971_tn  parkes_tn

North America and Europe saw initial coverage from the US Goldstone Dish below with Walter Cronkite in the photo. Echoes of Apollo was saddened to hear of his passing. Most of the world watched his coverage of the lunar landing.

C-59-5-2

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite (left), with Apollo station Bendix Manager Tom Turnbull in front of the Goldstone MSFN 85 foot antenna. 4th July 1969

This story was published 19th July 2009 on the Echoes of Apollo Website

————————————————————–

I guess from interesting beginnings, I always had the space bug, but it has only been the last 1-2 years that I have pushed hard into the space sector and made significant ground. If I can do this at the age of 60, then anyone can. My background is radio and electronics. Plenty of people have these skills and plenty have more. Some have other skills that would be fantastic for the space sector. Medicine, biology, geology to name a couple. It all depends on your focus and your desire to “make it so” if I can steal a few words from “Captain Picard”

Team Stellar in Dubai (Archives)

Robert in DubaiTeam Stellar’s First Meeting

I was sent to Dubai to meet with the Team Stellar core group in December 2012. Here are a few photos from that trip. Yes, we had fun at a GoKart track with Stellar’s good friend Martina.

We had plenty of meetings and prepared for visits to potential funding groups / sponsors.

Dubai was a mix of very smart technology and very poor planning. Not much of a sewerage system, but the tallest building in the world.

We also traveled to Abu Dhabi across the desert. We visited EIAST Mission Control in Dubai as it had a pass of one of its satellites. Very timely.


“Our first meeting of the key players in the team – some could not make it.”

From Team Stellar first Meeting Dubai. Posted by Robert Brand on 1/01/2013 (29 items)

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How to Use this Site

Robert brand 2013What is WotzUp all about?

The simplest answer is “hands on” space! The author, Robert Brand has been working on science and space projects for some time and is letting everyone ride along with the projects he is working on. Some are high altitude balloon missions like the UpLift series. Others are space missions like Team Stellar’s bid to get to the moon. Whatever the project, it will have a Project name.

My son Jason was 9 years old in 2011 when this site was formed and Jason is involved in many aspects of space. He take part in most balloon flights and recoveries. He is also Team Stellar’s Australian Student Representative. He obtained his Foundation HAM radio license at age 9 to help with balloon flights and recoveries.

How do you Navigate Wotzup.com?

This site uses the mission or project names in the category field. You can see all the posts for a particular mission or project by selecting it’s category – it is that simple.

We also use the term/category General for a variety of reasons such as housekeeping or articles of general interest or even articles not associated with a mission or project. Occasionally we will also have Featured articles. These are articles of some significance to any project. Simply I might want to draw your attention to a key event. These featured articles will appear on the front page when you first open the site.

The Category or “Project Menu” can be found in the top right column. A page menu can be found to the right of our logo images at the top of page. It contains special pages such as this one. Click on a Category and you isolate only the stories for the  the Project. Click on “Balloons” and you only see Balloon stories.

The Space Show (Archives)

David Livingston*** Retrieved from Archives ***

Robert Brand – Guest on The Space Show

Robert Brand was a guest of Dr David Livingston on the Nov 1st 2011 edition of The Space Show. The program disussed Do-It-Yourself Space and was well received by all that heard it. The WotzUp website and the various missions were discussed at length during the broadcast.

The program can be hear by Click Here to Listen 

The Space Show page for the show archive can be viewed by Clicking Here to View

The page details are as follows:

Guest: Robert Brand.

Topics: Australian space history, Save Our Space Systems, old style radio dish antennas, space education outreach in Australia. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Robert Brand as our guest to discuss space advocacy, space interests, education, and projects in Australia. I suggest you visit and have available the following websites while listening to this program: 1) http://wotzup.com. This site has the tabs and pages for many of the programs discussed by our guest. 2). http://echoesofapollo.com. 3) http://pluscomms.com. Click on the Space-Comms tab. In our first segment, Mr. Brand began by talking about the Global Space Network he was creating by utilizing outdated equipment such as 30 meter dishes that have been abandoned. He described his concept in detail, including costs and the likely customer base. Later in this segment, we took several calls from listeners such as the one by Roger that commented on the outstanding space education outreach projects undertaken by Mr. Brand so we moved along to the topic of kids and space education. Robert talked about 3D lunar photography from Apollo and some of his Middle School outreach projects. Later, Monroe called in to mention Team Prometheus and their satellite project as well as the N-Prize. You can learn more about Team Prometheus at www.teamprometheus.org. Kimberly emailed in requesting Robert share his vision for 21st century space awareness. Robert replied saying “making space everyday for everyday people.” Trent called from Australia to ask Robert what he thought were the greatest space needs for Australia. Robert talked about the need for disaster recovery information, data, facilities, etc. using real time space resources. In the second long segment, Robert directed us to his various websites listed at the start of this summary. We talked about Moon Bounce and Space-Quest, amateur radio , the UpLift project with balloon launches, and more. Robert went through the other programs on www.wotzup.com site including SugarShot, MissionTrax, Kidz-In-Space, and we talked about cubesat swarms and owning your own personal satellite. Later, he told us about his building a satellite tracker in his basement, he talked about holding workshops in his area to promote space education and personally owning a satellite, plus getting kids to take ownership of the technology, research, and data which inspires them with the projects, all of which is part of Do-It-Yourself-Space. Later, we talked about Australian space interests, the Australian space program, and space awareness in Australia. During the last few minutes of our two hour discussion, we talked space history, the Apollo program, the Parkes Radio Telescope, Honeysuckle Creek, the Challenger disaster, Robert’s leaving the industry and then his return to promote space education among kids. You can email Robert Brand at Robert.Brand@pluscomms.com

After you have listened, please post a comment on the following blog for The Space Show:

http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/robert-brand-tuesday-11-1-11/

UpLift Weather Balloon Series (Archives)

Balloon*** Recovered From Archives ***

Posted By On 22 Aug 2011.
My name is Robert Brand and I am involved in space missions and Balloon Flights to the upper atmosphere. I don’t just read the space news and I like doing things, so Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Space was a natural. Unfortunately high altitude weather balloons don’t get into space, but they do get a long way up. Many make it over 20 miles / 30 kms and the atmosphere is so thing that it is getting close to space. My son Jason (age 9) will also be a big part of tracking and recovering the craft

The UpLift series is a record of my personal weather balloon launches in Blog form. Here you will find everything that you ever wanted to know about high altitude balloon flights, but in more of a blog form – I simply do not have the time to make it a reference site. I will try and not miss anything important and I expect that for the Australian enthusiast, there will be enough detail to even know how to approach CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority) for a permit to fly. Some flights may occur outside of Australia, but if they are launches instigated by me, they will still carry the name.

The series will be numerically numbered so UpLift-1 is the first flight.

The flights will normally originate from a point in central New South Wales (NSW). They will use amateur radio tracking and where possible they will involve schools and other educational opportunities. They will carry as much scientific payload as possible and the data will be available on these pages. This will include full flight information, time, height, atmospheric pressure, etc as well as photos and videos.

We are Coming Back Online Soon

Robert brand 2013Welcome back.

My name is Robert Brand and I am involved in High Altitude Balloon (HAB) and space projects. My site went off the air due to a mistake with our ISP and I am restoring it. I expect it to be back in the next week. My apologies for the inconvenience.

I am Team Stellar’s Director for Spacecraft Communications Navigation and Data. I am also involved in many other space activities and future missions.
Interested in High Altitude Balloon Flights

We have had 16 balloon flights with 15 being commercial. All payloads have been successfully recovered. If you wish to book a commercial HAB flight for science, advertising or any other reason, please contact me here: homepc@rbrand.com

Our prices are reasonable and although we can never guarantee the recovery of a payload, we are the most successful in the world at recovering payloads. Our current capability is up to 4kg, but we are developing a capability to over 15kg.