Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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The Kettering Group

Tyneside, UK
2024 Jun 15
Saturday, Day 167

Curated by:

Kettering Group Equipment in Detail:

Elsewhere on the Web:

Contemporary 1966 film of the tracking equipment

Radio Receivers

From 1962, a range of receivers was pressed into use for tracking satellites. Some were second hand, some were brand new and other items were home built. Often, modifications were made for use with particular frequency bands or tracking specific satellites.

Item Purpose Note Currently Residing
Marconi CR-100 Communications Receiver Reception of CW and HF voice from craft in orbit and recovery beacons Coverage up to 30 MHz

Fell out of use on arrival of Racal RA-217 for 1968 but later pressed into occasional use for tracking multiple HF satellites simultaneously

Accompanied by wooden boxed loudspeaker, headphones, operating manual, and kit of spares

Personal property of Derek Slater
Part of the Derek Slater collection, passed to British National Space Centre during 2011 and put on open display 2015 December
Eddystone 770R Receiver General radio reception Accompanied by wooden boxed loudspeaker

Coverage up to 165 MHz, occasional use for satellite reception at VHF in early years, in addition to general broadcasts

Used for 'Tracking' Gemini missions via "Voice of America", and Apollo 9 by listening to the NASA ground station at Tananarive

Later use for 137 MHz metsat image reception from ESSA and later metsats - together with the 144 MHz Yagi and VHF pre-amp

Became second-string VHF receiver to Hallicrafters for a period around 1980

Personal possession of Derek Slater - acquired from the former Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR)
Part of the Derek Slater collection, passed to British National Space Centre during 2011
PYE PTC986 'Mercury' Transistorised HF Radiotelephone Permanently tuned to 2.5 MHz for the AM time signal from MSF at Rugby (now moved to Althorn), with backup at 4.525 MHz (CW from DIZ at Nauen, Germany) and 5.0 MHz (also AM from MSF) Originally a receiver/transmitter but with the transmitter removed for licensing reasons. A dry battery was fitted into the transmitter space to power the receiver

Receiver coverage 1.8-3.8 MHz, 3.8-10.0 MHz and MF broadcast band

'Scrounged' from the PYE company, originally intended for sale into overseas markets

Thanks go to Richard Howes, Custodian of the Pye Telecom Historic Collection in 2009 for assistance in confirming the actual model number and name
Racal RA-217 Communications Receiver Reception of HF CW and voice Coverage up to 30 MHz

Presented to the team by Racal at the instigation of the Daily Express newspaper

Handover was at the 1967 Autumn meeting of the British Interplanetary Society held at Northampton College of Technology, Islington, London (now London City University) with presentation by Ernest Harrison, Chairman of Racal and Express Assistant Editor John Young to Geoff Perry and Bob Christy - Geoff Perry was at the meeting to give a talk on radio tracking and John Marshall was also present to talk on the subject of photographing satellites in the night sky
Geoff Perry Collection, passed to Science Museum, London in 2018
Eddystone EC-10, HF Receiver Reception of HF signals by Geoff Perry at home Coverage up to 30 MHz

Personal property of Geoff Perry
Geoff Perry Collection, passed to Science Museum, London in 2018.
Crystal controlled receiver - VHF & power supply Reception of voice from Soyuz Prototype of GEC crystal controlled radiotelephone, converted for 121.75 MHz

Squelch control was used to drive relay to supply power to tape recorder when used 'out of hours'

Vitatron pen recorder added later for timing markers in order to log times of voice occurrence.
Part of the Derek Slater collection, passed to British National Space Centre during 2011 and put on open display 2015 December - the Space Centre also holds the associated Vitatron pen recorder
Hallicrafters S-27B Receiver VHF signals/voice? Coverage - VHF, 27-165 MHz Loaned to the School by the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford, later passed to another school together with the accompanying Panoramascope
PYE F-60 FM VHF Receiver VHF reception around 120-150 MHz? Can be seen in photographs taken by Sven Grahn in 1979, make and model identified by Greg Roberts from photographs

It is the receiver section taken from a rack-mountable radio-telephone system - if unmodified it is probably one of the versions tagged as Band A: 148-174 MHz, Band B: 132-156 MHz or Band C: 108-132 MHz

This item probably got very little use
AoR AR-2001 Reception of voice from Soyuz, Salyut and Mir, recption of telemetry from Parus/Tsikada, and listening to other miscellaneous satellites not requiring a BFO Personal property of Geoff Perry Geoff Perry Collection, passed to Science Museum, London in 2018.
Home-built VHF Receiver Reception of signals in the VHF band between 120 and 150 MHz Several were constructed by pupils and Group Members to listen, in particular, to Soyuz, Salyut and Mir voice

Used a modified VHF tuner originally built for the 88-108 MHz VHF broadcasting band, and 'off the shelf' units for the IF conversion and audio amplification
A good example was held in the Derek Slater Collection but transferred to the National Space Centre in 2011
Miscellaneous Radio Receivers, etc Simple receivers and down-convertors for VHF use Oddments of equipment for VHF use, some built from basic off the shelf components - used by pupils and associates at different times Various
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