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John Bouchard
John Bouchard

Download the Latest GreenCube Digipeater Software and User Manual

What is GreenCube and why is it interesting for radio amateurs?

If you are looking for a new and exciting challenge in amateur radio, you might want to try communicating with GreenCube, a microgreens cultivation CubeSat satellite that also carries a UHF digipeater. In this article, we will explain what GreenCube is, how it works, and how you can use its digipeater functionality to make contacts with other radio amateurs around the world.

greencube digipeater software download


GreenCube is a project managed by the S5Lab research team at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. The satellite was launched on July 13, 2022, and deployed in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) at approximately 6000 km of altitude. Its primary mission is to demonstrate an autonomous biological laboratory for plants cultivation on-board a CubeSat platform. The satellite is carrying microgreens (brassicacae) seeds for the farthest experiment ever of plants growth in microgravity. The pressurized vessel is able to monitor air composition and pressure, humidity, air recirculation, lighting conditions, and plants development through VIS and IR cameras.

As a secondary payload, GreenCube has a digipeater functionality available to the radio amateur community. A digipeater is a device that receives a packet radio signal and retransmits it, extending its range and coverage. GreenCube's digipeater can operate in real-time mode and in "store & forward" mode, meaning that it can store messages when it is not in contact with any ground station and forward them later when it is. The digipeater uses the same frequency as the telemetry channel (435.310 MHz) and requires an amateur radio station with a directional antenna, a transceiver, a PC, and an audio connection.

The digipeater function is scheduled at least every week during the weekends (from Friday at 00:01 UTC to Sunday at 23:59 UTC), with possible extensions. You can check the activation status and schedule on the S5Lab website or on their Twitter account . You can also track the satellite's orbit and footprint on various online platforms .

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S5Lab Space Laboratory of the University of Ljubljana Slovenia

S5Lab Space Laboratory mission statement and objectives

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S5Lab Space Laboratory CubeSat microgreens cultivation experiment description and results

S5Lab Space Laboratory CubeSat amateur radio digipeater experiment description and results

How to set up your station to communicate with GreenCube?

To communicate with GreenCube's digipeater, you will need a station that meets the following requirements:

  • A directional antenna (10 dBi at least recommended) that can point at the satellite's position. You can use a rotator or manually adjust the antenna's elevation and azimuth.

  • A transceiver that can operate on UHF (435.310 MHz) in FM or SSB mode. You will need to adjust the frequency according to the Doppler effect, which can be calculated by software or online tools . You will also need to set the appropriate modulation, deviation, bandwidth, squelch, and power settings.

  • A PC running Windows OS that can run the software needed to communicate with the satellite. You will need an audio connection between the transceiver and the PC, either through a sound card interface or a virtual audio cable software.

The software needed to communicate with the satellite consists of two components: a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that allows you to send and receive messages via the digipeater, and a Terminal Node Controller (TNC) that encodes and decodes the packet radio signals. You can download both components from the S5Lab website , where you will also find a user manual that explains how to install and configure them. How to use the GreenCube digipeater software?

Once you have installed and configured the GUI and the TNC software, you are ready to use the GreenCube digipeater. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Launch the GUI and the TNC software and make sure they are connected to each other and to the transceiver. You should see a green indicator on the GUI that shows the connection status.

  • Enter your callsign and a message in the GUI. You can use up to 64 characters for the message. You can also select a destination callsign if you want to send a message to a specific station, or leave it blank if you want to broadcast to all stations.

  • Click on the "Send" button on the GUI. The message will be encoded by the TNC and sent to the transceiver, which will transmit it to the satellite. You should hear a beep sound when the transmission is completed.

  • Wait for the satellite to receive and retransmit your message. Depending on the mode of operation, this may take a few seconds or minutes. You should see a yellow indicator on the GUI that shows the satellite's status.

  • Listen for your message or other messages from other stations on the transceiver. The TNC will decode the received signals and display them on the GUI. You should see a blue indicator on the GUI that shows the reception status.

  • Repeat steps 2 to 5 as many times as you want, until the digipeater function is deactivated or you lose contact with the satellite.

You can also log and share your QSOs with GreenCube using the GUI. The software will automatically save a log file with all the messages sent and received, as well as some additional information such as date, time, frequency, mode, and signal strength. You can view and export the log file from the GUI menu. You can also upload your log file to online platforms such as eQSL or LoTW to confirm your contacts and earn awards.

What are some challenges and opportunities of working with GreenCube?

Communicating with GreenCube is not an easy task, but it is also very rewarding and fun. Here are some of the challenges and opportunities of working with this satellite:

  • GreenCube is in MEO, which means that it has a higher orbital speed and a shorter visibility window than LEO satellites. This makes tracking and pointing more difficult, but also more dynamic and exciting. You will need to be quick and precise with your antenna adjustments and frequency corrections.

  • GreenCube's digipeater has a limited bandwidth and power, which means that it can only handle one message at a time and it may not be able to reach all stations in its footprint. This makes communication more selective and competitive, but also more cooperative and respectful. You will need to be patient and courteous with other stations, and avoid sending unnecessary or repeated messages.

GreenCube's digipeater is an experimental feature that is subject to changes and improvements. This makes communication more unpredictable and variable, but also more innovative and interest


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