Saturday, June 20, 2015

Satellite Station On-The-Air and Working

Got the cross-boom mounted through the elevation rotor, mounted the preamps and antennas, connected all the cables, and walked the tower up.

And I had it all finished 30 minutes after the last satellite passes (of the satellites I normally use) of the day.


So, I decided to give SO-50, an FM satellite, a try, and I talked to one of my friends in Arizona.

The next satellite I wanted to try was AO-73, aka "FUNCube-1", which is one of the reasons the SDR USB "dongles" got popular. I'd heard the earlier pass, but I'd never made the correct changes to my tracking and control program to use it, so while I was able to hear the downlink, it was so late in the pass I was able to manually juggle the radio knobs fast enough to make any contacts through it.

And on the next pass, it was too low to the east, and almost behind my garage, so no joy there, either.

I did manage to copy a lot of packet radio traffic from the Space Station tonight, but they probably won't be active on Field Day.

Oh, well.......I have about 4 hours on Sunday to do some further testing before we have to leave to go to the Father's Day festivities on the Iowa.


  1. Better miss a pass during the dry run than during field day.
    I remember you did a post last year about your satellite station. Could you post a link to it? Couldn't find a search function or date index on the blog. I am also interested in the software you use. Looking for Doppler predictions and free is best.
    On a somewhat related subject, I remember you have some thoughts on coax. Could you refresh my memory?

  2. I'm using SatPC32. It's a free download, but unless you pay to register it, you have to reenter your station information every time you start the program.

    100% of the registration fee goes to AMSAT-NA as the author of the program donated it to AMSAT.

    Links to past satellite posts are:

    And thanks for "reminding" me I forgot to add the blog archive widget. You should be able to find other Field Day posts by looking in the "June" section of each year.

    As far as coax goes, it kinda-sorta depends on what frequency you'll be using it at, and how long a run you need. I like either the Davis RF "BuryFlex", or the similar low-loss RG-8 size from DX Engineering, their "400MAX" coax.

    I do NOT like LMR-400 because it has a copper-plated SOLID Aluminum center conductor, and is barely flexible. You also have to be very careful not to cut through the layer of copper on the center conductor when you strip it. Having the Aluminum exposed can lead to corrosion and higher loss, regardless of what Times Microwave says about it.

    For really long runs at VHF/UHF you simply can't beat Andrews Heliax coax. Yes, the cable and connectors are expensive, but I've helped dismantle commercial repeater sites that were 30~40 years old, and the cable and connectors were 100% reusable.

    Amazing stuff!

  3. Thanks much. I thought it was LMR-400 that you recommended against but wasn't sure I remembered correctly. I was looking at 6, 2 and 432. I have a run of 8 type foam on 2 right now but am thinking of getting on 432 again. Have an old ARR preamp (0.5 dB) and converter (<2.2dB), just need something on the transmit side.


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