Amateur Satellites

We know that satellites are overhead as quite a lot of people now have a GPS receiver or have satellite TV. I myself have Sky at home, with its associated dish and receiver.

More recently I’ve become interested in APRS and satellite reception. I know now that is relatively simple to send a short burst of APRS data through the International Space Station (current list here), so I did a bit more reading and listening.

My antenna set-up at home isn’t adequate enough for reception of satellites, so I also tried listening in my car but I could only barely make out that there were stations there (a uhf pre-amp may help in both situations, but I’ve not got my hands on one yet).

While digging through my junk the other day looking for an old network card, I found an Arrow antenna which I lost quite a while back. Just what was required. So, last night, armed with the arrow, a Kenwood TH-D7, a headset, (required for full duplex operation) a blank piece of paper and a pen. I sat on the step at my back door and waited for Saudisat 1C to come over the horizon. (I knew when to listen as I had run a satellite tracking program earlier in the day.)

After a few minutes of what could be best described as ‘waving’ the antenna around, in the general direction of were I ‘thought’ the satellite was going to come up over the horizon, I finally heard some stations calling ‘cq satellite’. I pressed the ‘push to talk’ button and called ON5NY, to my absolute shock he replied to me. I forgot to write most of the details down, but he emailed me afterwards to confirm them (the time was 19:17 UTC) and he included some pictures of his ‘shack’. OZ1MY and PD5DJ called me immediately afterwards. It was quite a buzz. I also knew that AO-51 was scheduled to pass overhead later on so I listened out for that and managed to (briefly) speak to Graham, G7HEJ at 20:39 UTC. What a blast!

We are having a meeting of Tipperary Amateur Radio Group this evening that co-incides with a pass of AO-51, so I’ll hopefully be able to demonstrate to the other members how easy it is to use these satellites. I would recommend anyone to try it, its great fun (and when the neighbours see you waving an antenna about they WILL think you have lost it completely!).