I am interested in working amateur radio satellites. So far I have made a couple dozen contacts on AO-40 and one on RS-12. RS-12 was attractive as a beginner satellite as the equipment requirements to use it are modest. Unfortunately, it looks like the satellite hosting RS-12 is dead and RS-12 is unlikely to operate again. I have been working on upgrading my station to work the other LEO sats. I acquired a Kansas City Tracker on E-Bay cheap. Now I need to find a Yaesu 5500 AzEl rotator. The problem of needing a sophisticated radio is lessened by my Yaesu FT-100 and Yaesu FT-817. These radios are all mode 2 Meter and 70 cm so with amps I can get by without a "satellite" radio. I would love to have a satellite radio. I got a chance to operate AO-40 using a FT-847 during Field Day and the satellite features make things a lot easier.
My AO-40 Station at Field Day (operated here by Brian W2BRI) Another view of the KG6JUD Field Day AO-40 Station
I started with AO-40 before the LEO sats to save money. The nice thing about AO-40 is that since it is a Phase 3 satellite in elliptical orbit, it does not move fast with respect to the Earth. Thus I didn't need any fancy antenna pointing arrangements. I once had a half hour ragchew with Dick WD4FAB on AO-40 and I only turned the antenna once. The hardest part about working AO-40 is dealing with the 2.4 GHz downlink. This is not too hard as you can use modified MMDS wireless cable TV downconverters. They are cheap to buy and easy to modify. The antenna is usually the biggest challenge.
I found an Arrow handheld dual band yagi on EBay and made my first attempt to work UO-14. I was at a Boy Scout campout in Joshua Tree National Park and one of our scouts Sam (KG6IXY) helped me try to work UO-14. Sam set up the Arrow beam and I got Insta Track going to find the bird. We used my FT-51 handheld as our radio. We could hear the bird fine but it was very busy. Our station was too weak to get in. I am going to keep trying until I get in.
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Copyright 2003 Page last modified January 20, 2003