Monday, April 25, 2011

Satellite Contacts with Arrow Antenna

About a month ago, I spotted a deal when I happened to have a little extra cash. I found an Arrow Antenna with the 10w Duplexer used for $95. Used was relative, as it was only outside 3 times, and owned by a reliable local ham, so it may as well have been new. I made a jump on it, as I had been wanting to try Satellite for a while.

I researched between the Arrow Antenna and the Elk Antenna, and found the Arrow has a bit more gain, and works better at the lower elevations. I liked the Elk design because it wasn't crossed like the Arrow, but I like performance and gain better.

I did some research and watched a few YouTube videos to learn how to use the satellites. I built a frequency table for the Doppler shift, and programmed 5 memories per satellite. I found that I could program the input of the satellite as an odd split on the memories on my Yeasu VX-7R, effectively a cross band memory.

I initially brought my new antenna into work to show another Ham. He wasn't in that day, but my antenna started a discussion with my co-workers. That also lead to tracking my first satellite. After listening to a few passes, I realized there was no way I could track a satellite, tune the radio, and write down contact info at the same time. I was tracking the satellites with a piece of software on my iPhone already, so I started using the Voice Memo to record the QSOs. Now I have successfully worked nearly 30 QSOs, across 4 satellites. I have yet to be able to use SO-67 yet, as it is in testing. As for the ISS, I have only locked onto it to listen to the APRS packets, no QSOs, yet.

Here is a list of my contacts I have made. I will get some QSL Cards ordered and start sending them out.

In my limited experience, AO-51 (Echo) is easy to use, but many users. AO-27 is not as heavily used, and easier to track across the sky, as it seems to transmit with a bit more power. SO-50 is more diffucult, as it doesn't transmit a carrier when nobody is transmitting, and it can be a little weak.
Hope to catch you on one of my "Sat Breaks", as opposed to "Smoke Breaks".