Amateur satellite operation provides an easily accessible way for technician licensed hams to get exposure to long distance communications. The equipment requirements are minimal, with many handy talkies having enough power to talk to and hear a satellite passing overhead. Computer software is used to predict a satellite pass for operations. At W7UQ, we have established reliable communications through the use of 2 handy talkie radios and 2 directional antennas.
The following list isn't meant to be all inclusive. But what is here are FM mode satellites (unless otherwise noted) which should be possible to work. Note that some need to be armed before they will transmit, and this requires the use of differing PL tones. The most popular is AO-51, and with its relatively powerful transmitter and sensitive receiver it should be easy to work. Use satellite tracking applications such as the one pictures on the right to determine pass times, and to get an idea of where to point an antenna to successfully communicate.
|AO-51||FM||435.300 MHz||145.920 MHz||67Hz||AO-51 Schedule|
|VO-52||CW/SSB||145.900 MHz||435.250 MHz||n/a||Info|
|SO-50||FM||436.7950 MHz||145.850 MHz||74.4/67 Hz||How To Arm SO-50|
|AO-27||FM||436.7970 MHz||145.850 MHz||n/a||AO-27 Schedule|
Basic Satellite QSO
For those unfamiliar with a normal QSO, it can be daunting to have a conversation with strangers via a satellite that can be heard for thousands of miles. Adding to this is the knowledge that the satellite will be out of range in a short time, which requires the message to be exchanged faster. To provide some direction, we have compiled the data to have ready for a satellite QSO.
- Stations give their both their call-sign and location in grid-square. Then other stations may work them in quick succession by calling them back with call-sign and grid-square. A signal report is not necessary for satellite communications, as the information exchanged is typically your grid-square and/or state.
- Currently unknown
Depending on the pass conditions, you can work a satellite such as AO-51 with a hand held and rubber ducky antenna. At W7UQ we first did this with a 70cm directional antenna for receiving with a dedicated hand held, with a 2m hand held used to transmit with its rubber ducky for an overhead pass. This worked well, though for most passes you will want more gain to meet the radio link budget. But it is very do able with small directional antennas and a 5w hand held.
Antenna Pictures To Come
We have a page where members may post satellite pass information. Please see Satellite Passes over Moscow, ID.