|fahnen/3.jpg Working the Russian Sputniks|
Working the Russian Sputniks
This is the script for the Houston AMSAT Net and EZSATS. Authorization is given for the use of this information over any ham band. Please give credit for the script where credit is due.
Now, on to tonights topic. Working the Russian Sputniks.
There are currently 3 Russian satellites in orbit. They are RS 10/11, RS 12/13 and RS 15 The RS 10/11 is really two packages mounted on the same satellite as is RS 12/13.
The nice thing about RS-10 is that you uplink on 2 meter side band and you listen on 10 meters. That means that most Tech's with HF priviledges already have the necessary equipment. RS-10 is in Mode A. RS-15 is also a Mode A satellite. However, it's orbit is nearly twice the altitude of the other RS satellites making it possible to work Europe on most passes. And, the passes last about 30 minutes instead of 10-15 minutes.
Please keep in mind that the power output of RS-15 is quite low. This will mean that you have to improve your reception of the signal rather than simply increasing your power. If you transmit around 25-35 watts that should be just fine for this satellite. The problem is that if everyone gets on and sends 100-200 watts to it, all other signals will fade and cut out. Please remember that working the satellites (either RS, FO or AO) is not who has the most power but who can be heard and worked with minimal power.
To prove this, at Field Day, 1995, the Houston AMSAT group worked all modes with no more that 25 watts on any receiver and all HF was QRP. It can be done. Even the pacsats were worked with less than 25 watts.
Now, back to working the RS-10 or RS-15.
Since you are receiving on 10 meters, you only have to worry about your transmit antenna pointing at the satellite. A beam with elevation and azimuth rotors is ideal. However there are several people here in Houston that are working RS 10/11 from their apartment. Both antennas are in the apartment, not outside. They use a long wire to receive the 10 meters and a vertical to transmit. They normally can work it from horizon to about 45 degrees and then on the down side from 45 degrees to horizon. If you have a beam, you should be able to work it most of the pass.
So how do we do it? First, tune from the top to the bottom on the 10 meter band 29.360 to 29.400 and listen to see if you hear anyone else. If not, try listening for the robot beacon on 29.403. If you do not hear anything you might have stale elements or the propogation is not right for your location to hear. Now, if you do hear someone, let's try to get ourselves tuned in so we can work this station. Try tuning to 29.380 and set your transmit to 145.880. Start transmiting 1-2-3 and your call sign. As you transmit, turn your receiver up and down and see if you can find yourself. All of a sudden, you will hear your voice. You have just found your uplink and downlink pair of frequencies. Call CQ a few times.
It is best when working satellites to get into the habit of calling CQ and stating what satellite. You should call CQ OSCAR 13 or CQ OSCAR or in the case of this satellite, CQ RS10, CQ RS10. The reason for this is that you are transmitting on 2 meters. Now just think what would happen if some unsuspecting sole happened to be scanning 2 meter side band and finds you calling CQ and you are 20 over to him. Although this portion of 2 meters is set aside as the OSCAR subband he may not know it. He now starts trying to return your CQ and gets really mad that you are ignoring him. The other reason is that 145.88 is the uplink to RS 10/11 but guess what, it happens to also be the downlink to AO-13 and AO-10. Now we might have a major problem. Here you are listening on AO-13 and along comes someone calling CQ. You try to talk to him and you find out that this guy just won't talk to you. Well, I have never found a ham that didn't want to talk to me so I'd be pretty mad. If he were calling CQ RS-10 and you were on AO-13 you would know immediately that he cannot hear you and you will have to move to another part of the AO-13 band because his power will make it impossible for you to hear anything.
Now, lets say, someone comes back to your call. Great start your qso. But as you talk, the satellite is moving so you have to follow it with your antenna and also you will have to adjust your transmit frequency so that you stay with your uplink. You also have to tweak because the person you are talking with might be lazy and not tweak his radio and he will shift up or down on you.
This is truly the fun part, trying to work all the knobs, turn the antenna, log the qso all while you are talking. Now you know you're good. After some practice and a few qso's down the road, it will be very easy for you to tune up and talk. At the beginning, it really takes some practice. We have all done it and you might say it's like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, you never forget. You may forget the frequencies and have to look them up but all the principles will be there.
The other Russian sputnik is RS-12. This one transmits on 29.41 through 29.45 and receives on 21.21 through 21.25 (note, this is in the Advanced and Extra portion of 15 meters). It is known as mode K. Advanced operators can work it from 21.225 through 21.25 and Extras can work the entire band.
We did not mention RS-11 and RS-13. These are riding piggy back on the same satellite as RS-10 and RS-12 but are presently turned off.
Don't forget the newest RS satellite, RS-15. Basically the same operating procedure as for RS-10 but has a higher altitude which gives a 30 minute pass and covers parts of Europe when over the U.S. It's downlink is 29.354 - 29.394 and the uplink is 145.858 - 145.898. The beacons can be found at 29.3525 and 29.3987.
Watch for the newest satellite in the group, RS-16. It is in the air but has not been turned on for amateur use yet (as of 7/5/97). It is expected to pass its operational tests and be turned on soon.
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