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RE: Beginner to Satellites



> Firstly, welcome! Sats are a great way to work DX with 
> minimal equipment and
> a no-code licence. All those hams relying on Auroras and other exotic
> propagation modes don't know what they're missing.

Hehehe, all modes have their place.  I've just posted an announcement
regarding my intention to work both HF and satellites while on an interstate
trip in a couple of weeks.

> Secondly, remember that everyone on the reflector started somewhere!

Indeed.  For me, my first attempt at satellites was with a 2m all mode Icom
and a Yaesu FRG7700 on RS-10, about 8 years ago.  Had a bit of fun back then
too.  The next attempt was with a couple of HTs in the back yard, working
SO-35! :-)

> As Tony said, if you want an all singing all dancing 'silver spoon'
> approach, there's nothing out there new right now to touch the FT-847.
> Kenwood are bringing out a radio in the next few months as a direct
> competitor. Lots of $$$, and lots of learning on how to drive 
> the radio
> before you even get a sat contact! The '847 was my solution, 
> and I don't
> regret it, but it's not cheap, or very portable.

If I had an unlimited budget, I would have gone for an 847 as well.  It's
portable enough to take it outside and have a little fun (though a trolley
for the battery/radio combo would be a good idea :) ).

> IMHO, to get started on the FM 'easy sats' (UO14, AO27, SO35) 
> and for a
> reasonably cheap startup from scratch, a dual band dual 
> receive HT with a 5W
> battery pack and an Arrow antenna is a great start. Get some 
> predictions
> from some satellite prediction software and you're ready to go KK9UQQ
> Portable!

For the ultimate in low budget satellite operation, try the following:

1.  Have a look through your shack for old HTs.  With a bit of luck, you
should have either one that is capable of full duplex operation, or a pair
that can be combined to give the same result.  Alternatively, one of the
radios may be a scanner...

2.  If that's not possible, you are likely to have one HT, and therefore be
able to combine it with a cheap secondhand unit, or perhaps it's time for an
upgrade (which is what I had done just prior to getting on the birds).

3.  For a good antenna on the cheap, home brew!  My antenna cost me only a
few dollars in parts and a few hours of time to construct.  It works
extremely well on 2m and 70cm.  If time is against you, everyone recommends
the Arrow antennas.

> 
> It's _possible_ to work satellites on a 2" rubber duck and 
> 2W, but you have
> to be either very lucky or experienced already. It's a bit of 
> a fight out
> there!

Hehehe, down here, it's been quiet since all birds went to Mode J...
 
> The HT must be able to receive in the 70cm satellite band 
> (435-437MHz). In
> Europe it's not to tough to get radios which do this, but you 
> may well have
> to mod a US radio to get this coverage. Check this before you 
> buy! I just

This seems to be mainly a North American issue.  The Australian radios also
do 430-440 out of the box, as this is the segment our repeaters are in.

> o Have a hands-free microphone to let you point the antenna -
> in the right
> direction without getting into knots.

I find the coax serves this function.

> 
> o Use a voice recorder to help you log all those contacts!

An excellent idea!  I have many hours of voice logs from mostly SO-35
online.
> 
> o Find someone local who'll help to get you going.
> 
> o If you haven't already, check out
> http://www.amsat.org/amsat/intro/faqs.html where there's a 
> great set of
> notes 'Working the Easy Sats'.

Most recommended.  I found the documents on the AMSAT site very useful, and
also made a contribution of my own there.

> 
> Depending on your existing equipment and budget, we could go 
> on for hours...
> let me know.

:-)
> 
> All the best & tell us how you get on!

My FM satellite station (which will make the trip to VK7, minus the beam, in
a couple of weeks) is simply 2 handhelds and a portable dual band beam (home
brew).  For more compact operation, I can run with high performance omnis on
the radios instead, at the cost of degraded performance.  The setup works
well, and cost very little to upgrade from the existing terrestrial
facilities (I already had the radios, only needed to construct the beam).

With the recent aquisition of an HF box, I can now finally implement my
plans for an all mode station.  I will be running a transverter off the HF
box for 2 metres, and using my 2m all mode into another transverter for 70.
Power will be 10 watts on both bands.  I also have the option of working
Mode A, by using the 2m all mode and the HF radio by themselves, or even
Mode K, by using the new HF transceiver for the uplink, and a 10m monobander
that I already have for the downlink.  This station has cost a little more
to setup, but again, none of the equipment (except one transverter, which
cost me A$75 secondhand) was bought specifically for satellite work.  The
total cost of this setup will come to around A$700 (that's about $400 US),
if you omit the 10m monobander, which won't feature much at all from now on.

Hope that adds a few ideas for newcomers on various budgets.
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