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HT Satellite Tracking



The locals in Portland, Maine were surely entertained with the sight
of a dozen antenna waving satellite techies in the parking lot at the
Holiday Inn at all hours of the day and night.

But this year's AMSAT-NA gathering had a new wrinkle.   There was a copy
of APRSdata.exe running on a laptop in the hotel which transmitted
throughout the area on 144.39 MHz, the location, distance, bearing,
direction of  movement, up&down frequencies AND doppler of any satellite
in view, plus the schedule of all satellties  expected in the next 80
minutes.  All of this information was viewable on the front panels of any
D7 HT or D700 Mobile rig or any other handheld APRS display device.
Thus, none of these stations ever had to consult any tracking programs,
but simply glance at their radios occassionally to be alerted to any
interesting passes.  Everything they needed was there.

Prior to arrival, I had been concerned that there was no existing 144.39
APRS infrastructure within 50 miles of Portland.  But as soon as the
first APRS mobile arrived in town, the additional arrivals  all found
the APRS frequency alive and well.  I was even able to report my position
from the baggage claim area at the airport by digipeating off of a mobile
somewhere nearby.  Eventually, at least 18 stations appeared at the
conference with either a D7 in their hand or a D700 in the parking lot.

Such an isolated, yet grass-roots APRS network was PERFECT.  The only
thing on our radio panels was us and there was no out-of-area QRM
causing any distractions.  We even switched APRSdata.exe into
high gear to announce every satellite, not just the FM birds and
throughout the conference, every HT, and every Radio had up-to-date
satellite tracking information on their front panels that they could then
use to go out to the parking lot to do their passes.  Using a simple
scanner with SSB, we even heard a FO20 pass loud and clear on a whip
antenna.

During a coffee break, someone suggested that the D700 with voice chip 
could even speak the satellite passes and within an hour or so I added it
to APRSdata.exe so that these D700's would speak the following three types
of statements:

     "AO27 LOW"          (When the satellite came above 5 deg)
     "UO14 MEDIUM"       (When the satellite rose above 15 deg
     "SO35 HIGH"         (When the satellite rose above 30 deg

Some of the AMSAT members expressed an interest to set up an APRSdata
server in their area.  So when I got home, I updated the following web
page to help describe it.

http://web.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/satinfo.html

Looking at my HT, I had captured the following while at the conference
hotel.  N8NUY operated his Mobile DIGI for new arrivals at the Airport and
W4HFZ and WB4GCS represented the Navy contingent.  KB2WQM operated  UO22,
and SO35 and the pacsats  and WA6NVL, N3ZLL, KA2QYE, N2POR,  KI0AG,
KA1CQD, WB1HBU, WD5DZC and W3ADO kept the APRS channel busy, so  there was
always something going on.  We also had the usual messages from the back
of the room.

Lots a fun!

de WB4APR, Bob


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