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ISS just passed overhead - lots of packets heard. None decoded.

Maybe not much of a big deal to some, but just a short report of some fun I
just had:

Saw an email saying in part:

>Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

>*Space Station Gets a Boost
>*While the crew slept Tuesday night, the International Space Station 
>moved into a higher orbital altitude. Flight controllers in Moscow 
>remotely commanded the docked Progress 
></station/assembly/elements/progress/index.html> 13 cargo ship's engines 
>to fire for 9 minutes, raising the Station's altitude by an average of 
>2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers). Two more reboost maneuvers are scheduled to 
>prepare the ISS for the arrival of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying the 
>Expedition 9 crew in late April.

So I think to myself: Then I guess the orbits will change a little. Much
look and see if I can see that.

I fired up "Nova for Windows" and looked at where ISS was. Just on
north/east Australia.

Clicked to download the kep elements, and the ISS did in fact move a little,
but not really sure it was anything other than just the normal position
update after the kep updates completed.

So kind of a dead end, but interesting to me.

However, the path of the ISS was about to go directly overhead starting in
about 3 minutes.

I powered up my radio and put it on 145.800 +/- and heard packets right

I have listened on other passes, and heard maybe 3 packets on the whole
pass. And only ever decoded about 2 ever.

This time there was a whole sequence as if there was a contact going on
(15:22 local time).

Sadly by the time I put the rs232 cable from the tnc into the laptop etc,
and got everything fired up,the pass was about over, and the last 2 packets
were getting into the noise, and did not decode. So in the end, I decoded
none of them, but it was "all on" there for a moment.

Now I'm siting here kicking myself for not being quicker getting it all

My guess is maybe one of the contacts was Sil, ZL2CIA? Seems to be one of
the few Zls on the AMSAT list.

Anyway, it was one of the good passes where the footprint of ISS covered
useful amounts of eastern Australia and New Zealand at the same time.

Another interesting point to me was the signal strength. I am using a
wide-band discone aerial only about 5 metres above the roof of the house.
Its an omidirectional in the H sense, but interesting to see how it worked
at 2 m in the vertical.

Signals started at about 10 degrees eval. on my west. Strongest about 15-20,
faded down at 25ish, peaked up again at the highest which went up to 44
degrees elevation, and much the same out the other side.

I did not expect the dip where I saw it. Don't know for sure if that's the
pattern of the aerial, or if some hill or tree was playing a part.

Anyway, I had fun, so there!

Jim Towler
New Zealand

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