Station and Operating Hints

Operating on satellites is relatively straightforward, but over the years many tips, tricks, and secrets have been discovered which make operating more efficient and pleasant.  Here we are collecting information of use to both the new and experienced operator.

Fox-1 Operating Guide, updated for 2019, includes pointers on getting started and provides a handy reference to the Fox-1 cubesat operating frequencies. This color PDF file is designed to print double-sided. Two different resolution versions are available:
Low resolution PDF suitable for on-screen display (~300KB size)
High resolution, press quality PDF for hard-copy printing  (~1.6 MB size)

The AMSAT Hamfest Brochure – this file is designed to be printed as landscape, double-sided on 8.5 x 11 paper and folded into thirds to create a hamfest handout.

While operating FM satellites is relatively simple, please see this document for Best Practices for FM Satellite Operating

Many satellite operators use the ARRL’s Logbook of the World to confirm contacts and earn awards. To join them, follow the guide on How to log Satellite QSOs in Logbook of the World

LilacSat-1 (LO-90) received an FM voice signal on the uplink and transmits a Codec2 digital voice signal on the downlink. It re-entered in March 2019. Access N8HM’s article from the January/February 2019 AMSAT Journal, Digital Voice on Amateur Satellites: Experiences with LilacSat-OSCAR 90 

May/June 2017 AMSAT Journal article Going Portable with the Amateur Radio Satellites (PDF ~350 KB) – How-to article on operating the current LEO sats with everything from basic portable equipment, all the way to rotors and yagi arrays. Geared towards portable ops, but good advice for home stations as well.

January/February 2017 AMSAT Journal article Get on the Air with ARISS Packet (PDF ~500 KB) – How to set up and use computer & soundcard to work the packet system aboard the ISS and other APRS-capable satellites.

January/February 2017 AMSAT Journal article Working Digipeaters with the Kenwood TH-D72A and TH-D74A (PDF ~300 KB) – How to use the packet/APRS capability of these radios to work the packet system aboard the ISS and other APRS-capable satellites.

November/December 2017 AMSAT Journal article Working the FalconSAT-3 Digipeater (with Kenwood TH-D72 and TM-D710G radios) PDF, 329 KB. How to use the 9600bps AX.25 V/U digipeater.

Operating FM Satellites is the easiest way to get started. This guide introduces you to the basic equipment and techniques and has the information you need to get on SO-50. There is also a Spanish version.

LilacSat-2 flyer. This one-page flyer has the frequency information for the LilacSat-2 (CAS-3H) FM satellite, and links for additional information on this satellite.

Working FO-29 with a single FT-817 and Arrow Yagi. Drew Glasbrenner KO4MA wrote this article which appeared in the January/February 2005 AMSAT Journal, explaining how to work FO-29 using a single Yaesu FT-817 and Arrow Antennas 2m/70cm Yagi. This article may be many years old, but the advice is still relevant today. Other antennas like Elk Antennas 2m/70cm log periodics or homebrew equivalents of these popular commercially-made antennas could be used in place of the Arrow Yagi. Other radios – for example, Yaesu FT-100, FT-857, FT-897, FT-991; Icom IC-706Mk2G, IC-7000, IC-7100 – that support SSB at 2m and 70cm could be used in place of an FT-817.

Mode-J Filter.  For satellites which have 2 meter uplinks and 70 cm downlinks, the third harmonic may cause overload of the 70 cm preamplifier used on most stations.  This can be greatly reduced or eliminated with an inexpensive duplexer.

Grid Square Locator Map A Google Maps interface to determine your Maidenhead Grid locator.

WA5VJB Kent Britain Cheap Yagis for Satellite Here is a PDF of the world famous cheap yagis and band splitter for inexpensive satellite operation.

CJU 70cm antenna Here is a PDF of the very easy and effective CJU antenna, designed for attaching to an HT for Mode J receive operation.

ioIO Dual Band Antenna This is the dual band version of the CJU listed above.

AA2TX 70cm Parasitic Lindenblad Omni Antenna

An EZ-Lindenblad Antenna for 2 Meters

Domenico, I8CVS (SK) published a two-part article in the AMSAT Journal about his design for switching polarization on circularly polarized antennas. The PDF files are available for download as Part1 (2MB) and Part2 (4MB)

Add ISS Packet Operation to Your Satellite Activity JoAnne K9JKM has written a handy guide to ISS packet operations.

ISS Packet Operation on 70cm Information on how to work the ISS packet digipeater on 437.550 MHz. This is a supplement to the “Add ISS Packet Operation to Your Satellite Activity” document above.

The One True Rule for Doppler Tuning by Paul Williamson, KB5MU, or “Do I tune the uplink, downlink, or both?”  This classic article explains the best practices for tuning to compensate for Doppler effects.

Bringing the One True Rule of Doppler Tuning into the 21st Century by Alan Biddle, WA4SCA.  The increase in both computing power and sophistication of programs has made it possible to tune your radio almost as easily as you do on HF and then have your QSO without constantly having to retune if both operators are using Full Doppler Tuning and the satellite transponder does not drift.  This article discusses why FDT is desirable, and now easy to do.

The new Icom IC-9700 is a great satellite radio, but it can take some work to get up and running with SatPC32. Stefan Wagener, VE4SW, has written a guide to help you through the process of setting this radio up.