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Newbie Q & A

``Is it true that one cannot work through amateur satellites with simple
The most common question from a newcomer.
The most common phobia preventing them coming on to satellites.
This question is well answered in discussion on amsat-bb.
It is edited and condensed here with due credits to all those who
It is done so that it is available at one place and can be passed on to any
Thanks to Steve Olney for raising the question and all others who
answered -it made a very interesting reading!!

It is a myth busted!!

If I got the information right, there are currently no sats which can be
accessed by simple equipment (e.g., fixed turnstiles).
Steve Olney VK2ZTO


1) I'm not sure where you got that information, but it is not completely
true.  I copy all of the following satellites using only a simple 6" whip
(for UHF) and 19.5" whip (for VHF) over a groundplane on my roof:

 ISS   above about 3 deg   6 passes a day
 PCsat above about 10 deg  5 passes a day
 UO-14 above about 10 deg  5 passes a day
 AO-27 above about 15 deg  2 passes a day (daylight only)
 UO-22 above about 20 deg  4 passes a day
 NO-45 above about 30 deg  3 passes a day
That averages to almost one satellite per hour that anyone can hear.

More antennas, of course, helps.  But it is really very easy... If you put
a 3 element VHF and 5 or 6 element UHF array on a cheap $64 radio shack
rotator canted up about 10 degrees, then you will get 90% horizon to
horizon coverage of all of these birds.  You can even fully automate your
station by running APRStk (a DOS program) which will drive the rotator via
2 bits on the parallel port.


2) Boy is that ever wrong!  Essentially all of the LEO satellites CAN be
worked with simple antennas.  Not necessarily very well, but it can be
done.  I personally have used AO-27 (which is not turned on over the
southern hemisphere, so you can't use down under), UO-14, FO-20, FO-29, and
NO-44 (PC-Sat) using fixed antennas on my pickup truck.  Now, I will be the
first one to tell you that my long boom yagis at home work better, but they
can be used with minimal antennas.

Jim Walls - K6CCC

3) Don't forget RS-12/13 which is probably the easiest of all to work.

Joe,  ka0yos

4) Steve, this just isn't true. I moved house recently (from one side of
world to the other) and don't yet have my antennas and rotators set up.
However, I've made a number of successful QSOs on UO14 using simple
antennas. How simple? Tx is 20 watts into a home built quarter-wave
vertical. Rx is a 70 cm folded dipole bent from bronze brazing rod. What's
more, I can hear myself on FO29 (SSB) too. Using a wire dipole on 15
metres, in can put a good signal into RS13 (21 MHz up, 2m down).

I would be able to work AO27 too, if only it was turned on over this part
of the world.

Using a modem built from a salvaged TCM3105, I've also sent packets through
the ISS and copied those from PCSat (actually, you can do this with a sound
card too).

So... yes, in fact. There ARE plenty of satellites that you can work using
simple fixed antennas.

Steve, using my simple set up, I regularly work VK3HV, VK3UH, VK3AJK,
VK3BLG, VK4KR, VK3TBC,  and VK3JED on UO14. There are also others on less

UO14 is easily the busiest down here. Most of the others are rather quiet,
with sadly, little activity (well... ISS is busy).

Sil - ZL2CIA (ex PA3HIL)

5) UO-14 you have to listen for the carrier (actually carries FM open
squelch noise when there is no uplink).  I believe FO-20's beacon is non-
functional.  FO-29 has a beacon.
:)  I use a home brew beam for 2m/70cm
-Tony Langdon

-nagesh, vu2nud@amsat.org

Nagesh Upadhyaya
Co-ordinator, Amsat India
607, ISRO Layout, BANGALORE-560 078
Ph: (R) 080-666 2015
      (O) 080-508 3249

website: www.amsatindia.org

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