[amsat-bb] Re: Working the Transponder Sats

Andrew Glasbrenner glasbrenner at mindspring.com
Wed Nov 10 08:28:04 PST 2010

On 11/10/2010 10:55 AM, Kent Frazier wrote:
> It has been suggested to me that I try the transponder sats.  My question is
> what type of equipment would I need for this. I'm currently unable to run
> any type of mast mounted antenna(s) and would prefer it be portable or
> mobile if possible.
> My current setup is an Icom W32-A handheld with an Elk antenna.  Am I
> correct in my belief that I can't work the transponder sats with an FM
> radio?
> Thanks
You are correct that FM is a no go for the transponder satellites, with 
the exception of using an unmodulated FM signal as CW on the uplink. You 
will need some way to transmit and receive on 2m and 70cm SSB or CW.

Personally I use a pair of Yaesu 817s and an Arrow while portable, or 
sometimes a single 817 for the downlink and the 857 in my truck for the 
uplink. The 817 is probably the most popular for portable satellite 
work. There are also many fine, older rigs on the used market. I've seen 
two 2m SSB rigs for less than $100 this week on the various swap boards.

For the receive side, you can use most anything that will receive SSB or 
CW, including downconverters to a 10m radio, all mode scanner type 
receivers, the forthcoming AMSAT-UK Funcube Dongle SDR receiver, or even 
the all mode receiver in the Kenwood F6A.

It's even possible to use a single 817 type rig half-duplex, although 
it's important to keep your power low, and really helps to have 
automatic Doppler tuning set up when half duplex.

The transponders are a much friendlier, slower paced and more sane place 
to operate, but there is generally not the activity or diversity of 
stations as on FM. On the other hand, you can work some fine DX, have 
longer QSOs, and it's more of a challenge.

73, Drew KO4MA

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