[amsat-bb] It's about time! FO-29 successfully worked!

J. Boyd, JR2TTS/AB3UR the2belo at msd.biglobe.ne.jp
Mon Jan 11 12:33:32 UTC 2016

I finally made it into FO-29 this afternoon from PM85il, working stations JA3RVS and JA3FWT. I also heard JR8LWY calling me, but wasn't able to return the call. Oh well -- my first-ever QSOs on a SSB satellite!

The recording: https://soundcloud.com/minus2c/fo-29-pass-jan-11-2016-1426jst (My QSOs are at about 4 minutes into the recording.)

At this point I must make a confession: I did what I should have done in the first place, and bought another FT857D. At US$650 new there was really no way I could resist. It was also borne out of a bit of frustration -- I tested the IC-706 up, down, and sideways and it appears to be working fine... but it seemed to not play nice with SATPC32 a lot of the time, it was kind of hard to control during hectic SSB sat passes, and it just wasn't making it into the bird.

So I splurged. Screw it. The 706 will probably end up being a dedicated 2m SSB and 6m rig. I needed one for the shack anyway (my FTDX1200 can't do 2 meters, and my HTs are FM only of course).

Anyway, now armed with two of the same rig that are going to finally cooperate, I went out to the usual spot and set up. The above recording is the result.
The first thing I realized was, the signal is way down in the noise even at the top of the pass (27 degrees this time around) with the Arrow aimed in the right place. I was correcting for polarization and everything but this was as good as I managed to get.

Take-aways from this:

1. I think I need a preamp. FO-29 is at pretty high altitude for a LEO sat so if I want the real prize (QSOs with Alaska and Hawaii) I'm going to need a way to bring the signal in when the bird is near the horizon. I would welcome recommendations.

2. I still don't have SATPC32 figured out. I'm supposed to set the uplink frequency offset so it will always be dead on when the bird comes up, but I haven't really found the time to do that because I would have to waste a pass sitting there figuring out how many Hz it was off. Until today, the goal was "get a contact" so I ended up turning the laptop off and just tuning manually. I will spend the time to properly configure the software next time around.

3. I need a field-use CW paddle. The code was coming in much clearer than the phone, and there seemed to be many more CW ops on the bird than anything.

All in all a good start I think. A learning experience.

J. Boyd, JR2TTS/NI3B
the2belo at msd.biglobe.ne.jp


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