[amsat-bb] more poking around SSB satellites (16 August)

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Aug 17 12:14:38 PDT 2008


Yesterday, I took my portable SSB satellite station (2 FT-817NDs
with Arrow Antennas dual-band Yagi) to a park here in Phoenix on
the DM33xp/DM43ap grid boundary:


For the time being, I consider this location my "home QTH" when
working satellites.  A nice open area, plus being right on 112
degrees West doesn't hurt.  I did not wake up early enough to try 
AO-7 during the morning passes, but I planned to try DO-64 (Delfi-C3) 
and VO-52 again in the late morning.  Later in the day, I tried an 
AO-7 pass to the east.  Mixed results, and a good day - other than 
the 104F/40C heat and humidity. 

I first tried a high DO-64 pass at 1727-1741 UTC yesterday morning.
About 3 minutes into the pass, I could clearly hear the CW beacon.
I did not try to copy the telemetry, but did hear "DELFI" coming
through - confirming I was listening to this satellite.  No S-meter 
movement on my receiver, noticeably weaker than VO-52, but workable.
I then tried to hear myself through the transponder.  Success!  
Again, signals through this satellite are weaker than VO-52, but 
for my portable setup I do not need a preamp to hear anything.  I 
heard one other station, a W6, and then I proceeded to pick a spot 
to camp out and call CQ.  

I set up so I would be on/around 145.910 MHz USB on the downlink.
It did not take long to hear myself transmitting through the 
satellite.  I called CQ, and - unfortunately - only heard myself
for the remainder of the pass.  A suggestion... since AMSAT is
now distributing keps for this satellite in the weekly keps 
e-mails, why not put this satellite on the web site's pass-
prediction utility?  I will definitely try for this satellite 
again, hoping to make some contacts through it.  

A few minutes later, VO-52 was coming by.  Again, a high pass,
at 1750-1803 UTC, and I went to work.  Calling CQ so I could hear 
myself around 145.910 MHz USB on the downlink, Ken N6KTH responded 
a couple of minutes into the pass.  We had a nice chat, longer than 
possible on most FM satellite passes.  Ken - sorry if I was drifting
around a bit; I was trying to hold my downlink steady and make any 
tweaks on my transmit frequency.  After working Ken, I moved up to 
145.915 MHz and called CQ for the remainder of the pass.  Glenn AA5PK 
found me in the last couple of minutes of the pass.  We had a quick 
chat - the satellite was almost out of range for him, and I had about
2 minutes left before I was out of range.  

In the late afternoon, I returned to the same location to try for AO-7
on a 20-degree eastern pass at 0042-0100 UTC.  I forgot that, with my
portable setup, I need to look for AO-7 passes with high maximum 
elevation to hear it with my setup.  Last month, I was able to hear 
AO-7 passes with elevation above 40 degrees.  I know that a preamp 
might help me in this area, but I'd rather take the time (and expense)
to have computer control of at least my radios before looking for a 
preamp.  I will try AO-7 again, another time.  

Some details on my FT-817NDs...  both have the TCXO module, both
also have the 500Hz CW filter (I also have an SSB filter at home,
but with only one filter slot it's more important to me to have 
that CW filter in place), and I usually transmit at 5W.  I bought
my first FT-817ND in May 2004, and the second one 3 months ago 
when I decided that my AOR AR8200Mk2B receiver didn't tune SSB in
small enough steps for my first attempts with the SSB satellites.  
I run both of the radios from a 12V/20Ah gel-cell battery, or I 
could use the internal NiMH battery packs in each radio (both at
9.6V, 1400mAh in the older 817 and 2000mAh in the newer 817).  I
have been using the newer 817 as my transmit radio.  

I'm getting comfortable enough with VO-52 and its powerful downlink, 
that I will probably include VO-52 in my hamfest and other satellite 
demonstrations I do.  DO-64 could also be on that list, once I make 
some contacts through it and there are stations on those passes on a 
regular basis like VO-52.  I might continue my focus on FM satellites 
during road trips, but when I'm not on the move I will try to add the 
SSB birds to my activities from unusual locations.  :-)  



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