Friday, April 10, 2020

Bitten by the satellite bug...

...but how long will it last?

A lot of that answer depends on how much variety there is within this aspect of the hobby.

I'm several QSO's into this little departure from my CW norm and, the more I operate - and the more I research what others are doing - the more interesting it becomes.

The "what others are doing" info arrives from two sources. The first is via emails exchanged with those I work (they know I'm a newbie at this) that contain helpful advice, websites and equipment set-ups or additions to make the whole thing go more smoothly.

The second source of inspiration is via YouTube videos and personal websites. Here's an example:

Paul N8HM works AO-92 while it is in L/V mode - 1.2 GHz uplink, 2m downlink. In addition to Paul's operation with an L-band HT is what's going on in the background - a separate antenna (not being used at the moment) is tracking the satellite with an Az-El rotator from Portable Rotation, a company that makes such devices designed to operate from 12VDC:

And who said satellite operator's don't have a sense of humor? Check out this video of Andrew KN8FEL and John KG4AKV making a satellite QSO with each other as they stand 15 feet apart:


Besides his very informative YouTube channel, John has a blog here. Once there, a list of more detailed how-to's can be found by clicking on the 3-bars graphic in the upper-righthand corner of the page.


  1. Wow, John...this is another thing in the hobby. When I became a hamradio operator (22 years ago) I was not allowed on HF yet. I only had VHF/UHF to play with. So I tried some sat work as well, only the FM sats. Actually it was the only thing I really liked on VHF/UHF since the "feel" of a QSO came close to what I experienced on HF. My last effort dates from 2006 just before I sold my big circulair polarized 70cm yagi. See my efforts in this 2014 blogpost:

    73, Bas

    1. Hey Bas, that IC-706 was a very versatile rig, wasn't it! Did you keep it when you bought your 7300? I am amazed at what some people have done with satellites..N8HM has worked 79 DXCC entities and he seems to do it all when operating from an apartment or when portable in parks, etc.

      One of the things I like about it is that it is not "band condition" dependent and that the entire set-up is easily taken portable. Non-hams are impressed when the sat arrives as scheduled and voices start coming from the little HT.

      Did you get bored with satellites once you got HF privileges?

      73 - John

    2. Hello John, yes I kept the IC-706. I have trouble with it so I can't sell it. It does however well on VHF/UHF. I packed it back into the original box. I might use it for future experiments. No, I didn't get bored but I have limited time for the hobby. My biggest interest is HF so the choice was easily made...
      After 2006 I never tried sats again. 73, Bas

  2. Hi John, I just saw this blog in my metrics on my blog. Cool to see you have been inspired by my videos. For anyone looking at this and wanting to try AO-92, do be aware that it has some battery cells dying so they have the transponder off currently. I don't even think it is sending out its safe mode voice beacons either. So we have no more L-band capable sat. Though there is discussion about using the new ISS ham radio to enable L-band uplink in the future.

    1. Hello John,

      I have been reading about the new gear onboard the ISS and I'll tell you the YouTube video I'm hoping to see soon - one that demonstrates the satellite/ISS capabilities of the new IC-705. A lot of people are receiving these radios now but all the videos focus on the HF aspects of the rig.

      I appreciate your videos because I know they inspire others as well as myself. And I think they might appeal to newer hams since that aspect of our hobby has more of a 'Wow' factor that my own interests of CW DXing.

      Tnx and 73,
      John AE5X