Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CQ Satellite

I finally got the steerable VHF/UHF array put up on the weekend. It is pretty much a copy of the very successful arrangement I had back in the nineties. A pair of Cushcraft 13B2 yagis for 2m, a homebrew 10-turn helix antenna on 70cm and all mounted on the shack trailer with a 20ft. fold-down tower with rotators for azimuth and elevation. I still have to build and install the mast-mounted VHF preamp and switching arrangement and put in the permanent feedlines (1/2" hardline) but so far everything seems to be working great. I made a bunch of contacts on AO-51, SO-50 and FO-29 and listened to myself calling CQ for a whole pass each of AO-7 and VO-52.

I think AO-7 is going to be my new favorite. Launched in 1974 (!) Amsat-Oscar 7 came back from the dead in 2002 after a 21 year sleep. The altitude is high enough that from my QTH I get coverage (at various times) to all of North America, Europe and Japan. Last night my downlink was audible right to the horizon so hopefully I'll be able to work a good bit of DX on this bird.

Once the preamp and new feedlines are installed the station should be EME-capable and I'm also working on automating the antenna tracking to allow for complete 'hands-off' operation. Tuning the radio, adjusting antenna azimuth and elevation, logging and operating all at the same time is pretty challenging but I'm starting to get the hang of it again.

I'll post more as things get completed but suffice to say that working satellites is BIG fun!