Category Archives: Amateur Satellite

My First Contact via Satellite

I’ve been gearing up to work SO-50 lately.  Mostly just listening in, perfecting my setup, and perhaps overthinking things.


I use ISS Detector for Android on my Galaxy S5 to alert me to ISS and AMSAT flyovers.  I was busy when my phone alerted me to a nice 71° pass at just before 7pm local time.  Well, by the time I had a chance to grab my gear, I had only 2 minutes to spare.  Today, less was more, and with less… I made my first satellite contact.

I grabbed my tape measure antenna and only one radio, and connected it to the 2m side so I could transmit, and hopefully receive well enough.  Once the bird broke through 25° it came in nice and clear (there are mountains to the north where it began it’s pass).  I recorded the audio with my phone.  I have been working to use my TASCAM audio recorder, but didn’t have time to get it all together… plus, I’ve yet to come up with a way for the TASCAM to record my transmissions.  More tinkering to do there.

I waited for a break to get my call-sign in the mix, and ended up making contact with KM4LMF, who appears to be an even newer ham than I… As in a day or two ago?!  Nice job!

Here it is:

I attempted a couple more contacts, and WB3CSY ended up calling, I threw out my call-sign, but at the time I didn’t catch his call-sign and I kinda just had a brain fart, after having made my first contact.  Oh well… I was excited.

I’m sorry, WB3CSY… I’ll do better next time:


The tape measure antenna came through in a pinch!  Now I need to work on getting an HT that does SSB for the other AMSATs up there.

Other call-signs heard today:

KP4WK – Brandon, FL

WC7V – Livingston, MT

N0SPN – Kasson, MN

KN0E – Monticello, MO

KD8ATF – Ft. Ashby, WV

My first ISS reception

This morning, the ISS flew nearly directly overhead and I set up to listen in.  As I was doing my best to get the antenna pointed correctly, a perfectly empty carrier broke the static for about 2 seconds.  Then a few seconds later, RS0ISS came through saying hello.  A few seconds more and a clean SSTV signal came through.  I even remembered to record the audio this time!  I decoded the audio with my phone, and besides receiving two phone notifications during the recording (note to self: silence all alerts when using my phone to record audio!), the image came out OK for my first try.

Download Audio here


Dual Band Tape Measure Yagi Antenna

While I wait for my Arrow antenna to arrive, I thought I would experiment and build a dual band tape measure yagi since I already had most of the parts on hand.  The Arrow antenna can be broken down and carried in a bag, and it will be my primary antenna to work satellites, but the 70cm part of this antenna came out perfectly resonant at 436.6 MHz.  I had to really go outside the box on the 70cm director lengths, but I finished with a combination that tests well.

The 2m portion did not turn out so well, but at 146.600 I ended up with a 1.5 SWR at best.  It receives well enough.  I’ll tinker with it again and see what I can come up with.

Yesterday, I was able to receive SO-50 (Saudisat 1C) just fine and in my excitement I forgot to start recording on my phone.  I didn’t try to make contact, but a lot of what I heard was very clear, and the operators that were hitting the bird with full quieting came back to me the same.  Pretty neat stuff!

tape-ant-01Today, SO-50 flew overhead and I was better prepared to record the audio and even make contact.  What I discovered, however, is that something nearby was transmitting a nice clean carrier on 436.785 thru 486.795 while I was attempting to receive the bird.  Well, given that I was out in the driveway using a highly directional antenna, I found that it was coming from my house!  I was able to hear a couple transmissions from SO-50, but the rogue carrier pretty much ruined the session.  I had not experienced this yesterday…

I set out on a little fox hunt in the house to hunt down the source and found that the downstairs desktop PC  was the culprit.  Note to self: put that damn thing to sleep next time!

I referenced these sources for the build: