Since getting started out in amateur radio satellites at the start of the year, the equipment has changed an awful lot, at first I was listening to the beacons using the Funcube Dongle and a Diamond V-2000 vertical, this soon developed into wanting to work through the birds and have actual contacts so I needed to look further into antennas.
After spending about a week looking around the internet and reading the The ARRL Satellite Handbook (Highly recommended), I decided to settle on buying a Yaesu G-5500 rotator and a set of Diamond Yagi’s these being a 10 elements on 70cms and 5 elements on 2m not overly large nor crossed but a good starting point.
Once these items had arrived along with large amounts of cables, I got to work setting it all up with the help of my Dad (M3JFM) who was in charge of doing all the soldering work on the plugs and connectors. The antennas are only 17 feet above the ground and not in full clear view but it’s the best it can be for the current location.
Using the Yaesu FT-817 and the FT-7800, I was able to work through the FM satellites easily – at first manually tracking them and leaving the uplink frequency fixed and just adjusting the downlink either by tuning the VFO or using AFC on the radio, but later automated using CAT control and the addition of the Fox delta ST2 tracking unit allowed automated tracking of the antennas which I was using alongside the Ham Radio Deluxe package.
Next stage in the development of the station getting on the SSB satellites and start thinking about being able to-do general SSB/CW contacts on VHF/UHF, yet more research required the black box options seemed to be either a Kenwood TS-2000 which not only did VHF/UHF but HF aswell but I decided I wanted a dedicated radio.
So that only left the ICOM IC-910 after mentioning to Gavin M1BXF that I was after a second-hand one, he soon found me one – from one the Camb-Hams and a price was settled and by Friday the 14th of March 2011. I was heading to Cambridge to pick it up, and operate in the March 144/423MHz contest (in which we came second!) which was also a good time to try the radio out on the 2m position and after working all around Europe I was more than happy!
Next step was actually operating the radio on the SSB satellites, at first I was doing this manually by settling the downlink frequency and adjusting the uplink to make sure it was in the same place. This although worked fine, it wasn’t ideal and using the Ham Radio Deluxes Sat track I couldn’t get automated Doppler correction working to my liking so since June, I’ve switched to using SatPC32 which works far better in my opinion of course everyone’s different so I’d recommend you have a play with all the packages available.
Now I’ve got everything to my liking I can happily work through AO-7, AO-27, AO-51, SO-50, FO-29, VO-52, Arrisat-1 transponders without any problem and have a large amount of QSL cards building up from QSO’s! Looking at my log I’m heading towards a 1000 satellite QSOs this year alone, you can see a pie chart of qsos per sat at https://www.2m0sql.com/logger/index.php/statistics, or read my regular reports in PW.
What I’ve now been thinking about is how I’m going to take the station forward, what I could really be done with is a couple of preamps for 2m & 70cms and then perhaps look at switching to Wimo X Yagis, this all highly dependent on my bank balance.