After I got my first several ARISS contacts, I decided it was time to move on to the other Amateur Satellites that are available for voice operations. So I added a few (SO-50, AO-73, AO-27) to my favorite Android satellite tracker, ISS Detector, programmed up some frequencies and set out with high hopes!
But I didn’t hear anything but static
I swapped over from my homemade yagi antenna to my Comet GP-3 base station (which, by the way, is now outside on the house! YES!) and still didn’t hear anything during fly overs. I switched from my cheapo Baofeng to my base station and still, no luck. Hmmm.
I double checked my doppler shift calculations, antenna connections, and even listened with squelch fully off…
Well, all was not lost. I’d previously tried to tune in to the AmSat Net hosted by the Arlington Amateur Radio Club on their repeater K5SLD, but with the GP-3 in the foil attic, I wasn’t able to make the repeater which is able 40 miles away. Now that the antenna is outside, I could finally reach the repeater (and others in Dallas like the Flamethrower and the Green Building repeater).
I checked in on the net tonight and was immediately greeted with a few people that were very happy to offer advice. One in particular, Tom, N5HYP offered to reach out via email and work with me. Folks like these are the reason Amateur radio is such a wonderful community. There’s always someone willing to help when you have issues.
The biggest take away from the conversation for me was that the ARISS repeater has spoiled me. It transmits at a much higher power (around 25watts?) than the little cubesats (in the mW range) and, therefore, is much easier to hear and be heard. The smaller cube sats require…. finesse. Precise direction. Sensitivity. Which, of course, makes all the sense in the world after someone pointed out the obvious to me. (facepalm) But this is how it goes, apparently.
With all that in mind, I’m going to re-attack this with a new weapon and strategy.
More to come!