Working the Easy Sats

An Informal Introduction to the Amateur Satellite Program and Hints
on Getting Started Using the More Easily Accessed Satellites

by Gary B. Rogers       WA4YMZ       AMSAT 16961


	This document was created as an attempt to provide a simple
easy to read introduction to the Amateur Satellite Service and
easily used "birds" now in operation.  Why did I undertake this
task?  Simply put, I wanted to share the enjoyment I receive
operating the satellites.  I'll tell you up front, this type of
operation isn't for everybody.  Some people will find it too boring,
some may see it as too much effort for the pay-off, and others may
not like the fact that they can't work the birds whenever they want.
Satellites are but one aspect of the total amateur radio picture.
If you think you may want to give it a try, please do. You may find,
as I did, that other operating habits and pursuits get pushed to the
back seat.  I also want to dispel the myth that getting on the
satellites is expensive.  True, it can suck your wallet dry if you
let it, but name any other part of ham radio, or any other hobby for
that matter, that won't. It needn't be that way.  I will be
concentrating on the "Easy Sats", those satellites that do not
require lots of extra hardware or big high gain directional
antennas. These satellites can be worked very well with no more
equipment than many hams already own.

	I am only able to offer observations, hints, explanations,
etc., on those facets of the hobby in which I am involved.  So far,
I have limited my efforts to the LEO's (Low Earth Orbit satellites),
mainly on voice but with some digital work, so I am most able to
speak of those.  I have no first hand knowledge of AO-10 other than
what I have read or by occasionally monitoring its downlink.
Besides, this "bird" doesn't really fit into the category of "easy"
and ise beyond the scope of this paper.  I will also be avoiding
discussion of the digital satellites now in operation, as they
require more specialized equipment.

	This work is very personal.  It details what I learned while
trying to set up my satellite station.  To that end, I ask that you
view it as such.  I am basically saying "I did it.  You can, too.
Come join the fun!"

	Hope to hear you on the birds soon!

	Gary B. Rogers    WA4YMZ    AMSAT 16961

	Rev. 2.6
	January, 1997 Contents

  i     Forward - A brief note on why I wrote this paper and what is

 ii     Contents -  This listing.

 1      An Introduction to the Satellites - An overview of what
satellites are available to the Amateur Satellite operator.

 2      Definitions - Some commonly used words in the satellite

 3      Special Considerations - A look at some of the major
differences between terrestrial operation and using the satellites.

 4      The Easy Sats - A definition of what we consider Easy Sats
and a look at those that meet our definition.  Discussed are:
		RS-10 and RS-12
		FO-20 and FO-29

 5      Working the Birds - A suggested path for getting active on
the Easy Sats, with hints for setting up your station.

 6      More Boxes, More Satellites - An brief peek at what lies
ahead for the satellite operator who decides to go beyond the Easy

 7      After the QSO - Information on QSLing, Grid Squares, and

 8      How One Ham Got On the Satellites - A discussion of what it
took for me to become satellite active, with a look at some of my
successes and problems.

9       My Resources - A bibliography of the books, e-mail lists and
on-line resources I used while researching this paper.

10      AMSAT - The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, our
international organization of Amateur Satellite operators.

11      In Closing... - A few final thoughts. An Introduction to the

	Are you ready to get started?  Great!  Since this is the
Amateur Satellite program, let's have a look at the Amateur
Satellites. The first thing we'll notice is that there are quite a
few of them and no two are exactly the same. Fortunately, there are
enough similarities among some of the birds that we can conveniently
group them.  For lack of any better reason than this is how I think
of them, I have divided all of the active satellites into the
following four categories. Some of the satellites apear more than
once because they operate in more than one manner.

	1) Low Earth Orbit - Analog (CW and Voice)
		RS-10, RS-12, RS-15, FO-20, AO-27, FO-29
	2) Low Earth Orbit - Digital
		AO-16, DO-17, WO-18, LO-19, AO-26,  (1200 Baud)
		UO-22, KO-23, KO-25, PO-28, FO-29 (9600 Baud)
	3) High Earth Orbit
	4) Occupied Spacecraft
		Mir/SAFEX II, SAREX (Space Shuttle)

	At this time, nearly three quarters of the Amateur
Satellites fall into the group we call "LEO - Low Earth Orbit".  If
we include the Occupied Spacecraft, which share the same orbital
characteristics, we're left only AO-10.  One common feature of these
birds is that they circle the earth many times a day and are usually
available two or three times during one part of the day and as many
times about 12 hours later.  Due to their low orbit, and the
sensitive receivers they all possess, directional antennas and lots
of power are not required.  Many Hams already own the equipment
needed to work the satellites, they just don't realize it.  That's
one of the reasons I'm writing this paper.

	Unfortunately, a disadvantage to a low orbit is that the
satellites' footprints (area "seen" by satellite at any one time)
are small and their passes are short.  Consequently, people who use
these birds generally limit themselves to very short QSO's or even
use the quick contact format similar to that used during contests.
Do not let this dissuade you from trying them, however.  They really
are easy to use, and some of them, the Russian birds we call the RS
series (for Radio Sputnik), are also relatively inexpensive to get

	Since this is an introduction to the satellites, I'll be
concentrating on what we call the Easy Sats.  What defines an Easy
Sat?  Well, how about:
	1) Easy to hear?
	2) Easy to aim your antennas (not necessary! if you're using
	3) Easy on the check book?. There are presently six analog
satellites (RS-10, RS-12, RS-15, FO-20, AO-27, FO-29), one digital
satellite (DO-17), and the two Occupied Spacecraft that meet these
requirements.  It is on these that we will concentrate.  By the way,
by "Easy on the check book" I mean that nothing is required to work
these birds that can't be used for standard terrestrial Hamming: An
HF radio and a 2M radio (preferably a multi-mode).  Optional are a
packet station for digital work and receive preamps.  To be honest,
maybe we should call FO-20, AO-27, and FO-29 "Almost Easy Sats"
because they require a receiver, transceiver or receive converter
for 70cM.

	Now let's take a quick look at the satellites that are
presently active in the Amateur Satellite Service.  This chart is an
expanded version of the ARRL Mail Server document SATFREQS.TXT.  I
have divided the satellites into the four categories I used above.

Amateur Radio Satellite Frequencies

Designation     Frequencies     Transp/ Mode

Low Earth Orbit - Analog

RS-10 (RS-10/11, NORAD 18129) *
    Downlinks           29.357                  B
				29.360-.400             T
				29.403                  B (Robot)
    Uplinks             145.860-.900                    T

RS-12 (RS-12/13, NORAD 21089) *
    Downlinks           29.408                  B
				29.410-.450             T
				29.454                  B (Robot)
				145.910-.950            T
    Uplinks             21.210-.250             T
RS-15 (NORAD 23439)
    Downlinks           29.352                  B
				29.354-.394             T
    Uplinks             145.858-.898                    T

FO-20 (Fuji-OSCAR 20, NORAD 20480) *
    Downlinks           435.795                         B
J Analog
				435.800-.900                    T J
    Uplinks             145.900-6.00                    T
J Analog

AO-27 (OSCAR 27, AMRAD, NORAD 22825) **
    Downlink            436.900
FM Voice
    Uplink              145.850
FM Voice

FO-29 (Fuji-OSCAR 29), NORAD 24278)             (also see 1200 and
9600 Baud)
    Downlinks           435.795                         B
J Analog
				435.800-.900                    T J
    Uplinks             145.900-6.00                    T
J Analog
    Downlink    435.910         B               FM Voice digitalker
    Downlink    435.795         B               12WPM CW telemetry
Low Earth Digital
(1200 Baud)

AO-16 (OSCAR 16, Pacsat, Microsat-A, NORAD 20439)
    Downlinks           437.02625                       T/B
J Dig. (1200b SSB) (sec.)
				437.05130                       T/B
J Dig. (1200b SSB) (pri.)

(Raised Cosine)
			2401.14280                      B 1200 bps
SSB (Usually off)
    Uplinks             145.900                         T 1200 bps
AFSK FM Digital
				145.920                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital
				145.940                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital
				145.960                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital

DO-17 (OSCAR 17, DOVE, Microsat-B, NORAD 20440)
    Downlinks           145.82438                       B 1200 bps
AFSK FM/Dig Voice
				145.82516                       B
1200 bps AFSK FM/Dig Voice
			2401.22050                      B 1200 bps
BPSK (usually off)
    Uplinks             None

WO-18 (OSCAR 18, Webersat, Microsat-C, NORAD 20441)
    Downlink            437.10200                       B 1200 bps
BPSK, J Digital
    Uplink              None (Telem, Image)

LO-19 (OSCAR 19, Lusat, Microsat-D, NORAD 20442)
    Downlinks           437.125                         T/B
J Digital (secondary)
				437.127                         B CW
				437.154                         T/B
J Digital (primary)
    Uplinks             145.840                         T 1200 bps
AFSK FM Digital
				145.860                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital
				145.880                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital
				145.900                         T
1200 bps AFSK FM Digital

AO-26 (ITAMSAT, IO-26, NORAD 22826)
    Downlink            435.867         T
1200 bps PSK Digital
    Uplinks             145.875               T
1200 bps FM Digital
				145.900       T
1200 bps FM Digital
				145.925               T 1200 bps FM
				145.950               T 1200 bps FM

FO-29 (Fuji-OSCAR 29, NORAD 24278)              (also see Analog and
9600 baud)
	Downlink        435.920         T               1200 bps PSK
	Uplink          145.850         T               1200 bps FM
				145.870       T
1200 bps FM Digital
				145.890               T 1200 bps FM
				145.910               T 1200 bps FM
Low Earth Digital (9600 Baud)

UO-22 (OSCAR 22, UoSAT, UoSAT-F, NORAD 21575)
    Downlink            435.120                         T 9600 bps
FM Digital
    Uplinks             145.900                         T 9600 bps
FM Digital
				145.975                         T
9600 bps FM Digital

KO-23 (OSCAR 23, KITSAT-A, NORAD 22077)
    Downlink            435.175                         T 9600 bps
FM Digital
    Uplinks             145.850                         T 9600 bps
FM Digital
				145.900                         T
9600 bps FM Digital

KO-25 (KITSAT-B, NORAD 22828) ***
    Downlink            435.175/436.500                 T
9600 bps FM Digital
    Uplink              145.870/145.980                 T
9600 bps FM Digital

PO-28 (POSAT, NORAD 22829)
    Downlink            435.278               T                 9600
bps FM Digital
    Uplink              145.975               T
9600 bps FM Digital

FO-29 (Fuji-OSCAR 29, NORAD 24278)              (see also Analog and
1200 Baud)
    Downlink    435.910         T               9600 bps FM Digital
    Uplink              145.870         T               9600 bps FM

High Earth Orbit

AO-10 (OSCAR 10, Phase 3B, NORAD 14129)
    Downlinks   145.810         B               B
				145.825-.975                    T B
				145.987                         B B
(Usually off)
    Uplinks             435.027-.179                    T

Occupied Spacecraft

Mir/SAFEX II (NORAD 16609) ****
	Downlink        145.800                         T
FM Voice from Cosmonauts Uplink         145.200         T
FM Voice to Cosmonauts
	Downlink        145.800         T               1200 bps FM
	Uplink          145.200         T               1200 bps FM
	Downlink        437.95          T               FM Voice
Repeater down
	Uplink          435.75          T               FM Voice
Repeater up
	Downlink        437.975         T               9600 bps FM
Digital down
	Uplink          437.775         T               9600 bps FM
Digital up
	Downlink        437.925         T               FM Voice
with crew, bulletins
	Uplink          435.725         T               FM Voice
with crew, up

Notes: *        RS-10 is a piggy-back package attached to COSMOS
			RS-12 is a piggy-back package attached to
			FO-20 is a piggy-back package attached to

		** AO-27 is a dual purpose satellite, and is only
available for Amateur Radio use at specific times.  The parent
satellite is EYESAT-1.

		***     Some element sets list NORAD 22830 for
KO-25, but careful study since launch has determined that 22828 is
the correct object.

		****It is necessary to compensate for Doppler shift
on both the uplink and downlink frequencies for the 70cM SAFEX II
equipment.  The 70cM voice frequencies require a 141.3 CTCSS tone
for access.

	The NORAD number listed by each satellite is a designation
assigned by the North American Air Defense Command, a cooperative
international group that includes among its duties the tracking of
all space borne objects.  This number is used by all popular
tracking and pass prediction software to identify which satellites
to process.

	You will notice that SAREX is absent from the list.  As each
mission's orbital profile is different, the shuttle has not been
assigned a permanent NORAD number. Definitions

	Before we go any further, we need to establish a common
vocabulary.  Some people would put this in the back, as an appendix
or something, but let's face it, there are a lot of words and terms
that we'll be using, some of them unique to the satellites.

ANALOG: A type of transmission where the intelligence (voice, CW,
SSTV, etc.) is used to directly control the output of the
transmitter.  The opposite of DIGITAL.

AOS: Acquisition of Signal.  This is the moment when the satellite
comes into range and can be accessed.  The easiest way to know you
have achieved AOS it to listen for the beacons on the satellites
that have them.  The opposite of LOS.

APOGEE: The point in a satellite's orbit where it is farthest from
the earth.

AZ/EL: Azimuth/Elevation.  Used to describe the present location in
space of a satellite.  The Azimuth is the compass direction from the
viewer and the elevation is the angle above ground.  Also used to
describe the type of hardware able to position antennas in both the
horizontal and vertical planes.

BEACON: An automatic transmitter at the satellite.  The beacon is
usually located at the high or low end of the pass-band and will
send out satellite identification and telemetry.   Most beacons use

BIRD: A common slang term for a satellite.

DIGITAL: A method of transmission where the intelligence is
processed by some type of modem (a TNC, for example).  Digital
satellite communications are usually confined to the LEO packet
satellites. The opposite of ANALOG.

DOPPLER SHIFT: The change in frequency of a received signal due to
the motion of the satellite. This requires adjustment of the
transmit or receive frequency, with the common practice being to
change the higher of the two frequencies in use.

DOWNLINK: The transmission from the satellite to the earth station.

EARTH STATION: The equipment used to communicate with or through a
satellite or spacecraft. Special earth stations, known as Control
Stations or Command Stations, are able to manipulate the workings of
the satellite.

FOOTPRINT: The area of the earth's surface which is visible to the
satellite at one time. Generally speaking, the lower the orbit, the
smaller the footprint.

FULL DUPLEX: The ability to transmit and receive at the same time.
This is the preferred method in satellite operations because it
allows us to hear our own signal and make frequency adjustments as
necessary. (See DOPPLER SHIFT)

HALF DUPLEX: Using different frequencies to transmit and receive,
but being able to do only one of those functions at a time.  An
example of half duplex operation is the use of a single HF
transceiver for Mode K.  Not to be confused with SIMPLEX.

INCLINATION: The angle of an orbit in relationship to the equator.
Orbits with a low inclination are called equatorial orbits; those
with higher inclinations are called polar orbits.

LEO: Low Earth Orbit.  A name given to satellites with orbits in the
600 to 2000 kilometer altitude range.  The LEOs normally circle the
earth about every 1.5 to 2 hours.  Their low altitude gives rise to
a small footprint and their speed causes the pass to be of short

LOS: Loss of Signal. The moment when the satellite can no longer be

MODE: An indication of the operational parameters of a satellite,
including frequencies used and types of modulation.  These are noted
with a series of letters.

	A: 145MHz up / 29MHz down.  SSB and CW.

	B: 435MHz up / 145MHz down. SSB and CW.

	K: 21MHz up / 29MHz down.  SSB and CW.  In the US this mode
is limited to Advanced and Extra Class licensees.

	JA: 145MHz up / 435MHz down.  SSB and CW.  The A means

	JD: 145MHz up / 435MHz down.  FM Packet uplink. PSK downlink
on 1200 baud satellites, FM Packet on 9600 baud satellites.  The D
means Digital.

	S: 435MHz up / 2.4GHz down.  SSB and CW.  Many people use
receive converters for the downlink.

	T: 21MHz up / 145MHz down.  SSB and CW.  Not much available
for this any more, but sometimes RS-12 will be in this mode, or mode
KT, with a 21MHz uplink and downlinks on both 29MHz and 145MHz.

With the launch of Phase 3D in 1997, this type of designation will
become obsolete. P3D will employ a matrix of receivers and
transmitters which will be engaged at various times, so the shorter
one or two letter combinations will be replaced with an indication
of which TX and RX pair is active. For example, Mode J will become
Mode V/U, for VHF up/UHF down.
MOLNIYA: A type of elongated orbit where, as the satellite nears
its apogee, it seems to be almost motionless for long periods of
time. Very good for long distance contacts.

OSCAR: Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio.  The original name
for the satellite program. Project OSCAR was later replaced by AMSAT
but the name still remains in the designations.

PASSBAND:  When used in reference to a TRANSPONDER, defines the
amount of radio spectrum that a receiver will accept and,
consequently, the amount of radio spectrum a satellite's downlink
will occupy.

PERIGEE: The point in a satellite's orbit where it is closest to the

REPEATER: A radio system that receives a radio signal on one
frequency and retransmits it on another, usually on a different
band.  Repeaters work with one signal at a time and should not be
confused with a TRANSPONDER.

STORE & FORWARD: Technique used with the digital satellites in which
a message or file is transmitted up to a satellite where it is
stored.  This information is then retransmitted and received by
another station who requests it.  Very similar to having a friend
upload a file to your favorite telephone or packet BBS and letting
it sit until you are able to log on and retrieve it.

TRACKING: The process of continuously adjusting the direction of
antennae to keep them aimed at a moving satellite.  Also the use of
a computer program to generate and/or display the position of the
satellite.  Some of the more advanced satellite operators have the
computer linked to the antenna aiming control boxes so this function
is done without human intervention.

TRANSPONDER: Similar to a repeater, but a small range of frequencies
is converted from one band to another.  This range of frequencies is
known as the PASSBAND of the transponder.  There are two types of
transponders: Non-Inverting and Inverting.  A Non-Inverting
transponder will receive an USB (Upper Side Band) signal at the high
end of the Uplink Passband and it will appear as an USB signal at
the high end of the Downlink Passband.  Examples of a Non-Inverting
transponder are RS-10, RS-12, and RS-15.  With an Inverting
Transponder, that same high end USB signal would be transmitted as
an LSB (Lower Side Band) signal at the lower end of the Downlink
Passband.  Examples of Inverting transponders are AO-10, FO-20 and

UPLINK: The signals from the ground station to the satellite.
Special Considerations

	I can hear you thinking "Whoa!  I thought you said these
were easy to work!  That whole list of satellite specific words sure
doesn't look easy to me!" There really isn't a problem here. All of
these will come as second nature once you get on the birds.  Like
many things in life, it's hard to understand something if you don't
know the terms.  There are a few concepts we really should spend
more time discussing, though, because they are unique to satellite
operation.  If we aren't at least familiar with them, getting
started will be much more difficult

	The biggest difference between satellite communication and
the type of Hamming we are all used to is that you can't just pick
up the microphone, start talking, and expect someone to be there
listening.  Working a satellite is more like working DX or holding a
schedule with another Ham.  For example, maybe you want to talk to
your friend in another state.  On HF you would ask yourself "What
band can I use to get there and when will it be open?"  You ask much
the same thing on the satellites only it would be "What satellite
can I use with my equipment and when will it be in a location where
it is visible to us both?" Well, let's assume you have a station set
up for Mode A.  You know that Mode A is available on RS-10 and
RS-15, so you fire up your computer, load your favorite pass
prediction program, and see that you have a common window of
visibility at 1330UTC on RS-10.  At the appointed hour you fire up
the radios and start talking to your friend.

	Well, not really, and what's all this about computers and
what are pass prediction programs?  By their very nature, the LEO's
are constantly moving.  This can create quite a problem unless you
have a way to determine where they will be at any given minute.
There is a lot of math involved and you need to know such things as
altitude, speed, direction, drag coefficient, and a bunch of other
goodies that describe exactly a satellite's orbit.  This information
is generated daily by USSPACECOM and distributed through a variety
of networks and can be downloaded from many bulletin boards.
Fortunately, the orbital parameters of a satellite varies little on
a day by day basis, so updating these Keplerian Elements (that's
what they are called) only needs to be done every few weeks.  In the
days B.P.C. (Before Personal Computers), people had to manipulate
this information by hand or with a calculator.  Now programs exist
that will take these elements, do all of the computations for you,
and generate a list of pass opportunities.  Most of the better ones
will even show you this graphically.  The quality of these programs
varies, as do their hardware requirements and cost. Prices can range
from free up to $90 or so and, depending on what you need, your
computer could range from a monographics equipped AT to a Super VGA
Pentium system.  You will need an accurate clock for real-time
tracking, and you should know your geographical coordinates. Don't
worry too much about the latter; the better programs have a list of
sites built in and you just need to pick your nearest major city.
You will often hear this pass prediction called "tracking."

	So now we know what satellite and when it will be coming
over.  We're ready, right?  Well, we would be if it were exactly
that easy.  Going back to our example, let's compare the satellite
with the band and the pass time with when the band is open.  If
either of those isn't present, you're out of luck, but if both are
available, you still have to know the exact frequency.  If you want
to talk with someone specific, you had better agree on that ahead of
time.  Fortunately, most of us just want to communicate, or perhaps
we're trying to achieve Worked All States on the satellites.  Then
it's just like we're used to operating; call CQ or answer someone
Transponders and Satellite Passbands

	Another comparison between satellite and non-satellite
operation is that working satellites is very similar to working
"split" on HF or "cross-band" repeat on repeaters, where you
transmit on one band and listen on another.  On HF, you are pretty
much free to choose which two bands and which frequencies within
those bands you wish to use.  On the satellites, as on the
repeaters, that choice has been made for you; that's what we mean by
"mode".  Unlike repeaters, almost all of the analog birds are
actually "transponders" which listen to an entire segment of one
band and retransmit it on another band (the exception is AO-27).
Let us again go back to your planned QSO with your out-of-state
friend.  You chose RS-10, a Mode A satellite.  RS-10 will accept an
signal anywhere from 145.860MHz to 145.900MHz and retransmit it
between 29.360MHz and 29.400MHz.  These are known as the uplink and
downlink passbands, and there is a direct relationship between them.
A signal you transmit a 145.870MHz will be rebroadcast by the
satellite at (about) 29.370MHz, 145.880MHz comes down as (about)
29.380, etc.  This is because RS-10 (as well as RS-12 and RS-15)
uses what is known as a "non-inverting linear transponder".

	You can easily graph this relationship, and it may not be a
bad idea to do so.  Using a ruler, draw two parallel lines of equal
length, one exactly above the other.  Look up the passband limits of
the satellite in question.  Note the lower limit of the uplink at
the left end of the top line and the upper limit on the right end.
Do the same for the downlink on the bottom line.  What you end up
should look something like this:

RS-10 Uplink Passband 145.860         145.870        145.880
145.890 145.900

29.360 29.370 29.380          29.390           29.400 RS-10 Downlink

	Looking at this, you can see that if you want to meet your
friend on a downlink frequency of 29.390, you just need to transmit
on (about) 145.890.

Doppler Shift

	Wait a minute! What's with this "about" stuff?   Unlike
terrestrial communications where it is possible to pick a frequency
and stay there (+/- drift for older radios), there is a phenomenon
known as Doppler Shift that satellite operators must take into
account.  Just what is this Doppler Shift and how do we deal with
it?  By way of another example, have you ever heard a train blowing
its whistle as it passed by?  Remember how the tone seemed to change
with time? Obviously, the whistle wasn't actually changing; it was
how you perceived the whistle that changed.  This variance is a
result of the relationship of the observer to a source that's
moving.  Well, that is what we call Doppler Shift. The same thing
happens to signals coming from space, but because the signals we
receive are transmitted as RF instead of audio, we have to
constantly tune our receivers or transmitters to make up the
difference.  On the Amateur satellites we've developed a de facto
standard of changing the higher of the two frequencies. For example,
if I'm listening to myself on the RS-10 downlink, I'll constantly
fine tune my uplink because it is the higher of the two (145MHz Vs
29 MHz). Technically speaking, the satellite also sees a shift in
the signal it is receiving, so I'm compensating for both.  The
apparent shift in frequency varies by band.  On RS-12 with its 15M
uplink and 10M downlink, the change is on the order of +/- 2.5kHz.
Up on FO-20 and FO-29, where the uplink is 2M and the downlink is
70cM, the shift grows to +/- 10kHz.

	The hardest part about Doppler Shift is finding your desired
signal the first time, but even that isn't a major hassle.  Let's go
back to our RS-10 example.  This time, let's say that you have a
schedule with your friend and you have both agreed to meet on the
downlink frequency of 29.390MHz.  You know that for that frequency
down, you need to transmit on about 145.890MHz.  You also know that
Doppler is going to be changing that some what, but how much you
need to determine. What do you do?  Listen for the RS-10 beacon,
that's what.  You consult the satellite information table and see
that the beacon is supposed to appear at 29.403.  Tuning there, you
find the beacon, loud and strong, at 29.405MHz instead. Ah, hah!
The beacon is 2kHz HIGHER than it should be.  Now we're ready.
Quickly, tune your receiver back down to 29.390.  Next, correct your
transmitter frequency by tuning it LOWER by 2kHz to 145.888MHz.
Give a few quick dits on your key or announce your call and you
should hear yourself.  You may not be exactly on frequency, but
you're pretty close. After that, just make minor corrections to your
transmitter or receiver as necessary.  (To accomplish this, it
really helps to be able to listen to your downlink.  That's one of
the advantages of full duplex operation.)  By the end of the pass,
you'll notice that you are actually above your original
non-corrected target frequency, but you've done it: you made another
successful contact!

	Sure seemed like a lot of trouble, didn't it?  Don't worry;
in time it will be second nature.  You won't even have to hunt for
the beacon, you'll just know where to start listening for your

	That sounds fine for the SSB/CW satellites, but what about
those FM uplinks?  Don't the satellites see a variance in those,
too?  Yes, they do, but their receivers were purposely built a bit
broad so it isn't a problem.  We worry ONLY about the downlink.


	Before we leave this topic, let's spend just a little time
on the "best antenna" debate. Unless you have the time, space and
inclination to put up directional antennas for the satellites, you
must decide just how much of a compromise you are willing to make.
If you run one of the pass prediction programs that lists the
maximum angle the birds achieve when you can access them, you will
see that most of the time they are no higher than 35 degrees or so
above the horizon. Unfortunately, the closer to the horizon a
satellite, the greater the distance from the observer, the higher
the path loss and the greater the transmit and receive gain needed
to successfully work the bird.

	Verticals cover this well, especially ones with some gain.
Be very careful with your choice if you go this way, though; some of
the really high gain verticals are optimized for low angles of
radiation and the signal strength falls off rapidly as your
elevation angle increases. Another problem with verticals is that
natural and man-made noise tends to be vertically polarized. With FM
signals this isn't a problem, but with SSB and CW it is very

	Dipoles also work well, especially for the Mode K uplink and
Mode K and A downlinks, but they have a tendency to suffer from loss
of gain off the ends.  For good coverage using dipoles, it isn't a
bad idea to have two at right angles from each other.  The turnstile
is a special nifty antenna composed of two dipoles fed in parallel
by a 1/4 wavelength section of feedline at about 92 ohms.  This will
yield a total impedance of around 50 ohms making your receiver or
transmitter happy.  The horizontal radiation pattern is
omnidirectional but its vertical angle of radiation varies by its
height above ground.  Like the dipole, you need to pay attention to
this height.  At about 3/8 wavelength above ground the pattern looks
somewhat like a round balloon that has been put on a flat surface
and is being slightly depressed in the top center. This gives more
gain toward the horizon and less directly overhead where the
closeness of the satellite makes it less necessary.  The TR-Array is
a favorite home brew application of the turnstile where the crossed
dipoles are mounted above an artificial ground, such as a section of
chicken wire in a frame. These are often used at 2M and above.
Because the ground plane is part of the antenna system, it can be
mounted well above the actual ground.

	If you are fortunate enough to have beams, an old trick is
to tilt them about 30 degrees up.  This will still give you gain
toward the horizon but increases the usable elevation.  Don't feel
you must tilt your antennas, though, especially if you are using a
mono-bander or tri-bander for RS-12 or for the downlinks of RS-10,
RS-12, or RS-15.  Many satellite operators report excellent results
in the standard "flat" horizontal orientation.  The only
disadvantage to using beam antennas is you will need to continuously
correct their direction as the satellite moves by. On the LEO's,
with their fast relative velocities, this may be too much activity
for the new operator.

	If you enjoy building at least part of your station,
consider making your own antennas.  At the frequencies used by the
Amateur satellites, the sizes aren't bad and it is possible to
obtain a lot of gain in a small (relative to HF) size. Antennas need
not be expensive, so this is a good way to try out those "what
if...?" and "I wonder..." theories without sacrificing your life

	No matter which antenna you decide to use, don't forget the
importance of using a high quality, low loss transmission line and
good connectors.  Use the very best you can afford because, if you
skimp here, you could loose a significant part of your signal as
line loss.  If it were only on transmit that this hapened, you could
make up for it with increased power (wasteful), but losses occur on
receive, too.  Every dB of attentuation from the antenna to the
radio is a bit of the downlink you can't hear and the 3-6dB loss
possible from using the wrong coax can turn a marginal signal into
one that simply isn't there.  The connectors you use add to this
loss in a subtle way by creating an impedence "hump" that acts like
a little resistor in the line.  At HF, and to some extent at 6M and
2M, we can get by with using the common SO-239/PL-259 combination,
but at higher frequencies, such as 70cM and up, most equipment comes
equiped with the Type-N connector.  The Type-N, properly installed,
will cause a very small mismatch, allowing all of the signal to
makes its way to and from the antenna.  Warning: Installation of the
Type-N is more difficult than the older SO-239/PL-259 pair, so get
help or buy them pre-installed if necessary until you develop the
knack for doing it yourself.  One final point to be observed is to
make sure that the connector/coax is well seated and well sealed
when installed on the antenna.  If you don't keep the weather out of
the connection, your coax will become water-logged and then you'll
really have line losses.  One popular method is to wrap electrical
tape tightly arount the connectors, then use one of the many
available hand-moldable compounds sold just for this purpose.

A Friendly Warning:

	Once you have everything set up and start to make contacts
on the birds, you may find that you'll be running that pass
prediction program quite often so you can see when the next
opportunity to talk ANYWHERE on ANY satellite comes up. It's kind of
like getting bit by the radio bug all over again.

The Easy Sats

    Okay, now we're ready to look at the Easy Sats.  The next
several pages will be a more in depth discussion of each satellite,
including notes, observations and, in some cases, a bit of that
bird's history.  For lack of a better reason than it makes sense to
me, I chose to review them in ascending order. Interestingly enough,
the difficulty level rises with each, but only slightly. Mir and
SAREX are presented last only because they have no numeric
designator. Following this section, I'll discuss an easy upgrade
path for your satellite career.

RS-10/11 & RS-12/13

	RS-10/11 and RS-12/13 are in 990 Km. high polar orbits
giving them a coverage circle(footprint) of about 6400 Km.,
sufficient to reach significant portions of the United States at one
time when the satellites are over the middle of the country.  Passes
over the eastern US give access to Europe, and Hawaii can be reached
if the birds are over the west coast.  Their low orbits carry them
over the US six to eight times a day for 10-18 minutes at a time,
with three passes spaced a little over 1.5 hours apart, and three
more about 12 hours later.

	Except for their differences in operating frequencies,
RS-10/11 and RS-12/13 are very similar.  In addition to their nearly
identical orbital characteristics, both are actually "piggy backs",
boxes that are bolted to larger Russian satellites and drawing their
power from the parent satellites' systems, allowing them to have a
higher power budget than most of the other LEO's. Because of this,
many fledgling Amateur Satellite operators have their first
satellite experience by monitoring their 10M downlinks using simple
dipole antennas.  In actuality, RS-11 is a backup to RS-10 and RS-13
is a backup to RS-12 and each shares the frame with its primary
counterpart.  For convenience, we will refer to these satellites
just as RS-10 and RS-12.

	Both satellites are equipped with 40kHz wide analog (SSB and
CW only) transponders, each divided into 10 4kHz wide AGC controlled
segments.  Because of their very sensitive receivers, the builders
used this "segmentation" technique to prevent one or two very strong
signals from using up the entire downlink power budget.  This works
fairly well, but excessivly strong uplinks can and will still be
hearable several kHz away.  If you feel the need to increase your
output power so you have a louder signal, consider working on your
receiver set-up instead.  No one likes an "alligator", and you may
find that you are just talking to yourself because no one else wants
to encourage poor operating practice.  Remember: 100 watts effective
output is all you need, and many enjoyable contacts are possible
using much less.

	A unique function of these satellites is an automated CW
ROBOT, transmitting on the beacon frequencies.  If you hear the
ROBOT calling CQ, it will give the proper uplink frequency. Transmit
the following at around 20 WPM (anything from about 12 WPM will

	RS-10 DE (your call) AR

and the ROBOT will respond with

	(your call) DE RS-10 QSL NR (number) OP ROBOT TU USW QSO
(number) 73 SK

Don't forget to substitute RS-12 instead of RS-10 if you are working
that bird.

	To receive a QSL card for your ROBOT contact, send the QSL
number the ROBOT sent back to you on your QSL  to:

	Andrey Mironov                          or      Werner
Schroder, DF4XW
	U1.V-Voloshinoj, d.11, kv.72            QSL ->
Hermesweg 29
	Station Perlovskaya, 141014     manager 21075 HH 90
	Moscow region, Russia                           Germany

Please remember to send along an SASE with sufficient postage.

	You may read from time to time about people who use their
handi-talkies to operate CW on RS-10.  Although this is possible, it
is not encouraged.  FM signals are very wide band and even though
there is no effort to transmit audio, unless the microphone is
totally disconnected, you will put an FM signal into the bird. Some
newer 2M FM radios also have a problem with a slow lockup time for
their synthesizers and the resultant signal is "chirpy".

	As this is being written, RS-12 is in Mode KT, so downlinks
exist on both 10M and 2M.  The 2M downlink is very strong, far
superior to the 10M version, and has the advantage that it gets rid
of the requirement to have a separate HF receiver or operate "in the
blind" using one HF radio in the half-duplex mode. Warning: RS-12's
uplink straddles the Advanced and Extra portions of the 15M band,
and working this satellite requires that you be properly licensed to
operate here. Also, since this is an HF band, when the band is open
expect a lot of terrestrial activity in the uplink passband area, so
make sure that any stations you hear calling CQ are in fact looking
for satellite QSO's.


	RS-15 is the latest (RS-16 is rumored) of the Russian
Sputnik series of Ham Satellites. Despite a common heritage, there
are several differences between it and RS-10 and RS-12.  For the
Mode A operator, newcomers especially, this can be a mixed blessing.
Although a LEO like its brothers, RS-15's orbit is much higher and
passes lasting up to 30 minutes are not uncommon.  It's nice to be
able to hold a conversation with someone and not have to worry about
hitting LOS in mid-sentence.  Another advantage of the higher orbit
is that it provides a much larger footprint. When over Raleigh, NC
the entire continental United States can be worked.  When RS-15 is
over the mid-Atlantic, it is possible to easily reach Europe.

	Unlike RS-10 and RS-12, RS-15 is an independant satellite,
not attached to a larger space frame.  For a bird that weighs in at
only 70kG and is only about one meter in diameter, that means the
craft has a very small power budget.  Also, unlike the other RS
satellites, please do not attempt to have your downlink on par with
the beacon; the power allocated to each of the 4Khz subpassband
channels is only about 0.4W, and the beacons are running about 1.2W.
Many users of RS-15 find that a receive pre-amp can be of great
benefit, often making the difference in hearing the satellite and
making a contact, or just barely being able to tell that it is

	Unfortunately, it was noticed soon after launch that the
power output drop during times of heavy use, although anticipated,
was much greater than had been expected.  Investigation has revealed
that the battery system just isn't holding up as wished.  The
satellite's orbit is also a factor in that the amount of time that
it spends in eclipse (no sun reaching it to recharge the batteries)
varies over a matter of weeks from about 12 minutes per orbit to
over 30 minutes per orbit.  When you add lowered recharge time to
heavy usage, the power system just can't keep up and the signal
drops out.  In fact, the battery system has now degraded to the
point that when the satellite is in total darknness, the transponder
shuts down.  As long as these limitations are taken into
consideration, operation through RS-15 can be rewarding.

	Another trait of this bird is the very apparent fluctuation
of the downlink signal.  RS-15 is not spin-stabilized, so the
satellite is slowly tumbling in its orbit and the relationship of
the ground stations to the satellite's antennas change.  This
imparts the flutter or "whooshing" that is characteristic of the

	The uplink and downlink pass bands for RS-15 and RS-10 are
nearly identical.  This can cause some confusion when both
satellites are within range. To help keep QSO's on track, it is a
good idea to announce which bird you are working through, both while
calling CQ and during the contact.


	It's no coincidence that the first four "Low Earth Orbit -
Digital" satellites are numbered consecutively; they were launched
at the same time on the same rocket.  Consequently, the satellites,
known collectively as Microsats, orbit at around 800kM and complete
one orbit in about 100 minutes.  Each Microsat was created by a
different group but utilized a common configuration: five aluminum
trays bolted together to form a cube with solar cells covering the
outside.  Four of these trays (power system, on-board computer,
transmitter, and receiver) appeared in each satellite.  It was the
fifth tray that made each unique.  Of the four Microsats, we will
concern ourselves only with DO-17.  The others require extra
equipment for their use and do not quite qualify as Easy Sats.

	Also known as DOVE (Digital Orbiting Voice Encoder), DO-17
is perhaps the easiest of the Microsats to use.  DOVE has no
receiver accessible by the average operator, but its transmitter can
be heard loud and clear.  Originally designed as a good will
satellite to promote world peace (the dove is the universally
recognized symbol of peace), it was hoped that peoples in even the
poorest countries could use simple receivers to hear messages of
hope and understanding being broadcast from space.  Many people have
heard the tinny, mechanical intonation "Hi. This is DOVE in space".
If you have an HT, there is a good chance you can hear DOVE, even
using a rubber-duck antenna, although an external ground plane
antenna would help things considerably.  As this is being written,
the Voice Experiment is turned off (see the sample telemetry below),
but if you have a standard 1200 baud packet station you can at least
see what's going on.  DOVE's transmit frequency is 145.825, but
Doppler Shift requires that you start listening at about 145.830,
switch to 145.825 a third of the way through the pass, then switch
again to 145.820 for the last third.  Tuning isn't really critical,
and the 5KHz steps offered on many FM only radios will work fine.
Since you won't be actually connecting to DOVE, just turn "MONitor"
ON, activate your receive buffer if you wish, then sit back and
watch the data flow by.  What you'll see will look something like

	00:60 01:56 02:87 03:34 04:56 05:57 06:70 07:50 08:70 09:6C
	0B:E6 0C:E9 0D:D6 0E:00 0F:24 10:D8 11:A8 12:00 13:02 14:B2
	16:82 17:7D 18:7D 19:7E 1A:7B 1B:5D 1C:84 1D:7F 1E:2C 1F:5C
	80 00 00 1E 26 18 CC 02 00 90 00 00 0A 0E 3C 05 0F 31 01 0A
	IP:0x25B2 o:0 l:3837 f:6778, d:0 st:0
	80 00 00 1E 26 18 CC 02 00 90 00 00 0A 0E 3C 05 0F 31 01 0A
	20th March 1995 12:36 UTC
	Voice experiment remains OFF.
	The power is being tuned.
	S Band has been turned ON but may be
	OFF without notice during the tuning period.
	73  Dove Command Team 
	vmax=757390 battop=766771 temp=437013

	By the way, there are programs available that will take this
telemetry as input and decode it into text.  You won't find any
super secret messages, but will be able to see just what the state
of the satellite is at that time.

FO-20 and FO-29

	Fuji-2/OSCAR-20, or simply FO-20, is the second in a series
of Japanese Amateur satellites. The orbit of FO-20 is slightly
elliptical, so the satellite receives a large amount of illumination
throughout most of the year.  It also has an orbit altitude of
1320kM giving it a decent footprint.

	When launched, FO-20 was operational in both the digital and
analog modes, but now seems to be permanently set to analog.  Just
like the larger AO-10, the transponder on FO-20 is inverting, so
whatever goes up on the low end of the uplink passband comes out on
the high end of the downlink passband, LSB up becomes USB down, etc.
Operating FO-20 is not any different from any other bird; just use
about 100w EIRP and remember to tune the downlink for Doppler.  Keep
in mind the inverting transponder and you're all set.  Not only will
you transmit on LSB and receive on USB, but the frequencies track in
opposite directions.

	If you graph this type of transponder, the uplink passband's
lower limit is over the downlink passband's higher end, and visa
versa, like this:

FO-20/FO-29 Uplink Passband 145.900     145.925     145.950
145.975 146.000

435.900     435.875 435.850 435.825     435.800 FO-20/FO-29 Downlink

	FO-29, launched in the fall of 1996, is virtually identical
to FO-20 in regard to use of its analog transponder, even sharing
the same passbands, so operation on this bird is no different than
on its older sibling.  Unlike FO-20, FO-29 is also active in the
digital mode, with packet BBS's operating at both 1200 and 9600
baud.  Only one mode is available at one time, operating on a
"round-robin" schedule, so don't expect the linear translator to be
available at all times.

	Until you get used to it, you'll probably have the tendency
to tune in the wrong direction. Also, bear in mind that by
convention you should tune the receive frequency, although some
people do it the other way around and it will be necessary to
operate "backwards".  A proposal has been made and is being
implemented in the top 20kHz of the downlink passband where computer
control of the radio's transmit and receive sections are both tuned
to maintain a frequency "at the satellite".  The operator simply
sets the desired frequency and lets the computer do the rest,
getting rid of the necessity of tweaking for Doppler shift and
allowing full concentration on the QSO itself, making this the
perfect method for satellite carried nets and scheduled contacts.
Right now, FO-20 and FO-29 are underutilized, so non-automated
contacts with their roving signals isn't too much of a problem so
just do what you need to make the contact, but please leave the top
part of the passband for the operators using computer control.


	The Microsat buss structure, such as is used on DO-17,
proved to be very popular and other satellites were built using it.
One of these is AO-27.  It even has a similar orbit, with an
altitude of about 793kM and a period of 101 minutes. Unlike the
Microsats, though, there are two factors that make AO-27 unique: it
is not dedicated to the Amateur Satellite Service, and it is an FM
cross-band repeater.  AO-27 is actually an amateur payload aboard a
commercial satallite known as Eyesat-1, which runs experiments for
Interferometrics, Inc. in Chantilly, VA, USA.  To preserve batteries
and other demands on the satellite's resources, AO-27 is not
constantly "on" but rather springs to life 18 minutes after entering
sunlight over North America and remains on for 20 minutes.  The
control operators will let this schedule "drift" somewhat every few
months, allowing more southerly stations to take advantage of the
repeater. The satellite presently is operating in "power mode 2",
which gives a signal of only approximately 600 mW but this is
subject to change.

	There are a few operating considerations with this bird that
must be observed.  First, the uplink and downlink are both FM.  This
may not sound like a problem, but remember that FM is far less
efficient than SSB or CW.  Although uplinks of 10 watts into a
ground plane antenna will get you heard, the downlink may suffer
from deep fades if you don't have a good receive set-up.  AO-27 is
another Mode JA bird, so you'll be listening on 70cM and a good
receive pre-amp is a must.  If you have a radio that allows tuning,
the center frequency is 436.797MHz, but don't forget the effects of
Doppler Shift which will be +/- 10KHz. If you have an FM only rig
with 5kHz steps, don't worry; just start listening high (about
436.805MHz) and step down in frequency as the pass progresses.  The
uplink at 145.85MHz requires no compensation.  Second, as a repeater
and not a transponder, only one person can talk at a time.  The
strongest signal will be captured by the satellite's receiver (just
like on your local 2M repeater) and everyone else will be shut out.
Third, as I mentioned before, the satellite's dual purpose use makes
it available only when in sunlight and usually only when it is over
North America (roughly North 74 degrees to North 5 degrees).


	Mir (Russian for Peace or World) is an orbiting space
station, and the first of our Occupied Spacecraft.  Mir's orbit is
equatorial, not polar like most of the Amateur satellites.  At an
orbital altitude of about 380 Km., Mir's footprint is fairly small
and the passes are correspondingly quick.  Due to the low altitude,
power requirements are small; a 10W FM transceiver and modest
antenna will usually do the trick.

	The amateur equipment aboard Mir is presently located in two
different modules.  The older 2M station operates on only one
frequency pair with both a packet BBS and voice (145.800
uplink/145.200 downlink), and packet seems to be the predominant
mode.  Many older texts will reference a single frequency,
145.55MHz, for both analog and digital work, but this was changed to
the new pair in late 1996 by the European sponsors to help relieve
contention with other operations there.  Unfortunately, the new
frequencies are very close to those used by other modes (such as
APRS and terrestrial repeaters) in Region 2, which includes North

	The newer station, a cooperative effort of German and
Russian Hams designated SAFEX II and using the call sign RR0DL,
operates duplex in the 70CM band and has three modes available: 1)
An FM voice repeater on 435.750MHz up/437.950 down with a 141.3
CTCSS tone,  2) a 9600 baud digipeater on 435.775MHz up/437.975 down
(no tone), and 3) an FM voice channel pair on 435.725MHz
up/437.925MHz down with a 141.3 CTCSS tone for QSO's with the Mir
cosmonauts.  It is on this last downlink that voice bulletins and
announcements will be made.

	Doppler for the 70cM band where SAFEX II operates is on the
order of +/- 10 kHz and corrections must be made on both the uplink
and downlink frequencies. Two ways to do this are computer control
of the radios VFO's and the use of several memory channels with the
appropriate Doppler compensated frequencies stored.

	If you use the memory channel method, remember that at the
beginning of a pass you will need to transmit higher and receive
lower than the frequencies given and as the pass progresses the
transmit frequency will rise while the receive frequency lowers.
Here ia an example of one way to do this, as posted to AMSAT-BB by
Mike Seguin, N1JEZ, using an FT-736R, one of the more popular
satellite capable radios, but valid for any radio that has memory
channels and allows a programmable offest.  Mike programmed 9 memory
channels for +/- 8KHz doppler correction, using a sequence of
standard memory channels (not Sat channels) set up as minus offset
with tone encoding. Mike says to first program the downlink
frequency, then enter the offset, making sure you are set for
negative offset and tone encoding (141.3), then save to a memory
channel. He sets the frequencies for each channel according to the
list below.

	MIR/SAFEX 70cm Doppler Correction

	 Dnlink            Uplink       Offset
	(MHz)              (MHz)        (MHz)
	437.958   435.742       2.216
	437.956   435.744       2.212
	437.954   435.746       2.208
	437.952   435.748       2.204
	437.950   435.750       2.200
	437.948   435.752       2.196
	437.946   435.754       2.192
	437.944   435.756       2.188
	435.942   435.758       2.184

During a pass, start with the first channel, and tune up channel by
channel as the pass progresses. Set the meter to DISC/ALC and keep
the meter centered as well as posssible on recieve. You probably can
get away with less channels, but if you have the available memories
it is a good idea to use them.

	Amateur radio activity aboard Mir is a diversion for the
cosmonauts and not always available.  In those instances where voice
is being used, it seems that the cosmonauts prefer QSO's and not
just the quick contest style contacts.  This can be aggravating to
those who just want to be able to say they've made a live space
contact but PLEASE don't call them until they say they're ready for
someone new.  It doesn't hurt to be able to speak Russian, either.
When planning your contacts with Mir, keep in mind that the
cosmonauts operate on Decreed Moscow Time, (GMT +3 hours, with no
consideration made for Daylight Savings Time).  The scheduled sleep
time for the Mir crew is 10PM to 8AM DMT, which means that they are
usually asleep or working while passing over the US except for the
late evening/early morning.  However, Sundays are "days off" except
during special events, so that might be a good time to try them.

	The 2M Mir BBS is a simple operation and its buffer is
small.  Please delete any messages once you've read them, make sure
you disconnect before you lose contact, and to avoid needless QRM
(is there any other kind?) do not use an automated set-up to call.
The same considerations should be observed when using the SAFEX

	QSL reports and requests for R0MIR (the 2M packet keyboard
and voice callsign),   R0MIR-1 (the 2M BBS), and RR0DL should go to:

		P.O.B. 1501
		Pine Grove, California  95665

	N6JLH is Dave Larsen, the QSL manager for Mir contacts in
the USA.  Dave is to handle only cards for R0MIR, R0MIR-1, and SAFEX
II,  so all older QSL requests must still go through Russia. QSL's
should include date, time, and mode of contact.  If the contact was
with the packet personal message system, then the message number
issued by the PMS should also be included.  Please include a
self-addressed and stamped business size envelope.  This information
is for amateur contacts only; cards for SWL reports will not be
handled by Dave.


	SAREX, the Shuttle Amateur Radio EXperiment, is a
cooperative effort of NASA, AMSAT, and the ARRL designed to expose
school children to the space program by allowing them to talk to the
astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle.  Like the Amateur Radio
operation on Mir, don't expect to be able to QSO with the astronauts
whenever they are overhead.  Even finding when the shuttle is
passing can be a problem; the orbit is subject to change many times
during a mission and keeping up with the necessary Kep file changes
can be maddening.  Sometimes SAREX isn't even active for the entire
duration.  Keep in mind, too, that the primary mission is SCHEDULED
contacts with schools. This schedule is determined well before the
shuttle launch and publicized, so keep an eye on the various
magazines and bulletin boards for announcements.  Don't give up on
SAREX, though, they will contact individuals occasionally.

	Unlike Mir with its 2M operation confined to one frequency
pair, SAREX operates a non-standard "split", transmitting on
145.55MHz and listening on 144.91, 144.93, 144.95, 144.97 and
144.99MHz for voice contacts and 144.99MHz only for packet.  To
avoid QRM, the astronauts don't announce which voice frequency they
are listening on, either, so it's just the luck of the draw.

	Two things to consider if you have been trying to hear the
shuttle and have had no luck: 1) The shuttle is in an equatorial
orbit and will usually be below the horizon for listeners well to
the north and south of its path, and 2) The antenna sytem is mounted
to a window and may be blocked by the body of the spacecraft in some
of the attitudes it must assume during the mission.  Don't give up;
sooner or later it will happen.

	To receive a QSL for a SAREX contact, send your card or
report indicating the mission number, date, time in UTC, frequency
and mode to:
		ARRL Headquarters
		SAREX QSL, STS #xxx (where xxx is the mission
		225 Main Street
		Newington, CT  06111-1494  USA

Be sure to include a self-addressed business sized envelope with
sufficient postage affixed or the proper IRC's.

	For more information on SAREX, see the instructions for
accessing the ARRL Mail Server in the section "My Resources" and
request "SAREXFAQ.TXT".

Working the Birds

	You have probably heard someone make a statement that
started "It goes without saying that..." which, by its very nature,
indicates that something should be said.  When we are talking about
starting your satellite career, that "something" is this:  Don't be
in a hurry, spend some time to determine where you are in terms of
experience and equipment (be honest), and think about what you wish
to achieve.  Once you know these things, you will have a better
understanding of how to get started and what direction you will need
to travel to reach your goals.
	This is where I should be telling you about how easy and
cheap it is to get onto the Amateur satellites.  Well, I can't
really do that.  Is it easy and cheap?  Yes, it is easy, and cheap
is possible, but  like every other aspect of our hobby, you can
spend as much money as you want.  It's just a matter of what you
feel comfortable with.  The point is, though, you don't have to
spend a lot. You may not need to spend anything if you already have
a radio, because the first step is to just listen.  After that, your
course is up to you.

	First, take a look around your shack.  What equipment do you
already possess?  Do you have a radio or radios that are "satellite
friendly"?  If not, are you willing to spend the effort and money to
do so?  Don't worry; chances are that you have something right now
that you've been using and just never considered to be a part of an
Amateur Satellite station.
	At the risk of sounding trite, let me use a few more of
those "old expressions" we often hear (and ignore) because they
accurately represent what I feel is the best aproach to becoming
satellite active.
	* First Things First - The best way to become involved is to
listen.  You don't have to have anything other than a shortwave
receiver, police scanner, or 2M handi-talkie to do this. These
aren't ideal, but they can be used to hear the downlinks and will
help familiarize you with some of the basics: Determining passes and
adjusting for Doppler shift.  These will also give you an idea of
the various patterns of QSO's to be found on the satellites which
vary from one satellite to the next.
	* Take It Easy - The reason I recommend starting with the
Easy Sats is because they are, well...EASY!  You can gain valuable
experience here without risking a fortune or becoming so confused
you quit and take up some other more mundane hobby.  That doesn't
mean the Easy Sats are only good as a starting point and should be
abanded later, either; some people start here and never leave. .
* One Step At A Time - Don't feel compelled to assemble a full
satellite station in a short period of time.  This will only lead to
frustration as you spend more time wondering what to acquire next,
when you should really be enjoying what you have. Each upgrade
should serve as a building block for the next.  Don't be in a hurry.
Relish the entire experience.  Have fun!
Have a 2M Radio?

	Once you have acquainted yourself with the satellites by
listening, it's time to start making contacts.  Perhaps you don't
have an HF rig, but are equipped for 2M FM.  In that case, consider
trying to work Mir or SAREX by voice.  If you also have a 1200 baud
TNC, copy DOVE when it comes over, or connect to the Mir BBS or
digipeater.  Simple stuff, and except that the other station is
moving, not much different from your basic 2M operation.  Just
remember that, whether you're working voice or packet, the passes
don't last long and there may be others wanting to do the same
thing.  Keep your contacts short, and if you're on packet, send a
"disconnect" before you loose contact or the digipeater will be
unavailable until its watchdog timer times out and resets the
machine.  Don't forget the effects of Doppler Shift; start listening
high and tune down as the bird passes.

Have an HF Radio?

	Maybe you have an HF receiver or transceiver.  If so, you
already have the ability to copy the 10M downlinks of RS-10, -12,
and -15.  The antenna you use for the downlink will make some
difference, but use whatever you have; you might be surprised at how
well you can pull in those signals from space with what you have
now.  If you find that you are having some difficulty hearing the
passes, consider a receive pre-amp.  At 29MHz you can use one inside
the shack, but a good practice is to mount it close to the antenna
where the signal is greatest.  A word of caution is in order here:
make absolutely sure you don't transmit through your pre-amp unless
it is designed for transceive operation; otherwise you end up with a
very useless attenuator instead.

	OK, so you've mastered the 10M downlink and are ready to
take another step.  If you are an Advanced or Extra license holder,
try RS-12.  To make easy contacts, it is helpful to have a
transmitter or transceiver for the 15M uplink and a separate
receiver or transceiver for the 10M downlink, although some Mode K
operators use split VFO operation in a single radio by determining
the downlink frequency and factoring in the proper shift.  This
works after a fashion, but as the bird moves and the frequency
changes, it can be really hard to maintain a QSO because one or both
of you are chasing the signal up and down the band.  If you have a
2M SSB receiver of transceiver, then operate Mode T (or KT if both
are on).

Have Both?

	If you have a means of generating a CW or SSB signal on 2M
as well as a 10M receiver, then you're ready to get on the Mode A
satellites, RS-10 and RS-15. If you don't yet have a 2M multimode
transceiver, you may want to consider getting one.  The reason I
suggest the 2M multimode is obvious if you're interested in
satellite work; it will get you onto not only RS-10 and RS-15, but
there are other birds where 2M transmit is necessary.  Many Hams,
particularly the new No-Code Technicians, start out with HT's and
eventually find they want to get something more.  The 2M multimode
at home will allow them to remain on their favorite repeater or FM
simplex frequency while trying something new.  Besides, there is a
lot of 2M DX to be worked on the low end of the band!

	If you can generate the RF, chances are you can hit the
bird.  Don't sweat it if you can't afford a big expensive new 2M
base; there are used units to be found if you look.  Some are
mobiles, but what does that matter?  Have you heard the old saying
"It's not the age or size of the car that counts, it's how well you
drive it"?  Substitute "radio" and "operate" for "car" and "drive"
and you'll get the idea.  You won't need a lot of power to
communicate through the satellites. In fact, you'll need AT MOST
100W EIRP; it's usually much less.  Take into consideration the
power out from your radio, feed line and connector loss, and antenna

	Note to my No-Code readers:  Don't worry that you don't
normally have access to the HF bands.  You aren't transmitting on
10M, the satellite is, and the sponsoring group is responsible for
meeting the licensing requirements for HF. Think of it as using
someone else's station.

All We Need Now is 70cM

	So far we've looked at the equipment needs for using DOVE,
Mir, SAREX, RS-10, RS-12, and RS-15.  Once we discuss FO-20, AO-27,
and FO-29, we've covered all the Easy Sats. Access to these last two
requires only one more thing: a way to receive the 70cM downlink.
This means you'll need either a 435MHz capable receiver/transceiver
or a converter with your 10M receiver/transceiver. If you go the
latter route, bear in mind that the satellite allocation on 70cM
goes from 435MHz to 438MHz.  This really isn't a problem if your HF
radio has general coverage capability, but if it doesn't you will
need a converter that has selectable local oscillators.  That will
allow you to have, for example, one position that converts 435 -
436.7MHz and the other 436 - 437.7MHz to the standard 28 - 29.7MHz
10M band.  If you use a converter, you can save money by mounting
the converter at the antenna instead of using a pre-amp because most
converters have plenty of output gain to help overcome line loss at
10M.  If you opt to use a 70cM transceiver, you will also be able to
work SAFEX on Mir but will need a pre-amp. Either way, heed the
warning I gave you previously: DON'T TRANSMIT THROUGH YOUR CONVERTER
OR PRE-AMP!  (That's twice.  Don't say you weren't warned.)

That's All, Folks!

	Well, what do you know?  We've covered all the Easy Sats!
Pretty painless, wasn't it?  If you already had some or all of the
necessary equipment it didn't cost too much either.  The really
great part is that you are now an Amateur Satellite Operator and,
with the addition of just a little more equipment, you can work the
rest of the Amateur satellites, too.  Keeping with the concept of
the Easy Sats, I won't go into detail on this but if you're really
interested, read "More Boxes, More Sats" coming up next.

More Boxes, More Satellites

	Even though the intention of this paper is to introduce the
reader to the Easy Sats, there are other types of satellite
operation that I feel I should mention.  Although they don't quite
fit the criteria of "easily used" put forth in my introduction, and
they will add some cost to your satellite station, many Hams will
want to progress upward and we can't leave these out.

The Mode JD Satellites

	Another mode, in fact the last one available on the LEO's,
is Mode JD.  As you may have guessed, the "D" stands for Digital and
there are two different sub-modes based on the data rate. At present
you have the opportunity to work 1200 baud, which requires one more
piece of equipment, or 9600 baud, which may require simple
modifications to your radios.

	The easier of the two is the former, 1200 baud, and for this
we have available AO-16, WO-18, LO-19, IO-26, PO-28, FO-29, and
MO-30.  The added piece of equipment is known as a PSK modem and is
attached outboard to your TNC.  If you are lucky enough to have one
of the multimode TNC's, such as the AEA DSP-2232, you have one
already.  I say this is the easier of the two because it is
basically a matter of "plug and play"; attach the cables and you're
ready.  Notice that the PSK downlink is a SSB mode, so you'll need a
receiver capable of SSB reception. Remember that since the bird is
moving you'll experience the phenomenon of Doppler Shift.  By
design, most PSK modems have the ability to change the received
frequency using the frequency step functions built into the
microphone connector of many modern radios.  DO-17 (DOVE), discussed
earlier, is technically a Digital Satellite, but it does not require
a PSK modem and its output is in the 2M band, so it does not qualify
as a Mode JD satellite.

	Using the 9600 baud birds (UO-22, KO-23, KO-25, PO-28,
FO-29) might require modifications to the transmit and receive
circuitry of your radios for the same reasons that apply to
terrestrial high speed links.  Simply put, until the recent
appearance of radios specifically designed to handle the increased
throughput, all signals were routed through the microphone and
speaker connectors. and the wave forms at 9600 baud got distorted
too much.  What was required was minor surgery to inject the audio
after the microphone and pick it off at the discriminator.  This was
no big deal on some rigs but caused many a headache on others and
should to be considered when you set up your Mode JD station.  Some
of the 9600 baud FM TNC's will require that you manually change
frequency, too, or you can run a program that will do your radio
tuning.  It's a bit harder if done by hand, but if you keep an eye
on the DCD LED, you will be OK.  It takes a little practice, but it
can be done.  By the way, this is another reason to be careful in
the selection of your receiver; FM-only radios usually tune in 5KHz
steps and that is just too great a jump to stay locked on to the
signal for digital work, although for analog contacts it will
usually be ok.

	One final word on working digital satellites is in order.
Once you have all of your equipment on line, you will need a way of
talking to the satellites or you won't get anywhere. FO-29, when it
is in digital mode, is actually not much harder to access than your
local packet BBS.  Using your favorite packet program, just change a
few of the TNC's parameters and connect to 8J1JCS.  That's it! Don't
forget to disconnect before you lose the signal, though.  WO-18 is a
read-only satellite that transmits high resolution earth images. The
reception and processing of these images requires special software
available from Weber State University.

	With the exception of WO-18 and FO-29, the present digital
birds operate in the "store and forward" mode.  You upload your
messages or files and they get stored until someone else asks for
them.  To do this correctly, your modem must be capable of KISS
operation, and you will need a suite of programs named "PB/PG" (for
DOS) or WiSP (for Windows).  I got on these satellites with WiSP, a
really slick piece of work available on many BBS's and FTP sites.
Note that this isn't freeware; it is shareware and is registered
with AMSAT.  Current cost is a $50 donation to AMSAT and worth every
penny!  It is quite amazing sitting back watching the broadcasts
scroll across the screen, hearing your 2M rig key up, and seeing
your call pop up in the queue.

Modes B on AO-10

	Let us now look at the last Amateur satellite (AO-10), and
the last common mode of operation (Mode B).  If you prefer to talk
with people using your mouth instead of your fingers, these are a
perfect excuse for buying a 70cM transceiver or transverter instead
of just a receive converter.  Don't think I'm badmouthing CW,
either; you can find it here, too.  Just don't expect to find
packet.  This bird is presently the "big boy" of the Amateur
Satellite program, the only Molniya satellite since AO-13 re-entered
the atmosphere in December, 1996.  It has a high orbit and is
available for hours at a time so once you are set up to work Mode B,
you just sit back and start making contacts.  As a result of an
unfortunate collision with part of its launch vehicle, AO-10 has
power system problems and is only operational when in sun light so
it isn't always, but when it is the DX is great.

	You won't have much luck working AO-10 with your LEO
antennas; it's just too far away and the signal strengths too weak,
although some people report success by working it when it is close
to the horizon and somewhere near perigee. (The satellite is moving
very quickly during perigee and behaves much like the LEO's so the
resultant Doppler shift is quite high. Take into account that the
transponder is inverted so you are "correcting backwards", you can
see how difficult this may be.) Common uplink antennas include 44
elements (two 22 element beams crossed at right angles to each other
and fed 90 degrees out of phase to get a circular polarization) and
helixes, which by design also are circularly polarized.  Common
downlink antennas are similar to the uplink antennas except the
crossed beams are usually 22 elements.

	You may be asking yourself why you should even bother
equiping your station with directional antennas or a 70cM SSB/CW
transmitter when they are only used for AO-10.  There are two big
reasons, and one of them can actually be a benefit for using the
Easy Sats.  First, and of immediate importance, is that the same
directional antennas you use for Mode B can also be used for Mode JA
and JD, increasing the efficiency of your transmitting and receiving
systems.  The 2M antenna will also be useful for your Mode A uplink
and Mode T downlink.  When there's no satellite available, you'll
find those directional antennas really enhance your terrestrial
work, too.  The second reason is that you'll really want to work
Phase 3D after it's launched, and this equipment will be necessary.
(P3D will also be equiped with 1.2GHz, 2.4GHz and higher subsystems,
but that's well beyond the scope of this paper.)

Auto Tracking and Tuning

	Although not necessary for Easy Sat communications, there
are controllers available that will attach to your computer and tune
your radios for you. (Assuming your radio is compatible with such
equipment. Many newer rigs are.) These are an added expense, and
need only be considered if you decide to take the plunge and get
into satellite communications in a big way.  Most of these
controllers will also interface to your antenna rotor.  Taking input
from a tracking program, the controller/tracker hardware will do all
of the tuning and pointing, freeing the operator to concentrate on
making contacts.  Properly set up, one of these tuner interfaces can
overcome the 9600 baud Doppler shift problem, too.  Keep this in
mind when you pick a tracking program.  Almost all of the popular
tracking programs can talk to the majority of the hardware through
TSRs and standard system calls, but not all have this capability.
Check before you buy.

	Well, there you have it.  We have now had a look at all of
what is available for the Amateur Satellite operator.  Some of
these, the Easy Sats, we discussed in detail.  The remainder we
looked at briefly.  We call the Easy Sats by that name for a reason:
they are easy to use.  Once you have mastered these, there is plenty
more to accomplish in your new career as an Amateur Satellite
operator.  What I have offered is but one possible upgrade path;
there are others. Whatever you decide, it's up to you.  Good luck
and have fun!

After the QSO: QSL Cards, Grid Squares and Certificates

	It has long been said that "The QSL is the last courtesy of
a contact" and this is just as true when operating through the
satellites as it is when we make any other QSO.  Although not
required, and often shunned as antiquainted or "too expensive" with
today's often rising postage rates and the cost of getting cards
printed, there is nothing quite like a wall of cards to remind you
of past conversations, long and short, with those other like-minded
folk who share a common interest in satellite communication.

	The "too expensive" arguement can be quite persuasive for
some people, but there are ways to help keep costs down.  For
starters, don't feel that you have to take the concept of a fancy
pre-printed card as gospel; many people print their own on their
home computers, and a printed or hand-written sheet with the
required contact-confirming information is just as valid as a slick
four-color printed piece of cardboard.  They aren't as fancy, but
they're just as valid for our needs.

	To help keep postage costs down, consider using one of the
many available QSL Bureaus.  The two most popular for satellite
operators in the United States are run by AMSAT and the ARRL, but
there are others, some commercial and others voluntary.  These
Bureaus, working in conjunction with their counterparts in other
countries, will accept your cards (properly sorted by whatever
standards they require), merge them with cards from other Hams going
to the same country, and forward them in bulk.  The receiveng Bureau
will take these cards, sort them out by call sign, and deliver them
to their final destination.  This process may take a while, so
please be patient. Many other countries don't enjoy as efficient a
mail system as we do and it may take months or even years for your
card to get there, or for cards you are expecting to reach you.

	Just how does the bureau system work?  For the North
American satellite operator, the AMSAT-NA Bureau is the way to go,
and it works like this:

	For outgoing QSL's, arrange your cards alphabetically by
call sign and send them to
		AMSAT QSL Bureau
		c/o Walt Rader  WA3DMP
		3702 Allison Street
		Brentwood, Maryland  20722 Cards sent within the US
are free and cards going out of the country are $0.10 each.

	To receive cards from the bureau, send several #10 envelopes
with one unit postage to the same address.  Print your callsign in
the upper left corner.  All mailings are sent at the end of the
month and you will get your's within a few days after that.  If you
are patient enough to wait until a few cards have arrived before
your envelope is sent, immediately under your callsign on the
envelope write the number of cards that should accumulate before
being sent.  Don't forget to keep track with how many envelopes you
have left at the bureau; cards not sent out after six months are

	One difference between the cards we send and receive on the
satellites and those for HF QSO's is the inclusion of the Grid
Square, a set of four or six characters that define just where on
Earth we are located.  The use of Grid Squares, or more correctly
the Maidenhead Grid Square Locator System, grew out of the older QRA
system used in Europe that was developed to give some challange to
making contacts using the short range VHF and UHF equipment of the
day.  When ranges for contacts on these frequencies began to
increase with improvements in equipment and more operators, it was
discovered that the QRA coordinates could be duplicated in locations
outside of Europe.

	A conference was held in Maidenhead, England and the entire
planet was divided into a grid of 324 large areas, or Fields, each
covering 10 degrees of latitude by 20 degrees of longitude. Each of
these Fields was further divided into 100 Squares of one degree by 2
degrees.  This is where we get the name Grid Squares.  Each is
denoted by a two-letter/two-number combination in the format XXYY,
where XX is one of the 324 fields and YY is one of the 100 grids
within that field. For example, Raleigh, North Carolina is located
in Grid Square FI05, but so are several other nearby towns.  To
further help pin-point locations, many operators will take advantage
of a third designation (zz) appended to the grid square that is the
result of breaking the grid square into sub-squares of 5 minutes by
2.5 minutes.  Using the full six character locator will usually give
an indication of less than a few miles of where a station sits.  My
complete Grid Square, based upon my geographical coordinates, is
FM05pp.  In fact, I'm the only Ham that can make that statement! If
you live in a sparsely Ham-populated area, you might be able to make
a similar claim.

	So what do we do with this magical information?  We put it
on our QSL cards, that's what, and hope other satellite operators do
the same.  It may seem like just another bit of extraneous
information now, but when we talk about Certificates and Awards
later, you'll see the importance.

	How do you go about finding out which Grid Square you are
in?  There are several ways of doing this.  The most obvious method
is to find a local Satellite or VHF/UHF operator and just ask. If
that isn't possible, buy or borrow a copy of the ARRL published Grid
Square Map or reference book which lists many domestic and foreign
locations and their Grid Squares.  This won't give you enough
precision to determine your sub-grid but it will meet the
requirements of knowing which grid you are in.  If you can't find
out your Grid Square either of these ways, perhaps you can find what
your geographic coordinates are and plug them into one of the many
available conversion programs. It wouldn't hurt to know this
information anyway; you'll need it to set up whatever tracking
program you will be using.  (In fact, if you're filling out a QSL,
you've already made at least one contact, and unless you just
happened to turn on your radios and heard a pass in progress, you've
already configured your tracking program.)  Other methods to
consider are the use of topographical and street maps, CD-ROM based
trip routing software, and even getting a fix with a Global Position
System (GPS) receiver.

	Now that we know your Grid Square and have it on your QSL
card, what other benefit is this information?  First and foremost,
it's because other satellite operators will be giving you theirs and
requesting yours.  But why, you may ask? Like other aspects of
Amateur Radio, there are certificates and awards available for the
satellite operator and one of these, the VHF/UHF Century Club award
from the ARRL, is very popular.  The VUCC, as it is often called,
was created as an incentive for HAMs to populate the VHF and UHF
bands and recognizes the successful completion of contacts with
other Amateurs in at least 100 different Grid Squares, with
endorsements for each additional 25 Grids worked.  The basic VUCC
award stipulates that these contacts be made on a single band from
six meters and up, but there is a Satellite Endorsement which counts
ALL satellites (even RS-12 with its 15M up/10M down configuration)
as one band.  Acheiving satellite contacts from 100 different Grid
Squares isn't hard, either, for an operator who puts in a little

	What about those cards that come in that don't have the Grid
Square on them?  Do you just discard them and hope you work someone
in that Grid at a later date?  Not necessarily.  The requirements
for the VUCC only stipulate that you make a concerted reasonable
effort to determine the Grid Square.  This can include looking up
the location on a map, writing them a letter, calling on the phone,
or just about anything else.  This is another good reason to have a
collection of maps, but if you want to keep the stack of maps to a
minimum, consider one of the trip routing CD-ROMs mentioned earlier.
Just make sure that whatever CD-ROM you buy will output coordinates;
not all do and cost isn't a good indicator of how well they will
serve our non-traditional purpose. I have two that I use and neither
cost me over $30.

	Aside from the VUCC, there are a number of other
certificates that are popular. Another, although not specific to the
satelite program and lacking any endorsements for us, is the ever
popular Worked All States from the ARRL.  Believe it or not, it
isn't as easy as it may sound, particularly on the LEO's.  Look at
the footprint of any satellite during a typical pass and, with the
exception of RS-15, you'll see that only a portion of the country is
covered.  This can be a real challenge for operators on either coast
and often pulling in those last few (and hoping they get confirmed)
can be a time consuming frustrating project.

	All of this sounds very interesting, but what about AMSAT?
Don't they offer any awards or certificates?  They are, after all,
the satellite folks and you would think that they would offer
something to help promote the program, wouldn't you?  Yes, you
would, and you would be right. AMSAT offers a number of
certificates, ranging from the Satellite Communicators Club
available for making just one satellite contact, through the  K2ZRO
Memorial Station Engineering Award given out for participating in a
difficult test of station receiving capabilities, to the W4AMI
Satellite Operator Achievement Award for making at least 1000
contacts with any station on any satellite. Other awards include,
but are not limited to, the OSCAR Satellite Communications
Achievement Award, the OSCAR Sexagesimal Award, and the OSCAR
Century Award given for proof of contact  with 20, 60, or 100
different U.S. or Canadian call areas or DXCC countries.

	Any others?  Sure, but the list is growing constantly, so
the best bet for the Satellite Award Hunter would be to contact
AMSAT and the ARRL for further details.  Address and phone numbers
for both can be found in the section "My Resources" near the end of
this paper.  An updated list of most known satellite certificates
and awards is printed occassionally in The AMSAT Journal, the
official publication of AMSAT-NA.

	"How One Ham Got On the Satellites"

	Theory is nice, but it's application that really counts so,
if you'll indulge me, I'll tell you a bit about my satellite set-up
and some of the successes (and failures) that I've had.

	For pass prediction/tracking I have three favorite programs
that I run on my 386SX PC.  The first program I use is called
AOS_US, which is out of Germany and distributed as freeware, but the
user is encouraged to make a small donation to AMSAT-DL to benefit
their Phase 3D fund raising effort.  I like this program because I
can feed it a Keplerian Element file tailored to my operating needs
and it will create a listing of pass opportunities for all the
satellites I use. The listing can be for an almost unlimited length
of time and can be sent to a disk file or directly to the screen.  I
also appreciate how AOS_US allows me to generate one file for all of
my satellites of interest.  I can then print this out and keep it
near my operating position for quick referral.

	My second pass predictor is called STSOrbit Plus.  This
piece of shareware will allow you to visually track up to 30
satellites at a time on a graphical display, resembling NASA Mission
Control's "big board."  My favorite part of this is the "multiple
satellites at once" display which allows me to visually see where
all of my favorite satellites are at one time and watch as they
progress in their orbits.  STSOrbit Plus will run without a
coprocessor, but having one really helps.

	My last pass predictor is Instant Track, available from
AMSAT.  It will graphically plot only one satellite at a time, but
its code is tight and the program is FAST!  IT is a natural for
running on older AT style machines because it just doesn't need the
horsepower required by a lot of the newer programs.

	(I do use other software, including NOVA for automatic radio
control and WiSP for digital satellite communications, but I won't
discuss those here.  More information on these and other software
packages available through AMSAT can be found in the Software
handout available from AMSAT HQ.  See the section on AMSAT later in
this paper for the address and phone number.)

	Now let's talk about the hardware.

		For Mode K: (RS-12)
			Transmitter:  15M up   Kenwood TS-690S
			Transmit antenna:  Dipoles, one oriented
E-W, one N-S.
				Both at about 6 meters.
			Receiver:  10M down    Uniden HR-2600
			Receive antenna:  Turnstile at 4 meters

	This set-up works very well.  The Uniden was pressed into
service when an older HF rig I was using bit the dust.  The front
end is a bit wide, and I can hear my uplink desensing the receiver a
small amount, but once the bird is up over about 15 degrees, copy is
no problem.  In the first month of operation on this satellite I
worked 28 states.

		For Mode T: (RS-12)
			Transmitter:  15M up   Kenwood TS-690S
			Transmit antenna:  Dipoles, one oriented
E-W, one N-S.
				Both at about 6 meters.
			Receiver:  2M down   Yaesu FT-736R
			Receive antenna:  Eggbeater at about 5

	I was very pleasently surprised when RS-12 was switched to
Mode KT and I had the opportunity to try out  the 2M downlink.  The
biggest impression I had was that the signals seemed much stronger
than those on 10M.  At first I thought this might just be due to my
particular antenna and receiver combination, but conversations with
others saw many of them expressing the same opinion.   Be warned,
though, that it is quite possible for one person in a QSO to be
listening on 10M and the other person to be listening on 2M, so if
both people are not tuning their receivers (per standard practice),
then the whole conversation will become a matter of signal chasing.
I quickly discovered this and learned to compensate accordingly.
Even then, I found it best just to keep the other person tuned in
even if it meant my own signal came back to me "off frequency" or
disappeared all together.

	The first thing you might notice is the FT-736R.  This
Multiband Multimode radio, although it has been out for a while, is
still offered new and costs as much as a good HF rig.  Don't be
alarmed, though; it isn't necessary to run out and spend big bucks
to work Mode A.  I sometimes use a Kenwood TM-255A, a multi-mode
mobile I bought a while back, and I have also used a TS-700 and
IC-251A, both old and affordable.  The reason I upgraded was because
the TM-255A is usually in the truck, I sold the TS-700, the Icom had
a few proprietary parts in it that decided it was time to fail, and
a newer radio was affordable at the time.  Listen to a few passes
and hear what folks say they're using.  You might be surprised.

	You may not recognize the Eggbeater.  This is manufactured
by M^2 (M Squared) and consists of two vertical loops that are
oriented at right angles and fed 90 degrees out of phase.  This
produces a somewhat omnidirectional pattern in the horizontal plane
that becomes circularly polarized as you pass over head.  The entire
pattern looks somewhat like a hemisphere that has had the top
depressed a bit.  I got the Eggbeaters because I wanted an uplink
antenna that wouldn't need to follow the satellite as it passed over
and had minimum nulls.  I bought one for 2M and one for 70cM, and  I
don't regret having them, but think I could have had just as good
performance at lower cost.  My first 2M antenna was one of those
creations made from a mobile 5/8 wave on a ground plane.  It was my
original satellite antenna but suffered from an unexpected impact
with the ground.  (I dropped it from the roof accidentally.  OOPS!)

		For Mode A: (RS-10, RS-15)
			Transmitter:  2M up  Yaesu FT-736R
			Transmitter antenna: Eggbeater at about 5
			Receiver:  Kenwood TS-690S
			Receive antenna:  Same as Mode K

	How does this set-up work?  Very well.  I've been on Mode A
for a while now and have worked over 30 states on RS-10 and RS-15.
The QSO's number well over 150.  (You start to hear some of the same
calls.  After the newness wears off you actually start having
conversations with these fine people.  I can recognize many by voice
now, even if they're not quite on frequency.)

		For Mode JA: (FO-20, AO-27, FO-29)
			Transmitter:  2M up   Yaesu FT-736R
			Transmit antenna:  Eggbeater at about 5
			Receiver:  70cM down   Yaesu FT-736R
				Mirage KP-2 Mast Mount Pre-amplifier
			Receive antenna:  Eggbeater at about 5

	The only new equipment here is the pre-amplifier, and the
70cM version of the Eggbeater. Following common practice I have the
pre-amp mounted directly below the antenna with the +12 volts needed
by the pre-amp supplied by way of the feedline.  A module inside the
shack couples the voltage to the line which is then picked off by
the pre-amp.  This is a good arrangement as it requires no
additional lines be run and the pre-amp can be controlled remotely.
Like many new pre-amps on the market, there is also an RF sensor
built in which will switch the pre-amp out of line during transmit.
As an option, preferred by many, the +12 can be removed by applying
a signal from the transmitter's PTT line.

	My success on Mode JA is not nearly as good as on the other
modes, but of the three I seem to be having more luck on FO-20.  I
have several contacts under my belt but I still fall victim to
correcting in the wrong direction like I mentioned earlier and wind
up frantically trying to re-acquire my own signal. There is also a
problem with polarization differences between the Eggbeater and the
FO- satellites.  The Eggbeater has Right Hand Circular Polarization
but FO-20 and FO-29, with their antennas mounted so they spin around
the satellite's axis of rotation, seems to have a signal that is
Left Hand CP for the first half of the pass.  If you remember that
there is a substantial cross-polarization penalty, you can see how a
marginal signal will simply disappear.

	My AO-27 contacts are even fewer and I seem to get a lot of
quick fading. I can't even hear my downlink until the satellite is
above about 50 degrees elevation, so I'm probably being blocked by
my surroundings and I am confident that raising the Eggbeater for a
better view of the sky would help a lot.  I have also noticed the
problem common to FM birds where one or two strong stations tend to
monopolize the repeater.

	I think a little antenna work will help greatly.  Still, I
am making contacts and having fun on Mode JA.  Ultimately, I want to
upgrade my system to include directional antennas and automatic
control.  By the way, I use this same setup on Mode JD with great
success, but the digital nature of that mode helps substantially.

	Incidentally, before buying the FT-736R I used a receive
converter with my TS-690S for the 70cM downlink.  Translating the
displayed frequencies was a minor task, but it worked.  Before
learning how to operate the Yaesu's "Satellite Mode", I even used
the TM-255A on the uplink and just used the FT-736R as a receiver.
Don't feel you have to use a  special radio designed for satellite
operation; what you have or what you can afford will be fine.

	I didn't mention Mir/SAFEX II or SAREX because I haven't
worked either.  I have monitored Mir from time to time, but it isn't
one of my priorities.  I have yet to have the pleasure of a SAREX
contact.  Owing to the highly changeable nature of the shuttle's
flight profiles the Keplerian elements often change daily. I'm just
too lazy to keep up with them when I have so much else going on with
the other satellites.

	Am I satisfied with my satellite abilities?  Yes and No.
Yes, I am, because I'm having a lot of fun with what I have, I'm
making contacts almost daily (I do have other interests and
obligations), I'm making new friends, and I'm taking part in the
future of Ham Radio.  No, because I know that there is more, and I
sometimes get impatient.  Ah, well, there is always tomorrow, isn't
there? I think I'll save some challenges for then.

My Resources

	When I started in my Amateur Satellite career, as with many
activities in which I partake, the first thing I did was read.  We
are fortunate that there are many good sources of information
available, and I found the following to be invaluable.  I referenced
these often while researching this paper, but I must warn you that
these are just "the tip of the iceberg".  Any questions that I
couldn't answer by reading were quickly addressed by posting my
queries to the AMSAT-BB (see below).

	A greatly expanded version of this section is available from
AMSAT HQ as the handout "Sources of Information About the Amateur
Satellite Program".  I highly recommend obtaining a copy. In it you
will find data about more books, nets, World Wide Web, ftp, and
telnet sites, magazines, newsletters, and software available through


	The AMSAT-NA Digital Satellite Guide, 1994, G. Gould Smith,
WA4SXM, et al
		Available from AMSAT HQ.  An introduction to
operating through the packet satellites, including the use of the
DOS programs PB and PG, which are included on diskette.

	The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs, 1997, Joel Kleinman,
		Available from the ARRL and other sources.  Although
not totally devoted to satellite operations, the Handbook covers
practically everything that an Amateur needs to know. Filled with
theory, applications, and construction articles.  The 1997 edition
contain an entire section on satellite communications, including
updated information on digital satellites.  A "must have" book.  The
new Handbook on CD contains actual sound files from several Amateur

	The ARRL Satellite Anthology, 1996, Rich Roznoy, KA1OF, et
		Available from the ARRL and other sources.  A
compilation of articles on satellite operation previously published
in QST Magazine, the AMSAT Journal, and the World Wide Web.

	A Beginner's Guide to OSCAR 13, 1989, Keith Berglund, WB5ZDP
		Available from AMSAT HQ.  A thorough "how to" of
what was required to use OSCAR 13. Includes data on the satellite,
how the elongated Molinya orbit affects the operator, and how to set
up your station.  OSCAR 13 is gone now, but much of what is included
has relevence to OSCAR 10, too.

	How to Use the Amateur Radio Satellites, 1995, Keith Baker,
		Available from AMSAT HQ.  Describes each of the
currently available satellites, Mir and SAREX.  Includes several
pages on the requirements for working the satellites, plus some
"do's and "don'ts" to make your operating more enjoyable.

	The RS Satellites Operating Guide, 1995, G. Gould Smith,
		Available from AMSAT HQ.  An overview of working
RS-10, RS-12, RS-15, and Mir.  A very good introduction to satellite

	The Satellite Experimenter's Handbook, 1990, Martin
Davidoff, K2UBC
		Available from the ARRL and other sources.
Considered by many to be "the book" on operating the Amateur
satellites.  Contains the history of the program, theory, and
construction articles.

E-Mail Resources

	AMSAT mailing lists
		There are several of these, each with a specific
		ANS - official AMSAT News Service bulletins
		AMSAT-BB - the AMSAT "bulletin board" list
		KEPS - Keplerian element distribution
		NASAINFO - NASA bulletins
		SAREX - Information on the SAREX project

	Send E-Mail to with a message telling
which listsyou wish to subscribe to, your call sign, and your E-Mail
address. These lists are manually maintained so allow a few days for
your requests to be processed.

	ARRL Mail Server - send an E-Mail message to
In the message body, put "send index" (new line) "quit" (both
without quotes).  You will receive the most recent index of all
files available on the Server.  Be warned that the index is large
and will be sent in two parts. There are several good text files
here on working the satellites, as well as information on many other

On-Line Resources - The World Wide Web AMSAT-NA
connection.  Has information on AMSAT, articles, photos, and a link
to the AMSAT ftp site for downloading software.  This is the best
place to start when looking for Amateur Satellite information and
links to other sites. - Home page of the American Radio Relay
League. Contains lots of information on becoming a Radio Amateur,
plus links to sites for practically any Amateur related activity.
Also has links to ftp servers for downloading software.


	No discussion of the Amateur Satellite Service would be
complete without a mention of AMSAT, the world wide organization of
Amateur Satellite operators and supporters.  AMSAT, or the Radio
Amateur Satellite Corporation as it is officially known, is an
almost entirely volunteer group, with the few paid employees being
limited to office staff.  (AMSAT-NA has but one, our tireless office
manager Martha "", without whom we'd big in big
trouble.  Thanks, Martha!) Everyone else, from the President,
through the Area Coordinators, and down to the good people who
manage the booths at Hamfests, freely give of their time and
efforts.  Many of the most ambitious satellite projects to date have
been sponsored by the various AMSAT organizations and are funded
entirely with contributions.

	If you will take a few moments and go back to the section
"My Resources", you will see that many of the books are published by
AMSAT.  AMSAT is a non-profit organization and all moneys derived
from the distribution of these materials is channeled back into the
program.  Practically all of the programs and literature available
from AMSAT were donated by their respective authors. The few that
are commercial in nature are offered because they fill a need not
otherwise available or because their general excellence and value to
the Amateur Satellite operator has already been determined.  Even
with these, though, AMSAT does not make a profit; anything received
above their actual cost is kicked back into the operating fund.
	Use of the Amateur Satellites is obviously not limited to
members of AMSAT, but I heartily encourage everyone to consider
joining.  At this time, membership in AMSAT-NA is $30 per year, with
Lifetime memberships available. Membership includes the bi-monthly
magazine "The AMSAT Journal." To join AMSAT, for more information on
their program, goods and services, or to get the name of your
closest Field Operations volunteer, please contact:

		Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT)
		850 Sligo Avenue, #600
		Silver Spring, MD  20910-4703

		Telephone: (301) 589-6062
		Fax: (301) 608-3410

In closing...

	When I first started thinking about writing this paper, it
was to be a brief history of how one Ham, me, got onto the
satellites.  It just sort of grew. In the future, I hope to have
both an expanded version and one that is much more brief.  You have
made it this far; others may not.  If I have generated even a little
interest in the Amateur Satellite program, then my efforts have met
with success.  I did it; so can you!

	In the way of legalities, I must tell you that AMSAT is a
registered trademark of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, a
really great organization of which I am proud to be a member. Please
consider joining.

	The information in the section "My Resources" has been
greatly expanded into a companion handout titled "Sources of
Information About the Amateur Satellite Program" and was first
distributed by the AMSAT folks at the 1996 Dayton Hamvention.  This
document is constantly being revised, so you may wish to contact
Martha at AMSAT HQ and ask for the latest copy.

	I want to say Thank You to the following for providing
encouragement and input to me as I was developing that listing:
Barry Baines WD4ASW, Keith Baker KB1SF, Cliff Buttschardt K7RR, Joe
Holman AD7D, Jim Jefferson KB0THN, Mike Seguin N1JEZ, and Omri
Serlin AA6TA.

	Special thanks to John Peterson, KI4VZ, and Pete Soper,
KS4XG, for proofreading this paper in its many incarnations and not
laughing too loudly at my obvious errors of spelling and style.

	Well, I guess that about does it.  You may remember that I
said I don't know much about AO-10.  That is my next goal.  I'm
learning now and the great thing is I already have most of my
station assembled for Mode B!  I can generate a 70cM signal so I
just need to work on my antennas. Then maybe get some rotators. Then
an auto-steering box.  Then...  Well, you can see where this is
headed.  I'm also looking forward to the launch of Phase 3D in the
latter part of 1997, which should prove to be much easier to work
for lots of people owing to it's various available modes, sensitive
receivers and increased output power.

	I truly hope to see you on the birds soon.  And please, if
you hear someone calling "CQ Satellite from Whiskey Alpha Four
Yankee Mike Zulu, Fox Mike Zero Five, North Carolina", give me a
call.  I'd love to hear from you.

    Gary B. Rogers   WA4YMZ   FM05pp   Apex, NC

AMSAT, the world wide organization of Amateur Satellite operators and