oak.oakland.edu:/pub/hamradio/docs/faq ftp.cs.buffalo.edu:/pub/ham-radio Clear Skies BBS (608)249-7130
Also, if you really want to get serious about satellites, I would STRONGLY recommend joining AMSAT to help promote the satellite hobby. AMSAT is a volunteer organization that works for the interests of amateur satellites. Dues are only US$30 per year and you will receive a subscription to "The AMSAT Journal". For US$80, you will receive first year dues and a copy of Instant Track computer tracking software which is a top-notch program. Instant Track was donated to AMSAT by its author and its sales account for a considerable portion of AMSAT's income. AMSAT-NA, 850 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4703. (301) 589-6062. Credit cards welcome.
NOTE: I am in no way connected with AMSAT-NA, other than I have found their publications quite useful.
Some satellites have dual modes that operate simultaneously. For example, AO-13 can operate in mode BS which means that it can do both mode B and mode S simultaneously. Other common dual modes are KT and KA.
Also, satellites have 3 basic types of retransmissions: beacon, transponder, and repeater.
The best way to get a QSL card from Mir is to connect to their TNC's mailbox, R0MIR-1, (That's R Zero MIR) leave a message AND GET A MESSAGE NUMBER. You must have the message number to qualify for a QSL. The TNC is often busy because amateurs forget to disconnect before Mir goes under their horizon. In a case like this, try connecting to yourself or a friend VIA R0MIR. And if you hear a heavily accented voice calling CQ, by all means say hello!
70 cm and ATV gear is being prepared for future flights!
Sergei Samburov (RV3DR) Prospect Kosmonavtov. d.36, kw.96 Kaliningrad City, MOSCOW 141070, RUSSIA.
Sergei can also be reached via packet radio as RV3DR @ RK3KP.#MSK.RUS.EU
A special note on calculating Mir's orbit: Mir is big and it's in a low orbit. This means that there's a lot of atmospheric drag and it has to fire its rockets every month or two to boost itself back up or it would have re-entered and burned up long ago. Unfortunately, whenever this happens, it throws off all pass predictions. When this happens, Mir will arrive LATER than predicted, so if you tune to 145.55 and nothing happens at the predicted time, keep waiting, it may be along in 10-30 minutes.
SEEING MIR: Mir is also the only EZSAT that can be seen. Mir is very big, about the size of a semi-trailer, and when it comes over just after sunset or just before sunrise, you can often see it go by. This is because Mir will still be in sunlight while you're in the earth's shadow. In these cases, Mir looks like a very bright star gliding across the sky. It's a beautiful sight and well worth looking for. It's best to use a tracking program set to VISUAL to find visible passes. The best such programs will even draw you a star map and show you Mir's path across it. Don't forget to tune to 145.55 when you see it. Also, don't forget to get on the local repeater and tell people when you spot it so that others can share in the fun.
These satellites all have a coverage circle about 4000 miles in diameter, so when they're about the horizon, you can use them to work hams anywhere in the continental US, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Central America, South America down to the Equator, the Caribbean, Greenland, Iceland and parts of Scandinavia. Eastern hams can work Europe and the West can work Hawaii.
All of these satellites are in boxes that are bolted to larger Russian satellites and draw their power from the large satellite's solar cells. They are VERY easy to hear and fairly simple to work.
OSCAR-21 has an input frequency of 435.016 MHz, but 435.015 works just fine. It's output frequency is 145.987 MHz, but 145.985 or 145.990 will receive it quite well. It has a strong transmitter and a ground plane antenna and most HTs have no trouble picking its signals up when it passes over. Mobiles and base stations with omni antennas will receive it full quieting. You can get into this bird with 20 watts and a six element beam antenna. I mount my beam on a photo tripod next to my car and run coax to my dual band mobile. You have to point the beam accurately, so I take a list of altitude and azimuth bearing generated by simple tracking software out with me and re-point the beam once a minute. In one summer, I worked the east and west coasts, several Canadians, Texas and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before fall's cold weather drove me indoors.
Some OSCAR-21 tips: you can hardly get a word in edgewise during "prime time" opening passes. Try the late night passes instead, they're much less crowded. OSCAR-21's transmit and receive polarity rotate constantly during a pass. Mount your beam so you can easily rotate it for the best signal. Remember, all these ham sats are full duplex, so you can and should monitor your signal on the downlink. (Use headphones.) Turn the beam for minimum noise. You'll probably have to modify your dual band rig to get it to transmit on 435.015. BE CAREFUL because FM is generally NOT appreciated below 440 Mhz. Also, the mod may allow you to transmit out of band, which is a real no-no.
OSCAR-21 is also known as RS-14, AO-21 and Rudak-2. It's bolted to a satellite called INFORMATOR-1, which is often abbreviated INFORMTR-1. It's NORAD ID number is 21087. Be careful, the rocket booster that launched the satellite is still up there and it's named INFORMTR-1 R/B in some element sets. Your tracking program may find it instead of the satellite if you're not careful.
RS-10/11 (Radio Sputnik) is for CW and SSB signals, so an all mode 2 meter rig is ideal for transmitting to this bird. The input bandpass is from 145.860 - 145.900 and the output freqs are from 29.360 - 29.400 MHz. There is also a morse beacon at 29.357 MHz.
RS-10 is also equipped with a feature called ROBOT. The ROBOT is an automatic on-board QSO computer. To work it, send the following at about 15-20 wpm on 145.82 MHz (an automated keyer works best):
RS-10 DE (your call) AR
If the ROBOT hears you, it will respond on the 29.403 MHz downlink with:
(your call) DE RS-10 QSL NR (number) OP ROBOT TU USW QSO (number) 73 SK
If you want a QSL card, try sending the QSL number the ROBOT sent back to you on your QSL (along with an SASE and return postage) to:
Andrey Mironov UL Vvoloshinoj. D11. KV72. 141000 Station Perlovskaya Moscow, Russia
The first Phase 3-A launch ended in disaster when the Ariane booster malfunctioned, dropping the bird in the Atlantic. Phase 3-B, later to become OSCAR 10, met with somewhat better fortune, surviving the launch and first burn of its "kick motor" just fine. However, we later learned that the booster had apparently bumped OSCAR 10 shortly after separation which damaged one or more of its antennas and also caused other internal injuries because the second and subsequent kick motor firings never happened. This left OSCAR 10 in a lower inclination elliptical orbit. This meant that the bird didn't have the intended operational coverage nor enough solar panel illumination to sustain full operations. So today, OSCAR 10 is "sort of" operational. It is stuck in mode "B" with only its omnidirectional antennas working and it is slowly tumbling. Users are requested to listen for AO-10's 145.810 MHz beacon for a steady, unmodulated carrier before operating the bird. If the beacon is raspy or if your downlink signal appears to be shifting in frequency, users are asked NOT to use the transponder until it has a chance to slowly recharge its batteries.
Telex/Hy-Gain antennas were recommended by several people as a less expensive alternative to KLMs that work almost as well. There's also M2 (started by an engineer from KLM). While no one who responded uses them, the information I received from their factory in California suggests they are comparable to slightly better than the KLMs in performance, about the same in cost, however they are mechanically stronger. Also noted was that all of the M2 antennas use CNC machined parts, O-rings, silicon gel sealed internal connections, and stainless steel hardware to ensure that they stand up to harsh weather. Dave, WB6LFC, said homebrewing antennas is also feasible - it takes work, but attention to detail results in top-notch performance for very little money. Finally, Ross, VE6PDQ, reported good results using a pair of Cushcraft 215WBs on receive.
Problems encountered with AO-13 antennas include routing cables and feedlines off the back of the antennas (to preserve antenna patterns), use of fiberglass cross booms, mounting preamps as close to the feedpoint as possible, and long antenna booms drooping. (Gary, KE4ZV, recommends using a rope to brace the boom or stiffening booms and fiberglass masts internally with foam-in-a-can insulation.)
On antenna rotators, it appears the Alliance UD-100 is no longer made, though it should still show up at hamfests. People with long-boom antennas report the Alliance rotator is too weak to move a big array anyway, and recommended Yaesu's elevation-only rotator or their Model 5400 azimuth-elevation unit.
Antennas for the low-altitude satellites appear to be much less critical. J-poles were most frequently mentioned (the design from the AMSAT Journal?), but dipoles, ground-planes, and yagis are also in use. Several people work RS-10 quite well with antennas in the attic. Best results are with steerable antennas, but the high operator workload during a pass (unless the satellite is just grazing your access circle) almost demands computer control of the rotators.
While no one mentioned it (maybe it's obvious), if the antenna is used to transmit (say Mode J) as well as receive (on Mode B, for example), the preamp MUST either include RF-sensed switching, or be switched out of the line before you transmit. TRANSMITTING INTO AN UNPROTECTED PREAMP WILL DESTROY IT INSTANTLY!
Preamps also seem to help on RS-10 (especially with older HF rigs) and on the Pacsats. It seems to be a case of "try it, and get a preamp if it looks like it would help").
Power output required is a function of the satellite, your antennas, and how badly you want to communicate. [QRP on the satellites is just like QRP on HF - you need good antennas and feedline, you have to pick optimal passes, and skilled operators at both ends are needed. Given the apparent "calmer" operating style on AO-13, QRP is probably easier there than on 20 meters!]
Anyway -about power for AO-13. 3-30 watts will work if you have top-notch antennas (KE4ZV). KC7IT uses 50-100 watts (Ten Tec 2510, Mirage D1010 amplifier, KLM 14C/18C fed with 50 feet of 9913). Both KE4ZV and KC7IT use Mirage D1010 amplifiers on 70 cm when they need a little extra power. For an "optimum station", WA5ZIB recommends 60 watts on 70 cm and 80 watts on 2 meters for AO-13, assuming good antennas (Telex/Hy-Gain or better) and feedlines, and 20 watts to a 5' dish for Mode L. Andy emphasized that you can get by and have lots of fun with much less!
For Mode A, WA5ZIB said 6 watts to the AO-13 2 meter antenna will work well. People using omnis report success with the Pacsats running 50-70 watts to a J-Pole (N5VGC). Several people said they (or someone they know) have no trouble using RS-10 at lower power (10-25 watts) with simple, omnidirectional antennas. Again, it's a case of "try it and see if it works."
There was unanimous consensus that the receiving equipment (antenna, preamp, feedline, and receiver) is more important than the transmit equipment. Running more power "to hear yourself" is frowned upon, to say the least! It's also important to be able to vary uplink power to adjust to specific conditions. Both the Ten Tec 2510 and the Yaesu 736 have continuously variable power output (I guess the rest of us just have to fiddle with the drive controls on our rigs!).
Just about any radio suitable for packet on 2 meters will work for AO-16, WO18, and LU-19. To run 9600 bps on UO-22, modifications to bypass the microphone and speaker's audio processing circuits are required. I've seen some reports on rec.radio.packet and in the various Hamsat columns that differences between UO14 and UO-22's transmitters make UO-22 more difficult to copy. (I'll worry about that problem later - I'll start with AO-16 and LU-19 first!)
No one mentioned computers - again, it must be obvious (also, we're "talking" using computers!). They're handy, and you need one IN THE SHACK when working the Pacsats or for automated, real-time control of antenna rotators (useful for low altitude satellites).
Other operator aids mentioned, or I thought of on my own: If your radio can't slave uplink and downlink tuning (Ten Tec 2510 and Yaesu 736 can), you need something to help convert between uplink and downlink frequencies (and account for doppler shift and calibration errors on the radios' frequency readouts). A cardboard slide scale or dial will work. I'm thinking of programming my HP48 to do the conversion for me. You need something like this to know where to tune on the uplink to hear a given downlink frequency.
Software to track satellites and predict passes. There are many programs that work. Price ranges from free to $70 for state-of-the-art QuickTrack or InstantTrack (available from AMSAT). Special software is also needed to use the Pacsats, and to interpret telemetry data. This software is also available from the usual ham sources, and from AMSAT (BTW, software sales support the amateur satellite program!)
Polarity switchers optimize antenna performance by allowing switching antenna feeds from RHCP to LHCP as the need arises. They are a very useful add-on, but don't appear essential.
Equipment to measure power output, SWR, transmit frequency - all useful (see - satellites are not that different from HF!).
Designation Frequencies Transponder/ Mode Beacon AO-10 Downlinks 145.810 B B 145.825-.975 T B 145.987 B B (Usually off) Uplinks 435.027-.179 T B RS-10 Downlinks 29.357 B A 29.360-.400 T A 29.403 B (Robot) A 145.857 B T/KT 145.903 B (Robot) T/KT Uplinks 145.860-.900 T T/KT 145.820 B (Robot) T/KT RS-12 Downlinks 29.408 B K 29.410-.450 T K 29.454 B (Robot) K 145.913 B T/KT 145.959 B (Robot) T/KT Uplinks 21.210-.250 T K AO-13 Downlinks 145.812 B B 145.825-.975 T B 145.985 B B (Usually off) 435.651 B L/JL 435.677 RUDAK 435.715-6.005 T L/JL 2400.664 B S 2400.711-.749 T S Uplinks 435.423-.573 T B/S 435.601-.637 T B/S AO-16 Downlinks 437.02625 T/B J Dig. (1200b SSB) (secondary) 437.05130 T/B J Dig. (1200b Rai. Cos SSB) (pri) 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 Downlinks 145.82438 B 1200 bps AFSK FM or Dig Voice 145.82516 B 1200 bps AFSK FM or Dig Voice 2401.22050 B 1200 bps BPSK (SSB) (usually off) Uplinks None WO-18 Downlink 437.10200 B 1200 bps BPSK, J Dig (Telem, Image) Uplink None LO-19 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 FO-20 Downlinks 435.795 B J Analog 435.800-.900 T J Analog (See below) 435.910 T/B 1200 bps BPSK (SSB), J Digital Uplinks 145.850 T 1200 bps AFSK FM Digital 145.870 T 1200 bps AFSK FM Digital 145.890 T 1200 bps AFSK FM Digital 145.910 T 1200 bps AFSK FM Digital OR 145.900-6.00 T CW/SSB (Alternates with above every other week. Changes on Wednesdays) AO-21 Downlinks 145.852-.932 T CW/SSB 145.866-.946 T CW/SSB 145.985 Repeater FM (Alternates with voice bulletins and telemetry) Uplinks 435.022-.102 T CW/SSB 435.601-.637 T CW/SSB 435.015 Repeater FM (See above) UO-22 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 (KITSAT) Downlink 435.175 T 9600 bps FM Digital Uplinks 145.850 T 9600 bps FM Digital 145.900 T 9600 bps FM Digital Mir Downlink 145.550 T/Robot (Packet mailbox. Alternates with simplex FM voice QSOs occasionally) KO-25 (KITSAT-B) Downlink 435.175/436.500 MHz 9600 bps FSK FM Digital Uplink 145.870/145.980 MHz 9600 bps FSK FM Digital AO-26 (ITAMSAT) Downlink 435.867 MHz 1200 bps PSK Digital Uplinks 145.875 MHz 1200 bps FM Digital 145.900 MHz 1200 bps FM Digital 145.925 MHz 1200 bps FM Digital 145.950 MHz 1200 bps FM Digital AO-27 (AMRAD) Downlink 436.798 MHz Analog FM voice/9600 bps FSK FM Uplink 145.850 MHz Analog FM voice/9600 bps FSK FM PO-28 Uplink 145.975 MHz JD 9600 bps FSK (Primary) 145.925 MHZ JD 9600 bps FSK (Secondary) Downlink 435.075 MHz JD 9600 bps FSK (Primary) 435.050 MHz JD 9600 bps FSK (Secondary)
NORAD Common Name [Aliases] (Parent satellite) ----- ----------- --------------------------- ------------------ 14129 AO-10 [OSCAR 10, Phase 3B] 14781 UO-11 [OSCAR 11, UOSAT-B, UOSAT 2] 16609 Mir 18129 RS-10/11 [RS-10] (COSMOS 1861) 19216 AO-13 [OSCAR 13, Phase 3C] 20437 UO-14 [OSCAR 14, UOSAT-OSCAR 14] 20438 UO-15 [OSCAR 15, UOSAT-OSCAR 15] 20439 AO-16 [OSCAR 16, Pacsat, Microsat-A] 20440 DO-17 [OSCAR 17, DOVE, Microsat-B] 20441 WO-18 [OSCAR 18, WEBERSAT, Microsat-C] 20442 LO-19 [OSCAR 19, LUSAT, Microsat-D] 20480 FO-20 [Fuji-OSCAR 20] (JAS 1-B) 21087 AO-21 [OSCAR 21, RS-14, RUDAK-II] (INFORMTR-1 or INFORMATOR-1) 21089 RS-12/13 [RS-12] (COSMOS 2123) 21575 UO-22 [OSCAR 22, UoSat 5, UOSAT-F] 22077 KO-23 [OSCAR 23, KITSAT A, Uribyol 1] 22654 ARSENE 22825 AO-27 [OSCAR 27, AMRAD] (EYESAT-1) 22826 AO-26 [ITAMSAT, IO-26, OSCAR 26] 22829 PO-28 [POSAT, POSAT 1, OSCAR 28] 22830 KO-25 [KITSAT B, OSCAR 25, Uribyol 2]
Stephen Holmstead, email@example.com