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since October 13 1999
ATTENTION! Satellite on Rails
NEW! FM satellite Users Forums. There are two FM
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KO4MA. Discuss FM satellite operation with other users!
SO-35 Parrot - Tips and
techniques for working SO-35's unique parrot (simplex) repeater
of Doppler Shift - Looking
at satellite Doppler shift in more detail.
for SWLs - You don't need
a licence to share in the excitement of satellite activities!
an antenna for portable Mode B and Mode J operation.
the Easy Sats Down Under -
Getting on satellites may be easier than you think!
Satiquette - Be a courteous satellite operator. Please read
before transmitting on the satellites!
your first satellite!
VK RailSat Challenge.
SO-35 No Longer Operational - My
Jump to RS-13
passes over Melbourne
Jump to UO-14
passes over Melbourne
been de-orbited and returned to Earth
Jump to ISS
passes over Melbourne
Below is my journal of satellite operations,
from my first SO-35 QSO to the current date. To download a .MP3
recording of satellite activity, click on the date of interest.
Please note that the MP3 files are approximately 1/2 - 1 MB in
size each. To save diskspace on the qsl.net server, only recent
MP3 recordings will be mirrored there. Older MP3s will continue
to be available from the quest.apana.org.au site, and hyperlinks
have been altered to point to the correct sites.
- 11 Sep 1999. - First attempt to contact
satellite from home QTH. No signals were heard. This was
due to a last minute change of frequencies which I was
unaware of at the time.
- 12 Sep 1999. - Second attempt to contact
SUNSAT from the station. Several contacts in VK2, 3 and 5
were made, with VK4 and ZL being heard. Signals were
better than S9 + 20 on both uplink and downlink on
handheld equipment. These excellent results show good
promise for train and tram operation.
- 18 Sep 1999. - First tram mobile attempt.
No signals from SUNSAT were observed on either the
portable gear or the station logger at the base QTH,
which was monitoring the downlink. MP3 files from the
station logger will be available for download here after
- 19 Sep 1999. - Second attempt at tram
mobile operation. For a brief period at 02:44 UTC,
contact was possible with VK6 from the tram, though there
was insufficient time to exchange callsigns and reports
before losing the satellite. At 02:47, it was decided to
call off the attempt, with only a minute of the pass
remaining. VK6ZKO from Perth was worked briefly from
outside the tram before the pass concluded.
Unfortunately, no .MP3 of the pass this time. The scanner
which is being used for logging appeared to be suffering
overload from pagers and the VK3RCW beacon, which caused
desense on the downlink. A 2 way QSO and subsequent QSL
remains elusive. The main problems on this pass appeared
to be attenuation and noise from the tram on the 2m
downlink frequency. The uplink from the tram seemed to be
accessing the satellite's transponder with ease.
- 25 Sep 1999. - Tram
mobile operation was again attempted, but no contacts
were made. I could access either the uplink or downlink,
but not both at the same time. I suspect the high pass
combined with the orientation of the tram at the time
adversely affected the signals. The audio log of this
pass was kindly provided by Brett, VK3ZBN in December
- 26 Sep 1999. -
Attempted to work this pass from the home QTH, but no
success. Several stations heard on the downlink, as can
be evidenced by the accompanying MP3 audio. In any case,
portable antennas work better than the main omni, except
at very low elevations, especially on 70cm (which is to
expected, as my antenna has a low angle of radiation). If
you listen very carefully, you may hear me putting out a
call or two at the very end of the recording.
- 2 Oct 1999. - Success
at last! After considerable planning of both the tram
mobile sked and the monitor/audio logging in the shack,
the first QSO via an amateur satellite from a tram was
successfully conducted with Jack, VK3WWW and recorded
during this pass. A second QSO was conducted with Lionel,
VK3NM a few minutes later. Both QSO's can be heard in the
audio log. A .WAV of the first QSO
with VK3WWW can be downloaded here as well. Apologies to those stations who tried to make
contact but didn't succeed, the noise on the downlink was
severe and much of the traffic on the transponder was
missed as a result. QSL cards are now available. The two
stations contacted, as well as any amateur, scanner user
or SWL who submits a reception report with at least
time/date, stations heard (my call is VK3JED) and a
signal report can obtain a QSL by direct mail. For those
without access to a current callbook, please email your report to me and I'll give you the address
to send your QSL.
- 3 Oct 1999 - This pass
was worked using a pair of handhelds at the home QTH.
Several stations were worked, including 2 ZL stations and
a few locals. Signals were mostly strong, with a slight
dip in strength as the satellite passed almost directly
overhead. Activity was a bit quiet overall, perhaps due
to the slightly earlier pass time and being a Sunday.
- 9 Oct 1999 - No scheduled pass over VK due
to special event in the USA utilising 3 passes.
- 10 Oct 999 - SUNSAT was again worked, this
time during the Radio on Rails contest. Two stations were
worked while I was waiting for a train at Victoria Park,
a few km NE of Melbourne. Shortly afterwards, the first
satellite contact from a train was made with Chris,
VK3JEG while the train passed through Collingwood.
Further attempts to work SUNSAT were unsuccessful due to
pager interference on the downlink and several small
dogpiles on the satellite. Apologies for the lack of
audio for this pass, due to my participation in Radio on
Rails and the scanner being in use, a recording could not
be made. If anyone has a recording of this pass, a copy
would be appreciated, either in digital format or plain
- 15 Oct 1999 - A new goal is set, the VK RailSat Challenge! The aim is to work from a train in VK3
(Melbourne) to another train in VK6 (Perth) via a
- 16 and 17 Oct 1999 - No passes scheduled
- 23 Oct 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 24 Oct 1999 - The transponder didn't
appear to be active for the scheduled pass. One station
reported hearing SUNSAT on its 2.4 GHz downlink, but
nothing was heard on 145.825. Murphy at his best, which
means the attempt to contact ZL from a train, as well as
work from train to train/tram/bus has been postponed.
- 30 Oct 1999 - The best
pass to date for general operation. All states of
Australia were heard, with the sole exception of VK8.
Signals were good, as to be expected. Due to a busy
period, operation was from the home QTH, and rail
operation isn't expected to resume until mid - late
November (The VK6s reading this have a few more weeks to
prepare! :) ). Apologies for the poor audio quality at
the start of the pass. I used a different receiver for
the audio log, to avoid the interference that affects the
scanner. It seems the receiver is a few kHz low in
frequency, which when combined with the Doppler shift of
the satellite, caused poor reception for the first half
of the pass. Once the Doppler fell to zero (and later
went negative), the audio improved 100 percent. Time for
a quick tweak... An observation made during this pass was
that even though being portable (meaning that I'm able to
adjust my antenna orientation to suit the satellite), the
uplink was difficult to access while the satellite was
near maximum elevation, but very easy to access at low
- 31 Oct 1999 - As anticipated, I was in
Ballarat, 120km W of Melbourne during this pass. The pass
was worked while portable at the Ballarat Hamfest, with
one SWL and a Novice Limited looking on. The pass itself
was a low angled pass over Perth, with only about 12
degrees elevation in the Melbourne area. Despite the >
2200 km range from Ballarat to the bird, several VK3s, 2
VK6s and a VK5 were worked with signals up to 5x9. This
pass has probably set the dubious record of the shortest
SUNSAT contact of a mere 200 metres (via a 5000+ km total
path!) to Lionel, VK3NM who was parked in a nearby car
park. And the shortest SWL monitoring was, of course, the
listeners next to me, one of whom listened to the pass on
his own 2 metre handheld. This pass proved that even with
handheld equipment, it is still possible to contact
SUNSAT at distances up to around 3000 km (by which time
it's practically on the horizon anyway).
- 6 Nov 1999 - This pass was worked from a
portable station in St Kilda as a PR exercise for a hobby
fair. Several onlookers watched as stations from VK2, VK3
and VK5 were worked via SUNSAT. As well as good contacts,
there were several questions from members of the public
and some interesting discussions about amateur satellite
operation. An audio recording was made, but the scanner
suffered from intermods. A 2 stage relay will be needed
for future unattended recordings. It is hoped to have a
suitable system in place by the following weekend (Nov
13/14). SUNSAT is turning out to be an excellent PR
- 13 Nov 1999 - Cancelled due to software upgrades on
- 14 Nov 1999 - Cancelled due to software upgrades on
- 20 Nov 1999 - After a
week's break, it was good to see SUNSAT active over VK
again. While I went train mobile in an attempt to work
other stations, including a bus mobile and hopefully,
some ZLs, the high angle of the pass, combined with the
poor alignment of the train left me as a spectator this
time around. The highlight of this pass was Peter, VK3YE
who made the first QSO via an amateur satellite from a
bus. Here is a .WAV of the first few QSOs Peter made
from the bus. Traffic was
initially slow, but became quite heavy, with stations
from VK2 and VK3, plus one ZL and a VK4. Back in the
shack, I took a leaf out of the SUNSAT operators' book
and upgraded the audio recording software. The new
software has the facility to record the passes unattended
(I just plug in the start and stop times), and allows me
to utilise the best receiver for the job, without having
to jury rig special antennas (which have required someone
present for safety reasons :) ). Expect longer, higher
quality recordings. With the increasing traffic on the
bird, there is the problem of congestion. Please, listen
before hitting the PTT!! It makes it easier for the lower
powered/portable stations. If you listen carefully to the
audio track, you may hear the odd station getting
trampled in the rush.
- 21 Nov 1999 - Another
busy pass, with several stations from VK2, VK3 and VK6
participating. The VK2s, in particular, did well to reach
the satellite, as the elevation was quite low (one
station reported 7 degrees from Sydney) over VK2. The new
audio recording setup gave excellent perofrmance with
this low pass, with one of the best recordings os a
SUNSAT pass so far. In the near future, all audio logs
will be available in Real Audio format, to provide
further improved audio quality.
- 27 Nov 1999 - This
pass crossed the middle of Australia from south to north.
Activity was dominated by stations from VK2 and VK3, with
VK6ZKO being the only station outside these areas on the
satellite. The use of a 2m 5/8 wave antenna for the
downlink improved received signals dramatically. While
it's good to see a lot of stations giving SUNSAT a try,
the increased traffic means that operating procedures
need to be of a high standard to ensure everyone gets a
- 28 Nov 1999 - As
expected, ZL was active on this pass, with one ZL being
worked by several VK stations and another briefly heard.
Other stations heard or worked were from VK2, VK3, VK4
- 4 Dec 1999 - Despite
the relatively distant (1700km closest approach) pass,
signals from SUNSAT were excellent, after a fade early
during the pass. Activity was a bit quieter than previous
passes, and on air conduct was excellent on the most
part. Several VK3s, along with several VK2s and a VK6
- 5 Dec 1999 - Quite a
busy pass, but conduct was mostly orderly with a few
minor dogpiles. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were
worked. There were a couple of changes to the station
here. Firstly, an overhaul of the feedline in the shack
was carried out, mainly to overcome severe losses on
70cm. This may have been the reason for the exceptionally
good signals logged in the day's .MP3 recording, despite
only a few dB at most improvement expected on 2m. Also, I
experimented with diversity reception as one means of
overcoming downlink fading. In addition to the usual
portable 2m receiver that was carried, a short range
radio link was setup between the logging receiver and a
portable broadcast FM receiver. Audio from each receiver
was fed to one ear. While most of the time, fades occured
simultaneously on both receivers, there were occasions
where the diversity system did improve on the reception
that would otherwise have been possible. The separation
between the two receivers was up to 20 metres, which was
the limit of the FM relay transmitter. Beyond the 20
metre limit, reception fell back to the normal portable
- 11 Dec 1999 - Due to work commitments,
this pass was worked from Sydney (VK2). As expected, this
was an excellent pass, with one ZL, several VK2s and
VK3s, as well as a VK7 station on air. Signals were
particularly strong, exceeding S9 for most of the pass,
which was more than enough to overcome the severe band
noise caused by the Sydney CBD. The selection of a
location shielded from the Sydney CBD also improved
reception of the downlink. Due to my abscence from the
shack, there is no audio recording of this pass, unless
someone had made their own recording and can provide a
- 12 Dec 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 18 Dec 1999 - Other
than a lack of stations from VK4 and VK8, this was pretty
much a "perfect pass". Signals from the
satellite exceeded S9 on the portable receiver, and
stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were worked. In
general, on air ettiquette was excellent. Most stations
waited their turn and just about everyone got a fair
chance to work a few stations. Only one question remains:
Where are the Queenslanders? (haven't heard from VK4 for
several weeks). And a reminder that we are still looking
for people to participate in the RailSat Challenge.
- 19 Dec 1999 - Signals
were weaker than expected during this pass. At times,
accessing the uplink was quite difficult with the usual 5
W EIRP, and downlink signals were only S2 - S3 instead of
the usual S5 to S9. Several stations from VK2 and VK3, as
well as one VK5 and a couple of VK6s were heard or worked
via SUNSAT during the pass.
- 25 Dec 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 26 Dec 1999 - This was
the most challenging pass to date, with the satellite
passing over Perth and approaching no closer than 2300 km
at an elevation of 8 degrees. To maximise the performance
of the link, I took advantage of family affairs which put
me close enough to Mt Macedon to make a stop and work
SUNSAT from there. At more than 400 metres above the
surrounding terrain (total elevation approx 1000m ASL),
the mountain provided a clear path to the western
horizon. Activity on the satellite was quiet (probably
due to a combination of a public holiday and the pass
being over less populated areas), but there were a total
of 2 VK3s, 3 VK5s and 2 VK6s, with everyone getting a
chance to work everyone else. Signals were reasonable,
given the distance of the pass, and the height of the
mountain provided an extra 30 - 60 seconds of air time
beyond the predicted LOS. The activity heard from the
mountain extends more than 30 seconds beyond the end of
the recording of this pass.
- 1 Jan 2000 - Due to a scheduling problem,
the time that SUNSAT was scheduled didn't coincide with a
pass over Australia. There was a last minute attempt to
reschedule the pass, but due to a technical hitch here
(radio not connected to an antenna! d'oh :) ), I was
unable to confirm if the reschudled pass went ahead.
- 8 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT
appeared right on cue this time around, with solid S9
signals on the downlink. Activity was slow initially, but
soon became quite heavy. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK4
(been a while guys!), and VK5 were heard. No stations
from ZL this time, despite the favourable pass.
- 15 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT
fired up right on the scheduled time for this pass.
Signals seemed to be down a little from other recent high
angle passes, peaking only at S7-S9, instead of the more
usual S9+20. There were numerous stations on, mostly from
VK3, with a few VK2s, 2 VK5s, one VK6 and a P29 station,
which caused a late flurry of activity from DX chasers.
:-) I've also changed the format for future pass
prediction information. Instead of the old list, it will
be presented in a tabular form, one table for each day a
satellite is active over VK. This makes it clearer with
the increased amount of information that is presented
- 22 Jan 2000 - There
were some delays in getting hold of the pass schedule for
this pass, and as a result, activity on SUNSAT was quiet
with only a handful of stations being worked or heard. A
couple of "ragchew like" QSOs resulted from
this light activity. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6
were heard. Signals were initially very good, exceeding
S9, but dropped off markedly to about S2 from about mid
pass onwards. The satellite also has an excellent sense
of time, the switch on time is currently within 2 seconds
of my clocks, which are synchronised to the Internet
- 27 Jan 2000 - The JAWSAT mission, carrying
several amateur satellites was successfully launched at
- 29 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT
fired up right on cue again for this pass. Signals were
about S9 on the 2m 5/8 during most of the pass, with the
uplink being easily accessible right to the end. Stations
heard/worked included several VK2s, VK3s VK5s and a VK6.
- 5 Feb 2000 - Again, a
pass that went like clockwork. SUNSAT is within on second
of the clocks in the shack, which are synchronised to the
Internet using NTP. Signals were down on previous passes,
despite the high elevation (74 degrees). Stations from
VK2, 3, 5 and 6 were worked or heard, with activity being
very heavy for most of the pass. Surprisingly, no ZL
stations were on air, despite this being the best
opportunity for them for the next few weeks.
- 12 Feb 2000 - SO-35
fired up on schedule again. Signals were mostly strong
with a few minor fades on the downlink and good signals
on the uplink. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6, ZL and
P29 were worked or heard during the pass.
- 14 Feb 2000 - StenSat is operational,
according to reports from the USA. However, its downlink
is very weak, and high gain antennas (i.e. beams) will be
needed to work this bird. Stensat is currently orbiting
near the "grey line", so will be overhead near
sunrise and sunset local time in any part of the world.
The frequencies for StenSat are 145.840 MHz uplink and
436.625 MHz for the downlink. Later reports indicated
that the initial report of Stensat's status may have been
in error, and the satellite hasn't yet been heard. More
news as it comes to hand.
- 19 Feb 2000 - Another
copybook pass from SUNSAT. Signals did seem a little
weaker than normal for most of the pass, rarely exceeding
S5 on the portable receiver. Activity was a little less
frantic than usual but steady, with stations from VK2,
VK3, VK5 and VK6 active.
- 20 Feb 2000 - With the recent aquisition
of a 10 metre transceiver, I am now able to work Mode A.
This means that I am now able to work RS-13 on Mode A (2m
up, 10m down, SSB/CW). I usually call and monitor on
29.486 (downlink frequency) on SSB. Any contacts would be
welcomed, Unlike SO-35, RS-13 is a very quiet bird. I
will be publishing a brief summary of pass schedules for RS-13. However, due to the sheer number of passes,
these will be for Melbourne only. The earlier passes in a
group of 2 or 3 will be towards the east, the latter ones
towards the west. The middle pass of a group of 3 will be
fairly high elevation.
- 23 Feb 2000 - Sunsat celebrated its first birthday with a special message
broadcast over several parts of the world. Unfortunately,
I didn't managed to record the VK pass, but Mike, N1JEZ,
kindly provided a copy of the recorded message.
- 24 Feb 2000 - Some
unexpected good news! UO-14, which has been running
various digital modes for 10 years has been configured to
operate as a Mode J (2m up, 70cm down) FM repeater,
similar to SUNSAT. Unlike SUNSAT, UO-14 is available
continuously (i.e. every visible pass). I have worked
this bird and can confirm that it is indeed operating in
FM mode and can be accessed with 2 watts from a handheld.
This is another one to try from the trains and trams. :-)
Here is a sample audio recording from a
pass just after 13:00 UTC on Feb 24. An RF link back to
the shack has been cobbled together at short notice to
allow unattended recording, despite the large Doppler
shift on 70cm. A new page with UO-14 pass information (Melbourne only) is now available.
- 26 Feb 2000 - The
Moorabbin and District Radio Club operated a portable
club station at the St Kilda Hobby Show in Melbourne to
demonstrate Amateur Radio to the general public. A major
part of the station was devoted to amateur satellites,
with 2m and 70cm Yagis erected for satellite operation. A
total of 6 satellite passes were attempted, which
consisted of 2 SUNSAT passes, both of which are recorded
in the accompanying .MP3 audio track, 2 UO-14 passes and
2 FO-20 passes. On the SUNSAT passes, the first had very
weak signals for the first part of the pass. At this
stage, we were still setting up, and the Yagis weren't
erected, so I operated from the normal handheld gear.
Reception of the downlink was difficult. It's interesting
to note that the recording (which was made from the home
QTH) shows a similar trend. The first pass was used to
provide last minute information (such as the availability
of UO-14) to other stations. On the second pass, the club
station was in full swing, with several onlookers
observing events while worked several stations from all
over VK. Signals were generally much stronger during the
second pass. UO-14 proved tricky, with the first pass
being difficult on the 70cm 1/2 wave, partly due to local
noise. The second pass was better, with 2 QSOs before the
downlink dropped out. FO-20 worked well, but there were
no other stations (but our own signal was coming in 5x3!
:) ). The FO-20 passes demonstrated the effects of
Doppler shift to those watching on.
- 5 Mar 2000 - A new 70cm antenna for
SO-35's uplink and UO-14's downlink has been completed
and tested with excellent results on UO-14. Details will
be posted when construction of the 2m antenna and testing
is complete. The new antennas are portable, and will suit
the Fuji birds, as well as the FM satellites..
- 11 Mar 2000 - Sunsat
came up in parrot mode, which was a bit of a surprise.
This mode seemed to work well, with a number of stations
being heard. The downlink seemed a bit weaker than usual
(much like the first pass a fortnight before), but the
weaker signals didn't affect the uplink as much. Not
having to use 70cm meant I could run 25W on one of the
base rigs. I've also aquired a Philips FM92A, which is an
ex commercal 2 way with 100 programmable (via EPROM)
channels. These radios came from the fire bridages, which
had to upgrade several years ago due to a change of
frequency allocations. One quirk of the new system is I
am able to record my own audio when transmitting on the
same rig, which can be handy at times. I'm yet to
evaluate the RF sensitivity against the handheld I
previously used, but on terrestrial QSOs, it keeps up
with the all mode Standard C58. The biggest advantage of
the Philips rig is it's easily modified for whatever
purpose, and service manuals are readily available. A
UO-14 pass was worked immediately afterwards with
excellent results. The new 70cm antenna has made a big
difference to UO-14 operations.
- 14 Mar 2000 - This was
the first of SUNSAT's weeknight passes. As usual, the
pass went extremely well. Activity was a little lighter
than on the weekend, though several stations were there
to work the pass. This pass also marks the first time my new antenna has been used on SO-35. Despite a low angle
pass, the new antenna gave excellent signals.
- 16 Mar 2000 - With an
elevation of 75 degrees over Melbourne, the second night
pass was spectacular, with good signals all round. Again,
the new antenna pulled in some extremely strong signals.
Several stations were worked, though this pass was also
- 17 Mar 2000 - This
pass was a 20 degree pass. However, signals were quite
weak, as reported by several VK3 stations. A highlight of
the pass was the first appearance of VK8 on the
satellite, with a station from Alice Springs working a
few on the bird. This recording was the first test of the
new "inline" recording system. Instead of the
PC in the shack recording the signal in an unattended
mode, the new system uses an FM wireless transmitter to
link the received audio to a portable radio cassette
recorder. The FM link is received by the inbuilt FM radio
and then recorded on tape. The headphones used to monitor
the downlink are also connected to this unit. What this
means is that these recordings are literally what I hear
on the downlink (sort of like those in car cameras used
in motor racing telecasts!). Even though I was only using
a 5/8 wave antenna on the downlink, the recording is
noticeably superior to most of the previous recordings,
due to my normal operations correcting for any fades on
the downlink. The old automated "direct to
disk" recordings will be run as a backup, in case
the new system fails in the field. The new system is also
capable of being used for UO-14, or even the SSB birds.
Stay tuned for even more spectacular audio when the beam
is in use!
- 18 Mar 2000 - Worked 2
passes, one from UO-14 and one from SO-35. The SO-35 pass
was quite busy with stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6 and
VK8 worked, and a few minor dogpiles were observed.
However, conduct was generally very good during the whole
pass. The UO-14 pass a few minutes before was a little
quieter, with stations from VK2, VK3 and VK4 being
worked. These passes were also the first to be worked and
recorded off the new satellite beam, exactly as I heard
them myself. Recordings are available from both the UO-14 and SO-35 passes. This
will be the standard of future audio tracks.
- 21 Mar 2000 - Was
portable in the Geelong area with the satellite beam.
Signals from SO-35 were extremely strong, with 4 stations
- 22 and 23 Mar 2000 -
SO-35 Passes were cancelled due to tests being conducted
on one of the onboard computers. However, UO-14 continues
to perform well, as this audio clip shows. The
audio was supplies by Peter, VK3DI.
- 24 Mar 2000 - Portable
again, this time from the inner suburbs of Melbourne,
while waiting for a lift home from a party! More strong
signals with stations from VK2, VK3, VK6 and ZL being
heard or worked.
- 25 Mar 2000 - SO-35
passed over Western Australia. Signals were fairly good,
though not as strong as the passes during the week.
Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were heard or worked.
Earlier, UO-14 was also worked, with good signals from
VK2, VK3, VK5 and ZL.
- 28 Mar 2000 - Two events worthy of note.
Firstly, at 21:58 UTC on March 27 (07:58 Melbourne time
on the 28th), an attempt was made to work UO-14 while
train mobile. The pass was very low, only 6 degrees in
the eastern sky. Despite the weak downlink on this bird,
I had reception at several stages during the pass.
However, no contacts resulted. Will try again at the next
available opportunity. In the evening there was a pass
from SO-35, which caught most operators off guard.
Signals were good, but only 2 stations worked, VK6DM and
a VK7 whose call eludes me (these guys left their
scanners running on the downlink and heard my calls!). An
hour later, UO-14 was worked, with only one contact,
namely John, VK2YOC.
- 29 Mar 2000 - A fairly high angle pass,
though not as strong as a similar pass the previous week.
With the beam, there was noticeable polarisation rotation
during the pass, which required a manouvre a little like
a slow pirouette to keep the antenna aligned to the
downlink signal! :-) The highlight of this pass was
VK6AKI working ZL2VAL briefly. There were also stations
from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7 present during the pass.
- 30 Mar 2000 - This
pass was the most westerly for the week, with extremely
good signals for most of the pass. Stations from VK2,
VK3, VK6 and VK7 were worked.
- 31 Mar 2000 - I was at the VK3RSE users
social dinner during this pass. Some of the guys had
worked the birds before, but most hadn't, and had only
heard of the exploits of those of us who were active on
satellites. I setup an inpromptu demonstration with a
pair of handhelds (i.e. what had been my SUNSAT station
for about 5 months!). Several stations were worked, from
VK2, VK3, VK6 and VK7. In addition, one of the guys
pulled out his VX-1R and with a few pointers proceded to
work the bird with 500 mW and a dual band whip! I'm sure
he'll be back for more when he gets back home. No audio
as I didn't want to leave the old power supply running
unattended. Another attempt was made to work UO-14 from
the train on the way home. The downlink was surprisingly
clear, except for when the train passed under bridges.
The uplink needs a bit more attention. I was trying to
keep a low profile, due to some of the unsavoury looking
people on the train, so I didn't run full duplex, which
alone may have been enough. A little side note. The
following day, I had an amateur approach me and asking
what was going on the 2m band the previous night. He had
heard me working VK6 and thought there was a phenomenal
opening. When VK7 come up on the frequency, he was
getting a little curious. Turns out he had stumbled on
SO-35's downlink! :-) All was revealed when I told him
about the satellite. :-)
- 1 Apr 2000 - Almost missed this pass due
to sleeping in. This is likely to become more of a
problem with morning passes as the satellite's orbit
changes with time (08:23 next Sunday morning is going to
be a bit tough!). With no time to spare, I fired up the
trusty Philips FM92A ex commercial box on the downlink
and cobbled up a 15W uplink out of the 70cm transverter
with a 2m box driving it on 148.290(!). With that lashed
together setup, I managed to work several stations before
losing the bird. No recording this time, as Windows took
too long to boot, and it was practically over by the time
recording was possible! By the time of the UO-14 pass, 15
minutes after SO-35 had switched off, I had the beam
fired up and worked several VK and ZL stations.
- 2 Apr 2000 - This one almost passed be by
as well, but I did have 10 minutes to get ready, so was
able to fire up the beam and work several stations via
Sunsat. Interestingly enough, only VK3s were present on
this pass. Perhaps everyone else was still asleep or in
church? Missed out on audio. In the rush to get
everything together, I forgot to put the antenna on the
2m radio, and "inline" recording would have
taken too long to setup, as I barely made the start of
the pass myself. UO-14, 45 minutes later was very quiet,
with only Andy, VK2AES being worked via that bird during
the entire pass.
- 4 and 5 Apr 2000 - A couple of interesting
passes. The downlink was extremely strong on both passes,
but the uplink was more difficult to access. Activity was
relatively quiet with only a handful of stations heard or
worked, mostly from VK3, with VK2, VK6 and VK7 also
- 5 Apr 2000 - For a change of pace, instead
of working satellites, I was being interviewed on
community radio, Southern FM (88.3 MHz), about my
involvement with amateur satellites, on their space
program. This was an opportunity to introduce a different
aspect of satellites to the general public and make
people aware of our activities, and perhaps add another
dimension to any existing interest they may have in space
technology. As I said in the interview, an interest in
space in general was one of the factors leading me to
becoming active on satellites. I don't have an audio
recording available yet. I have to ascertain that someone
did manage to record the show, then resolve any copyright
issues before I can put anything online.
- 6 Apr 2000 - This SO-35 pass was to the
east of Melbourne. As with any easterly pass, ZL activity
was likely and sure enough, ZL2VAL came to the party.
VK6DM also joined in the activity. There were also a
couple of stations from VK2. The downlink was extremely
strong again, especially early in the pass. I wonder if
an inversion that was present during the evening (I was
hearing VK7 repeaters 30 minutes after SO-35 went over)
helped improve signal strengths when the bird was at low
- 7 Apr 2000 - This pass
was the most westerly pass for the week. Activity was
light, with 2 VK6 and 2 VK3 stations participating in a
roundtable ragchew for most of the pass. Despite several
calls for other stations, none made their presence known.
Signals were fairly strong, with occasional abrupt
polarisation shifts noticed on the 70cm uplink.
- 8 Apr 2000 - It had to happen! As SO-35's
orbit changes, it passes over earlier as time progresses.
I missed the 9AM pass due to sleeping in, so no recording
or report on this one (did anyone manage to catch this
pass?). Tomorrow's pass is even worse - 08:23 local.
Fortunately, I will be up anyway, preparing for the Radio
on Rails contest which starts at 9AM.
- 9 Apr 2000 - A quiet
SO-35 pass (might have been a bit early on the Sunday
morning :) ). One ZL and a handful of VKs were present
for a quiet roundtable chat. Signals seemed to fade out
quite early though. Later in the morning, VK5ZAI was
worked via UO-14 while portable at a tram stop for a
point in the Radio on Rails contest. :-)
- 11 Apr 2000 - Another
quiet pass for SO-35. Worked VK5EX for most of the pass.
I suspect few people in VK or ZL were aware SO-35 would
be active at this time.
- 12 Apr 2000 - Worked
this pass from inside the shack, due to a bout of the
dreaded bug. :-( Compared to the portable station, the
QSB is severe and the uplink frequently doesn't make it
to the bird, despite being up to 10 times the power I use
while portable! Still, I managed to work several stations
from VK3, VK5 and VK7.
- 13 Apr 2000 - A
relatively quiet pass, with only a couple of VK3s, one
VK6 and a ZL worked. Signals seemed a little down on the
usual. Lucky I was able to use the beam this time.
- 14 Apr 2000 - SO-35 didn't come on air for
some as yet unknown reason.
- 15 Apr 2000 - A fairly
quiet SO-35 pass with 3 VK3s and a VK6 present for most
of the pass. Signals were quite good during the whole of
the pass. The procedure for updating the pass information
will be changing this weekend, so that information will
be available on a tentative basis well before the passes
are officially confirmed. This will minimise the problem
of information not arriving in time for the Tuesday night
passes. Also had a listen for Mir, which is currently
carrying a crew. Maggie, VK3CFI was heard working the cosmonauts
at around 06:30z.
- 16 Apr 2000 - Just managed to get up in
time to work the SO-35 pass. Signals were quite good,
with the vertical being sufficient to access the bird
most of the time. A handful of stations from VK2 and VK4
were worked. No audio for this pass, as the PC wasn't
ready until the end of the pass. Also worked a VK6
station via UO-14, which continues to work well. Mir was
again active around 06:50z. Here is another QSO heard between VK3CFI and Mir.
- 17 Apr 2000 - As often
is the case, something can catch you off guard. In this
case, it was voice operation on Mir. I listened to a pass
around 10:15z in case. Nothing heard for 7 or 8 minutes,
except for some packet which appeared to be terrestrial
in origin. Suddenly, U8MIR appeared on air, talking to a
VK3. A few minutes later, I managed to make contact with
one of the cosmonauts briefly, before Mir disappeared
over the horizon. Signals were grotty by this time, as
you can hear in this audio clip (111 kB .WAV).
- 18 Apr 2000 - Missed this pass, but
Lionel, VK3NM kindly provided this report:
- Here is my short
report on the pass for the 18/04/00. At first I
was putting in a real strong signal into the bird
I had to call CQ about 3 times before I got a
reply. Not many stations appeared but the few on
all put in S 9 signals it was like 80 metres at
night. Stations on were ZL1CMR, ZL2VAL, VK6TS,
VK2BRG , VK7KBD I don't think there any other
VK3s and no VK5 or VK4s. I must say it was one of
the best pass for me.
- 19 Apr 2000 - Another
excellent pass. The more easterly pass enticed several ZL
stations to the satellite, as well as a number of VK2,
VK3 and VK5 stations.
- 20 Apr 2000 - This
pass started out slowly, with only 3 stations active, but
later became quite busy, with several stations from VK3,
VK5 and VK6 present. Signals were very strong, with a few
of the stations able to run QRP into simple antennas.
- 21 Apr 2000 - Seems
the Easter holidays has brought everyone out. This was
the busiest pass for a few months with many stations from
VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6 and ZL worked. Signals were again
- 22 Apr 2000 - Was
portable in Footscray for this pass and also showing a
friend how amateur satellites work. The pass was another
impressive pass, with stations from VK3, VK5 and VK6
- 23 Apr 2000 - Well, finally got nobbled by
Easter social engagements, so unable to make this pass. I
haven't heard how it went yet.
- 26 Apr 2000 - I don't know if this pass
went ahead. I was airborne over Canberra when it was due
(and airlines don't take kindly to radios being operated
on planes :-) ).
- 27 Apr 2000 to 30 Apr 2000 -
Unfortunately, no train mobile operation from Sydney was
possible, due to the cancelled satellite passes. I did
manage a dry run with a non amateur friend, who one day
may join in the fun, when he gets his licence. Looks like
Sydney has to wait until the next trip north, at least.
There will be no further operation on SO-35 until further
- 6 May 2000 - SO-35 is
back, on a limited basis. The controllers decided to
resume weekend operation only until the thermal problem
is resolved. It's good to see the bird back in action.
:-) With only an hour's warning that the pass would go
ahead, I set about drumming up some users from the local
repeaters, as well as sending SMS messages to a SWL
friend in Sydney, so he could make his first attempt at
receiving a satellite. The pass, as it turns out was an
excellent one with very strong signals and stations from
VK2, a heap of VK3s ( :-) ), VK5, VK6 and ZL. One of the
best moments was assisting VK6YY from Kalgoorlie, Western
Australia, who was working his first SO-35 pass, to work
ZL1TTS near Auckland. Not bad for his first day on
- 7 May 2000 - Pass not heard. This turned
out to be due to a last minute schedule change, and other
amateurs reported activity on the rescheduled pass.
- 13 May 2000 - During the marning, the
Moorabbin and District Radio Club put on their annual
hamfest, and satellite demonstrations were part of the
proceedings. A couple of stations were worked via UO-14,
and one station was heard, but not quite worked (he heard
us more clearly it seems) via FO-20. FO-29 was also
available, but no one seemed to be there. :-(. In the
evening, there was a good SO-35 pass with stations from
VK2, VK3 and VK4 present. Also at least one SWL known to
be monitoring as well. I was portable with another
amateur in Footscray at the time, and while we were on
SO-35, a passer by came up and asked what we were up to.
A quick demo with a VK2 from Coffs Harbour left our
visitor more than a little impressed. :-)
- 14 May 2000 - Another
excellent pass. Signals were good and stations from VK2,
VK3, VK4, VK6 and ZL worked. The satellite was also heard
by a SWL in Sydney on his handheld scanner. Any SWLs
looking to receive SO-35 should have little difficulty
receiving the downlink on 145.825 MHz.
- 16 May 2000 - Weekday SO-35 operations
resume. I wasn't able to work this pass, so no report.
- 17 May 2000 - Nothing heard.
- 18 May 2000 - Worked several stations from
VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6, with a couple of friends
looking on. They were impressed with the performance of
SO-35 from a couple of handhelds, while standing on a
street corner! :)
- 19 and 20 May 2000 - No pass due to a
couple of technical hitches.
- 21 May 2000 -
Excellent signals from SO-35and many stations on air from
P29, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7. The pass got a bit
out of hand at one stage, with stations talking over each
other. Please listen carefully before transmitting! A
highlight was working the Olympic special event station,
- 23 May 2000 - Another
excellent SO-35 pass with strong signals. Stations from
VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6 were present. The audio
recording is now getting complete passes. The system did
have a problem with NTP synchronisation, which caused the
system clock to gain slowly over time after the NTP
reference suddenly went offline. The problem was fixed by
using a different time server. The constant
"rustling" background noise in the audio is due
to a misbehaving VCO in the receiver used for recording.
Will have to look at that in due course.
- 24 May 2000 - Sunsat came up in digital
mode, so no voice activity resulted.
- 25 May 2000 - Many
stations came up for another good pass on SO-35. Stations
from VK2, VK3 and VK5 were worked. Unfortunately, a
couple of "alligators" who weren't monitoring
their downlink caused a few minor problems by trampling
over established QSOs early in the pass, otherwise things
went pretty well. Remember, keep an ear on your receiver
before hitting that button!
- 26 May 2000 - This SO-35 pass was superb,
with stations from North Queensland across to VK6 active
during the pass. Traffic was busy, but mostly orderly,
with stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6 present.
- 27 May 2000 - Many
stations present on this pass, and things got a little
out of order occasionally. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK4,
VK5 and ZL worked this pass. However, there was a lot of
rubbish on the uplink. Are there people not listening
first, or is this some, as yet unidentified accidental
QRM? The level of QRM is now making it difficult for QRP
- 28 May 2000 - Very
strong signals this time around. The pass was mostly well
behaved, except for one station who obviously can't hear
the downlink, as he called underneath several other
stations and didn't respond when called several times.
The level of general uplink rubbish was again high,
making things chaotic. And there's that persistent clown
who doesn't seem to know anything besides how to whistle.
(anyone able to hear that one on the uplink?). Over all
of that, stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 managed to
make numerous contacts through SO-35.
- 30 May 2000 - A good
pass to the east, with a few ZLs taking advantage of the
more easterly path of SO-35 this time around. I first
attempted to work this one from the shack (due to
inclement weather), but 10 - 15W into the vertical just
didn't make the grade. In the end, the weather cleared
and I was able to get excellent results for the last few
minutes of the pass with the portable beam. Signals were
fading on the vertical, perhaps down slightly from the
last few passes, but solid on the beam. The uplink was
quite easy to access with 3.5W into the beam as well.
Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, and ZL were present during
- 31 May 2000 - May
ended with a very busy pass! Many stations were active,
with strong signals all round. Stations present were from
VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7. Despite the high level
of activity, conduct was mostly orderly with the odd
minor dogpile occuring. One highlight was another brief
appearance by John, VK4JKL from Cairns in North
- 1 Jun 2000 - Now
getting some good passes to the east, and this should
have been one of them. Signals were very good for most of
the pass, but activity was surprisingly light - a
complete contrast to the previous few nights. The biggest
surprise was the lack of ZLs, despite good visibility
from that region. Only a handful of stations from VK2,
VK3 and VK5 were present during the pass.
- 2 Jun 2000 - This pass
had extremely strong downlink signals. The audio track
showed a solid signal with almost no fading, which is
quite unusual for a vertical antenna. Outside, on the
beam, the downlink sounded more like a local repeater.
Many stations took advantage of the good pass. Call areas
present were VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6.
- 3 Jun 2000 - Good signals on SO-35, though
not as many ZL stations as expected for this pass.
- 4 Jun 2000 - Signals
were down on normal, but a small number of stations were
- 6 Jun 2000 - Missed this pass, but Lionel,
VK3NM reported a quiet pass with few stations present and
good signals. There was some confusion as to the
availability of this pass due to work being done on
- 7 and 8 Jun 2000 - These SO-35 passes were
adversely affected by ADAC experiments on board the
satellite. The downlink was very strong, but the uplink
was almost impossible to access, no doubt due to the
unusual attitude of the satellite.
- 9 - 11 Jun 2000 - Nothing heard.
- 13 Jun 2000 - Nothing heard again.
Received word that SO-35 will be off air until further
notice, due to excessive internal temperatures caused by
the satellite being in continual sunlight. Let's hope for
a speedy return to service. There will be no more daily
updates on this page, until regular passes resume, or
other significant news is received.
- 24/25 Jun 2000 - 1200 bps packet scheduled
on SO-35, but nothing heard over VK. Several reports of
success from the US. Also worked UO-14 with good results
a couple of times while SO-35 was off the air.
- 8 Jul 2000 - Welcome
back SO-35! SO-35 is heard for the first time in a month.
Signals were excellent with stations from VK2, VK3 and
VK5 being worked.
- 9 Jul 2000 - SO-35
turns in another excellent performance. This time,
stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and ZL were heard. Also had
teed up VK8MS in Darwin and YJ8WR in Port Vila, Vanuatu,
to have a go at monitoring the pass. I'm awaiting
feedback from these stations via email.
- 15 Jul 2000 - SO-35 switched to Mode J (2m
uplink, 70cm downlink). Seems not everyone is aware of
the mode switch, as activity was quiet, with 1 VK1, 1 VK2
and a handful of VK3 stations present (reminder to stay
tuned to this page and the SUNSAT home page). Downlink
signals on 70cm were weaker than what we're used to,
which is as expected, and there was mild Asian QRM early
in the pass, though not as severe as I have heard on
UO-14. No audio until a new audio link is set up, as it
is impossible to configure the shack receivers to
automatically track the Doppler on 70cm. I will have a
new local and "long haul" link up soon for the
UHF downlinks. Earlier in the day, I got feedback from
YJ8WR that he heard us on SO-35 the previous week.
- 16 Jul 2000 - A quiet pass on UO-14 in the
morning, with only 3 stations working each other, and a
4th station who wasn't able to hear his downlink. An
excellent SO-35 pass, with strong signals on the
downlink. The uplink is still less sensitive than
expected. I'd estimate about 10 - 15 dB down on that of
UO-14 (both satellites in Mode J). Worked a couple of new
stations, Daniel,VK4TDB and Terry, VK3RB. In all, several
stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5 were worked in a
very busy pass. Finished the night off with a couple of
UO-14 passes. The first with only VK3TBC worked (hmm,
5000km round trip to talk to someone a few km away! :) ),
and on the second pass, worked VK5AH, VK5EX and VK2DOR
with the lunar eclipse as a spectacular backdrop! :-) A
perfect way to end a day of satellites.
- 17 Jul 2000 - Due to a typo in the
schedule, this pass didn't materialise, but some lucky
hams somewhere got a bonus unscheduled pass (whoops!).
- 18 Jul 2000 - A good SO-35 pass, with a
small number of enthusiastic stations from VK3 and VK5,
as well as one ZL. All present has a good time on this
light hearted pass. :-)
- 19 Jul 2000 - SO-35 was very quiet, with
only a total of 5 stations present, 4 from VK3 and one
ZL. Poor signals were experienced by most of the
stations, though I had excellent results on my beam.
- 20 Jul 2000 - Another quiet pass on SO-35,
with only a few stations active, mostly from VK3.
- 21 Jul 2000 - An interesting pass on
SO-35. Worked this one from a stationary mobile position
in a car park. Several VK3 stations, as well as a couple
of VK5s were worked during this pass. As is common with
Mode J operation, portable stations fared better with the
- 22 Jul 2000 - A very quiet pass on SO-35,
with only a couple of VK3 stations and one VK6. An
interstate ragchew featured for most of this pass, due to
the lack of stations present.
- 23 Jul 2000 - It was very good to see a
few ZLs turn out in response to this SO-35 pass, which
had been deliberately placed well east of Australia. 2 of
the ZLs had fairly good signals, a third was obviously
unable to hear the downlink. The only VK stations were
VK2TP and myself, VK3JED. This pass illustrated the
importance of being able to hear your downlink, as much
of the time was spent with stations trying to establish
contact with each other. The portable beam is proving to
be so good at pulling in the 70cm downlinks that I'll
have to increase power to match my receive capabilities,
as I can hear the downlink well before being able to
access the uplink, and always lose the uplink first
towards the end of the pass. I am also receiving a number
of reports of QRM from cable TV systems. I have detected
this interference myself, which is usually centered
between 436.250 and 436.255 MHz. :-(
- 24 Jul 2000 - Attempted this SO-35 pass
from the Diamond vertical. Severe interference from local
cable TV systems prevented reception of the first half of
the pass, but managed to work a few ZLs, VK3s and a VK5
once the Doppler shift had moved the downlink
sufficiently far from the cable TV birdies.
- 25 Jul 2000 - Missed this pass altogether.
- 26 Jul 2000 - Severe weather conditions
necessitated operation from inside the shack again. A 3/4
wave antenna was setup on the car for reception of
SO-35's downlink, with the Diamond vertical being
retained for the uplink. This setup eliminated the QRM
and allowed operation for about half of the pass, once
SO-35 became visible at about 40 degrees elevation. A
couple of ZLs and a few locals were worked with this
- 27 Jul 2000 - Back to the beam. With SO-35
well to the west, Asian interference dominated for the
first half of the pass, making the uplink difficult. The
pass was quiet, with a total of 4 VK3s and VK5EX being
present. The deaf 2m uplink limited the useability of the
latter stages of the pass.
- 28 Jul 2000 - Missed SO-35 due to other
- 29 Jul 2000 - Tried an
experiment on SO-35 where I used the vertical with the
higher powered transmitter on the uplink and the beam on
a portable mast outside for the downlink. This worked
quite well, and also allowed an audio recording to be
made. The recording starts about 2 minutes into the pass.
Note the Asian QRM that appears during the first few
minutes of the audio track. The pass was very quiet with
only VK3LE and VK6TS being worked.
- 30 Jul 2000 - Made a late start on SO-35
here. Managed to work ZL1CMR for the last few minutes of
the pass. VK2DOR was heard weakly, but apparently unable
to hear us. There may have been other stations present
earlier in the pass that I missed.
- 31 Jul to 3 Aug 2000 - Due to the
increased number of passes, I won't be providing daily
summaries of SO-35 activity, just occasional reports,
unless there is an audio track for the day. The first 3
passes for the week went well, but activity has been
fairly quiet. On Tuesday August 1, I had 2 ZL stations
all to myself. It can be a pleasurable ragchew, but it
would be good to see some new stations on the satellites.
If you've ever had an inclination to work satellites, now
is your chance, with few stations competing for access.
As a side note, I missed the August 3 pass myself, can't
make them all. :-)
- 4 Aug - 21 Aug 2000 - SO-35 continues to
work well in Mode J, except for a solar storm induced
failure on the weekend of Auguse 12/13.
- 22 Aug - 27 Aug 2000 - SUNSAT will be
operating over Australia in an experimental mode as a
dual channel FM repeater, with two independent channels
on board. See the voice schedule for
- 22 Aug - 19 Sep 2000 - Various tests were
done on the single and dual channel voice repeater
configurations aboard SO-35. Unfortunately, the dual
channel mode appeared to desense the bird severely, which
limited its usefulness. At this stage, there will be no
further dual channel voice passes, while the satellite is
running Mode J.
- 2 Oct 2000 - First anniversaty of the
first tram mobile satellite QSO. :-)
- 7 - 10 Oct 2000 - SUNSAT was in parrot
repeater mode for the voice passes on these days, to
coincide with UN Radio Week. While no exotic DX was
worked, the parrot provided an opportunity for newcomers
to try satellite operation, and proved very popular among
the regular (and not so regular) VK and ZL operators.
- 11 Oct 2000 - SUNSAT returns to Mode B
- 13 Oct 2000 - Worked this pass mobile
while driving home from work. Despite a lot of fiddling
with the radio to get something approximating split
operation, managed to work ZL2VAL, ZL1HAU, VK2ZER and
VK3YLV during the pass.
- 16 Oct 2000 - Tram mobile returns!!! :-) For
the first time in a year, I was able to operate while
mobile on a tram. This time, ZL2VAL was the lucky station
who earned a QSL card, not only the third (still to my
knowledge, no one else has attempted tram mobile
operation) station to be worked from a tram, but also the
first international tram mobile QSO! A couple of other
stations missed out this time around, but SUNSAT's
current orbit will bring it more in line with my regular
travelling times. I expect there will be many more
opportunities for QSOs from the tram or train right up
until Christmas, and perhaps into the New Year! Stay
tuned, and claim your QSL next time I'm on the rails. For
the rest of October, I can also sign as AX3JED, and will
have cards prepared with this call as well.
- 17 Oct 2000 - Another train mobile station on air! Peter, VK3YE worked VK3NM via SO-35 while mobile
on a train in Melbourne's SE suburbs.
- 26 Oct 2000 - Tram mobile yet again!
This time, VK3YLV and VK3CAT (mobile) earned their QSL
cards while I was working SO-35 from the tram. :-)
- 27 Oct 2000 - An interesting pass on
SO-35. Was standing on a street corner with only the
IC-T81A and Diamond quad band antenna. Managed to work
VK8KCS, VK3NM and a ZL3 station while standing on the
street! SO-35 certainly doesn't take much to work these
- 29 Oct 2000 - This pass deserves special
mention, due to the excellent turnout from ZL. There were
many ZL stations from all over New Zealand present, and
activity was very heavy for the whole pass. Stations
worked or heard included VK2, VK3, VK4, ZL1, ZL2 and ZL3.
Hope to hear even more ZLs in the future.
- 10 Nov 2000 - Worked
VK3TYR via SO-35, while train mobile. The QSO can be
heard on the day's MP3 track.
- 15 Nov 2000 - Worked ZL3RX via SO-35 while
train mobile on a busy pass.
- 16 Nov 2000 - A new era in Amateur
Satellites is born, with the launch of Phase 3D, later to
be known as AO-40, at 01:07z aboard an Ariane 5 rocket
from Kourou in French Guiana.
- 17 Nov 2000 - A big tram mobile pass, with
6 stations worked from the tram!- VK3CBV, VK3YLV, VK3GRL,
VK3NM, ZL1CMR and ZL3DY.
- 20 Nov 2000 - Worked ZL1CMR via SO-35 from
- 19 Nov 2000 - A user survey has commenced.
SO-35 operators are being asked whether they prefer using
Mode B or Mode J. If you haven't completed the survey,
please see the SO-35
schedule page for more details.
- 26 Nov 2000 - An
unusual SO-35 pass, with a major fade on the uplink from
the VK direction. Also experimented with using the HF rig
and transverter for recording, which was successful,
though the tone was lacking a bit of bass.
- 30 Nov - 2 Dec 2000 - Experimented with
receiving telemetry from AO-40, using the Italian
soundcard based demodulator and the P3T telemetry
decoder. Results were generally good.
- 3 Dec 2000 - Leighton, VK3TLJ, became the third person to operate train
mobile satellite, when he worked me
via SO-35. I was running portable in a local car park,
with 2 SWLs looking on. Leighton was also heard by
several other stations, including several ZLs (I can't
recall if there were any other completed QSOs). Are there
any others outside of VK3 operating satellites from
- 9 Dec 2000 - Local VK3
activity on the two FM birds is getting a number of SWLs
interested in monitoring satellite activity. I was made
aware of a number of SWLs in northern Victoria, who
regularly listen to SO-35 and UO-14, Reception reports
from SWLs are always welcome as it's interesting to know
who's listening. The day's SO-35 pass was very busy and
rather chaotic at times. Stations from east coast VK and
ZL were quite active. Later on, UO-14 was worked.
Activity was quiet, with a number of VK3 stations testing
various antenna configurations. On a different note, live
broadcasts of satellite activity may occur from time to
time via the Internet. Due to the short notice likely, it
will be difficult to announce such rebroadcasts in
advance, but stay tuned to "VK3JED Internet Radio", the new webcast service, for details.
- 19 Jan 2000 - The last contact the SUNSAT
ground station had with the satellite occured on this
day. Nothing further has been heard from the satellite
- 3 Feb 2000 - SUNSAT OSCAR-35 was
officially pronounced non operational in the last couple
of days, following 2 weeks of unsuccessful recovery
attempts. The full text of the press release appears on
the SUNSAT home page, and can be read by clicking here. SO-35
will be missed by amateurs all over the world, including
the myself and many I communicated with from the VK/ZL
- Feb - Mar 2001 - While I've been fairly
quiet on the satellites, with only a handful of UO-14
contacts during this period, attention has shifted
towards AO-40 and the microwave bands it supports. 1.2
and 2.4 GHz transverters for the shack have been planned
and some parts were ordered during this period -
construction will commence soon and take advantage of
cold winter days stuck indoors! :) The new additions to
the station will support Mode L/S operations on AO-40, as
well as terrestrial portable weak signal activity and
amateur television. The 23cm transmitter will produce 10W
SSB or 15W FM voice/TV into a helical antenna. Antennas
for 2.4 GHz have not yet been finalised. Either a small
dish or a long helix will be used here. Initially an ex
Galaxy TV downconverter will be tried on AO-40, until the
high performance transverter is built. Hope to catch
everyone on AO-40, especially international readers
outside LEO range, with whom AO-40 will enable
communication for the first time!
- 23 Mar 2001 - Mir plunged to Earth after a
series of de-orbiting manouvers, which brought the
station safely down in the South Pacific. This marked the
end of an era in space operations, and has left behind
many fond memories among the Amateur Radio community. RIP
- 9 Apr 2001 - The packet TNC aboard ISS was
fired up and many US and European amateurs reported
successfully digipeating through the system.
- 10 Apr 2001 - ISS is
heard on the air! While waiting to try out packet
operations with ISS, voice was heard from the space
station. As it turns out, there was a scheduled contact
between a school in the US, who were being linked to the
ISS by Tony, VK5ZAI. The audio recording captured the ISS
side of the contact.
VK RailSat Challenge!
The VK RailSat Challenge is an attempt to work
via satellite between trains located in different capital cities.
The original intention was to operate between Melbourne (VK3) and
Perth (VK6), At this time, we are interested in making contact
with train mobile stations from anywhere who are able to access
the SUNSAT satellite. While satellite operation has previously
been achieved from a train, the coordination of train mobile
stations across the country presents some interesting logistical
and technical challenges:
- Initial communications with other stations
via satellite from a train. This has been achieved in
VK3, but not in any other state at this stage. The main
issues are downlink noise and signal attenuation caused
by the train itself. A quick evaluation of the Tangara
trains in VK2 was done in December 1999. These trains are
very promising for satellite work, as they seem to have
- Development of suitable antenna systems.
Again, some work on this has been done in VK3.
- Recruitment of interested people in other
states to take part in the exercise.
- Coordination between VK3 and other states.
This will require a regular HF sked, packet exchanges
and/or an Internet mailing list.
- Status at December 2000 is that with
suitable antennas, train mobile satellite operation is
almost routine in VK. The most suitable antennas found so
far are the Diamond SRH999 (this is actually a quad band
antenna), which performs particularly well on 70cm, and
1/4 wave whips for 2m.
- With antennas sorted out, we will be
attempting train - train contacts in VK3 in late 2000 or
- The loss of SO-35 in January 2001 has made
the challenge more challenging, so to speak. To date,
train mobile operation has not been achieved via UO-14,
the only remaining FM satellite, but it should be
possible to achieve.
Currently, the following amateurs are involved
(click on callsign to send email):
The following links are amateur satellite
related sites, with an emphasis on FM repeater based satellites.
America - General information on
Amateur satellites, Keplerian elements, downloads and more.
- South African
satellite with an FM repeater on board.
StenSat - A "picosatellite", weighing only 220 grams.
Launched January 27 2000. Payload is a crossband FM repeater.
Status is unknown.
ASUSat1 - Another amateur
satellite launched on the Jan 27 2000 JAWSAT mission. Also
features a crossband FM and packet repeater. ASUSat1 died shortly
after launch, due to a failure in its power system.
BLUEsat - A new Australian
microsatellite under development, aiming to launch around 2002.
The first Aussie OSCAR for over 30 years!
The RS-12/13 Satellite Operator's Page - For anyone working RS 13, this is a must.
Home Brew Amateur Satellite Equipment page - Want to roll your own gear?
Satellite Page - Links to just about
anything related to Amateur satellites. If you can't find it
here, it probably doesn't exist!