Learning about HAMSAT

Ham in space!

Ham in space!

Our club has set a goal of 1,000 QSOs for Field Day this year, and I intend to do my part to rack up some points. One way to grab 100 quick points is to work a satellite.

Looking ahead to the weekend of June 22-23 on Heavens-Above.com, I noticed there isn’t a nice high SO-50 pass scheduled for Saturday. Sunday is a little better, with two 50-degree passes — one after 1 a.m. that morning, the other around 10 a.m.

SO-50 is one of the FM sats, and fairly straightforward to work, so chances are it will be very busy on FD weekend.

The linear transverter satellite, HAMSAT, might be a better, although more complex option. There is a nice high 68-degree pass scheduled on the evening of June 22.  I’ve never attempted to work this one, so when I noticed there was a 60-degree South-North pass this evening at 8 p.m., I grabbed my FT-817 and the Arrow and headed to the back deck.

HAMSAT has a 2-meter upper sideband downlink and a 70cm LSB uplink. Tonight, I just wanted to try receiving the bird. The 817, being all-band and all-mode capable,  is ideal for this, although I wish I could link the VFOs to account for Doppler. My 847 CAN link VFOs, and I will have it out at Field Day, so if I can get a hand from some of the other guys in aiming the antenna, I may be able to work this sat without much difficulty.

I was taken aback by the clarity and loudness of the signals I heard tonight. Once the sat came over the south horizon I heard KC3ACQ calling CQ well over S9. Tuning up a bit I ran across NM3B calling CQ with CW. There were a handful of other stations, and they can be heard in this annotated recording I placed on SoundCloud.

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