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Author Topic: Receiver recommendations for Satellite work  (Read 12026 times)
JLUYT123
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Posts: 6




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« on: September 23, 2012, 06:17:57 PM »

Hi everyone,

I am getting ready to setup for working Satellites. I am contemplating between a HT or mobile (setup as a base station). My main reason for this consideration is of cause cost, but also the versatility I can get from an HT or mobile.

I am looking for a few recommendations of HT's and mobiles that can give me great features for working sats.

Sincerely,
J
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K7WDO
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 08:07:11 PM »

You're probably going to get a different answer from each person who replies this, but here's my two cents.

I think the first question is will you be going after just the FM birds (AO-27 & SO-50) or will you be attempting the linear satellites (AO-7, FO-29, and VO-52) at some point in the future?  This will have the biggest impact on what radio(s) you go with.  If you want to work the linear satellites, then you'll need something that supports SSB and full-duplex operation (either as a function of a dual-band rig or two radios) so you can find yourself on the transponder.  If you're just interested in the FM birds and want to be ultra-portable, then you can probably get by with a pair of HTs or a mobile if you want more flexibility.  Either way, you'll need something that supports both 2m and 70cm (ex. AO-27, FO-29, and SO-50 uplink on 2m, downlink on 70cm).

Cost was something of an issue for me as well so I went with a pair of old Kenwoods (TR-751A & TS-811) which let me listen to both FM and linear sats, gave me full-duplex operation, and cost way less than a new TS-2000.  Of course buying used gear can have its hazards (sometimes you get a perfect rig, sometimes it needs some repairs), but it's one way to keep the price down when you're just starting out.
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K6LCS
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 06:19:46 PM »

>> ... a few recommendations of HT's and mobiles that can give me great features for working sats ...

Well, remember we're working AO-27 and SO-50 with a Watt or two ... so "power" isn't really a factor for working the FM "easy birds."

Improve the antenna on a dual-band HT that can be programmed in "split frequency" mode (where in one memory you can TX on 2M and RX on 440 - like the Yaesu FT-60R) - and you can successfully work the FM sats.

Being able to monitor the downlinks as you key your mic - true, full-duplex - is preferred. But not mandatory. Use a scanner for RX ... or a second HT to work full-duplex.

Complete details at ...

http://www.work-sat.com

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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
WD9EWK
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2012, 03:21:18 PM »

Hi everyone,

I am getting ready to setup for working Satellites. I am contemplating between a HT or mobile (setup as a base station). My main reason for this consideration is of cause cost, but also the versatility I can get from an HT or mobile.

I am looking for a few recommendations of HT's and mobiles that can give me great features for working sats.


If you are looking for a single radio that is suitable for working FM satellites, there are a handful in current production.  One HT (Kenwood TH-D72A), and a few mobiles: Icom IC-2820H, Kenwood TM-D710 and TM-V71A, Yaesu FT-8800R and FT-8900R (and possibly the FTM-350), Alinco DR-635.  You won't see any mention in the manuals or the brochures/advertisements for these radios that they are well-suited for satellite work, but they are.  They can listen on one band (70cm) while you transmit to the satellite on another band (2m).  Many others are available if you look on the used market at discontinued models from all the ham manufacturers.  Or do what others have mentioned - get a second radio.  The radio you use to receive the satellites could be a little Yaesu VX-3R HT, or one of the Baofeng or other Chinese-made miniature HTs that can work at 2m and 70cm. 

If you are wanting to do more than work the two FM satellites (SO-50, AO-27 - only in the northern hemisphere, though), then you're having to get into the realm of all-mode radios.  K7WDO's mention of the Kenwood TR-751/TR-851 pair is a good example from the past of all-mode monoband transceivers that would be usable for satellites.  I use a pair of FT-817s, or sometimes I replace the 817 I use as a receiver with another radio like an Icom IC-R20 handheld wideband/all-mode receiver or the Kenwood TH-F6A HT (transmits on 3 bands in FM, but has an all-mode receiver up to 470 MHz). 

You can look at radios like the FT-100 and the FT-8x7 series from Yaesu, or the IC-706Mk2/Mk2G or the IC-7000 from Icom, for examples of HF/VHF/UHF all-mode transceivers that can be paired up for an all-mode satellite station.  The receive radio can be a wideband/all-mode receiver, since it doesn't need to have any transmit capability.  These radios I mentioned all have the capability of being controlled by software, meaning you can use a program like SatPC32 to take care of the frequency adjustments.  I work "old school", doing all adjustments by hand on my FT-817s, and enjoy working whatever satellites are available.  Others like to have some of the work automated - controlling the radio(s), antenna(s), etc.

YouTube can be the Internet's video cesspool, but there are a good number of videos showing satellite operating with a variety of radios and antennas.  Search for AMSAT or the names of satellites like AO-27 or SO-50 at YouTube, and you'll come up with a bunch of videos.  My videos are available at http://www.youtube.com/va7ewk if you want to see an example of my portable satellite operating.

Good luck, and 73!
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Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
JLUYT123
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2012, 11:12:18 AM »

I am contemplating between the TH-D72A and the VX-8DR... Any thoughts?
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2012, 02:09:06 PM »

I've got a D72, and it's a great little radio. The built-in GPS is amazingly fast to get a fix, and even works inside my house.

Previously I had the D70, and was amazed I could bounce packets through the ISS with a whip antenna.

Jim
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WD9EWK
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2012, 08:28:39 PM »

I am contemplating between the TH-D72A and the VX-8DR... Any thoughts?

I currently have a TH-D72A, and had the original VX-8R (the -8DR improved the TNC, but is the same radio other than that) along with the VX-8GR (I'll talk about that in a moment).  With that out of the way, on to your question...

If you are looking for APRS and the ability to work satellites full-duplex, the TH-D72A is the better option - and the only option from an HT in current production.  The VX-8DR does not come with the GPS module and a way to mount it on the radio (you need either a bracket on the top of the radio or a special speaker/mic that has a socket for the GPS - both cost extra, like the GPS module).  The TH-D72A will do APRS and its TNC can be used for other packet work with a supplied USB cable, where the VX-8DR's TNC is only usable by the radio for APRS.  The TH-D72A has a built-in GPS unit.  Once you add all that up, the VX-8DR is more expensive than the TH-D72A - and you still don't have full-duplex operating for satellites that you would have with the TH-D72A.  The TH-D72A's firmware can be updated using that USB cable by the user, without having to ship it back to Kenwood (the VX-8DR's firmware can't be updated by the user), which has brought improvements to the radio in the time it has been on the market.

An advantage of the VX-8DR is its ability to transmit on two additional bands (6m and 222 MHz, with very low power at 222 MHz), where the TH-D72A will transmit only at 2m and 70cm.  Since you posted in a satellite forum, and 6m and 222 MHz are not bands where satellite operation is permitted, I'd still lean toward the TH-D72A. 

If you are not interested in those other two bands, want APRS, but want something that can work satellites (half-duplex only) and other stuff at 2m and 70cm, the VX-8GR might be an option to consider.  It does not transmit at 6m or 222 MHz, but it has a built-in GPS unit like the TH-D72A.  Its TNC is limited to APRS use by the radio only, just like the VX-8DR's TNC (and unlike the TH-D72A).  But if you are considering a VX-8DR and don't necessarily need 6m and 222 MHz transmit capabilities, you could save a lot of money with a VX-8GR compared to a VX-8DR plus the GPS and either the GPS bracket or special speaker/mic.  Otherwise, the TH-D72A is really a good value for what is built into the radio.


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Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
AF8F
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 06:21:58 PM »

The last great satellite base radio was the ICOM IC-910H.  Dedicated satellite transceivers are no longer made.

You can get them on eBay for about $1500, which is about the price they sold for new.  This just shows the demand for this type of radio.  Get one while you can!
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