Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Easysats from shack - what's needed?  (Read 31189 times)
N4UFO
Member

Posts: 212




Ignore
« on: March 27, 2013, 11:17:03 PM »

Hi all,

I used to work RS-12/13 a lot back 10-15 years ago before it burned up in a solar storm. (was AC5DK then) So I know the basics of working sats. I've looked into a lot of the portable sat ops with HTs and handheld antennas, but honestly... I'd rather work from my shack. One, because I don't even own an HT and two, I already have a TR-751A 2m all mode sitting here hardly being used.  So I want to ask how simply I could get on the one (as I understand it) working FM bird and as a second question, how simply I could get on the birds I hear are coming later this year.

My 2m is hooked to a squalo about 5 feet above the end of my house... run of RG-8X coax about 40-45 feet to it. What would I need to HEAR the bird... do I really need a directional antenna? Could I get away with a UHF squalo as well... or maybe something like an egg beater? I'm trying to steer clear of having to put up a rotor or physically go outside and point a small yagi. Secondly, what do I want to get for a UHF radio? Would a typical scanner be enough to receive in the interim? Given my desire for not much in the way of antennas, would a 4-5 watt UHF HT fill the bill, or do I want a UHF base radio? I would prefer the latter, but who knows what I'll find available.

So as to the question of 'birds to come'... I know Fox-1 will be U/V FM... but did I read that there are some analog birds planned? And if so, how sensitive will they be. Are we talking dual yagis on az-el rotors just to work them or Q5 copy with eggbeaters? Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but I'm finding it hard to find any comprehensive information. I'm trying to figure out how feasible the various levels are and what I want to shoot for. If it's just to play, a Chinese HT and cardboard antennas might do... but to have something in the shack is much preferred. I have an extra 3' tripod I might could mount some antennas on, but I loathe the expense of rotors, HQ coax and preamps.

Somebody give me a clue, please...  Roll Eyes

73 es tnx in advance, N4UFO
(You may now commence the jokes about my callsign and working sats.)   Grin
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 11:48:50 PM by N4UFO » Logged
KQ6EA
Member

Posts: 609


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 06:12:46 PM »

Well, to start with, you'll probably never get "Q5 copy with eggbeaters".

I've used both the M2 units, and some homebrew ones based on the K5OE designs, and they ALL needed good quality, LOW NOISE preamps, like the units from SSB or ARR.

Yes, you'll hear the satellites, but it won't be "Q5 copy". You'll definitely WORK to make contacts on an FM satellite with eggbeaters!

Many people have had good luck using an "Arrow" antenna at a fixed elevation angle, mounted on a small TV type rotator. I kinda question leaving one out in the weather 24/7, but I guess that depends on where you live.

My opinion, if you really want "armchair copy", you need some directional antennas, with good quality LOW LOSS feedline (ditch the 8X), and an azimuth rotor.

Preamps would be a plus.

Gulf Alpha used to sell a "Dual Band Easy Satellite" antenna that has the VHF and UHF elements on a single boom, but I don't see it listed any more. Since Pete builds ALL his antennas on a custom basis now, I'm sure he could make one for you. Excellent antenna, and I ran it at Field Day for several years.

Just mount it on an azimuth-only rotor at about a 15~20* angle so it points above the horizon, and you're off and running.

I've been through this all before, trying the eggbeaters, hearing nothing, adding good preamps and making a few contacts, and finally doing what all the experienced guys had been saying all along.....get some gain antennas.

I'm sure others will chime in, but this is what works for me.

73, Jim
Logged
K7WDO
Member

Posts: 20




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2013, 07:29:26 PM »

Considering I have the same radio (TR-751A), I'll describe my satellite setup as it sounds like something that may fit your requirement of keeping it all in the shack.

In addition to the TR-751A, I have a TS-811A for 70cm, a pair of yagis (Cushcraft 4-element 2m, M2 6 element 70cm) strapped to a camera tripod, and a ARR 70cm preamp.  I tend to listen to the linear sats (AO-7, FO-29, and VO-52) and it works remarkably well for an indoor setup.  I usually leave the antennas at a fixed tilt and just give them a spin as the satellite goes by.

Even if you're not interested in the linear sats, try and see if you can hear VO-52's beacon (145.860 MHz plus or minus for doppler).  That will probably answer the question of whether your current antenna will work.  It's probably the strongest signal up there right now (unless you catch the ISS during a school contact) so if you can't hear it, you'll be better served with a stronger antenna.

If you're wanting to work FM, check to see if your Kenwood has the board for sending PL tones installed as you'll need them for SO-50.

Hope this helps.
Logged
N4UFO
Member

Posts: 212




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 12:35:20 AM »

Jim, Scott... thanks for the thoughtful replies.

Jim, it came back to me after I posted, that I even had a 10m Mirage preamp on my HF rig for RS-12/13... and like you basically say, wasn't required, but sure made the low part of the passes easier. (I used the statement 'Q5 with eggbeaters' as an extreme, not a serious expectation.)  Cheesy You know, I might have even bought that preamp from Jerry... I enjoyed working him and chatting by e-mail. Wonder if he is still working sats? Anyway, I never did get around to building an eggbeater from his plans... I got an HF beam up and had more luck using the 15m uplink and eventually got rid of the 2m all mode rig I had at the time. I was using an old Heathkit HW-5400 on HF back then and was actually turning the manual bandswitch on each over! I confirmed over 150 grids on that bird... it's a wonder I didn't wear that bandswitch out.  Grin

Scott, thanks for relating your situation... it really helps. And yes, if I manage to get my hands on a UHF all mode, I would MUCH rather work the linear birds... by far! I guess I was under the delusion that if guys are working the birds with HTs now, they must be much more sensitive... but the phrase 'working the birds' can mean many things and run a wide gamut. I'm getting the idea that while it can be done, even repeatedly, it's not necessarily optimum and definitely not 'armchair' as I might have allowed myself to think. The idea was to get my juices flowing with some QSOs on the FM birds to motivate myself to then get on the linear birds... with the assumption the former was far less expensive than, and a stepping stone to, the latter. But in my case, not necessarily so.

INDOOR antenna array... now THERE is an idea that never crossed my mind. You have me intrigued, Scott!!! How much did/does the signal have to go through in your case? I am in a manufactured home and judging by the amount of RFI the inverted vees I used to have over the end of  house both got and gave, I don't think there is any metal sheeting in the roof, at all. I've seen some inexpensive camera tripods around, and the cardboard antennas on the AMSAT website are certainly in my price range and ability.   Cheesy  (I recently built a few 'Wi-fi' reflectors out of cardboard, aluminum foil, tape and glue; works very good to create a link between two buildings. So I have some experience in the media.)

Sounds like I need to keep my eye out for a UHF preamp and some sort of UHF rig... whether FM or all mode. Might be a while before 'funds allow' but you have helped me arrive at the point of 'targeting' the next step. As luck would have it, an HF project jumped to the forefront today and has it's eye on my 'allowed funds'. (translation: XYL approved it) I figured out my beam setup has the perfect height and top loading for use as a 40m vertical. (See my QRZ page for pics of the setup... easier than trying to explain) The mount is insulated from ground (bolted to railroad ties) and connecting a feedpoint to the base of the tripod and a tuned counterpoise resulted in a resonance at 7.127 MHz and 1.6:1 or less across the band. Only problem is, my remote coax switch at the base of the antenna is only a two port... this new project together with an idea rolling around for a 30m vertical will require four. Guess what I'm shopping for at the next hamfest...

I will have to make a point to try listening for VO-52... like you say, that will be a good indicator. And I'll keep my eye out for a cheap tripod... I know I've seen some for $10; cardboard and wire, I got. Oh ,one other thing... have either of you seen these little directional TV antennas with the motors built in? A ham down the road has one on his house for TV. Some even come with broadband preamps built-in. I can't believe the build quality would be very good, but I've seen them go for $20-40. Certainly cheaper than a TV rotor! Wonder if it'd be worth fooling around with to see if it could hear anything. (Obviously not for transmitting)

Thanks again for the time and thought... I appreciate it. True ham spirit.  Smiley

73, Kevin, N4UFO
Logged
KQ6EA
Member

Posts: 609


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 10:35:30 AM »

OK, I wasn't sure what you expected from using eggbeaters.

The sad thing I've met people who actually believe they can get "Q5 copy" with a pair of eggbeaters, NO preamps, and crummy feedline!

I started when I was in my apartment, and I was lucky the landlord gave me the run of the roof. It was a large two story commercial building with 6 apartments on the second floor, and I had a 360* unobstructed view of the horizon. I wanted something small that was dedicated to satellite use, so I went with the eggbeaters.

Then I realized I *needed* preamps, and added those. It 'kinda-sorta' worked, and it was really easy to take everything down and drag out to the Field Day site my club uses, but on passes under about 25* or so, my terrestrial weak-signal 2M/70cm antennas actually worked MUCH better.

It's a testament to what having some antenna gain can do for you!

There's some posts over on QRZ from guys that have homebrewed some small Az/El antenna postioners, and they're pretty impressive.

I'm still using the weak-signal antennas for satellite work (M2 2M7 and 420-450-11 with SSB preamps), but not that I'm in a house, I have them on a Glen Martin 9' "roof tower" sitting off to the side of the house, and other than losing signals when they dip behind the roof, they work incredibly well.

Too may people still think you need long boom circular polarized Yagis to work the satellites, like you needed when AO-10 and AO-13 were out at apogee.

All you really need these days is 4~5 elements and a way to point the antenna, and you're good to go.

Jim
Logged
K0JEG
Member

Posts: 665




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 04:30:37 PM »

I tried using an Icom R-10 for a downlink when starting to build a duplex station. It did a fair job at picking up SO-50 and almost nothing on linear satellites. I could pick up the VO-52 beacon when the satellite was directly overhead, but that's about it.

Later I bought a used FT-817. Difference was night and day. And it wasn't too expensive either. I think I have more in coax and antennas than the cost of the 817.
Logged
K7WDO
Member

Posts: 20




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 06:31:02 PM »

Unless you live in a concrete block house, operating indoors is not too bad for 2m & 70cm.  My shack is in the sunroom in the corner of the house and I don't notice much difference between aiming out the window, through the roof, or going through the rest of the house.  I usually need to let the satellite get up about 10-15 degrees before I hear anything, but I'm good from there.  As far as transmitting, I can hear myself on CW with just 5-10W, but I need to crank it up a bit more for SSB.  Moving the antennas up and outdoors would let me work down closer to the horizon, but it's been functioning well enough that I haven't been in a hurry to move the yagis outside so far.

The camera tripod setup evolved out of giving ARISSat-1 a try and getting hooked on chasing satellites.  I had the 2m yagi strapped on to the tripod with a shoelace so my arm wouldn't get tired.  From there, I picked up a 70cm radio and antenna, upgraded to the TR-751A for 2m all-mode, and after juggling two radios and an antenna for a while, the 70cm antenna was tied to the 2m antenna to free up an arm.  I've been running this configuration for a while and so far nothing has fallen over (the 2m antenna is horizontal with the 70m yagi sitting vertically).  The nice thing with camera tripods is they have a tilt/pan head on them which makes aiming easy.  Just make sure it's nice and sturdy (something rated for a medium format camera, for example) so it won't tip over with an antenna or two hanging off of it.

Considering your setup, I'd say the next thing to get is a 2m antenna with some gain, either commercial (4-element 2m antennas seem to go for around $100) or just build one.  It should be enough to let you start listening for the Mode B downlinks on VO-52 and AO-7 or the telemetry signal on UO-11 (145.825 MHz FM, when it's on).  I'd save the preamp for after you get a 70cm radio and antenna.  I picked up a 70cm preamp to hear FO-29 better, but I've been able to get by without one on 2m so far.

The other thing that might be worth looking in to is see if you can hear AO-7's 10m downlink when it's on Mode A.  It's more challenging to hear than the 2m or 70cm downlinks, but since you were able to work RS-12/13 it might be worth a try.  Check the satellite status page http://oscar.dcarr.org/ to see what mode AO-7 is in as it alternates between Mode A and B on roughly a 24-hour cycle.  It doesn't seem to be as active as Mode B, but if you have the 10m setup, it can't hurt to try.

73, Scott.
Logged
N4UFO
Member

Posts: 212




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 01:18:47 AM »

Wow. All good stuff guys, thanks!


Jim - It's easy to get misconceptions... people have no idea what is involved with something until either they try it or ask; I like to ask first. Hence this post.  Grin  I knew some of these new LEOs were better hearing birds, as I inferred from the many HT demos out there on the internet, but I didn't know how much. And I needed to dust the cobwebs off my own experiences... like finally remembering I had a 10m preamp. I might have earned my VUCC-Sat, but that certificate has long since found it's way to file 13. (moved a number of times, once cross country) And I agree with you... gain over power. (You made really good points in another thread... nothing worse than an alligator damping down the bird!) But probably the MOST useful thing you told me were the last two statements.... I know what range to shoot for now. That's what I was after here... thanks!

Oh, you also reminded me why I got rid of the 2m all mode I had before (besides the VFO shifting after warmup)... When RS12/13 was in Mode A, I could get into it with 25 watts and an MFJ double 5/8 wave antenna. But most of the time it would be in K or KA. And even in KA mode, my HF was much easier to get in than with than the 2m despite competing with HF terrestrial signals. And mode T??? Fahgetaboutit... Now if I'd had a small 2m YAH-geeee!  Cheesy


Eric - FB on the R-10 comment... what I needed to know. Doubt I'll waste time/money on an RX only setup for UHF. And wow... I had no idea that the FT-817s did UHF all mode! I thought they were just for the QRP/backpacking crowd... (Not knocking QRP!!! used to do it; had a solar powered Argonaut 509 station, but lost interest. When it only got used once a year for FD, sold it.) Granted, since they seem to go for as much or more than I spent on my current HF rig (90s vintage; would you believe a big UPGRADE for me?!!) it might be awhile before I could acquire one, but at least I know I'm not hunting for that zebra known as an 'inexpensive used UHF all mode rig'. I guess the 817 has two VFOs and can do split, but not likely that it works full duplex. Still, my 751, an 817 and a small UHF amp with preamp... couple antennas and good to go. Not bad at all...


Scott - FB on all info... indoor antennas, I think I'll be getting around to trying that first. My ham shack is on the south end of the house, and up off the ground a little. No trees around and not much else to obstruct the horizon other than the house itself. To the north... not only is the majority of the 40 feet of house that way, but a hill. (Guess which passes I'd start late on; due N-S... right.) I have the whole room for my shack, and while a little cramped, as long as I can figure out how to "fold up & stow" between passes, that would work. Short (inexpensive) coax run, no need for weatherproof construction (read "cardboard & tape"), one man manual operation (I love a challenge) and jump in to dampen feet. Then I work on getting things together for a proper outside antenna installation... which I already have an idea for.

I still know where a few 9'4" tripods are and I could duplicate my HF beam tripod installation, but just off the end of my house where the feedline run wouldn't be so long. I still have about 14' of mast left from an antenna that got blown over that is the perfect size for the tripod AND would put the antenna mounting a couple feet above my roof line. Mind you this is all several projects down the pipeline and maybe a year or more away, but I like to have a long term vision in mind and it gives me something to keep my eye open for (meaning bargains & finds). Scott, the most useful idea I got from you is the indoor antennas... never even crossed my imagination until you mentioned it. Good indoor project for either hot summer or cold winter and my daughter will enjoy it. (She likes the activity and enjoys it when I am 'tinkering'.)  Cheesy


And you've all have made me realize that linear birds are feasible... Something that raises my interest level a whole lot more than being limited to FM birds. Because I've been like "EME... Sats... EME... Sats... EME needs what?" for a while now. Despite no super duper elliptical orbit wonderbird, Oscar Zero just lost out to modern technology I'm afraid.  Cheesy

So... here's my takeaway:

1. Build a 2m cardboard antenna, develop an ear for current sats, get an idea of reception at location to plan/inspire projects to follow

2. Continue to play/develop indoor setup as interest/time/funds/bargains permit. Maybe get a UHF HT, a preamp, build a cardboard UHF yagi and try FM, etc.

3. Gather hardware as i/t/f/b permit towards an outdoor setup. Acquire a tripod, watch hamfests/ads for feedline, preamps, Az-El rotors setup AND proper antennas.

4. Save up for a rig capable of UHF allmode... 817 or otherwise. (TS-790a; used one a few times on terrestrial 2m... drool, drool)

5. Work you guys on every satellite operational.  Roll Eyes Cheesy


That about covers it. Seriously, it might be a bit, but I AM going to try out listening for those birds. I just ordered some stuff yesterday for an HF antenna project and I'll be busy with that in between home projects. (gravel for drive, repair deck, cleaning dryer vent, drain hot water tank) But I will get to it. You guys have seen to that. I usually have at least one or more projects in mind beyond the one I am currently working on. keeps me busy. And I don't think this thread is going anywhere, so I will refer back to it for information later. Might drop one of you guys a line or bump the thread if I have any questions. I really, REALLY appreciate it! Thanks a bunch... Good to know the elmer spirit is still alive and well somewhere.


73 es thanks,

Kevin, N4UFO
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 01:21:41 AM by N4UFO » Logged
KQ6EA
Member

Posts: 609


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 12:32:24 PM »

Yeah, and then there are people like me who read and listen, and figure out "I know better" and promptly go out and make all the same errors that countless others have made.

 Grin

I used to listen to the RS birds on my HF rig, and was amazed at hearing the Doppler. That's when I *knew* I'd heard my first satellite.

It was a few years before I could get the scratch together to get a multi-mode rig and the antennas. I tried the K5OE (yes, Jerry's still around) units, bought some preamps, and made a few contacts, but it was always iffy. I figured maybe store bought antennas would be better, so one year my tax refund went for a pair of M2 antennas with the radial kits.

My homebrew K5OE antennas actually were a bit better! I kept the M2 units for Field Day as I didn't have a semi portable Yagi setup to drag out with me.

And the first time I tried my horizontal VHF/UHF Yagis for weak-signal work on a satellite, I was stunned. I still had to control the rotor by hand, but I had SatPC32 controlling the Doppler on my FT-847, and as long as I picked passes that were under about 20* elevation, I made contacts.

I even heard my downlink on AO-10 before it went completely silent.

You don't need a whole lot of antenna these days, but having some gain, and front-to-side and front-to-back rejection definitely helps!

Never tried EME. I've read where the Super Stations, like W5UN, can work a station running a single long-boom Yagi, and about 100 Watts to the antenna.
Logged
N4UFO
Member

Posts: 212




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 03:22:52 PM »

Too bad you weren't in on the heyday of RS-12/13... that was a hoppin' bird! I first tried it as part of the CQ 50th anniversary awards... one part of one of the awards was to make a QSO by satellite. I only had an HF station at the time and thought no way. Did some reading (this is pre google & internet days... 1995?) and figured out I might be able to do it. So with nothing more than an 8088 laptop, a 4BTV vertical on my back deck with a few radials, I managed to work someone on RS-12 in mode K. I was both so nervous and excited... more so than my first Novice QSO back in '77. (Then, my elmer was sitting beside me and I wasn't talking through a 'BOX IN SPACE!') When I finished the QSO I jumped out of my chair and started hollering... scared my wife half to death. Ah... good times.  Wink

I worked 48 CONUS and if only for that guy in RI that got mad when he got flooded with QSL cards and refused to reply they'd have all been confirmed. Not sure how many countries I worked as you could get into central America and the Caribbean, but one day I got called by an Austrian station while the bird was over NA... The band was open and he was 'skipping' into the bird. A little watery like AU but easy enough to copy. I like to have fell over... wish I'd have kept that card. Wish I'd have kept my VUCC-Sat with the 150 endorsement! Can't tell you how many guys today have read that on my QRZ page and commented, admiring it. to anyone I knew back then it was either just another piece of paper or 'when you gonna work some real grids'.  Cheesy


I still had to control the rotor by hand,

I used to work in broadcast radio back in the early 80s... actually spun records. You had to keep your eye on a script, talk into a mike, adjust levels with big round knobs and reach around clicking buttons & flipping switches without missing a beat. For me, having to watch the computer screen, adjust the frequency, control the rotor, copy CW and write in the log... well that's just FUN!  This is back when my computer was a 286, I downloaded keps off the packet BBS and ran a monochrome graphic tracking program that was not Y2K compatible. (Anyone know when year 100 is gonna be?) I gotta tell you... fun. And fortunately my wife already understands to check in on when the sat passes are in order to plan what time dinner is going to be. She had this mantra... "life revolves around sat passes"... said just like the guy on TV, 'time to make the donuts'.  Grin


I've read where the Super Stations, like W5UN, can work a station running a single long-boom Yagi, and about 100 Watts to the antenna.

Yeah, I did, too... and it got me all interested. But you have to 'read the fine print'; if you have AT LEAST 100 watts and AT LEAST 10 elements or more you MIGHT be able to, blah blah blah... The statement is assuming you have low loss coax and preamps, etc. ALREADY. Which I do not. Then the pay off is I get to work a very few stations that will be carrying the load with their monster arrays. Beyond working those few stations, you got to have a whole lot more. Once I figured out that the functional limits of what I can reasonably afford to mechanically & financially do, it just doesn't seem very appealing... Suddenly sats started looking a whole lot better again, even with Az El rotors. (By the way, I didn't find those discussions on QRZ about the rotors... can you give me a link or a hint?)

I have also thought up another plan for the interim to work SO-50 maybe... I remembered I have this little 2m go bag rig. I traded a busted short wave receiver for a busted 2m rig a couple years back. I got the 2m running to some degree, but the squelch is intermittent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it stays open until you slap it. (Thinking of future U/V birds, you leave the squelch open anyway, right?) But it's small, it's 10 or 25 watts, I have it set up to plug into an accessory jack in the car and I have one of those Hershey kiss base mag mounts for it. Sounds like an uplink rig to me!

So when I am done with my current HF antenna project I will have an MFJ remote coax switch left over. They go for $75-80 new and not many used out there... maybe I can sell or trade that for one of these cheap HTs with UHF. And I ran across the CJU antenna. I have seen them before... even saw one for sale once with a UHF preamp mounted to it. (Wish I'd known then what I know now; I passed it up because it didn't have any 2m to it. DOH!) But I've also seen pics with the CJU practically built onto the HT. (I've probably got the parts laying around.) The guy held the handheld to aim the antenna. What do you guys think about that? How well do you think that would work without a preamp? And if I need a preamp... what's out there now? Mirage, ARR? any others?


Okay... I'm going to stand in my driveway next to my SUV and wave this home made wire contraption around at the sky with neighbors that already think I am trying to talk to god (seriously, I had a hexbeam looking thing that resembled a dish pointed straight up because it was so low to the ground; one neighbor asked the other if I was trying to talk to god.) Or they think I am trying to call down aliens. I'll be standing there saying loudly, "This is N - 4 - U - F - O  in Echo Mike nine five, Over!"   Roll Eyes  Cheesy


Seriously though... maybe not inside, but if I go outside with an unobstructed view, do you think I'll hear much with just the antenna and no preamp? If so, I'm all over that... daughter has been wanting to do things outside as soon as it warms up. She'll love that.  Thanks!!! Enjoying this thread!
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 03:25:11 PM by N4UFO » Logged
KQ6EA
Member

Posts: 609


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 07:00:04 PM »

Yeah, I had several friends who make lots of contacts on the RS birds.

I never got interested in paper-chasing, but I QSL 100% on satellite contacts.

I've done a bit of broadcast work at DirecTV, and went to the "Los Angeles Broadcasters School" until it closed. I was more a behind-the-scenes kinda guy, but the school was very comprehensive, so I spent a good bit of classroom and lab time spinning records, reading commercials, and learning how a commercial radio station worked.

My wife knows that when I get the satellite station set up on the patio it's time to order pizza, so no problem there!

I'm partial to SSB Electronic preamps, but others have had very good results with the ones ARR sells. And if it's for receive only, you can build a kit from Down East Microwave, or roll your own. I'd stay several counties away from Mirage stuff! I just don't think their reliability is very good, and you can always check out the preamp reviews here on eHam.

SO-50 is the only FM sat up there now, and I've never tried working it with a handheld, so I don't know how well the CJU would work with it, but it seems like a pretty clever design.

For Az/El setups, check out the following links:

http://kc4ri.com/index.php?p=1_7_SLCP-Sat-Tracker

http://home.wavecable.com/~ko6th/

http://www.aa5fr.com/el-cheapo-az-el-satellite-antenna/

http://users.wbsnet.org/n0yk/cushcraft.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xrc4Q5Tzhj4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWBh29MyqWU

I can't seem to find the QRZ thread, either.

Just Google for "small homebrew az/el rotors" and you should find lots of hits.

Logged
K7WDO
Member

Posts: 20




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 07:53:25 PM »

Ah, all this talk of broadcast radio is bringing back memories of my time as a DJ on the college radio station.  Fun days.

But back on the subject of satellites, I'll vouch for ARR's preamps as that's what I'm using (10m & 70cm).  Not too expensive and work incredibly well.

I'd almost say go for the linear sats (VO-52, AO-7, and FO-29) rather than SO-50.  I never had any problem getting the 70cm downlinks on AO-51 or AO-27, but even with the preamp, I have always had an awful time trying to hear SO-50. 

Another potential option if you're getting antsy to make contacts would be to see if you can find a 70cm-10m downconverter to put on your HF rig.  Between that and your TR-751A, you could work Mode J (V/U) in the interim which would cover both FO-29 and SO-50.

Finally, one more link for rotors.  Norm's Rotor Service, which carries the old Alliance U110 rotors http://www.rotorservice.com/press3-alliance.htm
Logged
W4HIJ
Member

Posts: 367




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 09:55:56 PM »

Hmnn, just coming in on this thread  but you sound a lot like me. I'm hoping to be able to work the upcoming birds from the comfort of my shack rather than standing out on my deck with a camera tripod antenna juggling HT's. In fact, awhile back circumstances had me using HT's in the shack with and Az/El system outdoors! When I first got into sats, I had a Kenwood TS-2000X hooked up to a couple of homebrew WA5VJB "cheap yagis". The antennas  were mounted with a couple of old  Gemini Orion OR-360 TV rotators that were controlled by a Homebrew tracking box called the "SAEBRTrack" which was built around a BASIC STAMP. I had a mast mounted AR2 preamp on the 70cm side and SATPC32 controlled antenna pointing and doppler correction. I was proud of that setup and I worked, FO-29, VO-52, AO-7, AO-51, SO-50, and AO27 with it. I had some major medical expenses come up though and eventually had to sell my TS-2000X so I actually eventually just ended up with an old  2 meter HT and a newer  dual band HT hooked up to the whole shebang.  I no longer had computer doppler correction or all mode capability but I still had PC controlled AZ/EL pointing for FM sats. Eventually though I got away from it and ended up taking the antennas down and selling my preamp and HT's and my tracking box now controls the Azimuth of my HF mini beam.
 I seem to be getting the itch again though and I'm actually thinking of putting something back up. I've been experimenting with one of the USB DVB-T dongles  as an SDR RX for satellites. I have it hooked up to an omnidirectional scanner antenna fed by RG-6 quad shield. I can barely make out VO-52's downlink down in the noise and can't hear SO-50 at all. I'm hoping building a broadband preamp like the one AMSAT is selling will remedy the situation. Of course the dongle was never designed for this use and has a wide "front end" so desense problems while trying full duplex may make it all a pipe dream. At any rate, even if I have to go with two HT's from the shack again, I plan on having some sort of outdoor antennas with PC controlled Azimuth pointing. You can homebrew the "cheap yagis" for next to nothing, weatherproofing isn't a big deal, and they work great. I just wish SATPC32 had an option for using the up/down button function on an HT for doppler correction. It's not really needed, you can do it well enough by hand but I just like to have everything automated and I'm lazy :-) Maybe I should ask Erich....
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
Logged
N4UFO
Member

Posts: 212




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 10:11:33 PM »

Thanks for the links, Jim... I'll have a look over them and do some googling. A quick look, very interesting stuff. I think I agree with your preamp recommendations. But I imagine if I find a bargain, I'll take whatever I can get.  Grin  I'm going to keep researching the CJU antenna... I remember watching a video of a VE ham using one with a preamp and doing exactly what I am talking about... seems easy enough to build and those Chinese radios are unbelievably cheap... $40 on Amazon... AMAZON! Who ever thought they'd be selling ham gear on Amazon?!!  But like I say, I know I've seen a pic of a vid one of one of those CJU antenna built onto a small piece of plastic pipe and that was attached right to the SMA/BNC adaptor attached to the HT. Must be able to hearing SOMETHING or wouldn't have done it.


Scott, did that, too... I worked at some broadcast stations in high school and on college break, but was the manager of one college station and 'Chief Operator' of another. (paid position filling then legal requirement normally filled by chief engineer) Wife and I had back to back shows our senior year of college to get an extra senior credit.  Cheesy

I never had any problem getting the 70cm downlinks on AO-51 or AO-27, but even with the preamp, I have always had an awful time trying to hear SO-50.

AH... I need to pay close attention to that. Possibly the HT mounted CJU antenna sans preamp was being used on something other than SO-50. Thanks for that... you might have just saved me some money buying an HT that will never do me any good. You know, I am acquainted with a local ham that is into V/U weak signal work and he is anxious to get me on it. Maybe he has a preamp I can borrow or buy cheap to try it out. Especially if he thinks it will lead to me one day putting up some base antennas.  Grin

I did a quick search for a down-converter... only thing I find is something custom built/homebrew or made for ATV. You have anywhere to point me for something current? Maybe I can find one of those Ten Tec 2510s somewhere... most people have no idea what they are for and treat them like a boat anchor. Usually not expensive when you run across them, but pretty rare any more. (I see one went for under $80 about a month ago.) That would work on VO-52 and I guess AO-7 Mode B.

And yeah, I know about Norms... biggest problem with a U110 is my wife knows all about 'clunk, clunk, clunk' and the sound might carry through the house.  Shocked


Michael, thanks for telling your story. Yeah, sounds like same plot of ground I'm trying to tread. I'll check out the 'cheap yagis' for sure and the dongle idea actually occurred to me, but after building and maintaining several repeaters in years past, i assumed exactly your fear... too wide of a front end for duplex work. But I'd be VERY interested in the outcome if you try... dongles would be something cool to play with. - The AMSAT preamp; built and in enclosure... $50?!!! That's very doable. Wonder if the broadband nature wouldn't cause problems with desense. Might be worth a try though, thanks for mentioning it.


Thanks again, guys... keep the good ideas, coming. I have plenty of researching to do until my remote coax switch arrives on Thursday.  Wink
Logged
W4HIJ
Member

Posts: 367




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 10:57:21 PM »

I'm actually going to try and roll my own version of the preamp.  I have the MAR-6 thanks to the generosity of someone on the amsat bb. I just have to figure out the PC board. Don't really have any experience etching them. I was thinking of maybe using my Dremel to rough out something crude. I don't want to sound cheap and I'd love to buy one of the units from AMSAT to help Fox but money is really tight and I bet I can build the thing for ten bucks. Besides, this is just an experiment.
Michael, W4HIJ
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!