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Author Topic: Easysats from shack - what's needed?  (Read 28139 times)
N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2013, 02:12:36 AM »

I have the MAR-6...

Just FYI, he comments in the documentation that he switched from a MAR 6 to a MAR 7 to get away from the MAR 6 going into oscillation from overload. You might be okay depending on your location and setup. But moreover, I mention the documentation because you might appreciate the pictures & drawing of the PCB on the second page.

http://store.amsat.org/catalog/docs/preamp.pdf

In the past I have used perfboard and tinned bus wire to simulate a PCB board, but never with surface mount components...  Shocked

Good luck!
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 02:15:55 AM by N4UFO » Logged
N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2013, 03:42:11 AM »

By the way... I found the pic of the guy working a sat with a CJU built right onto his HT: http://www.jerryclement.ca/HamRadio/HamRadio/10282516_SCgV88/2212090504_qgJp2Bw#!i=2212090504&k=qgJp2Bw

And another where he adds an ARR preamp to it for use with his FT-817: http://jerryclement.smugmug.com/HamRadio/HamRadio/10282516_SCgV88/1701720934_mKL566n#!i=827495115&k=sNNxBCL

He doesn't say what sat he is working in the first pic, but he mentions that he added the preamp due to loss from the cable. I have read that some people have worked SO-50 with this antenna. So who knows. I have some of that small drinking water pipe under the house, I believe... or they sell 2' pieces at Home Depot for about $2. Some large gauge solid copper wire, hot glue gun, piece of coax and a BNC connector, some tape... might need a clamp. Would also mount right onto that AMSAT preamp.  Cheesy

Now as for working the linear birds and having fun... how about this way: http://jerryclement.smugmug.com/HamRadio/HamRadio/10282516_SCgV88/1701720934_mKL566n#!i=1689200187&k=zB327Ps

73 all,

N4UFO
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K7WDO
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Posts: 20




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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2013, 09:02:41 AM »

Sorry I don't have any current leads on a new down-converter.  Most of the ones I've seen for sale were old ones floating around at a hamfest so shop around and you might get lucky.  The most popular use for them theses days is as a way to get around a birdie on the TS-2000 that's in the middle of SO-50's downlink frequency.  I used one once to hear FO-29 on my HF receiver so they do work, but I never owned one as I eventually went and bought a 70cm rig.

As for my SO-50 problems, I've listened for it on a different antenna setup with good copy so it might be something with my location or antennas.  The downlink is less powerful than some of the previous FM sats so it's a more challenging target to hear than AO-51 was, but it's not like you need an EME setup to hear it.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2013, 09:20:15 AM »

I have the MAR-6...

Just FYI, he comments in the documentation that he switched from a MAR 6 to a MAR 7 to get away from the MAR 6 going into oscillation from overload. You might be okay depending on your location and setup. But moreover, I mention the documentation because you might appreciate the pictures & drawing of the PCB on the second page.

http://store.amsat.org/catalog/docs/preamp.pdf

In the past I have used perfboard and tinned bus wire to simulate a PCB board, but never with surface mount components...  Shocked

Good luck!
Yes, I read the comments but I live out in the boonies so maybe it won't be an issue. I'm probably all wet anyway with the cheapie approach but I just can't afford to do anything else right now and it's costing me next to nothing to at least try. I don't know if a Funcube dongle pro would  work but then again I can't afford one. What I wish was available was some type of kit for a 2m/70cm all mode SDR optimized for sats. You can already link doppler control from SATPC32 to HDSDR, we just need the hardware.  It doesn't seem like to me that it would be that hard to design but then again since I don't have the knowledge and talent to do it, what do I know? Roll Eyes
Michael, W4HIJ
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N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2013, 09:59:03 AM »

Well, I have yet to venture into SDR, Michael... for me it's like a microwave oven was once upon a time; mysterious and beyond comprehension. Just hard to believe the software can do so much with the hardware being so little. Just too far from the HW-101 I built as a Novice, I guess. - And yes, Scott, I'll be keeping my eyes open for an opportunity for either a down converter or a 70cm rig. Still have my weak signal ham friend to talk to and some hamfests coming up.

But in the mean time, I decided to dip my toe in the water and take a step, by getting on SO-50. My 50th birthday is just over a month away, so I asked my wife to spend $50 on me.  Grin  I ordered a Beofeng UV-3R, a programming cable and a BNC adapter off the famous auction site. The total came to just a few pennies shy of fifty bucks. Amazing to think one can buy a dual band HT so little. And it IS LITTLE! My gosh it's small... I told my wife if I quit using it for satellite, I can throw it in the glove box of my SUV for emergencies. And I read that these new Chinese radios are essentially SDR rigs. So what the heck... I'm in. I already have a Captain Kirk flip top communicator for a phone (and that's OLD tech already, they tell me)... the Dick Tracy wrist TV phone can't be far off now.

Oh, and I found a BNC patch cord, a few pieces of PEX pipe and some #12 insulated solid copper wire to make a CJU antenna... just have to borrow my wife's hot glue gun and charge up my drill. And if that doesn't work well enough, come my birthday, I'll tell her I forgot about my present already (getting old... memory fading) and ask her to $50 on me and get an AMSAT preamp. (Don't think it'll work more than once, do ya?)

I'll keep you guys apprised. Pics on my QRZ page as always. Can I make it on SO-50 with my $50 radio, by the time I turn 50? - As for now, I need a nap... stayed up too late researching HTs and sat antennas.  Cheesy

73 all and thanks for the help... I'm making definite progress.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 10:03:29 AM by N4UFO » Logged
KQ6EA
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Posts: 608


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« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2013, 10:31:24 AM »

A steady hand and a Dremel have made many a PCB!

I've used X-acto knives to cut our the pattern, and then heated the copper with a soldering iron to peel it off.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2013, 05:33:40 PM »

I apparently had a crimp on faulty F connector that I didn't realize was affecting reception through my DVB-T and Omni scanner antenna. After replacing it NOAA was much stronger and tonight when I listened to a pass of VO-52, I could actually copy the callsign of someone calling CQ on SSB. It wasn't Q5 but I'm encouraged. I think a preamp up at the antenna will make all the difference in the world. Of course I haven't approached the question of desense yet but things look a little more promising. It is cool to watch SatPC32 and HDSDR track doppler together with a 20 dollar USB stick for an RX!
Michael, W4HIJ
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2013, 06:00:45 PM »

Ah, yes....bad connectors!

I *only* use the compression connectors like Snap-N-Seal on RG-6.

Once you learn how to install them, they're bulletproof!

Jim
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N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2013, 07:22:34 AM »

SUCCESS!  My Baofeng HT came in the mail yesterday while I was sleeping. I got up late last night and spent most of the night figuring it out and programming it. Also had to program in the SO-50 uplink into my 2m shack rig. There was a pass this morning around 7:30a local that would be practically overhead. I set up a couple tracking webpages and had everything ready.

Sure enough a couple minutes into the pass, I finally started to hear something and copied two stations in the northern US working each other. Then a '4 call' came on and called one of them. When they were done I announced, "N4UFO, first time on the bird," and KK4NWC came back to me. He gave me his info and I gave him mine... then nothing. Either the receiver went wacky, I adjusted the doppler wrong or the bird whooshed overhead right then and I failed to turn the antenna the other way in time. Finally after 30-40 seconds of fiddling, and asking if he copied, I heard him come back again and confirm. I apologized for my difficulties and signed with him. After the pass, I e-mailed him to be sure and he sent me back an audio file recording of our QSO from his end. Kinda cool!

Observations and conclusions:

- Despite being duplex, I never heard myself over the bird. I was unsure if my TX antenna was up to the job and I probably had the power set too high; the antenna is probably 15-20 feet from my head. I'll try lower power next time and see if that helps. But I definitely think operating from the shack is do-able.

- I need a headset. The earpiece mic that came with the HT is... well, pretty worthless. It was terrible sounding and being in just one ear didn't help. I hope I can find a mini TRRS plug to adapt a set of cheap headphones for use with it.

- A preamp would be a big plus. The fellow I worked was using a $10 Ramsey preamp... If I end up not being able to hear duplex anyway, I could mount it in a plastic case like he did with no worries.

- My logging program is not satellite friendly. I'm a paper logger out of old habit. then I type into Winlog 32. It has a 'Prop' box, but not a RX band, RX freq, or a SAT field. I ended up using TQSL to create a single QSO file to upload. Still unsure if I did it all correctly. The QSO is there, but no match yet. (He does LotW, but did he upload yet?)


So... going back to my original post, I 'have a clue' now.   Grin The HT in the shack with a small antenna (CJU) does work for receive, given a good pass, at least. Would it work equally as well on a UHF uplink bird, only time will tell. Would my 2m HEAR well on a 2m downlink bird... I still need to try listening for VO-52; been busy. Do I want to get an all mode rig for UHF, yes I do... do I want to put antennas up outside, yes I do. But both are a funds dependent project. Just have to see what the future brings, but it sounds like something I'd eventually like to do. - But for now, I will probably continue to have a little fun with the HT and SO-50 and let it inspire little projects here and there; antennas, preamps, headphones, and whatever gizmo aids come along. Was definitely worth the time and investment so far.

Thanks for all the help here... and as time permits I'll put a picture of the little HT and shack rig, etc. on my QRZ page... probably at the bottom.

73 for now,  Kevin, N4UFO
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WD9EWK
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« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2013, 08:59:15 AM »

SUCCESS!  My Baofeng HT came in the mail yesterday while I was sleeping. I got up late last night and spent most of the night figuring it out and programming it. Also had to program in the SO-50 uplink into my 2m shack rig. There was a pass this morning around 7:30a local that would be practically overhead. I set up a couple tracking webpages and had everything ready.

Sure enough a couple minutes into the pass, I finally started to hear something and copied two stations in the northern US working each other. Then a '4 call' came on and called one of them. When they were done I announced, "N4UFO, first time on the bird," and KK4NWC came back to me. He gave me his info and I gave him mine... then nothing. Either the receiver went wacky, I adjusted the doppler wrong or the bird whooshed overhead right then and I failed to turn the antenna the other way in time. Finally after 30-40 seconds of fiddling, and asking if he copied, I heard him come back again and confirm. I apologized for my difficulties and signed with him. After the pass, I e-mailed him to be sure and he sent me back an audio file recording of our QSO from his end. Kinda cool!

Congratulations!

Quote
- Despite being duplex, I never heard myself over the bird. I was unsure if my TX antenna was up to the job and I probably had the power set too high; the antenna is probably 15-20 feet from my head. I'll try lower power next time and see if that helps. But I definitely think operating from the shack is do-able.

I don't think the Baofeng radio is capable of cross-band, full-duplex operation.  Even if it has two VFOs on the display, I don't think the radio was designed for that. 

How did you sound on the recording the other station sent you?  If you were only using the HT and no external amplifier to increase your transmit power, you're doing fine with just the power out of that HT.

Quote
- A preamp would be a big plus. The fellow I worked was using a $10 Ramsey preamp... If I end up not being able to hear duplex anyway, I could mount it in a plastic case like he did with no worries.

If you are looking for a preamp, you might want to consider the broadband preamp AMSAT has on sale:

http://store.amsat.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=84

It comes assembled, works for 2m and 70cm, just don't transmit into it. 

Quote
- My logging program is not satellite friendly. I'm a paper logger out of old habit. then I type into Winlog 32. It has a 'Prop' box, but not a RX band, RX freq, or a SAT field. I ended up using TQSL to create a single QSO file to upload. Still unsure if I did it all correctly. The QSO is there, but no match yet. (He does LotW, but did he upload yet?)

Did your ADI file contain at least the following 7 fields:

CALL
QSO_DATE
TIME_ON
BAND
MODE
PROP_MODE (this must be SAT)
SAT_NAME (from the list at the bottom of https://p1k.arrl.org/lotw/faq for this field)

Other fields like FREQ, FREQ_RX, and BAND_RX are optional, but may be good to include in your QSO records.  Then your LOTW uploads will have all of the frequency/band information for each contact.

Download this PDF as a good reference for uploading satellite QSOs to LOTW:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/LoTW%20Instructions/N5JB.pdf

Quote

So... going back to my original post, I 'have a clue' now.   Grin The HT in the shack with a small antenna (CJU) does work for receive, given a good pass, at least. Would it work equally as well on a UHF uplink bird, only time will tell. Would my 2m HEAR well on a 2m downlink bird... I still need to try listening for VO-52; been busy. Do I want to get an all mode rig for UHF, yes I do... do I want to put antennas up outside, yes I do. But both are a funds dependent project. Just have to see what the future brings, but it sounds like something I'd eventually like to do. - But for now, I will probably continue to have a little fun with the HT and SO-50 and let it inspire little projects here and there; antennas, preamps, headphones, and whatever gizmo aids come along. Was definitely worth the time and investment so far.

Good luck, and 73!

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Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2013, 09:13:34 AM »

I don't think the Baofeng radio is capable of cross-band, full-duplex operation.  Even if it has two VFOs on the display, I don't think the radio was designed for that.  

How did you sound on the recording the other station sent you?  If you were only using the HT and no external amplifier to increase your transmit power, you're doing fine with just the power out of that HT.

I wasn't transmitting on the HT... I was transmitting on my TR-751A 2m allmode hooked to a 2m Squalo mounted about 5 feet above the peak on the end of the house.

The recording was fine... I sounded a little more hick than I remember  Roll Eyes, but good copy on his end.

Quote
If you are looking for a preamp, you might want to consider the broadband preamp AMSAT has on sale:

It comes assembled, works for 2m and 70cm, just don't transmit into it.  

OH... I didn't realize it was good for both 2m & 440... that is a definite plus. But how not to transmit into it, hmmmm... have to think that one over.

Quote
Download this PDF as a good reference for uploading satellite QSOs to LOTW:

Yep, I was reading that handout earlier, thanks!  Now if I can just get back on the linear birds.... but no rush.  Grin

Thanks!!!
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2013, 10:32:30 AM »

Congrats, Kevin!

Ramsey used to sell a little RF activated switch kit that you could probably use, along with some relays, to switch the preamp in/out of the circuit.

Or you could use a "sequencer" type of circuit that switched it out when you key up.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2013, 10:43:40 AM »

The fact that you did not hear yourself could be caused by desense. It's a common problem that can be solved by separation of antennas, reducing power or using a diplexer at the antenna as a filter. I do wish everyone would set themselves up to work full duplex into the birds, it makes it easier on all concerned.
Congrats on the contact,
Michael, W4HIJ
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2013, 11:32:57 AM »

+1 on what Michael said.

It's not hard to do, and while it's "nice" to have on the FM birds, it's a MUST have on the linear birds!

Jim
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N4UFO
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Posts: 174




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« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2013, 05:49:23 PM »

Thanks for the nice remarks, guys. Yeah, RS-12/13 would have been about the only linear bird that you could get away with half duplex. The short time I had a 2m rig to do full duplex on it was sure weird though... hearing yourself I mean.

In my case, I would be relatively sure it's desense, Michael... and if not, then it's something squirrelly with the radio. I've caught it doing things I didn't program it to do, hearing weird noises that don't act like actual received noises, etc. I'm told these radios are SDRs... nothing more than essentially a dongle and a small processor; and not a particularly powerful one, one would assume. But I am definitely aiming for full duplex though.

I saw that RF switch, Jim. Only problem is, it costs twice as much as the preamp! That's like renting a safe deposit box for your penny jar. I try to program the HT so even if I do hit the PTT, it won't fire, but haven't tested if that actually works. Next problem is putting it inline. The antenna is mounted on the HT. I would have to mount the preamp in a box with a BNC jack to mount the antenna on... then run a cable to the radio. Maybe an Altoids tin and a jack from Radio Shack would do it...Just have to see how sturdy that would be. I assume it would run off a 9V battery. Just have to take time to get to it. I'm far more interested in finding a way to adapt the radio to a pair of regular headphones. The UV-3R I have has the single TSSR plug... I went by Radio Shack today, and found they have NO plugs of that type, only adapters. And none of the adapters are wired correctly; audio was distorted in one ear.

I am going to play around with the HT some more and work a few more passes before deciding on anything and spending more money. I have some other things to evaluate as well... like how well my 2m will receive. As I type this I am listening for VO-52 to come over the horizon with my 751 and squalo... WOW! Only 3-4 degrees above the horizon and I can already hear the beacon!!! Ten degrees and I can start to copy... made out 'The Dutch'.  Fifteen degrees and no problem copying... I eventually found someone in the passband 'making sounds tying to find their signal, but nothing I could make out. Definitely says to me, 'great QTH for sat station... get up some nice antennas!'

I put up a couple pics of my HT and rig on my QRZ page; scroll down to the bottom:  http://www.qrz.com/db/N4UFO

73, Kevin

Thanks again...
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