Any tips or suggestions on using a FT-897D with S0-50, AO-73 (Funcube) or any other ham satellites?
Since I live in an antenna restricted apartment, operation will be portable. One idea is to use some sort of stand like a pushup painter pole, tripod or a light stand to hold a tilted antenna. I have the Arrow dualband antenna. Would the ELK LP or the R&L Electronics dual band beam antenna be a better choice? I am not sure an easy way to rotate the antenna. Any suggestions on an Omni antenna? How would a tilted (10-15 degrees) dual band J-Pole work for fast, easy, and temporary setups?
Using an FT-897D would be similar to using an FT-857, FT-817, IC-7000, etc. on satellites. You can program memory channels or work split-VFO on SO-50, and you would either want to run software to control the radio and adjust the RX and TX frequencies or consider a all-mode receiver to go alongside the FT-897 for a full-duplex station capable of all modes on the satellites. The Arrow Yagi, Elk log periodic, or similar directional antennas - Yagis or log periodics - would be OK. Preamps might be needed for longer coax runs, or if you go with an omnidirectional antenna.
If you use a pushup pole or some other mast for a directional antenna, you could set it up so you could grab the pole/mast to move it. CO6CBF has had to do that to turn his antennas when working from his home in Cuba, since he didn't have a rotator to use. You would also want to point the antenna up 15-20 degrees above the horizon, so that you get the best performance on most passes (passes going directly over your head will be an issue, but only at that point in the pass - those happen infrequently).