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Author Topic: Which Radio for the Easy Sats?  (Read 10635 times)
K6LCS
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« on: June 19, 2012, 02:22:33 PM »

DISCLAIMER: There are many antennas, radios, satellite tracking programs, et al out there that are being used to successfully work the FM ham satellites. What I "promote" on my sites and in my presentations are items that I have purchased and/or use and have personal experience with, and know are currently supported by their distributors. Also - remember where I am coming from: keeping it simple, using equipment many hams already own. "Simple" to me means being able to walk outside with an antenna in one hand and a HT in the other - and successfully work the FM satellites.

OK - with that out of the way, let's talk about radios.

Although it is preferable to work the FM sats in full-duplex mode (where you can hear the downlink while keying your mic), only one currently-manufactured HT does that well in our VHF/UHF mode well: the Kenwood TH-D72a. The fulll-duplex capability of the Alinco DJ-G7T looked promising - but In V/U mode, its sub-band receiver sensitivity is gruesome, and has not been improved even with firmware updates.

If you desire to work true, full-duplex, you can also use a second radio in your setup. Or a scanner for receiving.

But in hundreds of contacts and scores of demos and presentations in front of live audiences the past few years, I have been using the Yaesu FT-60R very successfully. It is NOT a full-duplex HT. BUT you can program "split frequencies" in one memory: You can program 440 receive and 2M transmit in a single memory location. Programming charts for the FM sats are over at http://www.work-sat.com

I own too many HTs. (There ... I said it. First step in the "HT addiction" recovery process ... ) Most retail for more than the FT-60R. But the FT-60R is a GREAT value for anyone looking for a solid 2M/440 handheld. The FT-60R debuted at Dayton in 2004. It was a great bargain then - and remains so today. Among its features ...

-1,000 memories
-receives (essentially) 108mHz to a gig
-large, legible display
-alphanumeric channel labeling
-easy to manually program (one-page cheat sheet available)
-bulletproof case design*
-strongest belt clip of any ham HT chassis on the market
-great receive audio

... as well as a unique battery setup: You can populate the optional FBA-25 AA case with either NiMH cells or alkalines, and have full TX power available (if you really need it).

Side note on batteries: I have been using Maha's 2700mAH NiMH AA cells in a pair of FBA-25 cases - with one of Maha's intelligent AA cell chargers. A great combination. Properly maintained, I should achieve about 700 complete discharge-charge cycles from them. I am amused at the proclamation by Sanyo that their eneloop AA NiMH cells can be charged "1500" times - which is contrary to most scientific literature regarding the capabilities of consumer-grade NiMH cells. (A little discrepancy between the scientific community and marketing people, I guess ... )

There are some wonderful, long-discontinued full-duplex HTs that many are using for the sats, like the Icom IC-W32a, Kenwood TH-D7 and TH-D79, and Yaesu's FT-470/FT-51/FT-530 models.

SO ... You do not have to go out and purchase the 'D72a for $460 to successfully work the FM satellites. (Heck, for the price of that HT, you can purchase TWO Yaesu FT-60R radios AND an Arrow 146/437-10 Satellite Antenna  - AND have plenty of change! (Not to demean the 'D72 - it has integrated GPS/APRS and a LOT more features ... )

BOTTOM LINE: For the VHF/UHF FM voice birds, just improve your stock antennas on HTs you probably already have, and get working the birds!

Clint K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
K6LCS
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2012, 04:37:23 PM »

SUMMARIZING -

1. It is preferable to work the FM sats in full-duplex mode (where you can hear the downlink while keying your mic).

2. Only one currently-manufactured HT does that well in our VHF/UHF mode well: the Kenwood TH-D72a.

3. A second radio/scanner/receiver can be used to complete a "full-duplex" station!

4. There are some wonderful, long-discontinued full-duplex HTs that many are using for the sats, like the Icom IC-W32a, Kenwood TH-D7 and TH-D79, and Yaesu's FT-470/FT-51/FT-530 models.

Clint K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
KG4RUL
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 12:57:50 PM »

I have worked FM sats using an iCOM T2 on 2M and an Alinco DJ-40 (really excellent receiver) for 70CM using an Arrow antenna on a camera tripod.  I have even gotten a few contacts by simply holding the radios with their antennas parallel to the hood of the car for a reflector.
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KC9WEK
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 03:30:46 PM »

Are you able to point a yagi  at the satellite on the given freq and at least listen to it? I have  both mobile and a handheld, while I recently built a UHF yagi, should I be able to listen?
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K6LCS
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012, 03:42:27 PM »

>> ... Are you able to point a yagi  at the satellite on the given freq and at least listen to it?

On the east and west coasts of the US, there's almost ALWAYS traffic on the FM sats (AO-27, SO-50, and the IISS/packet).

See details for working them at ... http://www.work-sat.com

>> ... I have  both mobile and a handheld, while I recently built a UHF yagi, should I be able to listen?

The handheld and the Yagi are a GREAT combination to work 'em! Details at that Web site!

Clint K6LCS
909-241-7666
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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
KC9WEK
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2012, 05:53:03 AM »

Thanks for the info, checked it out and am totally excited. I monitored the SO-50 while it passed over head at my location in Northern Illinois at about 7:40 or so this AM. I called out and made a contact, I heard a response to my call sign but sadly I could not hear them clearly. Oh and this was with my mobile at 50w and an omni directional. Still excited though.

73's
KC9WEK
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