Summer 2008 Issue

SATELLITES

Back to the Present

By Keith Pugh, W5IU

Cheap circularly polarized L-band Yagis with white box full of up-converter and amps. Note the expensive rain cover on
the white box.

In the Spring 2008 issue of CQ VHF we reviewed the history of AMSAT. In this issue we will talk about where we are today in satellite availability, equipment ideas, and operating techniques. I will lean on experiences at this year’s Dayton Hamvention®, Ham-Com, and ARRL Field Day 2008.

Satellite Availability

Today we have a real mixture of the “old and the new.” We regularly use our oldest operational satellite, AO-07, and we listen to the seven new CubeSats (Cute-1.7, SEEDS, Delfi-C3, AAUSat-II, COMPASS-1, CanX-2, and CanX-6) and RS-30, Yubileiny. AO-07 was launched in 1974. The CubeSats were launched in April 2008, and RS-30 was launched in May 2008. Between these extremes we have AO-27, GO-32, SO-50, AO-51, the ISS, and VO-52, all of which still have active transponders.

Earlier this year one of the original Microsats, AO-16, was given a change in mission and was active for several months while it was in an eclipse-free period. It apparently has a temperature problem that has shown up now that it is undergoing eclipses again. Hopefully, we will see more use of it when it becomes eclipse-free again. It is also possible that we may be able to do the same “trick” on one or more of the other old Microsats and see some more use out of them.

The “birds” that have active transponders support the frequencies and modes listed in Table 1.

AO-51 continues to be a real “hoot” to work with its good signals and variety of modes and capabilities. At Ham-Com in Plano, Texas in June, it was in V/S and on Field Day 2008 it was in V/U and L/U simultaneously.

Complete details on these “birds” are available on the AMSAT web page: <http://www.amsat.org>. Details on the CubeSats are available on Ralph Wallio’s (WØRPK) web page: <http://showcase.netins.net/web/wallio/CubeSat.htm>. Details on RS-30 are still somewhat “sketchy.”

Dayton Hamvention®

AMSAT had an expanded presence at Dayton this year. An additional booth space was devoted to demonstrations and live discussions of the current AMSAT projects. Engineering team leaders of all of the projects were available for questions and discussions. Featured projects were: Eagle, Advanced Communications Package (ACP), ACP Ground Segment, SuitSat 2, and Phase 3E. ACP is planned to be a common payload for both the AMSAT Eagle and Intelsat Phase IV Ride Share projects.

Team Namaste, including both ACP and ACP Ground Segment, was introduced at Dayton. ACP is under the leadership of Matt, N2MJI, and the ACP Ground Segment is led by Michelle, W5NYV. This exciting new capability generated great interest. In particular, the Ground Segment is being planned as an affordable, transportable, microwave digital communications package that will be within the capabilities of the average ham to assemble and operate. Details are available at: <http://www.amsat.org/namaste>.
A working Software Defined Transponder (SDX) for SuitSat 2 was demonstrated at Dayton, along with other plans for SuitSat 2.

Presentations were given during the Saturday morning AMSAT Forum on all of these projects, along witha report on AMSAT’s general status and updates on AO-51 and AO-16 activity.

Finally, yours truly along with Mark Hammond, N8MH, and Roger Ley, WA9PZL, did the outdoor live satellite demos. This year we featured the simple Cheap LEO Antennas designed by Kent Britain, WA5VJB, and the Manual Positioner designed by me. All of this hardware was described in past issues of CQ VHF. All demos were done with either one or two Yaesu FT-817s running barefoot at 5 watts. We were able to do live demos on all three days through AO-51, AO-27, AO-07, and VO-52. For unknown reasons, we did not make it through SO-50. Mark succeeded in commanding AO-16 back on twice from the demo area, but it did not stay on due to the suspected temperature problem mentioned previously. We also communicated from the outdoor demo area through the SuitSat 2 SDX at the AMSAT booth inside the arena.

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