Why can't I work satellites?

Discussion in 'Satellite and Space Communications' started by KJ4PSU, Nov 18, 2009.

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  1. KJ4PSU

    KJ4PSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm assuming true north and south since the HRD Satellite Tracking software does not make a distinction. Either way, I waved that antenna all over the southern sky yesterday as it made its pass trying to aquire the signal. I have several good passes of different birds (ao-27, so-50, uo-14, so-35, so-67) throughout the day today. I'm going to see if I can make contact with these today, and if not, I guess its back to the drawing board. Any suggestions from you guys? Yall have been very helpful by the way. I'm new to ham radio and all the hams have been extremely helpful.
  2. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I haven't tried using HRD's software yet, but you might want to verify that you're getting accurate information. This is fairly easy to do - on the AMSAT website, there is a tool that will give you accurate pass predictions for your location. I'd run it and make sure that you are getting similar results from your tracking software. I know that in the past, I've managed to screw up all configurable parameters so my predictions were off by a country mile. After a few days of looking for satellites that weren't there, I generally found something I messed up. I think the last time, it was using orbital parameters that were 2 years old, or entering my coordinates incorrectly.

    It's been a while, but I've been able to hear O51 on a handheld from inside a building, so I don't think it's that weak.
  3. KJ4PSU

    KJ4PSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    WELL! I am pretty sure that my hombrew beam now works. I got on my tracking software and looked for a sat that would be making a pass pretty soon. I found the NOAA-19 sat and pointed my beam at it and was able to hear whatever info it was sending down. Not sure what it was, just a bunch of beeping( until I can figure out what it is). I confirmed that it worked by tuning my jpole that is 20' off the ground to the frequency and was able to hear it. The true test will be when a fm repeater sat rolls around and I can work it succesfully. Maybe it is starting to look up for me!
  4. KJ4PSU

    KJ4PSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    SUCCESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My handheld yagi works! I did not make any QSO's but was able to hear the AO-27 bird as it made a pass over my QTH today. Thanks for all you guys help and I officially have the bug!
  5. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Congrats Will!

    I found it very hard to get a QSO due to so many people but is certainly very fun. The better your antenna the longer and lower you will hear the bird. If you want to schedule a QSO I think that may be the best way to work someone initially. I can get out this weekend. Let me know.

  6. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    You should be able to hear AO-27 or AO-51 full quieting for at least several minutes if you have at least a 45° pass, but you have to remember to re-tune the receiver to compensate for the Doppler shift. (Above the published frequency as the satellite approaches, dead on if it's over head, and then lower in frequency as it fades back to the horizon.

    Listen a few more times, to get a good sense of how others are working the birds. (This is where a Yagi may actually be detrimental. An omnidirectional antenna, when first starting out, will allow you to hear the birds, and become accustomed to the Doppler adjustments, without having to worry about aiming the antenna.)

    Good luck, and enjoy working the birds.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  7. N2MTB

    N2MTB Ham Member QRZ Page

    AO 51

    I made my first AO51 contact yesterday...from phoenix,az to north carolina...79 degree elev..
  8. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Monitor first, and listen, Listen, LISTEN.
    But check the AMSAT site for the SCHEDULE for AO-51 (aka "ECHO.") It's not always in mode V/U. If the mode has been scheduled to use mode V/L, you will NEVER hear it on 70 cm. (The downlink will be on the 23 cm band!)

    I've easily worked AO-51 in mode V/U (2 M up, 70 cm down) with even a pair of handhelds and aftermarket H-T (Diamond) antennas, so you should be able to work the bird (and others) if they are operating a compatible mode.

    Predictions are easily obtained at:


    You have to input your Lat/Lon (obtained from a GPS or given at the QRZ web site for your location) and then bookmark the resulting page so yopu can return to that page; then select "RAdio Amateur Satellites."
    There are MANY sats listed; both functional and non-functional, and you willhave to cross-referencve the names with the AMSAT site for some (i.e., AO-51 is listed as "Echo,") but the Heavens Above site has never been off bu a few seconds on predicted passes in my experience.

    Good luck, and keep up informed of your progress and success!
  9. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't always use instruments like a compass or even software indicating specific Az-El information to acquire my target in most cases.

    Keep in mind "prediction" software is just that - A prediction. I simply use any prediction software as an "alarm system" which serves to inform me a bird is about to fly into my area.

    Sometimes, I simply aim my antenna for a maximum peak signal in my receiver. After all, that's what really counts anyways. This can be accomplished in a portable station by "sweeping" the Yagi into the general area the satellite is "supposed" to be located until a maximum peak is realized on the S-scale. Then you merely "follow the signal" by carefully watching the S-meter scale and just let the actual signal strength reading be your guide.

    So, you can put the compass, protractor, geometry set and any tracking software away at this point because you wont be needing it in the reality of things.

    I do admit, when operating a portable setup, it sometimes helps to have 3 hands and a second pair of eyes.

    My point is, the less instrumentation and less distractions used to acquire your target in the process, the less hands and least amount of eyes you will need to make a successful contact, and thus the better your resulting experience will be.

    When "portable" I usually place one hand on the VFO to adjust the radio accommodating for Doppler shift, a second hand is placed at the RX/TX function of the radio equipment, and a third hand is used to "sweep" the Yagi antenna when following the right ascension / declination of the satellite.

    I suppose you can combine hand number #1 for functions #1 and #2 at the same time, but not always. :p

    Hope that helps.

    My Best,
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
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