Working the birds, in a snowy cold state....

Discussion in 'Satellite and Space Communications' started by KF0FQL, Sep 14, 2021.

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  1. KF0FQL

    KF0FQL Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's getting to be that time of year again in Minnesota, starting to think about what I am going to do for winter fun.

    I've thought about putting an Elk with a tv rotator up on the backside of my house, but i'm not sure how effective it's going to be considering my entire back lot is full of trees. So like right now, N-E-S, or S-E-N are pretty difficult if not impossible to do. I can do a reasonable amount of N-W, W-N... but south gets sketchy. I've also gotten alot of mixed messages as I don't have LMR400, and quite honestly that's a big $$ for a newbie that isn't sure the setup would even work.

    I've just gotten into linear, still very new. Been doing the FM birds for a while and love it. But i'm thinking about options for winter. I'd like to know what you all do in the winter when it's super cold? Do you still stand outside with your gear in your trunk and work the birds suffering a little bit of frostbite? Or do you hang it up?
  2. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I started out my space quest by building an AZEL tracker using old tv rotors, firmware is K3NG.
    Using my old 11ele 2M yagi with a 15ele 70cm yagi.
    Bought myself a 9100 for graduating from working life
    Use sat32pc with that for tracking & doppler
    It was a lot of fun building an using it.
    As for being outside in the cold... I fly RC planes with skis ... and learnt to use gloves with the sticks
    I suppose you could dress for that and wear thick mitts or gloves.
    We had a few -28degC nights here last couple winters and none of my setup seemed to care
    Although freezing rain buildup did cause poor swr
    but a handy broomstick and some diagnostic taps on the booms cleared that up
  3. K7WDO

    K7WDO Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Pacific Northwest is known for its frequent rain showers during the winter months so the notion of standing out in the rain holding powered electronics never really appealed to me. My satellite chasing got its start indoors so weather was never an issue. The antennas initially started out in the shack with me but eventually migrated outside to a dedicated tower.

    There's nothing that says you have to take the super-deluxe option from the get-go so you can just grow the setup as you experiment with what works and what can be improved. LMR400 is nice, but if you're on a budget and your coax run is short, you can take a less expensive option to start and upgrade later. I like your idea of a fixed elevation antenna with a TV rotor as inexpensive first step at a home install. I might go with a different antenna - the Elk is a nice portable antenna, but there never seemed to be a good way to mount it to a mast compared to other antennas like the M2 2M4 which uses a standard U-Bolt to clamp it to the boom.

    So I guess for the example, here's how it started.
    And here's how it's going.
    N8SAN and K4BAD like this.
  4. N4UFO

    N4UFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    The TV rotor idea... That's how I started out. I even built my own antennas out of PVC and copper. Not the arrangement I would use today if I had it to do over, but it worked none-the-less. Could have really used a proper preamp on UHF and better low loss feedline out to it. As for the trees... the leaves fall off in winter! Shouldn't be a problem. In the spring, get the Elk back out and go adventuring again.

    I can give links to plans on the antenna building, recommend some smaller antennas or use your ELK and bring it down in the spring to operate portable again. However, if you do decide to add a preamp, it's very hard to do that with an Elk and a single feedline. And you don't want too much gain on the antennas as you don't want the beam width to be overly narrow. That will hurt you for those times when the bird is flying above 45 degrees. Three elements on 2m and 5 on uhf should be enough.

    sat antenna.JPG

    K3RRR has a great webpage on automating TV rotor tracking you might find very interesting:

    73 & GL, Kevin N4UFO
    KA0HCP likes this.
  5. AA0CW

    AA0CW XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I stand outside in the snow.
  6. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Trees will not totally block reception.

    As described elsewhere, a TV rotor with the antenna tilted up about 15 degrees will get you close to 85-90% of passes. And those that are high angle are passing quickly to lower angles.

    Keep your coax as short as possible!

    Scrounge better coax, save your pennies, or even consider using high quality Quad shielded RG-6 like DXE sells as a possibility.

    Jump in, you have to start somewhere! b.
    AK5B, KF0FQL and WD4ELG like this.
  7. KF0FQL

    KF0FQL Ham Member QRZ Page

    How high would I reasonably need to get that antenna?

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