Monday, October 20, 2014

My 2014 AMSAT Symposium Presentation

Thanks to Patrick, WD9EWK, my 2014 AMSAT Symposium Presentation is online for your viewing pleasure, torture, and enlightenment.

I hope to post more about my adventures in Baltimore, Maryland, operating from FM19.

The big question is... Will I receive an OSCAR for my performance?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

K5LBJ - School Station Contact

I just so happened to be the first satellite contact of the club station at K5LBJ north of Austin, Texas. I also was recording the pass.  I sent the club sponsor a note with the recording attached and he replied:

Thank you SO much for being our 1st independent satellite contact for K5LBJ!  Our school made an ISS contact back in 2008 using Austin Amateur Radio Club equipment, and in Spring of this year, we began building  a satellite tracking station.  Today, YOU were our first contact!!!  :)   We would definitely love a QSL card if you have one (and we can send one, too.)
And, I really appreciate the .mp3 file preserving our first few satellite contacts.  I hope to get students on the air more this semester, and a lot more in the Spring (when my Amateur Radio elective class is in session).
I am super excited, and can't wait to share this experience and mode with my students.
Ronny Risinger, KC5EES

Friday, September 26, 2014

What is a "Mad Ditter" or "Swisher?"

A Mad Ditter is a station who continuously sends a series of dits on the amateur radio satellites to find their own downlink signal on the transponder passband.  I'm not talking about one or two dits, or even three or four.  A Mad Ditter sends dits continuously so they can find their signal.  I don't know why, because a short dit or even saying "hello" should suffice.  I guess the mad ditters have some kind of hearing problem.  I'm not sure their ears are the problem.  I think it's the hollow space between.  Sometimes they are called "Swishers" because of the sound it makes when they "swish" across the frequency you're using.

On mode B satellites, or as more people call them today, mode U/V - UHF uplink, VHF downlink, it is necessary to tune your uplink frequency because it is the higher of the two bands.  That's the "true rule."  However, it's not an excuse to go wild and spin the dial while transmitting.  That causes you to drift across conversations in progress and generally annoy everyone.

The zig zag signal on this image below is the mad ditter spinning his transmitter's dial.  You can only imagine how ridiculous it sounds.

Here you see the Mad Ditter has ended his reign of terror and is now landing around 435.862.  He called a station who was CQ'ing.  The portable station (K8BL) tried to return the call, but the Mad Ditter disappeared as quickly as they arrived.  Silly!!!

Usually I can identify the Mad Ditter.  He stops ditting, and I go to that place.  He might give his callsign, then go off ditting again.

Friends don't let friends become Mad Ditters.

Friday, September 19, 2014

K8BL Portable - A great op!

Bob, K8BL, is on a trip up to Quebec.  He's operating from some rarer-heard grids on the amateur satellites.  I snagged him this morning in FN24/FN25.   Here's a little recording:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

73 on 73 Award Update

We're a little over a week into N8HM's 73 on 73 challenge.

I have not made as many contacts as I'd like. I'm sitting at 14 unique contacts/callsigns. I've heard about 4 more than I have been able to work, mostly due to the other stations not being very efficient operators on AO-73 and also because I have been playing with SDR.

This is an example of two stations I need to work but usually don't appear until bird is almost into the sun at night, right before the transponder switches to high-power beacon mode.

VA7MM and VE5SWL recording below.  Be warned there is an annoying, high pitched noise.  That is actually another QSO adjacent to these two Canadians.  The other QSO was in progress already when the Canadians showed up calling CQ very close!


SWL has been on CW, but doesn't seem to be hearing me at lower elevations (his.)

Admittedly I would have more stations if I was working the weekend daytime passes.  But I have a life.  I can't live on the radio.  I wouldn't I even if I had the time.

Monday, September 8, 2014

K8YSE/P in Montana DN68 & DN78 Gridline on FO-29

John, K8YSE is on a satellite rover expedition to fill in some unconfirmed grids on his son Doug, KD8CAO's grid map.

I actually confirmed DL79 for Doug earlier this summer, so John is handling all the ones to the west.  I believe another station is going to cover the remaining East Coast grids for Doug.

Here's a recording I made tonight of John working stations on FO-29:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

International Space Station (ISS) Slow Scan Television (SSTV) Reception 6-Sep-2014

Today I decided I would capture the two best morning passes of the ISS over my home and record the transmissions using my FUNcube Dongle Pro+.

You can see from the screenshot below that I was receiving the ISS SSTV and packet simultaneously.

For antenna I used a 7 element 2m yagi (horizontal polarization) on an azimuth and elevation rotor system.  My computer running SatPC32 software controlled the antenna positioning.

The transmissions were recorded by HDSDR and played into MMSSTV using Virtual Audio Cables.

From the 12:12 UTC pass (max 20 degree elevation):

From the 13:43 UTC pass (max 27 degree elevation):

It is likely I would have captured two images on the first pass except I was slicing time between listening to FO-29 and the ISS.

I thank the entire ARISS team and all those involved in getting SSTV back up and running on the ISS.  It has been a very fun morning for me.