Whiskey Foxtrot Seven Tango

Satellite operating improvements

Satellite operating improvements

There has to be a better way than the way I am doing it. Here’s some of the topics I wanted to improve upon.

  • Not calling on top of anyone else
  • Better recording
  • Simplification

Not calling on top of anyone else is key to actually making a contact through the FM LEOs like SO-50. I had started following other sat ops on twitter (the only thing it seems to be good for) and one of the main complaints they had was the lid-ish operation where people just call and call without pause. I am sure I have done exactly that in my excitement. Beyond this, repeaters either on a hill or in space support single calls at at time (until someone decides to but some TDM digital birds up there…hopefully?) Since I was running half-duplex, e.g. one radio, I was determined to not be one of those lids anymore. I have a Yaesu VX-2 sitting around, so I pressed it into duty as my second rig for RX, and will use the VX-7R for TX.

Works surprisingly well when paired with headphones. I can hear when others are calling, and I can hear when I am actually in the clear because I hear myself in the downlink. In fact, using two radios has helped me go from having marginal success to having consistent success through SO-50 satellite.

Better recording was another issue I tackled. I was juggling devices/wires in an ad hoc attempt to record my previous attempts. I am still juggling wires, but this time I am splitting the RX audio between headphones and a speaker. The speaker is in a little cardboard box, and I tuck my iPhone headset microphone doohicky under a rubber band against the speaker. I am still using the iPhone for tracking and recording, but I don’t need to keep the iPhone headset up around my mouth. Full duplex operation, headphone for me, speaker for recording. Next thing will be to get a little audio block for the iPhone and plug audio directly in. Hello Amazon.

Simplification is still the goal. I am not good at remembering calls, waving the antenna around and moving the dial on either my TX or RX rig (depending upon the bird) between pre-programmed frequencies to accommodate for doppler. I am better, but not quite there. At least I can hear when the “channel’ is busy to avoid adding to the mess that is SO-50.


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