After I took the hexbeam down, sanded it, painted it and packed it away, I still had a G450 rotor on my hands, so I thought I would try my hand at satellite operation. Over last weekend, I literally lashed together a satellite station — the rotor platform is held to the roof with taut line hitches.
Our house isn’t ideally situated for satellite operation — particularly to the south where some tall pine trees blot out the sky, but in the other directions, the antenna can see down to about ten or fifteen degrees above the horizon.
I re-used the shelf that held the rotor to the base of the hex beam mast plus a bit of angle iron and some wood to make a base. The metal roof of the house is held down with bolts, so it wasn’t hard to find some anchoring points. The mast is some about two inch PVC and it is topped with an arrow-2 antenna that I had previously used for field work.
Looking at the arrow-2 documentation, one important item to note is that while the antenna can handle a maximum of 10W through its duplexer, if you feed each side of the antenna (2m and 70cm) directly without the duplexer in line, it will handle 150W. The best I can manage is 100W on 2m and while I certainly have no intention of radiating that much power, it does give a little more latitude than a handheld’s 5W.
There is obviously no elevation rotor, so I had to make my best guess and tilted it at about 30 degrees, which should give me a shot at satellites that hang in the sky long enough for me to twist all the knobs as needed.
The K3 has been packed up for possible use in ARRL field day, which leaves the Kenwood B2000 in charge. It has ports dedicated to 70cm and 2m, and it is also serving as my HF station. The PC is a 14-year old Panasonic Toughbook, which is an old friend of the B2000, from the days when they were the core of my mobile station. On the software side, I am running SatPC32, a relic, but it works.
I’ve had a couple hours behind the controls so far, and I have it mostly working. I’ve heard a bunch of satellites go by tuning in on either their CW beacons or in the case of Foxes 1B and 1D, on their voice beacons. I have managed to send CW up and back to a few of the Chinese XW-series satellites and on one pass, I heard SSB on one of them, but didn’t tune it quickly enough.
Earlier in the day, I had heard ZS2ZA calling CQ on one of the Fox-series FM-birds and had tried to reply. I realized after the pass that although my Elecraft boom mike fits the Kenwood connector, I was not putting any audio into the rig through the mike port. I’ve reverted to a stock PTT mike, so hopefully I will work some folks in South Africa on some subsequent shared pass.