Satellite Interlude: ISS and Fox1A

IMG_20160528_210429Last weekend was Memorial Day in the US, and I spent it with friends camping at Chain Of Lake State Park in Indiana. I lugged along my FT817 and VX8R and Ben (NN9S) also brought some ham equipment including his Arrow-II antenna. The camp site was a short walk from a large field, which afforded a good view of the sky, with a tree lines down around 10 degrees elevation from the far side of the field. We had some help from a couple hams-in-training interested in pinging the ISS with an APRS beacon and in having a voice QSO via Fox1A.

We bypassed the duplexer and plugged Ben’s VX7R into the 70cm BNC , and my VX8GR into the 2m BNC.  Ben had followed the recommendations in AMSAT’s Fox1A free issue, with suggested uplink frequencies for approach, overhead, and departing phases of the encounter. I set the downlink squelch wide open.

Our conversation stopped suddenly when the squelch static was replaced briefly with silence. We wondered, had the HT shut off or lost connection? No, it was just the “full quieting” of the FM signal being captured. A moment later, they were surprised to hear the Fox1A voice beacon, which is a child’s voice announcing “This is amateur radio satellite Fox1.”

We heard a few calls on the pass and worked one, W4DTA:

As for the international space station, we set up the VX8GR for APRS operation and set the routing to “ARISS”. When the station flew over, we started hearing frequent APRS bursts and beeps indicating that valid packets has been received and decoded. We shot off a few of our own packets as well during gaps. After the pass, we sat down and reviewed the logged packets, which included NY3J (PA), WB3U (PA), N3FCX(PA) W4TBD (VA), K1WY (CT), and AA5PK (TX).

 

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