Today (19/6/22) was my first attempt of using satellites put in place for amateur radio. Having read up and joined Amsat (a very modest fee for quality content!) I targeted AO-91 as my first satellite.
I could see there was at least a possible chance of making a contact at 09:14 BST, so I set out with the Arrow II 146/437-10WBP 2m/70cm antenna and my TH-D7 hand-held.
Having got the antenna built and radio ready (I pre-programmed the optimal tuning in the shack) I setup a comfortable postion to operate from.
I made sure i was ‘aligned’ to the sky with a real magnetic north compass to ensure that I would stand the best chance of being able to hear the satellite as it came over on its relatively low and short pass.
I was astounded that with pointing the antenna on frequency I was soon hearing QSOs from Italy and the Netherlands via the satellitle on 2m and 70cms. As I was about to try calling my THD7 stopped working ! In a rush I got the THD7 plugged into the Bongo power and could continue to receive, but was unable to complete a QSO this time.
Whilst the battery had got the better of me making a QSO, I was really happy that the antenna and receiver worked and even on a ‘low’ short pass I was able to hear QSO’s. I was amazed at how quickly people gave callsigns and grid locations – there was little time more for anything more – I can see why people recommend recording contacts on satellitle and make the log book after.
I headed back to the shack and tried the AA battery pack that came with the THD7, this also failed to power the radio, so I had to engineer a solution ! I found a ‘spare’ connector from an adaptor set and ‘butchered’ that to make a DC power supply from the batteries I usually use on the IC705, these would be more than enough power for the THD7, even with the squelch fully open, to operate receive and transmit for the times the satellites came over.
Whilst my first attempt at satellites didnt result in a QSO I gained valuable experience and could confirm my antenna and transceiver worked correctly. Whilst the in-built battery was bad, and replacements unreliable/dangerous, I was able to manufacture a replacement. I’ve since ordered a ‘cheap’ Digital voice recorder and headset for QSO’s – I think I have a splittler cable, but will find out when the digital recorder arrives how to drive both headphones and recorder.
In all I was very happy to go from 0 experience, to at least listening, which is pretty much what I done on all the bands in the past anyway, so was very happy to make my first steps in amateur radio satellite communication.