I’ve been wanting to do this for many years, and finally made the jump with rotator and controller purchase.
Rig is Scored an Icom-9700 on QTH’s marketplace I scored, used.
The Az/El Controller is Green Heron Engineering (w/ USB connections to Mac) and Az/El Rotator is AlphaSpid Mini (I thought this one was more robust and more powerful than the Yaesu).
Antenna the M2 Leo Pack uhf/vhf on rotator and speaker tripod.
The Rotator is on a speaker tripod I got at a second-hand shop last year- it looked useful… I set up in the front lawn where I can watch it turn and point.
It requires two 4-conductor wires for the motor, and two coax lines, one each for UHF/VHF. I will eventually mount this on my tower when I get that up.
I have 50’ of cable run from my desk for work out the window to the tripod and rotator; might have some signal loss.
This setup now at my work desk means I can get some actual work done between passes and can wait for the passes indoors with a cup of coffee in one hand… … 😊
The Satellite tracking program that auto-tunes/CAT controls the FT-847 for uplink/downlink band/frequency/mode and adjusts for Doppler: “MacDoppler” (runs on a Mac; has a 2D view and 3D globe view).
Great program; I have it for many years to learn about satellites. This program sets everything automatically per the specific sat.
I determine and verify the actual Azimuth setting with the compass of my iPhone, and the Elevation (Tilt) with the level in the iPhone.
On my wish list are:
Pre-Amps at the antenna Original Broadband Satellite RX Preamp – AMSAT but needs protection- cannot transmit through– you will blow it out… And, not available now.
Filters A Simple Desense Filter for Mode-J Satellites – AMSAT Doing this now with a duplexer…
I have listened to the downlink on the SRD Duo and PC with waterfall and separate antenna, and while transmitting on the various uplinks, I see a lot of harmonics very close to the downlinks. Filters and ‘Desense’ may help.
The contacts/action are fast-paced, but orderly.
You wait for the pass/sat to come into range (some are long shots on the horizon, some are directly overhead, some in-between).
You call CQ with call sign and grid sq (Fox Nancy 31 here in PP) or answer a call, generally when sat is within 1,000 mile or closer you may start to hear activity. Or not…. Exchange your call sign and grid square if you can get between the exchanges when finished, maybe a quick hello if the sat pass is not too busy on a weekday.
The window of opportunity is over in +/- 5-6 minutes. There is some adjustment on the fly of frequency to tune someone in despite the automatic doppler adjustment from the software.
The fast pace elevates the heart rate up a bit.
The AMSAT OSCAR Satellite Status page lets you know what sat is active; I find myself contributing to this page a lot.
I have made a contact on the ISS repeater when active, and many other sats, but have not talked transatlantic (i.e., when RS-44 passes, at 800 miles up. Huge footprint, that one.)
Wattage needed is low, although I have varied my power when I thought I needed it.
I follow a few hams in Europe on Twitter, and they are making the trip into the US; further research and a shout-out with questions will be needed.
Some sats have several channels; others have just one. Some also have a beacon you can hear to verify you found it; it’s really exciting to hear them ‘from the ether”.
I have heard the squeal of the weather sats; decoding NOAA-18 with WeFAX/weather fax is also next. Military sats may also be on the list.
FT-4 has been used to make contacts; more research needed.
Cool grid square map to track contacts I have started: New and Improved GridMaster Map – KE4AL (wordpress.com)
And there you have it! That brings you up-to-date on the sat station progress here in Lake Snow-Be-Gone.