My first satellite worked. SO-50

I started with AO-51 at 9:23, but I didn’t hear it at all. I am following the ‘if you can’t hear it, don’t transmit’ rule, but I think no one was on it. (over the ocean / day after field day) Next time I will try at least once to transmit. At 9:30 I gave up on the low AO-51 pass and moved on to the prime 53 degree SO-50 pass.

SO-50Now there is a bit of a trick to the SO-50 and that is its 10 minute timer. You need to turn the transmitter on by sending a tone for 2 seconds to the satellite. I expected that to have been done by many other hams working the bird as it passed. I didn’t hear much on the downlink until another station keyed up on the uplink frequency with the PL of 74.4. This turns the timer on. You can clearly hear it in my recording as it goes just about full quiet and XE2BHL calls out.

Needless to say, I’m stoked! There is a lot of things that go into tracking and contacting a satellite and any one of a number of issues can prevent you from hearing anything. I had an un-tuned antenna, a time problem (UTC -8 instead of -7), and a polarity issue (holding the antenna flat instead of upright). Finally hearing both SO-50 and AO-51 at Field Day made me a lot more confident in what I was doing.

Things I learned:
Don’t assume a ton of people will be on the satellite you’re working.
Listen first THEN transmit
AND when nothing is heard at all transmit at least once :p
Callsign in phonetics! Kilo India Six India Uniform Charlie
Delta Mike One Three (see grid squares)
Keep at it!

lego mp3 holder thingyI had to get clever and figure out a way to use my mp3 player / voice recorder (with no mic input) to record sounds off my hand held FT-60 transceiver. As you can see on the right, I still play with legos. :D It’s my lego mp3 holder thingy. That’s an earbud strapped to the small mic hole on my Creative mp3 player. It’s surprisingly not that bad! I was able to place it on the front seat of the car while I was outside yeilding my antenna around. This kept a lot of the ambient noise down and I was able to record my very first satellite QSO!

SO-50 6/25/2007 9:37PM PST – XE2BHL – DM12 – Jose in Tijuana, Mexico
KI6IUC first satellite contact – MP3

About The Author


Hardware hacker, technology integrator, and maker. He enjoys staring blankly at code, voiding the warranty, and touching things in the back. When not doing that he is building and racing a rally car.

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06 2007

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  1. Andrew #

    I’ll never forget my first sat QSO, via UO-14 back in 2000 or 2001… managed to hit it with 500mW on my old Yaesu VX-1R HT with a Pryme rat-tail, and got a guy at JPL in Pasadena, CA from a parking garage rooftop in Ann Arbor, MI… I still remember my grid square from back then… Echo November Eight Two. =P

    UO-14 appears to have gone non-operational in 2003… too bad.


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