page has received
since October 13 1999
ATTENTION! Satellite on Rails
NEW! FM satellite Users Forums. There are two FM
satellite forums. The Egroups fm-satellite
mailing list/web forum, run by myself (alternate link to subscribe via email), and the FM Easysat Forum, which is a web based message board, run by Drew,
KO4MA. Discuss FM satellite operation with other users!
SO-35 Parrot - Tips and
techniques for working SO-35's unique parrot (simplex) repeater
of Doppler Shift - Looking
at satellite Doppler shift in more detail.
for SWLs - You don't need
a licence to share in the excitement of satellite activities!
an antenna for portable Mode B and Mode J operation.
the Easy Sats Down Under -
Getting on satellites may be easier than you think!
Satiquette - Be a courteous satellite operator. Please read
before transmitting on the satellites!
your first satellite! (Updated
October 2004 for AO-51) - Original version
VK RailSat Challenge.
No Longer Operational - My
been de-orbited and returned to Earth
Below is my journal of satellite operations,
from my first SO-35 QSO to the current date. To download a .MP3
recording of satellite activity, click on the date of interest.
Please note that the MP3 files are approximately 1/2 - 1 MB in
size each. To save diskspace on the qsl.net server, only recent
MP3 recordings will be mirrored there. Older MP3s will continue
to be available from the quest.apana.org.au site, and hyperlinks
have been altered to point to the correct sites.
- 11 Sep 1999. - First attempt to contact satellite
from home QTH. No signals were heard. This was due to a last minute
change of frequencies which I was unaware of at the time.
- 12 Sep 1999. - Second attempt to contact SUNSAT
from the station. Several contacts in VK2, 3 and 5 were made, with VK4
and ZL being heard. Signals were better than S9 + 20 on both uplink and
downlink on handheld equipment. These excellent results show good
promise for train and tram operation.
- 18 Sep 1999. - First tram mobile attempt. No
signals from SUNSAT were observed on either the portable gear or the
station logger at the base QTH, which was monitoring the downlink. MP3
files from the station logger will be available for download here after
- 19 Sep 1999. - Second attempt at tram mobile
operation. For a brief period at 02:44 UTC, contact was possible with
VK6 from the tram, though there was insufficient time to exchange
callsigns and reports before losing the satellite. At 02:47, it was
decided to call off the attempt, with only a minute of the pass
remaining. VK6ZKO from Perth was worked briefly from outside the tram
before the pass concluded. Unfortunately, no .MP3 of the pass this
time. The scanner which is being used for logging appeared to be
suffering overload from pagers and the VK3RCW beacon, which caused
desense on the downlink. A 2 way QSO and subsequent QSL remains
elusive. The main problems on this pass appeared to be attenuation and
noise from the tram on the 2m downlink frequency. The uplink from the
tram seemed to be accessing the satellite's transponder with ease.
- 25 Sep 1999. - Tram mobile
operation was again attempted, but no contacts were made. I could
access either the uplink or downlink, but not both at the same time. I
suspect the high pass combined with the orientation of the tram at the
time adversely affected the signals. The audio log of this pass was
kindly provided by Brett, VK3ZBN in December 1999.
- 26 Sep 1999. - Attempted to work
this pass from the home QTH, but no success. Several stations heard on
the downlink, as can be evidenced by the accompanying MP3 audio. In any
case, portable antennas work better than the main omni, except at very
low elevations, especially on 70cm (which is to expected, as my antenna
has a low angle of radiation). If you listen very carefully, you may
hear me putting out a call or two at the very end of the recording.
- 2 Oct 1999. - Success at last!
After considerable planning of both the tram mobile sked and the
monitor/audio logging in the shack, the first QSO via an amateur
satellite from a tram was successfully conducted with Jack, VK3WWW and
recorded during this pass. A second QSO was conducted with Lionel,
VK3NM a few minutes later. Both QSO's can be heard in the audio log. A
.WAV of the first
QSO with VK3WWW can be downloaded here as well.
Apologies to those stations who tried to make contact but didn't
succeed, the noise on the downlink was severe and much of the traffic
on the transponder was missed as a result. QSL cards are now available.
The two stations contacted, as well as any amateur, scanner user or SWL
who submits a reception report with at least time/date, stations heard
(my call is VK3JED) and a signal report can obtain a QSL by direct
mail. For those without access to a current callbook, please email your report to me and I'll give you the address to send your
- 3 Oct 1999 - This pass was worked
using a pair of handhelds at the home QTH. Several stations were
worked, including 2 ZL stations and a few locals. Signals were mostly
strong, with a slight dip in strength as the satellite passed almost
directly overhead. Activity was a bit quiet overall, perhaps due to the
slightly earlier pass time and being a Sunday.
- 9 Oct 1999 - No scheduled pass over VK due to
special event in the USA utilising 3 passes.
- 10 Oct 999 - SUNSAT was again worked, this time
during the Radio on Rails contest. Two stations were worked while I was
waiting for a train at Victoria Park, a few km NE of Melbourne. Shortly
afterwards, the first satellite contact from a train was made with
Chris, VK3JEG while the train passed through Collingwood. Further
attempts to work SUNSAT were unsuccessful due to pager interference on
the downlink and several small dogpiles on the satellite. Apologies for
the lack of audio for this pass, due to my participation in Radio on
Rails and the scanner being in use, a recording could not be made. If
anyone has a recording of this pass, a copy would be appreciated,
either in digital format or plain old tape.
- 15 Oct 1999 - A new goal is set, the VK RailSat Challenge! The aim is to work from a train in VK3 (Melbourne) to
another train in VK6 (Perth) via a satellite.
- 16 and 17 Oct 1999 - No passes scheduled over VK.
- 23 Oct 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 24 Oct 1999 - The transponder didn't appear to be
active for the scheduled pass. One station reported hearing SUNSAT on
its 2.4 GHz downlink, but nothing was heard on 145.825. Murphy at his
best, which means the attempt to contact ZL from a train, as well as
work from train to train/tram/bus has been postponed.
- 30 Oct 1999 - The best pass to date
for general operation. All states of Australia were heard, with the
sole exception of VK8. Signals were good, as to be expected. Due to a
busy period, operation was from the home QTH, and rail operation isn't
expected to resume until mid - late November (The VK6s reading this
have a few more weeks to prepare! :) ). Apologies for the poor audio
quality at the start of the pass. I used a different receiver for the
audio log, to avoid the interference that affects the scanner. It seems
the receiver is a few kHz low in frequency, which when combined with
the Doppler shift of the satellite, caused poor reception for the first
half of the pass. Once the Doppler fell to zero (and later went
negative), the audio improved 100 percent. Time for a quick tweak... An
observation made during this pass was that even though being portable
(meaning that I'm able to adjust my antenna orientation to suit the
satellite), the uplink was difficult to access while the satellite was
near maximum elevation, but very easy to access at low elevations.
- 31 Oct 1999 - As anticipated, I was in Ballarat,
120km W of Melbourne during this pass. The pass was worked while
portable at the Ballarat Hamfest, with one SWL and a Novice Limited
looking on. The pass itself was a low angled pass over Perth, with only
about 12 degrees elevation in the Melbourne area. Despite the > 2200
km range from Ballarat to the bird, several VK3s, 2 VK6s and a VK5 were
worked with signals up to 5x9. This pass has probably set the dubious
record of the shortest SUNSAT contact of a mere 200 metres (via a 5000+
km total path!) to Lionel, VK3NM who was parked in a nearby car park.
And the shortest SWL monitoring was, of course, the listeners next to
me, one of whom listened to the pass on his own 2 metre handheld. This
pass proved that even with handheld equipment, it is still possible to
contact SUNSAT at distances up to around 3000 km (by which time it's
practically on the horizon anyway).
- 6 Nov 1999 - This pass was worked from a portable
station in St Kilda as a PR exercise for a hobby fair. Several
onlookers watched as stations from VK2, VK3 and VK5 were worked via
SUNSAT. As well as good contacts, there were several questions from
members of the public and some interesting discussions about amateur
satellite operation. An audio recording was made, but the scanner
suffered from intermods. A 2 stage relay will be needed for future
unattended recordings. It is hoped to have a suitable system in place
by the following weekend (Nov 13/14). SUNSAT is turning out to be an
excellent PR vehicle! :-)
- 13 Nov 1999 - Cancelled due to software upgrades on the satellite.
- 14 Nov 1999 - Cancelled due to software upgrades on the satellite.
- 20 Nov 1999 - After a week's break,
it was good to see SUNSAT active over VK again. While I went train
mobile in an attempt to work other stations, including a bus mobile and
hopefully, some ZLs, the high angle of the pass, combined with the poor
alignment of the train left me as a spectator this time around. The
highlight of this pass was Peter, VK3YE who made the first QSO via an
amateur satellite from a bus. Here is a .WAV of the first few QSOs Peter made from the bus. Traffic was initially slow, but became quite heavy, with
stations from VK2 and VK3, plus one ZL and a VK4. Back in the shack, I
took a leaf out of the SUNSAT operators' book and upgraded the audio
recording software. The new software has the facility to record the
passes unattended (I just plug in the start and stop times), and allows
me to utilise the best receiver for the job, without having to jury rig
special antennas (which have required someone present for safety
reasons :) ). Expect longer, higher quality recordings. With the
increasing traffic on the bird, there is the problem of congestion.
Please, listen before hitting the PTT!! It makes it easier for the
lower powered/portable stations. If you listen carefully to the audio
track, you may hear the odd station getting trampled in the rush.
- 21 Nov 1999 - Another busy pass,
with several stations from VK2, VK3 and VK6 participating. The VK2s, in
particular, did well to reach the satellite, as the elevation was quite
low (one station reported 7 degrees from Sydney) over VK2. The new
audio recording setup gave excellent perofrmance with this low pass,
with one of the best recordings os a SUNSAT pass so far. In the near
future, all audio logs will be available in Real Audio format, to
provide further improved audio quality.
- 27 Nov 1999 - This pass crossed the
middle of Australia from south to north. Activity was dominated by
stations from VK2 and VK3, with VK6ZKO being the only station outside
these areas on the satellite. The use of a 2m 5/8 wave antenna for the
downlink improved received signals dramatically. While it's good to see
a lot of stations giving SUNSAT a try, the increased traffic means that
operating procedures need to be of a high standard to ensure everyone
gets a fair turn.
- 28 Nov 1999 - As expected, ZL was
active on this pass, with one ZL being worked by several VK stations
and another briefly heard. Other stations heard or worked were from
VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5.
- 4 Dec 1999 - Despite the relatively
distant (1700km closest approach) pass, signals from SUNSAT were
excellent, after a fade early during the pass. Activity was a bit
quieter than previous passes, and on air conduct was excellent on the
most part. Several VK3s, along with several VK2s and a VK6 were worked.
- 5 Dec 1999 - Quite a busy pass, but
conduct was mostly orderly with a few minor dogpiles. Stations from
VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were worked. There were a couple of changes to
the station here. Firstly, an overhaul of the feedline in the shack was
carried out, mainly to overcome severe losses on 70cm. This may have
been the reason for the exceptionally good signals logged in the day's
.MP3 recording, despite only a few dB at most improvement expected on
2m. Also, I experimented with diversity reception as one means of
overcoming downlink fading. In addition to the usual portable 2m
receiver that was carried, a short range radio link was setup between
the logging receiver and a portable broadcast FM receiver. Audio from
each receiver was fed to one ear. While most of the time, fades occured
simultaneously on both receivers, there were occasions where the
diversity system did improve on the reception that would otherwise have
been possible. The separation between the two receivers was up to 20
metres, which was the limit of the FM relay transmitter. Beyond the 20
metre limit, reception fell back to the normal portable rig.
- 11 Dec 1999 - Due to work commitments, this pass
was worked from Sydney (VK2). As expected, this was an excellent pass,
with one ZL, several VK2s and VK3s, as well as a VK7 station on air.
Signals were particularly strong, exceeding S9 for most of the pass,
which was more than enough to overcome the severe band noise caused by
the Sydney CBD. The selection of a location shielded from the Sydney
CBD also improved reception of the downlink. Due to my abscence from
the shack, there is no audio recording of this pass, unless someone had
made their own recording and can provide a copy.
- 12 Dec 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 18 Dec 1999 - Other than a lack of
stations from VK4 and VK8, this was pretty much a "perfect pass".
Signals from the satellite exceeded S9 on the portable receiver, and
stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were worked. In general, on air
ettiquette was excellent. Most stations waited their turn and just
about everyone got a fair chance to work a few stations. Only one
question remains: Where are the Queenslanders? (haven't heard from VK4
for several weeks). And a reminder that we are still looking for people
to participate in the RailSat Challenge.
- 19 Dec 1999 - Signals were weaker
than expected during this pass. At times, accessing the uplink was
quite difficult with the usual 5 W EIRP, and downlink signals were only
S2 - S3 instead of the usual S5 to S9. Several stations from VK2 and
VK3, as well as one VK5 and a couple of VK6s were heard or worked via
SUNSAT during the pass.
- 25 Dec 1999 - No pass scheduled over VK.
- 26 Dec 1999 - This was the most
challenging pass to date, with the satellite passing over Perth and
approaching no closer than 2300 km at an elevation of 8 degrees. To
maximise the performance of the link, I took advantage of family
affairs which put me close enough to Mt Macedon to make a stop and work
SUNSAT from there. At more than 400 metres above the surrounding
terrain (total elevation approx 1000m ASL), the mountain provided a
clear path to the western horizon. Activity on the satellite was quiet
(probably due to a combination of a public holiday and the pass being
over less populated areas), but there were a total of 2 VK3s, 3 VK5s
and 2 VK6s, with everyone getting a chance to work everyone else.
Signals were reasonable, given the distance of the pass, and the height
of the mountain provided an extra 30 - 60 seconds of air time beyond
the predicted LOS. The activity heard from the mountain extends more
than 30 seconds beyond the end of the recording of this pass.
- 1 Jan 2000 - Due to a scheduling problem, the time
that SUNSAT was scheduled didn't coincide with a pass over Australia.
There was a last minute attempt to reschedule the pass, but due to a
technical hitch here (radio not connected to an antenna! d'oh :) ), I
was unable to confirm if the reschudled pass went ahead.
- 8 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT appeared right
on cue this time around, with solid S9 signals on the downlink.
Activity was slow initially, but soon became quite heavy. Stations from
VK2, VK3, VK4 (been a while guys!), and VK5 were heard. No stations
from ZL this time, despite the favourable pass.
- 15 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT fired up right
on the scheduled time for this pass. Signals seemed to be down a little
from other recent high angle passes, peaking only at S7-S9, instead of
the more usual S9+20. There were numerous stations on, mostly from VK3,
with a few VK2s, 2 VK5s, one VK6 and a P29 station, which caused a late
flurry of activity from DX chasers. :-) I've also changed the format
for future pass prediction information. Instead of the old list, it
will be presented in a tabular form, one table for each day a satellite
is active over VK. This makes it clearer with the increased amount of
information that is presented each week.
- 22 Jan 2000 - There were some
delays in getting hold of the pass schedule for this pass, and as a
result, activity on SUNSAT was quiet with only a handful of stations
being worked or heard. A couple of "ragchew like" QSOs resulted from
this light activity. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were heard.
Signals were initially very good, exceeding S9, but dropped off
markedly to about S2 from about mid pass onwards. The satellite also
has an excellent sense of time, the switch on time is currently within
2 seconds of my clocks, which are synchronised to the Internet using
- 27 Jan 2000 - The JAWSAT mission, carrying several
amateur satellites was successfully launched at 03:03 UTC.
- 29 Jan 2000 - SUNSAT fired up right
on cue again for this pass. Signals were about S9 on the 2m 5/8 during
most of the pass, with the uplink being easily accessible right to the
end. Stations heard/worked included several VK2s, VK3s VK5s and a VK6.
- 5 Feb 2000 - Again, a pass that
went like clockwork. SUNSAT is within on second of the clocks in the
shack, which are synchronised to the Internet using NTP. Signals were
down on previous passes, despite the high elevation (74 degrees).
Stations from VK2, 3, 5 and 6 were worked or heard, with activity being
very heavy for most of the pass. Surprisingly, no ZL stations were on
air, despite this being the best opportunity for them for the next few
- 12 Feb 2000 - SO-35 fired up on
schedule again. Signals were mostly strong with a few minor fades on
the downlink and good signals on the uplink. Stations from VK2, VK3,
VK5, VK6, ZL and P29 were worked or heard during the pass.
- 14 Feb 2000 - StenSat is operational, according to
reports from the USA. However, its downlink is very weak, and high gain
antennas (i.e. beams) will be needed to work this bird. Stensat is
currently orbiting near the "grey line", so will be overhead near
sunrise and sunset local time in any part of the world. The frequencies
for StenSat are 145.840 MHz uplink and 436.625 MHz for the downlink.
Later reports indicated that the initial report of Stensat's status may
have been in error, and the satellite hasn't yet been heard. More news
as it comes to hand.
- 19 Feb 2000 - Another copybook pass
from SUNSAT. Signals did seem a little weaker than normal for most of
the pass, rarely exceeding S5 on the portable receiver. Activity was a
little less frantic than usual but steady, with stations from VK2, VK3,
VK5 and VK6 active.
- 20 Feb 2000 - With the recent aquisition of a 10
metre transceiver, I am now able to work Mode A. This means that I am
now able to work RS-13 on Mode A (2m up, 10m down, SSB/CW). I usually
call and monitor on 29.486 (downlink frequency) on SSB. Any contacts
would be welcomed, Unlike SO-35, RS-13 is a very quiet bird. I will be
publishing a brief summary
of pass schedules for RS-13. However, due to
the sheer number of passes, these will be for Melbourne only. The
earlier passes in a group of 2 or 3 will be towards the east, the
latter ones towards the west. The middle pass of a group of 3 will be
fairly high elevation.
- 23 Feb 2000 - Sunsat celebrated its first birthday with a special
message broadcast over several parts of the
world. Unfortunately, I didn't managed to record the VK pass, but Mike,
N1JEZ, kindly provided a copy of the recorded message.
- 24 Feb 2000 - Some unexpected good
news! UO-14, which has been running various digital modes for 10 years
has been configured to operate as a Mode J (2m up, 70cm down) FM
repeater, similar to SUNSAT. Unlike SUNSAT, UO-14 is available
continuously (i.e. every visible pass). I have worked this bird and can
confirm that it is indeed operating in FM mode and can be accessed with
2 watts from a handheld. This is another one to try from the trains and
trams. :-) Here is a sample audio
recording from a pass just after 13:00 UTC on
Feb 24. An RF link back to the shack has been cobbled together at short
notice to allow unattended recording, despite the large Doppler shift
on 70cm. A new page with UO-14
pass information (Melbourne only) is now
- 26 Feb 2000 - The Moorabbin and
District Radio Club operated a portable club station at the St Kilda
Hobby Show in Melbourne to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the general
public. A major part of the station was devoted to amateur satellites,
with 2m and 70cm Yagis erected for satellite operation. A total of 6
satellite passes were attempted, which consisted of 2 SUNSAT passes,
both of which are recorded in the accompanying .MP3 audio track, 2
UO-14 passes and 2 FO-20 passes. On the SUNSAT passes, the first had
very weak signals for the first part of the pass. At this stage, we
were still setting up, and the Yagis weren't erected, so I operated
from the normal handheld gear. Reception of the downlink was difficult.
It's interesting to note that the recording (which was made from the
home QTH) shows a similar trend. The first pass was used to provide
last minute information (such as the availability of UO-14) to other
stations. On the second pass, the club station was in full swing, with
several onlookers observing events while worked several stations from
all over VK. Signals were generally much stronger during the second
pass. UO-14 proved tricky, with the first pass being difficult on the
70cm 1/2 wave, partly due to local noise. The second pass was better,
with 2 QSOs before the downlink dropped out. FO-20 worked well, but
there were no other stations (but our own signal was coming in 5x3! :)
). The FO-20 passes demonstrated the effects of Doppler shift to those
- 5 Mar 2000 - A new 70cm antenna for SO-35's uplink
and UO-14's downlink has been completed and tested with excellent
results on UO-14. Details will be posted when construction of the 2m
antenna and testing is complete. The new antennas are portable, and
will suit the Fuji birds, as well as the FM satellites..
- 11 Mar 2000 - Sunsat came up in
parrot mode, which was a bit of a surprise. This mode seemed to work
well, with a number of stations being heard. The downlink seemed a bit
weaker than usual (much like the first pass a fortnight before), but
the weaker signals didn't affect the uplink as much. Not having to use
70cm meant I could run 25W on one of the base rigs. I've also aquired a
Philips FM92A, which is an ex commercal 2 way with 100 programmable
(via EPROM) channels. These radios came from the fire bridages, which
had to upgrade several years ago due to a change of frequency
allocations. One quirk of the new system is I am able to record my own
audio when transmitting on the same rig, which can be handy at times.
I'm yet to evaluate the RF sensitivity against the handheld I
previously used, but on terrestrial QSOs, it keeps up with the all mode
Standard C58. The biggest advantage of the Philips rig is it's easily
modified for whatever purpose, and service manuals are readily
available. A UO-14 pass was worked immediately afterwards with
excellent results. The new 70cm antenna has made a big difference to
- 14 Mar 2000 - This was the first of
SUNSAT's weeknight passes. As usual, the pass went extremely well.
Activity was a little lighter than on the weekend, though several
stations were there to work the pass. This pass also marks the first
time my new antenna has been used on SO-35. Despite a low angle pass, the new
antenna gave excellent signals.
- 16 Mar 2000 - With an elevation of
75 degrees over Melbourne, the second night pass was spectacular, with
good signals all round. Again, the new antenna pulled in some extremely
strong signals. Several stations were worked, though this pass was also
- 17 Mar 2000 - This pass was a 20
degree pass. However, signals were quite weak, as reported by several
VK3 stations. A highlight of the pass was the first appearance of VK8
on the satellite, with a station from Alice Springs working a few on
the bird. This recording was the first test of the new "inline"
recording system. Instead of the PC in the shack recording the signal
in an unattended mode, the new system uses an FM wireless transmitter
to link the received audio to a portable radio cassette recorder. The
FM link is received by the inbuilt FM radio and then recorded on tape.
The headphones used to monitor the downlink are also connected to this
unit. What this means is that these recordings are literally what I
hear on the downlink (sort of like those in car cameras used in motor
racing telecasts!). Even though I was only using a 5/8 wave antenna on
the downlink, the recording is noticeably superior to most of the
previous recordings, due to my normal operations correcting for any
fades on the downlink. The old automated "direct to disk" recordings
will be run as a backup, in case the new system fails in the field. The
new system is also capable of being used for UO-14, or even the SSB
birds. Stay tuned for even more spectacular audio when the beam is in
- 18 Mar 2000 - Worked 2 passes, one
from UO-14 and one from SO-35. The SO-35 pass was quite busy with
stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6 and VK8 worked, and a few minor
dogpiles were observed. However, conduct was generally very good during
the whole pass. The UO-14 pass a few minutes before was a little
quieter, with stations from VK2, VK3 and VK4 being worked. These passes
were also the first to be worked and recorded off the new satellite
beam, exactly as I heard them myself. Recordings are available from
both the UO-14 and SO-35 passes. This will be the standard of future audio tracks.
- 21 Mar 2000 - Was portable in the
Geelong area with the satellite beam. Signals from SO-35 were extremely
strong, with 4 stations active.
- 22 and 23 Mar 2000 - SO-35 Passes
were cancelled due to tests being conducted on one of the onboard
computers. However, UO-14 continues to perform well, as this audio clip shows. The audio was
supplies by Peter, VK3DI.
- 24 Mar 2000 - Portable again, this
time from the inner suburbs of Melbourne, while waiting for a lift home
from a party! More strong signals with stations from VK2, VK3, VK6 and
ZL being heard or worked.
- 25 Mar 2000 - SO-35 passed over
Western Australia. Signals were fairly good, though not as strong as
the passes during the week. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 were
heard or worked. Earlier, UO-14 was also worked, with good signals from
VK2, VK3, VK5 and ZL.
- 28 Mar 2000 - Two events worthy of note. Firstly,
at 21:58 UTC on March 27 (07:58 Melbourne time on the 28th), an attempt
was made to work UO-14 while train mobile. The pass was very low, only
6 degrees in the eastern sky. Despite the weak downlink on this bird, I
had reception at several stages during the pass. However, no contacts
resulted. Will try again at the next available opportunity. In the
evening there was a pass from SO-35, which caught most operators off
guard. Signals were good, but only 2 stations worked, VK6DM and a VK7
whose call eludes me (these guys left their scanners running on the
downlink and heard my calls!). An hour later, UO-14 was worked, with
only one contact, namely John, VK2YOC.
- 29 Mar 2000 - A fairly high angle pass, though not
as strong as a similar pass the previous week. With the beam, there was
noticeable polarisation rotation during the pass, which required a
manouvre a little like a slow pirouette to keep the antenna aligned to
the downlink signal! :-) The highlight of this pass was VK6AKI working
ZL2VAL briefly. There were also stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7
present during the pass.
- 30 Mar 2000 - This pass was the
most westerly for the week, with extremely good signals for most of the
pass. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK6 and VK7 were worked.
- 31 Mar 2000 - I was at the VK3RSE users social
dinner during this pass. Some of the guys had worked the birds before,
but most hadn't, and had only heard of the exploits of those of us who
were active on satellites. I setup an inpromptu demonstration with a
pair of handhelds (i.e. what had been my SUNSAT station for about 5
months!). Several stations were worked, from VK2, VK3, VK6 and VK7. In
addition, one of the guys pulled out his VX-1R and with a few pointers
proceded to work the bird with 500 mW and a dual band whip! I'm sure
he'll be back for more when he gets back home. No audio as I didn't
want to leave the old power supply running unattended. Another attempt
was made to work UO-14 from the train on the way home. The downlink was
surprisingly clear, except for when the train passed under bridges. The
uplink needs a bit more attention. I was trying to keep a low profile,
due to some of the unsavoury looking people on the train, so I didn't
run full duplex, which alone may have been enough. A little side note.
The following day, I had an amateur approach me and asking what was
going on the 2m band the previous night. He had heard me working VK6
and thought there was a phenomenal opening. When VK7 come up on the
frequency, he was getting a little curious. Turns out he had stumbled
on SO-35's downlink! :-) All was revealed when I told him about the
- 1 Apr 2000 - Almost missed this pass due to
sleeping in. This is likely to become more of a problem with morning
passes as the satellite's orbit changes with time (08:23 next Sunday
morning is going to be a bit tough!). With no time to spare, I fired up
the trusty Philips FM92A ex commercial box on the downlink and cobbled
up a 15W uplink out of the 70cm transverter with a 2m box driving it on
148.290(!). With that lashed together setup, I managed to work several
stations before losing the bird. No recording this time, as Windows
took too long to boot, and it was practically over by the time
recording was possible! By the time of the UO-14 pass, 15 minutes after
SO-35 had switched off, I had the beam fired up and worked several VK
and ZL stations.
- 2 Apr 2000 - This one almost passed be by as well,
but I did have 10 minutes to get ready, so was able to fire up the beam
and work several stations via Sunsat. Interestingly enough, only VK3s
were present on this pass. Perhaps everyone else was still asleep or in
church? Missed out on audio. In the rush to get everything together, I
forgot to put the antenna on the 2m radio, and "inline" recording would
have taken too long to setup, as I barely made the start of the pass
myself. UO-14, 45 minutes later was very quiet, with only Andy, VK2AES
being worked via that bird during the entire pass.
- 4 and 5 Apr 2000 - A couple of interesting passes.
The downlink was extremely strong on both passes, but the uplink was
more difficult to access. Activity was relatively quiet with only a
handful of stations heard or worked, mostly from VK3, with VK2, VK6 and
VK7 also present.
- 5 Apr 2000 - For a change of pace, instead of
working satellites, I was being interviewed on community radio,
Southern FM (88.3 MHz), about my involvement with amateur satellites,
on their space program. This was an opportunity to introduce a
different aspect of satellites to the general public and make people
aware of our activities, and perhaps add another dimension to any
existing interest they may have in space technology. As I said in the
interview, an interest in space in general was one of the factors
leading me to becoming active on satellites. I don't have an audio
recording available yet. I have to ascertain that someone did manage to
record the show, then resolve any copyright issues before I can put
- 6 Apr 2000 - This SO-35 pass was to the east of
Melbourne. As with any easterly pass, ZL activity was likely and sure
enough, ZL2VAL came to the party. VK6DM also joined in the activity.
There were also a couple of stations from VK2. The downlink was
extremely strong again, especially early in the pass. I wonder if an
inversion that was present during the evening (I was hearing VK7
repeaters 30 minutes after SO-35 went over) helped improve signal
strengths when the bird was at low elevation.
- 7 Apr 2000 - This pass was the most
westerly pass for the week. Activity was light, with 2 VK6 and 2 VK3
stations participating in a roundtable ragchew for most of the pass.
Despite several calls for other stations, none made their presence
known. Signals were fairly strong, with occasional abrupt polarisation
shifts noticed on the 70cm uplink.
- 8 Apr 2000 - It had to happen! As SO-35's orbit
changes, it passes over earlier as time progresses. I missed the 9AM
pass due to sleeping in, so no recording or report on this one (did
anyone manage to catch this pass?). Tomorrow's pass is even worse -
08:23 local. Fortunately, I will be up anyway, preparing for the Radio
on Rails contest which starts at 9AM.
- 9 Apr 2000 - A quiet SO-35 pass
(might have been a bit early on the Sunday morning :) ). One ZL and a
handful of VKs were present for a quiet roundtable chat. Signals seemed
to fade out quite early though. Later in the morning, VK5ZAI was worked
via UO-14 while portable at a tram stop for a point in the Radio on
Rails contest. :-)
- 11 Apr 2000 - Another quiet pass
for SO-35. Worked VK5EX for most of the pass. I suspect few people in
VK or ZL were aware SO-35 would be active at this time.
- 12 Apr 2000 - Worked this pass from
inside the shack, due to a bout of the dreaded bug. :-( Compared to the
portable station, the QSB is severe and the uplink frequently doesn't
make it to the bird, despite being up to 10 times the power I use while
portable! Still, I managed to work several stations from VK3, VK5 and
- 13 Apr 2000 - A relatively quiet
pass, with only a couple of VK3s, one VK6 and a ZL worked. Signals
seemed a little down on the usual. Lucky I was able to use the beam
- 14 Apr 2000 - SO-35 didn't come on air for some as
yet unknown reason.
- 15 Apr 2000 - A fairly quiet SO-35
pass with 3 VK3s and a VK6 present for most of the pass. Signals were
quite good during the whole of the pass. The procedure for updating the
pass information will be changing this weekend, so that information
will be available on a tentative basis well before the passes are
officially confirmed. This will minimise the problem of information not
arriving in time for the Tuesday night passes. Also had a listen for
Mir, which is currently carrying a crew. Maggie,
VK3CFI was heard working the cosmonauts at around 06:30z.
- 16 Apr 2000 - Just managed to get up in time to
work the SO-35 pass. Signals were quite good, with the vertical being
sufficient to access the bird most of the time. A handful of stations
from VK2 and VK4 were worked. No audio for this pass, as the PC wasn't
ready until the end of the pass. Also worked a VK6 station via UO-14,
which continues to work well. Mir was again active around 06:50z. Here
is another QSO heard between VK3CFI and Mir.
- 17 Apr 2000 - As often is the case,
something can catch you off guard. In this case, it was voice operation
on Mir. I listened to a pass around 10:15z in case. Nothing heard for 7
or 8 minutes, except for some packet which appeared to be terrestrial
in origin. Suddenly, U8MIR appeared on air, talking to a VK3. A few
minutes later, I managed to make contact with one of the cosmonauts
briefly, before Mir disappeared over the horizon. Signals were grotty
by this time, as you can hear in this
audio clip (111 kB .WAV).
- 18 Apr 2000 - Missed this pass, but Lionel, VK3NM
kindly provided this report:
- Here is my short report on the
pass for the 18/04/00. At first I was putting in a real strong signal
into the bird I had to call CQ about 3 times before I got a reply. Not
many stations appeared but the few on all put in S 9 signals it was
like 80 metres at night. Stations on were ZL1CMR, ZL2VAL, VK6TS, VK2BRG
, VK7KBD I don't think there any other VK3s and no VK5 or VK4s. I must
say it was one of the best pass for me.
- 19 Apr 2000 - Another excellent
pass. The more easterly pass enticed several ZL stations to the
satellite, as well as a number of VK2, VK3 and VK5 stations.
- 20 Apr 2000 - This pass started out
slowly, with only 3 stations active, but later became quite busy, with
several stations from VK3, VK5 and VK6 present. Signals were very
strong, with a few of the stations able to run QRP into simple
- 21 Apr 2000 - Seems the Easter
holidays has brought everyone out. This was the busiest pass for a few
months with many stations from VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6 and ZL worked.
Signals were again excellent.
- 22 Apr 2000 - Was portable in
Footscray for this pass and also showing a friend how amateur
satellites work. The pass was another impressive pass, with stations
from VK3, VK5 and VK6 present.
- 23 Apr 2000 - Well, finally got nobbled by Easter
social engagements, so unable to make this pass. I haven't heard how it
- 26 Apr 2000 - I don't know if this pass went
ahead. I was airborne over Canberra when it was due (and airlines don't
take kindly to radios being operated on planes :-) ).
- 27 Apr 2000 to 30 Apr 2000 - Unfortunately, no
train mobile operation from Sydney was possible, due to the cancelled
satellite passes. I did manage a dry run with a non amateur friend, who
one day may join in the fun, when he gets his licence. Looks like
Sydney has to wait until the next trip north, at least. There will be
no further operation on SO-35 until further notice.
- 6 May 2000 - SO-35 is back, on a
limited basis. The controllers decided to resume weekend operation only
until the thermal problem is resolved. It's good to see the bird back
in action. :-) With only an hour's warning that the pass would go
ahead, I set about drumming up some users from the local repeaters, as
well as sending SMS messages to a SWL friend in Sydney, so he could
make his first attempt at receiving a satellite. The pass, as it turns
out was an excellent one with very strong signals and stations from
VK2, a heap of VK3s ( :-) ), VK5, VK6 and ZL. One of the best moments
was assisting VK6YY from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, who was working
his first SO-35 pass, to work ZL1TTS near Auckland. Not bad for his
first day on satellites! :-)
- 7 May 2000 - Pass not heard. This turned out to be
due to a last minute schedule change, and other amateurs reported
activity on the rescheduled pass.
- 13 May 2000 - During the marning, the Moorabbin
and District Radio Club put on their annual hamfest, and satellite
demonstrations were part of the proceedings. A couple of stations were
worked via UO-14, and one station was heard, but not quite worked (he
heard us more clearly it seems) via FO-20. FO-29 was also available,
but no one seemed to be there. :-(. In the evening, there was a good
SO-35 pass with stations from VK2, VK3 and VK4 present. Also at least
one SWL known to be monitoring as well. I was portable with another
amateur in Footscray at the time, and while we were on SO-35, a passer
by came up and asked what we were up to. A quick demo with a VK2 from
Coffs Harbour left our visitor more than a little impressed. :-)
- 14 May 2000 - Another excellent
pass. Signals were good and stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6 and ZL
worked. The satellite was also heard by a SWL in Sydney on his handheld
scanner. Any SWLs looking to receive SO-35 should have little
difficulty receiving the downlink on 145.825 MHz.
- 16 May 2000 - Weekday SO-35 operations resume. I
wasn't able to work this pass, so no report.
- 17 May 2000 - Nothing heard.
- 18 May 2000 - Worked several stations from VK2,
VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6, with a couple of friends looking on. They were
impressed with the performance of SO-35 from a couple of handhelds,
while standing on a street corner! :)
- 19 and 20 May 2000 - No pass due to a couple of
- 21 May 2000 - Excellent signals
from SO-35and many stations on air from P29, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6
and VK7. The pass got a bit out of hand at one stage, with stations
talking over each other. Please listen carefully before transmitting! A
highlight was working the Olympic special event station, AX2000.
- 23 May 2000 - Another excellent
SO-35 pass with strong signals. Stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and
VK6 were present. The audio recording is now getting complete passes.
The system did have a problem with NTP synchronisation, which caused
the system clock to gain slowly over time after the NTP reference
suddenly went offline. The problem was fixed by using a different time
server. The constant "rustling" background noise in the audio is due to
a misbehaving VCO in the receiver used for recording. Will have to look
at that in due course.
- 24 May 2000 - Sunsat came up in digital mode, so
no voice activity resulted.
- 25 May 2000 - Many stations came up
for another good pass on SO-35. Stations from VK2, VK3 and VK5 were
worked. Unfortunately, a couple of "alligators" who weren't monitoring
their downlink caused a few minor problems by trampling over
established QSOs early in the pass, otherwise things went pretty well.
Remember, keep an ear on your receiver before hitting that button!
- 26 May 2000 - This SO-35 pass was superb, with
stations from North Queensland across to VK6 active during the pass.
Traffic was busy, but mostly orderly, with stations from VK2, VK3, VK4,
VK5 and VK6 present.
- 27 May 2000 - Many stations present
on this pass, and things got a little out of order occasionally.
Stations from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and ZL worked this pass. However,
there was a lot of rubbish on the uplink. Are there people not
listening first, or is this some, as yet unidentified accidental QRM?
The level of QRM is now making it difficult for QRP stations.
- 28 May 2000 - Very strong signals
this time around. The pass was mostly well behaved, except for one
station who obviously can't hear the downlink, as he called underneath
several other stations and didn't respond when called several times.
The level of general uplink rubbish was again high, making things
chaotic. And there's that persistent clown who doesn't seem to know
anything besides how to whistle. (anyone able to hear that one on the
uplink?). Over all of that, stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 managed
to make numerous contacts through SO-35.
- 30 May 2000 - A good pass to the
east, with a few ZLs taking advantage of the more easterly path of
SO-35 this time around. I first attempted to work this one from the
shack (due to inclement weather), but 10 - 15W into the vertical just
didn't make the grade. In the end, the weather cleared and I was able
to get excellent results for the last few minutes of the pass with the
portable beam. Signals were fading on the vertical, perhaps down
slightly from the last few passes, but solid on the beam. The uplink
was quite easy to access with 3.5W into the beam as well. Stations from
VK2, VK3, VK5, and ZL were present during the pass.
- 31 May 2000 - May ended with a very
busy pass! Many stations were active, with strong signals all round.
Stations present were from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7. Despite the
high level of activity, conduct was mostly orderly with the odd minor
dogpile occuring. One highlight was another brief appearance by John,
VK4JKL from Cairns in North Queensland.
- 1 Jun 2000 - Now getting some good
passes to the east, and this should have been one of them. Signals were
very good for most of the pass, but activity was surprisingly light - a
complete contrast to the previous few nights. The biggest surprise was
the lack of ZLs, despite good visibility from that region. Only a
handful of stations from VK2, VK3 and VK5 were present during the pass.
- 2 Jun 2000 - This pass had
extremely strong downlink signals. The audio track showed a solid
signal with almost no fading, which is quite unusual for a vertical
antenna. Outside, on the beam, the downlink sounded more like a local
repeater. Many stations took advantage of the good pass. Call areas
present were VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK6.
- 3 Jun 2000 - Good signals on SO-35, though not as
many ZL stations as expected for this pass.
- 4 Jun 2000 - Signals were down on
normal, but a small number of stations were worked.
- 6 Jun 2000 - Missed this pass, but Lionel, VK3NM
reported a quiet pass with few stations present and good signals. There
was some confusion as to the availability of this pass due to work
being done on SO-35.
- 7 and 8 Jun 2000 - These SO-35 passes were
adversely affected by ADAC experiments on board the satellite. The
downlink was very strong, but the uplink was almost impossible to
access, no doubt due to the unusual attitude of the satellite.
- 9 - 11 Jun 2000 - Nothing heard.
- 13 Jun 2000 - Nothing heard again. Received word
that SO-35 will be off air until further notice, due to excessive
internal temperatures caused by the satellite being in continual
sunlight. Let's hope for a speedy return to service. There will be no
more daily updates on this page, until regular passes resume, or other
significant news is received.
- 24/25 Jun 2000 - 1200 bps packet scheduled on
SO-35, but nothing heard over VK. Several reports of success from the
US. Also worked UO-14 with good results a couple of times while SO-35
was off the air.
- 8 Jul 2000 - Welcome back SO-35!
SO-35 is heard for the first time in a month. Signals were excellent
with stations from VK2, VK3 and VK5 being worked.
- 9 Jul 2000 - SO-35 turns in another
excellent performance. This time, stations from VK2, VK3, VK5 and ZL
were heard. Also had teed up VK8MS in Darwin and YJ8WR in Port Vila,
Vanuatu, to have a go at monitoring the pass. I'm awaiting feedback
from these stations via email.
- 15 Jul 2000 - SO-35 switched to Mode J (2m uplink,
70cm downlink). Seems not everyone is aware of the mode switch, as
activity was quiet, with 1 VK1, 1 VK2 and a handful of VK3 stations
present (reminder to stay tuned to this page and the SUNSAT home page).
Downlink signals on 70cm were weaker than what we're used to, which is
as expected, and there was mild Asian QRM early in the pass, though not
as severe as I have heard on UO-14. No audio until a new audio link is
set up, as it is impossible to configure the shack receivers to
automatically track the Doppler on 70cm. I will have a new local and
"long haul" link up soon for the UHF downlinks. Earlier in the day, I
got feedback from YJ8WR that he heard us on SO-35 the previous week.
- 16 Jul 2000 - A quiet pass on UO-14 in the
morning, with only 3 stations working each other, and a 4th station who
wasn't able to hear his downlink. An excellent SO-35 pass, with strong
signals on the downlink. The uplink is still less sensitive than
expected. I'd estimate about 10 - 15 dB down on that of UO-14 (both
satellites in Mode J). Worked a couple of new stations, Daniel,VK4TDB
and Terry, VK3RB. In all, several stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and
VK5 were worked in a very busy pass. Finished the night off with a
couple of UO-14 passes. The first with only VK3TBC worked (hmm, 5000km
round trip to talk to someone a few km away! :) ), and on the second
pass, worked VK5AH, VK5EX and VK2DOR with the lunar eclipse as a
spectacular backdrop! :-) A perfect way to end a day of satellites.
- 17 Jul 2000 - Due to a typo in the schedule, this
pass didn't materialise, but some lucky hams somewhere got a bonus
unscheduled pass (whoops!). :-)
- 18 Jul 2000 - A good SO-35 pass, with a small
number of enthusiastic stations from VK3 and VK5, as well as one ZL.
All present has a good time on this light hearted pass. :-)
- 19 Jul 2000 - SO-35 was very quiet, with only a
total of 5 stations present, 4 from VK3 and one ZL. Poor signals were
experienced by most of the stations, though I had excellent results on
- 20 Jul 2000 - Another quiet pass on SO-35, with
only a few stations active, mostly from VK3.
- 21 Jul 2000 - An interesting pass on SO-35. Worked
this one from a stationary mobile position in a car park. Several VK3
stations, as well as a couple of VK5s were worked during this pass. As
is common with Mode J operation, portable stations fared better with
the 70cm downlink.
- 22 Jul 2000 - A very quiet pass on SO-35, with
only a couple of VK3 stations and one VK6. An interstate ragchew
featured for most of this pass, due to the lack of stations present.
- 23 Jul 2000 - It was very good to see a few ZLs
turn out in response to this SO-35 pass, which had been deliberately
placed well east of Australia. 2 of the ZLs had fairly good signals, a
third was obviously unable to hear the downlink. The only VK stations
were VK2TP and myself, VK3JED. This pass illustrated the importance of
being able to hear your downlink, as much of the time was spent with
stations trying to establish contact with each other. The portable beam
is proving to be so good at pulling in the 70cm downlinks that I'll
have to increase power to match my receive capabilities, as I can hear
the downlink well before being able to access the uplink, and always
lose the uplink first towards the end of the pass. I am also receiving
a number of reports of QRM from cable TV systems. I have detected this
interference myself, which is usually centered between 436.250 and
436.255 MHz. :-(
- 24 Jul 2000 - Attempted this SO-35 pass from the
Diamond vertical. Severe interference from local cable TV systems
prevented reception of the first half of the pass, but managed to work
a few ZLs, VK3s and a VK5 once the Doppler shift had moved the downlink
sufficiently far from the cable TV birdies.
- 25 Jul 2000 - Missed this pass altogether.
- 26 Jul 2000 - Severe weather conditions
necessitated operation from inside the shack again. A 3/4 wave antenna
was setup on the car for reception of SO-35's downlink, with the
Diamond vertical being retained for the uplink. This setup eliminated
the QRM and allowed operation for about half of the pass, once SO-35
became visible at about 40 degrees elevation. A couple of ZLs and a few
locals were worked with this system.
- 27 Jul 2000 - Back to the beam. With SO-35 well to
the west, Asian interference dominated for the first half of the pass,
making the uplink difficult. The pass was quiet, with a total of 4 VK3s
and VK5EX being present. The deaf 2m uplink limited the useability of
the latter stages of the pass.
- 28 Jul 2000 - Missed SO-35 due to other
- 29 Jul 2000 - Tried an experiment
on SO-35 where I used the vertical with the higher powered transmitter
on the uplink and the beam on a portable mast outside for the downlink.
This worked quite well, and also allowed an audio recording to be made.
The recording starts about 2 minutes into the pass. Note the Asian QRM
that appears during the first few minutes of the audio track. The pass
was very quiet with only VK3LE and VK6TS being worked.
- 30 Jul 2000 - Made a late start on SO-35 here.
Managed to work ZL1CMR for the last few minutes of the pass. VK2DOR was
heard weakly, but apparently unable to hear us. There may have been
other stations present earlier in the pass that I missed.
- 31 Jul to 3 Aug 2000 - Due to the increased number
of passes, I won't be providing daily summaries of SO-35 activity, just
occasional reports, unless there is an audio track for the day. The
first 3 passes for the week went well, but activity has been fairly
quiet. On Tuesday August 1, I had 2 ZL stations all to myself. It can
be a pleasurable ragchew, but it would be good to see some new stations
on the satellites. If you've ever had an inclination to work
satellites, now is your chance, with few stations competing for access.
As a side note, I missed the August 3 pass myself, can't make them all.
- 4 Aug - 21 Aug 2000 - SO-35 continues to work well
in Mode J, except for a solar storm induced failure on the weekend of
- 22 Aug - 27 Aug 2000 - SUNSAT will be operating
over Australia in an experimental mode as a dual channel FM repeater,
with two independent channels on board. See the voice schedule for more information.
- 22 Aug - 19 Sep 2000 - Various tests were done on
the single and dual channel voice repeater configurations aboard SO-35.
Unfortunately, the dual channel mode appeared to desense the bird
severely, which limited its usefulness. At this stage, there will be no
further dual channel voice passes, while the satellite is running Mode
- 2 Oct 2000 - First anniversaty of the first tram
mobile satellite QSO. :-)
- 7 - 10 Oct 2000 - SUNSAT was in parrot repeater
mode for the voice passes on these days, to coincide with UN Radio
Week. While no exotic DX was worked, the parrot provided an opportunity
for newcomers to try satellite operation, and proved very popular among
the regular (and not so regular) VK and ZL operators.
- 11 Oct 2000 - SUNSAT returns to Mode B operation.
- 13 Oct 2000 - Worked this pass mobile while
driving home from work. Despite a lot of fiddling with the radio to get
something approximating split operation, managed to work ZL2VAL,
ZL1HAU, VK2ZER and VK3YLV during the pass.
- 16 Oct 2000 - Tram mobile returns!!! :-) For the
first time in a year, I was able to operate while mobile on a tram.
This time, ZL2VAL was the lucky station who earned a QSL card, not only
the third (still to my knowledge, no one else has attempted tram mobile
operation) station to be worked from a tram, but also the first
international tram mobile QSO! A couple of other stations missed out
this time around, but SUNSAT's current orbit will bring it more in line
with my regular travelling times. I expect there will be many more
opportunities for QSOs from the tram or train right up until Christmas,
and perhaps into the New Year! Stay tuned, and claim your QSL next time
I'm on the rails. For the rest of October, I can also sign as AX3JED,
and will have cards prepared with this call as well.
- 17 Oct 2000 - Another train mobile station on air! Peter,
VK3YE worked VK3NM via SO-35 while mobile on a train in Melbourne's SE
- 26 Oct 2000 - Tram mobile yet again! This time,
VK3YLV and VK3CAT (mobile) earned their QSL cards while I was working
SO-35 from the tram. :-)
- 27 Oct 2000 - An interesting pass on SO-35. Was
standing on a street corner with only the IC-T81A and Diamond quad band
antenna. Managed to work VK8KCS, VK3NM and a ZL3 station while standing
on the street! SO-35 certainly doesn't take much to work these days.
- 29 Oct 2000 - This pass deserves special mention,
due to the excellent turnout from ZL. There were many ZL stations from
all over New Zealand present, and activity was very heavy for the whole
pass. Stations worked or heard included VK2, VK3, VK4, ZL1, ZL2 and
ZL3. Hope to hear even more ZLs in the future.
- 10 Nov 2000 - Worked VK3TYR via
SO-35, while train mobile. The QSO can be heard on the day's MP3 track.
- 15 Nov 2000 - Worked ZL3RX via SO-35 while train
mobile on a busy pass.
- 16 Nov 2000 - A new era in Amateur Satellites is
born, with the launch of Phase 3D, later to be known as AO-40, at
01:07z aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana.
- 17 Nov 2000 - A big tram mobile pass, with 6
stations worked from the tram!- VK3CBV, VK3YLV, VK3GRL, VK3NM, ZL1CMR
- 20 Nov 2000 - Worked ZL1CMR via SO-35 from the
- 19 Nov 2000 - A user survey has commenced. SO-35
operators are being asked whether they prefer using Mode B or Mode J.
If you haven't completed the survey, please see the SO-35 schedule page for more details.
- 26 Nov 2000 - An unusual SO-35
pass, with a major fade on the uplink from the VK direction. Also
experimented with using the HF rig and transverter for recording, which
was successful, though the tone was lacking a bit of bass.
- 30 Nov - 2 Dec 2000 - Experimented with receiving
telemetry from AO-40, using the Italian soundcard based demodulator and
the P3T telemetry decoder. Results were generally good.
- 3 Dec 2000 - Leighton, VK3TLJ, became the third person to operate train mobile satellite, when he worked me via SO-35. I was running portable in a
local car park, with 2 SWLs looking on. Leighton was also heard by
several other stations, including several ZLs (I can't recall if there
were any other completed QSOs). Are there any others outside of VK3
operating satellites from trains?
- 9 Dec 2000 - Local VK3 activity on
the two FM birds is getting a number of SWLs interested in monitoring
satellite activity. I was made aware of a number of SWLs in northern
Victoria, who regularly listen to SO-35 and UO-14, Reception reports
from SWLs are always welcome as it's interesting to know who's
listening. The day's SO-35 pass was very busy and rather chaotic at
times. Stations from east coast VK and ZL were quite active. Later on,
UO-14 was worked. Activity was quiet, with a number of VK3 stations
testing various antenna configurations. On a different note, live
broadcasts of satellite activity may occur from time to time via the
Internet. Due to the short notice likely, it will be difficult to
announce such rebroadcasts in advance, but stay tuned to "VK3JED Internet Radio", the new webcast service, for details.
- 19 Jan 2000 - The last contact the SUNSAT ground
station had with the satellite occured on this day. Nothing further has
been heard from the satellite since.
- 3 Feb 2000 - SUNSAT OSCAR-35 was officially
pronounced non operational in the last couple of days, following 2
weeks of unsuccessful recovery attempts. The full text of the press
release appears on the SUNSAT home page, and can be read by clicking
here. SO-35 will be missed by amateurs all
over the world, including the myself and many I communicated with from
the VK/ZL region.
- Feb - Mar 2001 - While I've been fairly quiet on
the satellites, with only a handful of UO-14 contacts during this
period, attention has shifted towards AO-40 and the microwave bands it
supports. 1.2 and 2.4 GHz transverters for the shack have been planned
and some parts were ordered during this period - construction will
commence soon and take advantage of cold winter days stuck indoors! :)
The new additions to the station will support Mode L/S operations on
AO-40, as well as terrestrial portable weak signal activity and amateur
television. The 23cm transmitter will produce 10W SSB or 15W FM
voice/TV into a helical antenna. Antennas for 2.4 GHz have not yet been
finalised. Either a small dish or a long helix will be used here.
Initially an ex Galaxy TV downconverter will be tried on AO-40, until
the high performance transverter is built. Hope to catch everyone on
AO-40, especially international readers outside LEO range, with whom
AO-40 will enable communication for the first time!
- 23 Mar 2001 - Mir plunged to Earth after a series
of de-orbiting manouvers, which brought the station safely down in the
South Pacific. This marked the end of an era in space operations, and
has left behind many fond memories among the Amateur Radio community.
- 9 Apr 2001 - The packet TNC aboard ISS was fired
up and many US and European amateurs reported successfully digipeating
through the system.
- 10 Apr 2001 - ISS is heard on the
air! While waiting to try out packet operations with ISS, voice was
heard from the space station. As it turns out, there was a scheduled
contact between a school in the US, who were being linked to the ISS by
Tony, VK5ZAI. The audio recording captured the ISS side of the contact.
- 2004 - AO-51 comes online, several contacts
through this bird. ISS repeater operation starts, but I haven't
worked this one yet.
The VK RailSat Challenge is an attempt to work
via satellite between trains located in different capital cities.
The original intention was to operate between Melbourne (VK3) and
Perth (VK6), At this time, we are interested in making contact
with train mobile stations from anywhere who are able to access
the SUNSAT satellite. While satellite operation has previously
been achieved from a train, the coordination of train mobile
stations across the country presents some interesting logistical
and technical challenges:
- Initial communications with other stations via
satellite from a train. This has been achieved in VK3, but not in any
other state at this stage. The main issues are downlink noise and
signal attenuation caused by the train itself. A quick evaluation of
the Tangara trains in VK2 was done in December 1999. These trains are
very promising for satellite work, as they seem to have low attenuation.
- Development of suitable antenna systems. Again,
some work on this has been done in VK3.
- Recruitment of interested people in other states
to take part in the exercise.
- Coordination between VK3 and other states. This
will require a regular HF sked, packet exchanges and/or an Internet
- Status at December 2000 is that with suitable
antennas, train mobile satellite operation is almost routine in VK. The
most suitable antennas found so far are the Diamond SRH999 (this is
actually a quad band antenna), which performs particularly well on
70cm, and 1/4 wave whips for 2m.
- With antennas sorted out, we will be attempting
train - train contacts in VK3 in late 2000 or early 2001.
- The loss of SO-35 in January 2001 has made the
challenge more challenging, so to speak. To date, train mobile
operation has not been achieved via UO-14, the only remaining FM
satellite, but it should be possible to achieve.
Currently, the following amateurs are involved
(click on callsign to send email):
The following links are amateur satellite
related sites, with an emphasis on FM repeater based satellites.
America - General information on
Amateur satellites, Keplerian elements, downloads and more.
BLUEsat - A new Australian
microsatellite under development, aiming to launch around 2005.
The first Aussie OSCAR for over 30 years!
Home Brew Amateur Satellite Equipment page -
Want to roll your own gear?
Satellite Page - Links to just about
anything related to Amateur satellites. If you can't find it
here, it probably doesn't exist!