It's also worth mentioning we've got a lot of amateur radio satellites in orbit, and more coming, including a geosynchronous satellite launching sometime in March (Es'hail 2).
Some are very easy to get into with just an HT (or two for full-duplex).
You should check out HIRF-6 as well. Similar payload, and has been airborne since September of 2016!
Thanks for the HIRF-6 link. That's unbelievable! Hope you are doing well.
EDIT: woah. M0XER did 8 circumnavigations. That's unbelievable. I wonder if that is a record for a man-made, atmospheric object.
Geosynchronous is interesting because you just need to point a fixed dish at it and it always works, whereas the LEO satellites only occasionally pass overhead and you need the antenna to track it (either by hand or with a tracker)
This is kind of annoying when trying to figure out something like where on your property you have all of line of sight to the satellite, a place you can mount the dish, and a good way to run the cable from the disk to wherever you receiver will be.
It's especially annoying when you have a lot of potential obstacles blocking line of sight, and so you need to have a pretty good idea of the satellite location to tell if you do have sight. If magnetic north is a little off in your area then using a compass to find azimuth could be uncertain enough to give you the wrong answer.
Unless I'm missing something there is a much better way we could do this. You could tell the app or website your location, and a time in the evening that you can check for line of site. The app/site could then give you a star chart for that time at your location, marking on the star chart where the satellite is.
You could then note that stars near the satellite on the chart, and note how to find the satellite starting from them (e.g,., "go 2/3 from this star to that star, turn counterclockwise 90 degrees, and go half way to this star...and you are staring right at the satellite").
Then you could go outside, find those same stars, and locate the satellite using them. No stupid fumbling around trying to measure altitude and azimuth. It's just go out, and find a place where you can see your reference stars, and with a glance you can tell if you have line of site on the satellite.
Even better, you should be able to give the app/site a range of times you are available, and let it suggest particularly good times to try to find the satellite. It can look for available times where the satellite is very close to a prominent, easy to find star (or planet...no need to limit this to stars), or when it is in a particularly easy to find spot in a prominent constellation.
I actually mounted an iPhone holder on my Arrow II UHF/VHF satellite antenna for this purpose (though I haven't really had a chance to use it much)
Just pick the next available exam, cram for a couple nights, and get it over with. The Technician exam is much much easier than you think. If you take my advice, fail the test, and prove me wrong, I'll pay the exam fee :P
If you want to talk to some random person in Australia using a system which routes your radio through the internet get an Amateur radio Licence.
If you want to help out in a disaster then get an Amateur radio licence.
We had an emergency a while back where someone got stranded up on the mountain due to a flat tire and they were diabetic so it was an urgent situation. In that case just hitting one repeater they were able to raise anyone in WA state that was listening vs just the local repeater.
Ham radio is a different thing to different people so just because you don't see value in it doesn't mean that others don't find it interesting and a reason to get into the hobby.
As a younger ham it's super frustrating to see this attitude whenever anything internet and/or packet related comes up that people dump on because it's not the thing that they enjoy.
The thing that really grinds my gears is the complete dismissal of anything digital/internet connected as not being worth your time in ham radio. It's actively driving away people who would help drive the state of the art of radio forward(97.1b,c,d).
HamWAN looks really cool (I wish we had something like it in the SF Bay Area).
I'd argue that repeaters linked over something like HamWAN are "RF based", they just happen to use internet protocols, and that's great IMHO.
There's an attitude throughout the certain parts that if it's not fm/cw/ssb then it's not "real" ham radio. As far as I'm concerned anything involving part 97 equipment that would get you fined by the FCC without a license qualifies.
I know a ton of smart, accomplished people who would love to spend more time in the hobby on the digital side, but when they run into this attitude it just ends up driving them away and hurts the hobby as a whole.
While EchoLink doesn't have the same visceral feel that a radio has in your hands, it can be interesting. By connecting those repeaters to EchoLink I can directly broadcast on them. Which is pretty fun.
The other day when it was snowing like hell in Chicago I had a nice chat with a mobile ham using a 2m repeater on the big island of Hawaii.
(Earth-Moon-Earth communication, or moonbounce, is basically to aim your antennas at the Moon and blast as much RF as you can muster at it, in the hopes that someone will pick up your echoes as the arrive back at Earth 2.5 seconds later.)
Anyone having the Moon over their horizon at the same time as Australia does should have a fair shot at working an Aussie at 144MHz and above.
I studied for maybe 2-3 weeks (a chapter a day) and paid $15 to take the test back in October, 2 weeks later I was in the FCC database and made my first check-in on the Alaska Morning NET via a local repeater on a $60 triband handheld.
Now I'm looking to develop these skills and put them to use with my local emergency response teams in Portland, OR.
The Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node (BEECN) program is specifically about aiding in emergency service coordination in the event of the a major earthquake in our area, and the Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs, our local CERT) also utilizing ham radio for emergency service coordination in the event of a communication breakdown.
I definitely encourage anyone with interest in these subjects to get a license.
Hope to eventually make contact with some HNers, till then - 73, KI7QXO
Just seems like a clusterfuck to get the damn thing, the foundation exam is dead simple. I'm totally unsurprised by the dwindling popularity of amateur radio here. Even if the difficulty isn't the driving factor, I'm sure it deters lots of people who otherwise would be interested.
The BaoFeng UV-82 is a great starting point for less than $30.
That's like saying, "In the case of a real emergency, the police allow you to smash in a store window." It's technically true, but it shows a lack of wisdom to offer a statement like that to people who don't know what they're doing, such people who buy a radio and don't have the knowledge required to obtain the relevant FCC license.
In the case of a real emergency, the last thing I want is the ham bands filled with unlicensed operators attempting to use their radios.
Those radios don’t work like they do on TV and in movies. You don’t just pick up the microphone, start talking, and miraculously raise someone. You need to know how to use the myriad of settings. If you don’t know how to use it, you’re just going to waste time and battery. If you do know how to use it, you’re just a little study time away from getting a license, so you might as well get a license. Because you’ll need a license to use the radio to practice. I’ve got a General license, and if I didn’t regularly use my radios, I’d be befuddled in a real emergency. Baofeng’s are cheap, but they are about the most user-unfriendly radios out there, and you’ll need to practice using them.
Summary: get a license.
While that's close there's an important distinction that it's only in the case where you have no other viable options for communications and life or property is in danger.
However if you don't have a license you can't practice so it's really better to spend the tiny effort to get licensed :).
Be careful though, some cheap radios make it easy to accidentally transmit. A tiny burst of static when you turn it on is a transmission for which you need a license - and some radios are almost that easy to transmit.
Best is to get a license, then when your cheap radio sends a message at least you are legal to do that. Or get an expensive radio that doesn't have those quirks.
More details here: http://www.moonbouncers.org/
While ARISS usually schedules contacts between astronauts and people on the ground, perhaps the coolest part is that the astronauts can actually talk to anyone, any time, via the ham radio equipment on ISS. If this is something that interests you, you should give it a try! I’d be curious to know how responsive they are.
Sometimes the radio on the space station is connected to an APRS repeater which will repeat packets. With a very modest home station (a 2 meter radio marketed for use in a car and an omnidirectional antenna) I have communicated with
stations 1000 miles away.
To really have a talk w/ people on the space station you really do want a better station, at the very least a directional Yagi with a rotator.
So here we have the supposed pinnacle of human achievement and international cooperation, and they can't even agree on a common electrical plug and voltage?
Excuse me while I go and cry in my beer..
Rumour has it that there's bolts with imperial thread on one end and metric on the other holding them together in the middle..
I know little about it but the MVPS sounds like one of the ISS' many accomplishments.
I got my technician's level license by using the 'Ham Radio Study' android app which does a good job reinforcing the concepts taught in the ARRL manual. The test banks for each level are all publicly posted and have a rotation of about 3 years for each level.
Edit: Meant to type QSL, not QST.
Contacting one of the astronauts is fairly difficult, as they have no particular scheduled time where they listen it. It just happens to be luck-of-the-draw.
As far as using the repeater, I think most of the radios are stowed. http://www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.html
I've never heard of the EchoLink connection to the ISS...
Do you have details on that?
Hope to hear you guys on the air! DE W9NLS
Looks like quite a feat to qualify a spacecraft power supply!
Question for hams: since USB Power Delivery can supply 20V at 5A, might USB serve as a standardized power source for radio amplifiers? How "clean" is the power?
Probably not. A typical amateur transceiver draws about 300W on transmit, which massively exceeds the 100W limit of USB Power Delivery. A linear amplifier running at the American legal limit will draw as much as 3.5kW.
The de-facto standard for mobile equipment is 13.8v DC +/- 10%, which allows for operation on standard lead-acid batteries.
It's actually a hell of a feat to get any kind of electronics certified for outer space use.
The atmosphere we have blocks a HUGE portion of ionizing radiation, including x-rays and gamma rays. Those forms of energy will play merry hell with any kind of sensitive electronics, so they have to be suitably ruggedized -- far more so than even most military specs which mostly call for shock, impact, and exposure to elements. Since they can be supplying power to sensitive electronics, where half a volt can be the difference between containing and letting out the magic smoke, that sort of regulation is absolutely key.
I would be more concerned about the RF power going back into the USB hub.
The tests are pretty easy and I'd expect most people on this site can get the technician without studying. Test questions are from a pool and you can do practice tests here
I got mine at a HAM fest I went to with my dad 12 years ago. I hadn't studied. It's fairly basic things about radio and legal things like 'can you use amateur radio for business?' (no).
- KD8ECA :)
There are so many things to do -- my favorite is HF CW.
There was a congressional hearing recently where an ARRL representative was asked why amateur systems function when everything else is down. The answer is simple and compelling; the amateur is the owner, technician and operator of his own station with a deep understanding of every part and what is needed to make it work and how to adapt it. Hard headed self sufficiency. Commercial and broadcast systems die when the backups run out of fuel or the Powers That Be take them away. First responders can't quickly fix or replace their systems when something or someone breaks them. Give amateurs a few watts of power -- by any means available -- and they'll cross oceans or talk to people in space using equipment they can carry at a dead run. It's the last thing that still works when all the other gears strip.
And you are entirely welcome to take part in whatever aspect of it you wish. All you need is a license.
QRP Labs has a bunch of cool projects (https://qrp-labs.com/qcx.html). CW is something I haven't learned yet, but is pretty attractive for what it can do, how far it can reach on low power.
I agree. It's amazing how well it works. I've played with FT8 and WSPR and communicated with Australia using 500mw (from the midwest USA).