Alfonso Faustino: HAM Satellite Repeaters

Before I begin, I’d like to thank Wade, W5ERX, for introducing me to HAM Satellite Repeaters (hereinafter, in this BLOG, HSR). I was on P25 North America 10200; and, I connected with W5ERX, and through our conversation, he told me about his recent adventure: HAM Satellite Repeaters.

Several satellites in space have HAM analog duplex repeaters on them; and, they are orbiting around the earth. The repeaters use UHF (70-centimeters) and VHF (two-meters). All the HSRs travel at different speeds — somewhere from 6,000 – 21000 miles per hour. You can read more about this stuff on the Internet: AMSAT.org.

As these HSRs orbit the earth, HAM operators try to connect to them within a time-frame, like seven minutes, and make contact with other operators making contact with the satellites within their allotted time-frame passing over-head.

I updated my Motorola APX 8000HXE’s code-plug to include the HAM satellite repeater frequencies. I am tracking ISS (International Space Station), SO-50, AO-91, and AO-92.

Per W5ERX’s recommendation, I downloaded the ISS Detector application to track ISS, SO-50, AO-91, and AO-92. ISS Detector maps my location, and the ISS Detector provides me with the travel path, arrival, and departure of ISS, SO-50, AO-91, and AO92 relative to my location. I use this information to position myself and my antenna to point it to the satellite’s approach path, flight path, and departure path. Pointing my antenna at the ISS or satellite increases my chance of connection to the satellite or ISS and making contact with another operator or astronaut, respectively.

Early this morning, 4-October-2020, at ~0248 Hours PDT, AO-91 passed by my house. I couldn’t pick up any transmissions; next time, I will get to my pent-house — that will give me an LOS to the satellite; and, I hope the LOS will increase my chances of connecting to the repeater and making contact with an operator.

Once I make contact, I will make a recording and upload it to this BLOG.

One of the events I’m anxious to try, is to make contact with ISS or AO-91, AO-92, SO-50 at one of the CARLA sites.

My GOALS are: Receive communications from the satellites or ISS and make a confirmed contact with a HAM operator on the satellites or ISS.

If this BLOG peaked your interest to get into HSR, I’m glad; and, I hope I make contact with you up there in space.

More to follow….

8-October-2019, I received my Arrow II with Duplexer from AMSAT.org.

I put it together and will test it out over the coming weekend.

I am anxious to make contact. More to follow.

I MET MY TWO GOALS after four days of constant static:

14-October-2020, 1215 Hours PDT: I set two goals from myself: Receive a satellite transmission and Send out a satellite transmission to make contact. After days of constant static and not hearing anyone, I was going to give up. Then, I remembered one of the many things my father told me, “son, the chasm between failure and success is paper-thin — people that give up don’t realize how close they came to success.”

So, today, 14-October-2020, instead of giving up, I dragged my Arrow II and my Motorola APX 8000HXE to my penthouse deck, and I tried again — SUCCESS! I met my two goals — I heard, and I transmitted and made contact with two operators on satellite AO-91. NX6E was my first satellite contact.

Thanks, dad — I love you and miss you!

I finally made contact on AO-91. At ~500 miles AGL/ASL above the earth, I finally heard operators making quick contacts with each other. When there was a break, I jumped in with my data: “K6ASF ******.” Then, I got two replies, NX6E — my buddy, Leonard, and another operator that got my call-sign, but I forgot his.

I pulled out my Apple iPhone 11 Pro to record the other operators in the video clip, supra.

Thanks, dad — I love you and miss you! I didn’t give up — I did as you taught me, dad!

17-October-2020, @ 1150 Hours PDT: My mum, sister, and I decided to visit a town near Sacramento, CA, called Auburn. I was on the 80 East. I had my Motorola APX 8000 HXE, and my iPhone 11 Pro sent me an alert indicating that AO-91 was approaching my location from SSE. My sister was driving, and I decided to try to make contact with AO-91.

I put my window down and stuck my Motorola APX 8000HXE — all I had was the OEM Motorola rubber-duck antenna; and, I wasn’t expecting to hear anything.

All of a sudden, I heard operators making contact on Satellite AO-91. It was crystal clear. I decided to try to make contact; and, daaaang — I was so surprised! I made contact with an acquaintance of mine in Long Beach, CA, Endaf, N6UTC — confirmed hit!

I pushed the pickle again, and I threw my call-sign out again, and I made contact with WA6DNR. I immediately sent him an email to confirm the hit. He replied back — confirmed hit!

I couldn’t believe that I had two confirmed hits with my Motorola APX 8000HXE using the OEM rubber-duck!

20-October-2020, at 1824 Hours PDT: Satellite AO-27 was coming to my location, so I hooked up my Arrow II to my Motorola APX 8000HXE. This was a new satellite for me; so, I really wanted to score a hit with this satellite. I pushed the pickle and threw my call-sign out; and, I made a confirmed hit with Endaf, N6UTC — great!!! I really enjoy satellite contacts!

1-November-2020, at 1010 Hours PST: I was parked in Albany, Ca, waiting for my sister to get back from her jogging with her friend. Satellite, AO-91 was approaching my location. All I had was my OEM Motorola APX 8000HXE rubber-duck connected to my Motorola APX 8000HXE. I had a trees blocking me — I thought I’d give it a try — I pushed the pickle and threw my call-sign out. It was busy and noisy — I made another confirmed hit with Endaf, N6UTC! Great hit!

I pushed the pickle again, and I made contact

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)

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