Tag Archives: Satellite Communications

How many Zombie Satellites are Up There? Scott VE7TIL found another one

From the ARRL:

British Columbia radio amateur Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, has found another “zombie satellite,” as he calls them. This time, he tracked and identified radio signals from the experimental UHF military communication satellite LES-5. Tilley says he found the satellite in what he called a geostationary “graveyard” orbit after noting a modulated carrier on 236.7487 MHz.

“Most zombie satellites are satellites that are no longer under human control, or have failed to some degree,” Tilley told National Public Radio (NPR) earlier this month. It’s not clear whether LES-5 is still capable of receiving commands.

Link: http://www.arrl.org/news/radio-amateur-finds-another-zombie-satellite

One wonders how many of these Zombie Satellites are up there?



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Iran’s Satellite perhaps a US Built University CubeSat?

Fellow ham Scott K4KDR’s found Iran’s NOUR 01 “satellite” in orbit by tracking its transmission.  He further researched what the “satellite” most likely is.

What is interesting is the “satellite” appears to be a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) CubeSat designed and built in the USA!  Would appear that a 3U CubeSat (about 5-1/4 inch cube) was diverted to Iran and was flown largely with default configurations.

Continue reading

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When Secret Sats Spy on Us, Just Spy Right Back

The technology that is available to an interested soul is boggling. Here is an account of how two Frenchmen have developed a science of “watching the watchers!”

From mysterious robotic space planes to giant spy satellites the size of school buses, space is teeming with secret American hardware meant to gaze down on insurgents, terrorists and, well, everybody on the third rock from the sun.

For mere proles like you and me, it can be hard to get a straight answer from the Air Force, NASA and other space-faring agencies about precisely what is up there, what it’s doing and where exactly it all is at a given moment.

Now a pair of enterprising Frenchmen have decided to answer at least one of those questions for themselves, using a modified consumer-grade telescope, a small motor, a hand-held controller and a video camera. The result is a do-it-yourself satellite tracker capable of recording the movements of America’s most secretive spacecraft.

via When Secret Sats Spy on Us, Monsieur Legault Spies Back | Danger Room | Wired.com.



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Make: Online – Catching satellites on ham radio

Another great MAKE: Magazine/Blog/Online article – this one on Satellite Operations:

Catching Satellites On Ham Radio

My favorite ham activity is making contacts via satellites. Not only is there the romantic notion of sending messages into outer space, but you have to trace the orbit of the satellite with your antenna while tuning the radio, to compensate for the Doppler effect.

The satellites AO-51, SO-50, and AO-27 orbit the Earth acting as repeaters. Repeaters are automated relay stations that allow hams to send signals over a greater distance using low-power hand held transceivers. The satellites allow hams to relay messages from Earth to space and back to other hams somewhere on the planet. The International Space Station (ISS) also has a repeater, but occasionally, if you’re lucky, the astronauts turn on their radios to make contact directly with hams on the ground.

The following instructions will get you started listening to birds (satellites) on FM, which can be done with a simple VHF/UHF FM radio with a whip antenna, without the need of a ham license. For better coverage, you can use a Yagi antenna (like the one pictured above) connected to a mutli-mode radio and a license (if you want to transmit). A Yagi antenna can also be used to improve the signal of your hand held radio.

via Make: Online » Catching satellites on ham radio.

Have to get back at my duplexer & antenna project, and work those birds!

Oh, did I mention the article is by YL Diana Eng KC2UHB?




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Satellites with Vic KC9NWB & Winston KC9FVR Update – 2

Well we are not quite there with the Satellite Work.

Programing the Yaesu VX-7R has proven to be a learning curve. Somewhere I have the cable & software to do it from a Windows Machine, but that isn’t useful when we were traveling with only my work computer (a MacBook) running OS-X.

Also the frequencies we downloaded and programed after puzzling over odd-split frequency memory storage command sequences were out of date – they were never going to work and given that they asked to program in steps smaller than the VX-7R is capable of, they appear to be “theoretical guidance” rather than “practical instructions!”

In the end we improvised and were able to listen to QSOs on AO-51 (ECHO) with ease.

As we were remote for the weekend, operating from EN55uu it is a bit of a shame that we didn’t get the transmit portion sorted out. Will be trying again from the home QTH (EN64dc) this week.

Both Vic KC9NWB and Winston KC9FVR had a blast trying and look forward to logging our first successful QSOs soon!



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Satellites with Vic KC9NWB Update

Well here we are at Independence Day Weekend! Always love the fireworks and fun, thoughts of the more serious side of why we remember the date, and of course time with family.

Victor KC9NWB and I hope to do a spot of work with the Elk Satellite antenna I purchased when I realized my workload was going to ramp up leaving me less family time. That limited time could be spent building or if I did a buy, it could be spent operating. Well the build can wait for winter!

We have the plots for the long weekend printed out, the VX7 charged and ready, and finally all the gear in place!

Wish us luck and a full report later in the week!



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