Well, it is a beautiful day in the woods far from
any cell phone tower. Our camp is setup now and it is time to call
home. The antenna is packed,
rolled up neatly in its own bag. I unroll the bag revealing all of
its parts tucked in various pockets. In about 6 minutes, the antenna
is put together and ready to be connected to the radio. The heaviest
thing in my backpack is a 12 volt nickel metal hydride battery. This
too is connected to the radio and the rig is turned on.
The radio is an ICOM W32A duel band portable transceiver.
The target today is a space satellite called AO-27. This satellite
receives on 145.850 MHz and transmits on 436.800 MHz FM.
If one person on one part of the planet in line of
site of the satellite was transmitting, another person on another part of
the planet in line of site of the satellite was receiving; they could talk
to each other.
The antenna being used here is a narrow beam dual band
antenna which is held pointing directly at the place in the sky where we
hope the satellite is. It is difficult to hear the transmitter
of this satellite because it transmits with only about 8/10th
of a watt of power.
There are other satellites one could talk in on.
Also, with approval, one could talk to the International Space Station.
These satellites and the space station are described at the
AMSAT web site
The amateur radio satellites are called OSCARs or Orbiting
Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio. These series of small satellites
were initiated for radio amateurs to experience satellite tracking and participate
in radio propagation experiments. Transmitting low-powered signals, these
satellites have become increasingly sophisticated. More recently, they have
served many school science groups, provided emergency communications for
disaster relief, acted as technology demonstrators, and sent back pictures
of the Earth.
The first amateur radio satellite was launched in December
of 1961 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The OSCAR One
Satellite, as it was called, was launched along with a United States Air
A group of amateurs in California formed a project
called OSCAR and persuaded the United States Air Force to replace ballast
on the upper stage of the payload with the OSCAR One package. This satellite
was a box shaped cube with a single rod antenna. It had no solar power
capabilities, rather it was battery powered. After the OSCAR One Satellite
was set in orbit, the low power transmitter transmitted a morse code signal
(hi-hi) on the VHF 145 MHz 2 meter band for three weeks until it discharged
its batteries. Over 500 Amateurs in 28 countries reported receiving the
simple morse code. The OSCAR One satellite re-entered the atmosphere in
January of 1962 after 312 revolutions.