Amateur radio satellites

Updated 2023-05-24

Lars Thunberg – SM0TGU

I am available for SKED if anyone would like locator JO89WK. Please contact me via e-mail lars(at)larsthunberg.se or via AMSAT-SM Twitter @amsat_sm

I have been a radio amateur since 1989, first callsign SM5TGU and current call is SM0TGU. VHF-communication and satellites has been my first choice and I have been active on the RS-sats, AO-10, AO-13, FO-sats etc. I have been active in AMSAT-SM for many years.

After 15 year of radio silence I started a new setup in 2013 at my new QTH in Sollentuna (north of Stockholm). Now my focus is receiving telemetry from VHF and UHF amateur satellites and Cubesats but I can also make SSB or FT4 contacts via satellite if anyone are interested in working locator JO89WK.

From the summer 2018 I am also QRV on HF – digital modes. You can follow me as AMSAT-SM from our Twitter profile.

Jag har varit licensierad radioamatör sedan 1989-talet, först med signalen SM5TGU och efter flytt till Stockholm med nuvarande signal SM0TGU. 1993 gjorde jag lumpen på S1 Enköping som en av de sista telegrafisterna inom armén och fick därmed även licens för kortvågsbanden. Jag körde i början av 1990 mycket satellit bla. från de ryska RS-satelliterna, AO-10 och AO-13. De roligaste stunderna hade jag via DX-satelliten AO-13 där jag med enkel utrustning körde stora delar av världen. Jag har även byggt egna digitala modem (tex. packet och RTTY) och antenner av olika slag.

Sedan min flytt till Stockholm i slutet av 90-talet hade jag en längre period där jag var QRT men under 2013 har jag åter igen börjat lyssna på satelliter och mitt främsta intresse är nu telemetrimottagning. Jag har alltid varit med runt styrelsen i AMSAT-SM och följer kontinuerligt utvecklingen inom vår hobby. Jag kan med nuvarande utrustning lyssna på samtliga forsknings- och amatörradiosatelliter som sänder på radioamatörbanden på VHF och UHF.

Från sommaren 2018 är jag även QRV på HF och då främst digitala mode FT8.

Jag är aktiv inom föreningen AMSAT-SM som är en intresseförening inom amatörradiosatelliter. Alla mina blogginlägg skriver jag på föreningens hemsida och Twitter.


Current radio setup

VHF/UHF yagi setup
This is my primary setup for receiving and transmitting via satellites:

  • 4 meter 50mm steel pole/mast.
  • Rotor RAS from SPID Elektronik – computer controlled via USB.
  • 2 * 7 el X-Yagi PA144-CROSS-14-3.5AP from Antenna-Amplifiers. Fixed Right Hand circulation.
  • Special order 26 el UHF LFA X-Yagi (2* 13 el) from InnovAntennas.
  • CX-600N coax relay placed after the UHF LNA and before the yagi, switching between vertical and horizontal.
  • 2x16m RFC 400 low loss coax with N connectors (one for VHF, one for UHF). I have measured the loss after the LNA at the antenna to the SDR unit in office and it is very small, approx 1 dB.
  • LNA from SHF-Elektronik: Mini-2 and Mini-70.
  • Icom IC-9700 with PTRX-9700 panadapter and Airspy Mini.
AlfaSpid RAS Az/El rotor
AlfaSpid RAS Az/El rotor during testing before first setup
Coax cable support for the UHF X-yagi
LNAs and coax relays mounted in a simple box 15 liter from SmartStore

SatNOGS station
Start of SatNOGS station was in july 2019 and is base on Rasberry PI3 and an Airspy Mini. My station ID is: 858 – SM0TGU – VHF
More information about SatNOGS can be found here.

SatNOGS Raspberry PI and Airspy Mini SDR

At the moment I’m testing a disconne antenna.

Normally, for VHF 145 MHz I’m using a Vinnant Turnstile Antenna (Crossed Dipole) from Vinnant Antennas. It is a very good omni antenna for satellite RX and is Right Hand Circular Polarized (RHCP) and gives a much less fading of the signal. It is also OK for various scanning in a wider freq spectrum.

For UHF 436 MHz I have tried several antennas (V-dipole, Eggbeater, Turnstile Crossed Dipole, fixed yagis…)

The current setup for SatNOGS station is:

  • Disconne antenna 08-ANT-0861 (currently installed)
    or
  • Vinnant Turnstile Antenna (Crossed Dipole) RCHP 145MHz antenna
  • MFJ-916BN VHF/UHF diplexer connecting two antennas to the feedline coax (not used at the moment)
  • Aprox 19 m RFC 400 low loss coax with N connectors
Disconne antenna 08-ANT-086

NOAA 137 MHz weather images

For receiving NOAA weather images I am using software WXtoImg and my 145 MHz VHF antennas.


HF, 50 MHz and other

With the Sky Loop antenna I can receive signal from all continents with FT8 and my signal has been heard on all continents with 200mW WSPR.

  • 84m Sky Loop antenna tuned with LDG RT-100 remote tuner with approx 20 m Hyperflex 10 coax cable (new cable installed Oct 2022)
  • Home made 50 MHz dipole
  • Digital modes with WSJT-X software, FL-Digi, JT8CALL etc.
RT-100 remote tuner and connection box for the Sky Loop antenna
50 MHz dipole under the disconne
50 MHz dipole under the disconne

SDR-radio and decoding software

  • Airspy Mini
  • SDRPlay RSP1A
  • RTL-SDR v3  SDR Dongle (in a box right now, for backup…)
  • Main software: SDR-Radio v3 with satellite tracking, frq doppler control and rotor control.
  • SDR#
  • PstRotator for controlling the RAS rotor, IC-9700 and linking with SDR Console.
  • Several software for telemetry decoding, sound piping, tracking etc. (Soundmodem, DK3WN telemetry software etc).

HF/VHF/UHF Transceivers


Portable equipment
This is my portable setup for different configurations. Please feel free to comment – anything that should be changed or added? One very good link/article about a portable setup is this one from Ivo Klinkert, PA1IVO.

Transceiver

ICOM IC-705
For simplex FM satellites
ICOM IC-9700
For full duplex, but heavy

Batteries

Antenna VHF/UHF

Arrow
Mini diplexer
  • HyperFlex 5 coax cables

Antenna HF, cables and connectors

  • OM0ET UltraLight Magnetic Loop antenna 40 – 10 meter band.
  • ZM-2 Z-match QRP tuner, can be used with the EFHW antenna without the 1:64 trafo!
  • BNC connectors as standard
  • HyperFlex 5 coax cable (short, aprox 7 meter)

And a simple FM sat setup

  • Icom IC-705
  • Arrow with diplexer

Portable Windows Computer

  • My ”home” laptop
  • SDR-Console V3 that also handles doppler tuning. See this post.
  • Or doppler tuning via WLAN or USB with PstRotator

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