Accessing Satellites at Low Elevation

In a recent test I’ve conducted with my portable satellite radio setup, I’ve successfully accessed the following satellites even at elevations of only 1 to 2° (very near the horizon!): AO-91, AO-92, IO-86, SO-50, and PO-101 (DIWATA2).

Satellite’s Elevation

A satellite on the horizon is described to have an elevation of 0° (degree) and a satellite directly overhead has an elevation of 90°. A pass may have an elevation anywhere from 0 to 90°.

Low Elevation Pass Satellites
Using a DIY antenna and a portable radio setup to access satellites that are very near the horizon

Establishing Contact

While there are many factors leading to a successful low-elevation contact, the following appears to have the greatest impact:

1. Use of a well-tuned and very directional hi-gain antenna
2. Proper pointing of antennas to satellites (use a smartphone)
3. Correct polarization of antenna elements (twist until you get the best signal)
4. Use hi-power when necessary (10W)

Have you done this test lately? How low an elevation can you access the satellites? If you want to make contact with distant stations via satellite, the only way to do that would be to access satellites when they are very low in the horizon.

To learn how to access satellite repeaters, head directly to Satellite Communications.

Night Sky in Focus
Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)


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