I was invited to conduct a live satellite demo at the Philippine Navy as part of the exit presentation of DOST-Balik-Scientist CDR Leo Almazan USN (ret) at the Pascual Ledesma Naval Station in Cavite, Philippines. We’ve accessed DIWATA2 (PO-101) and had successful contact with JA6PL (Japan), DV2JHA (Pangasinan), and DU1ELT (Cotabato).
The ability to operate off-the-grid is a huge advantage when hunting satellites. Coupled with a portable antenna, this battery-operated radio setup can be easily carried to any remote DX location while requiring only very minimal prep time (5 minutes). Simply connect a satellite antenna, turn the radio on, select the pre-programmed uplink and downlink frequencies, and you are ready to make contact!
The portable satellite radio setup consists of the following:
1. Kenwood TMV71A full-duplex VHF-UHF radio with microphone 2. 12V 8AH lead-acid battery pack with volt meter 3. Sony recorder 4. Headset 5. Other accessories (not shown) such as SWR meter, patch cable, compass, flashlight, notebook, pencil, etc.
This setup has been used recently in a satellite demo at a local hamfest. Since only 5 watts of power is needed to access the FM satellites, this setup lasts for one week of use (about 50 satellite contacts) in a single charge, perfect for DX-peditions!
Here are the Slow Scan Television (SSTV) images I’ve received from the International Space Station (ISS) from February 15-17, 2019, using a Yaesu FT60 hand-held tranceiver and a smartphone with Robot 36 app as decoder. The audio output of the radio is tapped directly to the microphone input of the smartphone for improved signal decoding.
Transmission received from the International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) has been transmitting images since October 28 and will continue to do so in the next few days. It transmits in SSTV format—the same format used to send images to Earth during the Apollo missions. The transmissions can be received with any radio tuned at 145.8 MHz, and a decoder app such as Robot 36 (try installing that app and decode this recording).
Telescopes and other imaging equipment must be handled with extreme care. Below are some of the hard cases I use in moving my telescope and its accessories, especially when travelling to remote observing sites.