Portable Satellite Radio Setup

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.

Satellite Go-Bag (3).jpg
Everything fits in a small waterproof camera bag, with room to spare for some accessories.

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!

Check out more photos of the go-bag below:

In my next post, I will feature the DIY split-boom antenna I use with this setup. To learn how to access satellite repeaters, head directly to Satellite Communications.

Related links:
Satellite Go-Box
DIY Satellite Radio Wins Go-Kit Contest

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

Satellite Demo at a local Hamfest

CQ satellite! I’ve conducted a live demo of a satellite QSO at District 1 Pakulo 2019, a local hamfest held in Tagaytay, Philippines on May 11, 2019. The demo showcased a satellite repeater’s capability to relay signals and enable two-way communications to any point in the Philippines, as well as nearby countries, using inexpensive ham radio equipment.

To the following stations I’ve worked with during the AO-91 pass: JS6DRQ, DU6DKL, DU2XXA, DU4PGS, 7J1ADJ/JR6, and JA6PL—you are all 5-9, thanks for the contact, 73!

To learn how to access satellite repeaters, click here.

Related links:
About Night Sky in Focus
My Satellites Antenna

To view all posts on amateur radio, click here.

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

Super Moon March 2019

Supermoon with Chocobo
Observing the super moon with our pet rooster

We’ve observed last night’s super moon using a 4-inch f/9 telescope. While it is true that the moon will be closer to Earth during a super moon, the difference in size and brightness compared to a non-super moon is so small and so subtle that it will be very difficult to detect such an almost negligible difference, even for amateur astronomers who regularly observe the moon, and use astronomical equipment such as a telescope.

For a list of stargazing events, click here.

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

SSTV Images Received February 15-17, 2019

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.

To lean how to receive SSTV images from the ISS, head directly to Receiving Transmissions from the International Space Station.

To learn more about my progress in amateur radio, click here.
Related link: Amateur Radio

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

SSTV Image from the ISS (October 29, 2018)

SSTV October 29, 2018, 241 am 4G1AWN
SSTV image received and decoded from the International Space Station (ISS) as it passes over the Philippines on October 29, 2018, around 2:41 local time

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).

To learn more about receiving SSTV images from the ISS, click here. To learn more about my progress in amateur radio, click here© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Total Lunar Eclipse (January 31, 2018)

Total Lunar Eclipse January 31 2018
Total Lunar Eclipse taken with a 4-inch f/9 refractor and a DSLR camera on January 31, 2018 at the PAGASA Observatory in UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Stargazing in Antipolo

As you move away from a city, the glaring lights that cause light pollution are greatly diminished, allowing one to see fainter stars. In recent years, Antipolo has been of a particular interest to astronomy enthusiasts, perhaps this is due to its relatively dark skies and short travel distance from Manila. A popular destination is Seven Suites Hotel Observatory, which opened in 1998. This hotel allows you to conduct stargazing sessions in the comforts of a hotel. Another popular site is intended for the outdoor type who wants to setup tents in a camp site–the Big Handy’s Grounds.

For about 7 years now, me and my colleagues–a rather tight group (less than ten people) have been taking astronomical photos from a less known but equally capable site in Antipolo. It has become our favorite observing site because it is safe, it has power (for our laptops, telescopes, and cameras), there are facilities that we can use, and of course, we can arrange exclusive access to the place.

Basically, any place in Antipolo, be it a resort, a campsite, or a full-fledged hotel, should offer skies dark enough for visual and astronomical photography work. If you are into astronomy, find a spot there and start observing!

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)