Tag Archives: Dan Van Hoy

CQ Satellite: ARISS FM Repeater, Ham Sats, Tracking, Antennas, and Looking At The Future

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy (VR2HF), who shares the following guest post:


ARISS FM Repeater May Be Back on Early December and a Short Ham Satellite Summary

by Dan Van Hoy (VR2HF)

I’ve recently had a lot of fun learning about the current batch of ham satellites and operating through some of them for the past several months with only a Diamond discone (and a short run of RG-213 double-shielded coax), Yaesu FT-817 (for SSB/CW) and TYT TH-9800 for FM satellites (more power, Scotty!). This simple set-up has yielded hours and hours of great fun. The last time I did satellite work was in the ’70s making contacts from my car through Oscar 6. If I had a car here in Hong Kong I might try it again!

Here’s my living room TV tray and sofa shortwave and satellite station (no XYL in house at the moment).

ARISS FM Repeater

One of the recent highlights for both newcomers to satellite operations and old-timers was working the International Space Station’s (ISS) new FM repeater which came on the air in early September. It is a specially modified Kenwood D710-GA VHF/UHF transceiver. Unfortunately, it was only operational for about a month. For the past several weeks it has been used mostly in APRS mode.

The ARISS FM repeater runs five watts and sounds just like a regular terrestrial repeater in many ways. You can work it with any dual-band VHF/UHF FM rig and the right antenna. Full-duplex is not required, but it helps. Lower power requires some kind of gain antenna, but receiving can be done with simple antennas.

The ARISS organization just updated the schedule for the ARISS operation with this announcement:

“Next mode change (cross band repeater) targeting early December.”

YEAH! What a nice Christmas present!

Here’s a link to the full ARISS information page:

https://www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.html

ARISS QSO with E21EJC

Here’s a Youtube video of one of my ARISS contacts with E21EJC. It was right after he came back from his DXpedition hauling microwave gear and dishes out to the Thai countryside to work the QO-100 geosynchronous satellite. I tell him “welcome home and have a good rest.” Kob really is “Mr Satellite!” He has posted hundreds of Youtube videos of satellite contacts.

In addition, here is video of their HS0AJ/P special “portable” station antennas for QO-100. 10 GHz RX dish (downlink) and 2.4 GHz TX dish (the big one). I listened to Kob and his friend make several QSOs via the QO-100 WebSDR:

Amazing the things we hams do just to spray some RF in the right direction!

Beyond the ARISS: A Ham Satellite Summary

Presently, AO-91 is probably the most popular FM satellite, along with SO-50, AO-27 and PO-101. RS-44, a linear satellite for SSB and CW, is far and away the most popular for those modes. RS-44 is in a higher orbit providing less Doppler shift and longer contact times per pass. You can easily see from the Amsat status page which satellites are in operation and which are the most popular. Many of the ham satellites do not provide two-way communication capability, but still have beacons (CW and data) that can be heard (those are in YELLOW on the Amsat status page). Everyone with a ham callsign can contribute by by uploading a reception report of the satellites you hear or work.

Full-duplex on SSB/CW satellite work is very desirable but not mandatory. I have learned you can make contacts without it coupled with a little skill and some luck. Staying near the center of the satellite’s particular passband is helpful. Sadly, there are few full-duplex rigs available these days. One of the best may be the Yaesu FT-847 which can be found on the used market. Some satellite ops are using SDRs for RX and a ham rig for TX to achieve full-duplex. I’m going to try that soon using two Diamond discones and vertical separation.

For current status of all ham satellites and ARISS operation, go here:

https://www.amsat.org/status/index.php

Tracking

For tracking the ham sats and ISS, I like the Heavens-Above app (or Webpage: https://heavens-above.com/). The Pro version of Heavens Above is worth every penny. In the app, I put only the active satellites I am interested in in the search box. That way all the remaining unusable satellites will be ignored. Heavens-Above also lists the satellite operating frequencies for a quick reference.

 

One cool side note. With Heavens-Above, you can also see when ISS visible passes are available over your area (almost always near sunrise/sunset). Look for the passes with a magnitude greater than -3.0. If you have clear skies or a thin layer of clouds it’s quite a treat to see the ISS zoom overhead at 17, 000 miles per hour. When the ARISS repeater is operating, you can see and hear the ISS! The screen shot above is a visible pass at -3.9 magnitude, as bright as Venus.

Antennas

I have found my Diamond discone to work quite well for satellite operation. It’s probably the cheapest, simplest and most effective antenna you can use for this application If you really get interested in satellite work you can always spend the big bucks for AZ/EL rotators and beams as well as the software to run it all including tuning your rig to compensate for Doppler shift. Or you can buy quite expensive omni-directional antennas designed specifically for satellite use. So far, the KISS approach has worked well for me.

The Future Is Now

Finally, we can all get a taste of the future now by listening to the only ham radio geosynchronous satellite currently in operation, QO-100. It is centered on Europe and covers about 1/3 of the earth from Brazil to parts of Asia.

It was a thrill for me to listen (via the WebSDR listed below) to one of my new satellite colleagues, Mr Kob, E21EJC, who I call “Mr Satellite,” work Brazil and many other stations in the EU, the Middle-east and elsewhere through QO-100 during a special event operation from Thailand.

Anybody can listen to activity on QO-100 at the link below. When you get there just find the CLICK TO START SOUND! button. Then, click UNDER one of the signals in the waterfall and tune with the controls below. Weekends and holidays seem to be the best time to listen.

https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Because both the uplink and downlink frequencies are way up in the microwave bands, it’s not easy to get on QO-100, but, it appears to me, worth the effort. Maybe one day we will have two more QO-100-like birds linked together to cover the whole earth for 24/7 communication anywhere in the world. One can dream.

Full details about the QO-100 geosynchronous satellite can be found here:

https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geo/eshail-2/

CQ Satellite!

When the propagation is bad, or actually anytime, ham satellites are a wonderful alternative to HF for having fun on the air.

Sorry, gotta go, RS-44 is just about here. CQ satellite, CQ satellite, de VR2HF…


Thank you so much for the satellite overview, Dan!

You’ve inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and try a little satellite work! The perfect project to do with my two daughters. I’m such a “below 30MHz” guy, I have to remind myself that there are actually some pretty amazing things you can do further up the band! When I purchase a discone antenna, I’m going to accuse you of being an enabler. Fair warning.

SWLing Post readers: Anyone else here tune to and track satellites? Please comment!

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K9ZDK: Return of a Silent Key

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy (VR2HF), who writes:

It was one of the most sublime moments in my 55+ years in radio. Almost every night I listen to shortwave station, KNLS in Anchor Point, Alaska, from my home in Hong Kong. KNLS broadcasts to Asia and the Pacific in English, Russian and Mandarin. The English broadcast is an amazing mix of secular and Christian music and topics, science, current affairs and more. It has something for both the seeker and the saint and is one of the most informative and entertaining shows on radio.

On this particular Monday evening, August 3, 2020, I tuned in late to the English broadcast from KNLS at 1000 UTC, but went on to listen to the remainder of the show. To my complete surprise as the show closed I heard “73 de K9ZDK” in Morse code and quickly wrote down that callsign. I assumed it was the engineer on duty, obviously a ham, having a little on-air fun with a big transmitter and antenna.

A few minutes later, I also heard “CQ de K9ZDK” at the beginning of the Russian program at 1100 UTC. So, I looked up K9ZDK on QRZ.com and found it was Zavier, a young ham who had become a silent key in June of 2019.

Zavier Klingensmith (K9ZDK) Silent Key

A little more online sleuthing and a phone call later revealed that his father, Thomas, KL0K, was at the controls of KNLS that night sending Zavier’s final CQ and 73 on this planet with at least 1 million watts of power (ERP: 100KW TX + 10dBd TCI curtain array) all around Asia and the Pacific. His call on CW was heard on every English, Russian and Mandarin show that evening over 16 hours of broadcasts (two Continental 100 KW transmitters). Wow!

In Zavier’s memory, Thomas has created a DIY kit for an Iambic Keyer and is offering it for FREE (though you might want to send some $$ for his production and mailing costs…my suggestion) to anyone who asks. Details can be found at Thomas’, KL0K, QRZ page. Maybe one of the first things you can send when your keyer is completed is,”K9ZDK de YOUR CALL, 73 OM!”

Thomas, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Thanks for the amazing on-air tribute to Zavier. I suspect he was listening with a big, big smile!

Dan VR2HF, Hong Kong
(K7DAN, USA)

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Radio Waves: Research on Gen Z Listenership, Early Women in Radio, Carlos Latuff Interview, and “Your Next Tech Purchase Should Be a Radio”

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Jeb, Dennis Dura, and Dan Van Hoy for the following tips:


Edison Research: 55% Of Gen Z Listen to AM/FM Radio Every Day But… (Radio Insight)

n their latest Share Of Ear study, Edison Research notes that over 55% of 13-24 year-olds listen to AM/FM radio daily.

However the study notes that these Gen Z listeners spend 50% less of their total share of time listening to AM/FM radio than the average 13+ population meaning they spend less time with radio than older generations. They also mostly listen to AM/FM in the car with 50% of their listening coming in vehicles. The study also notes that these 13-24 year-olds use a radio receiver 50% less than the average 13+ population, and they use their phones for listening 75% more than the average 13+ population with 58% more of their total share of time listening to streaming audio than the average 13+ population. Their share of YouTube listening, which is surveyed only for music and music videos, is 98% higher than the average 13+ population.

The study also notes that 89% of their listening to AM/FM is done through a traditional radio and only eleven percent coming from streaming of broadcast brands.[]

The Women Who Overcame Radio’s Earliest Glass Ceilings (Radio World)

Before the dawn of broadcasting, women were frequently hired as wireless operators, and so it was not a surprise that women’s voices were heard as announcers and program hosts in the early days of broadcast radio.

Sybil Herrold was perhaps the world’s first disc jockey; she played Victrola records on her husband Charles Herrold’s experimental station, which broadcast in San Jose from 1912 to 1917.

In Boston, Eunice Randall’s voice was heard on a variety of programs over AMRAD station 1XE (which became WGI in 1922). In New York City, WOR audiences regularly heard Jesse Koewing, who was identified on the air only as “J.E.K.” while Betty Lutz was the popular “hostess” heard on WEAF.

At WAHG (now WCBS), 16-year-old Nancy Clancy was billed as the country’s youngest announcer.[]

Coffee and Radio Listen – Episode 2 Carlos Latuff (Coffee and Listen)

Carlos Henrique Latuff de Sousa or simply “Carlos Latuff”, for friends, (born in Rio de Janeiro, November 30, 1968) is a famous Brazilian cartoonist and political activist. Latuff began his career as an illustrator in 1989 at a small advertising agency in downtown Rio de Janeiro. He became a cartoonist after publishing his first cartoon in a newsletter of the Stevadores Union in 1990 and continues to work for the trade union press to this day.

With the advent of the Internet, Latuff began his artistic activism, producing copyleft designs for the Zapatista movement. After a trip to the occupied territories of the West Bank in 1999, he became a sympathizer for the Palestinian cause in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and devoted much of his work to it. He became an anti-Zionist during this trip and today helps spread anti-Zionist ideals.

His page of Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carloslatuff/) currently has more than 50 thousand followers, where of course, you can see his work as a cartoonist and also shows his passion on the radio.[]

Your Next Tech Purchase Should Be a Radio (PC Mag)

As the pandemic drags on, it’s time to return to a slower, older technology, one that frees you from the unending sameness served up by algorithms.

Quarantine has slowed everything down so much that it almost feels like we’re going back in time. The first few weeks were measured in sourdough starter, then in seeds sprouting from patches planted in backyards or squeezed into space on windowsills. Things are quieter now, but maybe too quiet.

Commutes used to be accompanied by music and podcasts piped in through earphones or car speakers. This casual sensory stimulation seems disposable, but it’s one of many small pleasures that have slipped away nearly—but not quite—unnoticed.

That’s why it’s time to return to a slower, older technology that can provide auditory companionship and match the new pace of your days: the radio.

Radios, more affordable and portable than TVs, used to be household staples and a more intimate part of people’s days—a companion in the bath or during a solitary drive or walk. Now they’re mostly found in go bags and as vehicle infotainment center afterthoughts.[]


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NASA’s SCAN testbed was an orbiting multi-function SDR

SCAN Testbed (Source: NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Dan (VR2HF) who writes:

“This looks like the world’s most expensive SDR to me. And a little mysterious. Like quantum computing!”

(Source: NASA)

Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN) Testbed

The SCAN Testbed, formerly known as Communications, Navigation, and Networking reConfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT), served as a test facility for NASA research on radio communications and the Global Positioning System (GPS).

SCAN Testbed on International Space Station (Source: NASA)

The SCAN Testbed was launched on July 20, 2012 on a Japanese H-IIB Transfer Vehicle and installed in the International Space Station to provide an on-orbit, adaptable software-defined radio (SDR) facility with corresponding ground and operational systems. This permitted mission operators to remotely change the functionality of radio communications through software once deployed to space, offering them flexibility to adapt to new science opportunities and recover from anomalies within the science payload or communication system.

The SCAN Testbed payload was used to conduct a variety of experiments with the goal of further advancing other technologies, reducing risks on other space missions, and enabling future mission capabilities.

After seven successful years, and more than 4,200 hours of testing, it was decommissioned June 3, 2019 as it burned up in the trunk of SpaceX CRS-17 upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

To learn more:
Communications Testbed Leaves Legacy of Pioneering Technology 
2019 Space Technology Hall of Fame: Ka-Band Software-Defined Radio (SDR)/Harris AppSTAR™ Architecture
NASA’s Space Communications Testbed
Unique Testbed Soon will be in Space
SCAN Testbed Celebrates One Year Anniversary
Glenn Research Center SCAN Testbed

Thank you for sharing this, Dan! I had never heard of the SCAN testbed. I can only imagine what it might have been capable of accomplishing from orbit. I dare say there are even more powerful SDRs orbiting the planet at this moment!

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Live Frequencies for HF ATC Traffic

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy (VR2HF), who writes:

Like many, I enjoy listening to HF ATC traffic, all on USB, of course. I’ve been doing it since my teen years. Recently, I discovered ARINC posts live frequencies on their Webpage for both the Atlantic and Pacific. The pages will need to be refreshed to get the latest changes:

No more guessing or searching around. Enjoy!

Wow!  Thanks so much for the tip, Dan! I, too, love listening to HF ATC traffic and will bookmark both of these pages. If you’re new to HF ATC monitoring, note that all of these frequencies are in SSB (Single Side-Band).

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Radio Waves: Radio Listeners Key to Economy, DXcamp Updates, Coronavirus Hospital Radio, and Hamvention QSO Party

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dennis Dura, Martin Butera, and Dan Van Hoy for the following tips:


Nielsen: Heavy Radio Listeners Are Key To Restarting U.S. Economy. (Inside Radio)

With 39 states beginning to relax restrictions imposed to diminish the spread of the coronavirus, many Americans are ready to pick up the pieces and get back to their previous lifestyles. An online survey of 1,000 persons aged 18+, conducted from April 30-May 2, found nearly two thirds (63%) say they plan to resume normal activities next month. Conducted by Nielsen, the survey also shows heavy radio listeners are key to driving commerce and supporting the economy since they’re more likely to go out and shop once COVID-19 eases in their market.

Presenting the findings during a client webinar Friday afternoon, Tony Hereau, Nielsen VP of Cross-Platform Insights, summed up the top takeaway succinctly: “AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of America’s re-opening and reemergence.”[]

Marajo Dxcamp updates

Ivan Dias and Martin Butera inform us about their most recent update on the receptions of the last DXcamp on the Amazonian Island of Marajo, in the north of Brazil.

Interesting medium wave receptions from the following link
https://dxcamp-marajo2019.blogspot.com/p/only-log.html

Be sure to visit the official website of the Dxcamp, where you will find a lot of material about this important event
https://dxcamp-marajo2019.blogspot.com/

The Tiny Radio Stations That Lift Spirits in Hospitals (NY Times)

LONDON — Last Wednesday, Steve Coulby, a D.J. for Nottingham Hospitals Radio in England, read out a request from a patient battling Covid-19.

“Brian, you’ve given me an awesome responsibly, as you’ve asked for ‘any jazz,’” Mr. Coulby said. “I have to admit,” he added, “what I know about jazz is limited.”

Mr. Coulby then told his listeners he’d spent much of the day searching jazz tracks online, looking for one that might aid Brian’s recovery, or at least lift his mood. He decided on “Let Me Into Your Heart” by the British singer Isaac Waddington.

“I hope it’s good enough, Brian,” Mr. Coulby said, with a nervous laugh. “To be honest, it’s all you’re getting.”

Britain’s hospital radio stations are one of the less well-known features of its health system: tiny operations, staffed by volunteers, that you would never know existed unless you’d been a patient here.

Patients can normally listen to the shows, which are heavy on chart music and old hits, using headphones connected to an entertainment unit beside their beds. In some cases, the shows are even played out of speakers on the wards or in the emergency room waiting area.

The end of hospital radio has been declared many times over in Britain. Some hospital stations have struggled to raise funds, while the rise of smartphones filled with music and radio apps has meant patients have less need for them. But there are still over 200 such stations, according to the Hospital Broadcasting Association, and some claim they have found themselves more useful than ever during the pandemic, providing a human connections to patients who would otherwise be alone.[]

Hamvention QSO Party Saturday May 16! (Hamvention.org)

Let’s celebrate the many years we have all had at the Great Gathering we call Hamvention. We also want to remember Ron Moorefield W8ILC who never missed a Hamvention and contributed to our club until his recent death.Let’s light up the airwaves with our remembrances of Hamventions of the past! See you on the air! K3LR, Tim Duffy and W8CI, Michael Kalter.

Here is the deal: 12 hour event, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDST on Saturday of Hamvention May 16, 2020.  Operate CW or SSB on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. The exchange is a signal report and first year you attended Hamvention. If you have never attended Hamvention you send 2020.

Send your score (number of QSOs) to 3830scores.com within 5 days of the event. You can print a certificate on line via www.HVQP.org. More details will appear on the Hamvention QSO Party web site being set up now.

Special bonus: W8BI, the club call of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA is the host of Hamvention) will be activated by designated DARA members from their home stations. You can add 10 points for each band/mode QSO with W8BI (12 available). So you can earn 120 bonus points (like having 120 additional QSOs).


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Dan’s Fridge Counterpoise and Butter Cookie Signal Booster

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Van Hoy, who writes:

Here’s something you and the SWLing Post bunch might enjoy. My latest innovation in signal enhancement. Listening to KNLS from Anchor Point, Alaska on the 30m band. Not sure how much signal gain is achieved with the butter cookie tin, but it looks intriguing! And the 40 KV electrolyte just happened to be in the area. I’m sure it adds at least another 3dB to the received signal strength. ??

Continuing the relentless pursuit for better radio!

Ha ha! I had no idea that Danish Butter Cookies could help with DX! So much better than setting the Skywave SSB on an Altoids tin! Thanks for the chuckle, Dan!

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