Previously, when I have been operating the various amateur radio satellites I have been operating out of my car, listening with my FT-60 into a K5OE Handi-Tenna and transmitting with my FT-7800 into a vertical. While this has been very fruitful for QSOs, I have longed for a easier solution not requiring me to head out to my car every time I wanted to operate, something that would give me a little more free range of motion then just hanging my arm out my window, and possibly have something that could be used to pick up the various weather satellites. Plus
There are commercial solutions to my problem, namely the the Arrow II Satellite Antenna who’s name is nearly synonymous with portable satellite operation. However, since I am thrifty (read: cheap) that was way out of my price range. Plus, antennas are just hunks of metal whipped in some kind of strange shape. You’re paying someone to assemble it.
While I have no chance of designing something like that, I thankfully have a friend who is infinitely more talented in such matters. Steve, KB1MEH, the same one who helped me with my original Handi Tenna heard my laments and whipped up a design to rival Arrow’s. Last weekend, he drilled the boom and I cut elements to size and this weekend, we had our first tests.
Unfortunately, we had mixed results. Test #1 was at Fort Taber / Fort Rodman. I tried to operate AO-51 on a 10 degree eastern pass but with no luck. After I failed miserably, we then tried to raise various repeaters. Hit Falmouth with 2W (15mi over ocean). After having a quick QSO and a signal report from KB1QBZ, I tried Fall River with 5W (15mi over land) and then Cranston, RI with 5W (30mi over land). I think I might have done better, but I’ve heard repeated claims of New Beford being in a bit of a Black Hole of RF. After some tuning around, I was also able to pick up, but not raise, Quincy. Which I can not do from my car even outside the “black hole” areas.
Me talking with KB1QBZ
After heading back to my house we tried a better AO-51 pass (74 degrees) and had better luck. While Steve could pick up the satellite better with my older antenna, I was still able to hear it and make two contacts. This was the first time that Steve also ever heard a satellite pass and I think he was surprised at the coverage. I think I was able to raise Quincy, but the mosquitoes were out in force, so further testing was postponed until morning.
It was a mostly successful test run. The 440 RX issue needs to be solved, there are some slight issues with the gamma matches, and I need to buy some kind of handle thingy for the end, but the antenna performed great. It is a fun project and Steve did a great job designing it. Thanks Steve!