Things at K5ND are always changing. That’s part of what I like about amateur radio – there are so many things to do that you never run out of options for brand new adventures. And, since I love learning new things, that’s what I do.

IC-910H VHF Multi-Mode Rig

You’ll recall that I purchased a used IC-910H about a year ago. My intent was to expand into VHF-UHF weak signal work and contesting. And that’s what I’ve been doing, with a few encouraging contest results in the Single-Operator 3-Band category along with a few VHF-UHF tropo openings.

I also thought that it would be fun to try some satellite QSOs. After all, you can only listen to white noise so long.

Antennas

Satellite Antennas at K5NDI started out with Cheap Yagis that work quite well for terrestrial contacts and did pretty good for satellites. But I thought I might like to try something different – as always. This time I wanted to take into account that my primary activity would be satellites.

After a bit of search, I found some Diamond antennas that seemed to fit. I picked up the A144S5 5-element 2 meter yagi and the A430S10 10-element 70cm yagi. I also added the Diamond SB144R that’s normally used to place two 2 meter yagis in a stacked array. But I chose to mount the 2m yagi on one end and the 70 cm yagi on the other. The distance between them on that boom is 4 feet.

They are both vertically polarized and I’ve elected to tilt them upright at 10 degrees as an average of what I see with satellite elevation, since I don’t have an elevation rotator. BTW – I used a leveling app on my iPhone to set the elevation.

Early Testing

Early testing on the FO-29 Satellite yielded good results. The signals (with my ARR preamps as well) sounded better. Plus, I didn’t notice as much fading as the satellite went to higher elevations. I could also hear my CW signals at the satellite with about 2 degrees elevation. So they appear to work.

I’m not quite as pleased with the SWR bandwidth of the 70 cm antenna. It does hold at less that 1.4 across the 432 to 440 band, which is actually quite remarkable. But that still seems to be too high for the IC-910H, which lowers the power output exactly in the middle of the satellite frequencies. That may be more rig related than antenna related. More thought needed there.

Six Meter Antenna and Pushup Mast

I took down the Innovantennas 6 meter 3-element LFA Yagi as part of the effort to bring down the cheap yagis and install the satellite antennas. I haven’t yet put up the LFA and I believe I’m going to store it for a while. Instead, I’ll put the Par Electronics 6 meter stressed moxon in it’s place. It’s smaller, fits better in that compressed side yard, and won’t blow around so much in the wind. I’m reasonably confident that I’ll still be able to work the six meter Es when it shows up. We’ll see.

The pushup mast gave me quite a bit of trouble to slide it back down. I feel the stress under the wind is bending it a bit and making it very challenging for raising and lowering it. We’ll see what happens with my next antenna update.

For HF, I’m still using the Cushcraft MA6V for 20 meters through 6 meters. It’s an offset fed dipole that works quite well.

That’s my current adventure. Hope you are having fun with your ham radio adventures. Thanks to everyone that makes ham radio such a wonderful hobby.

I get to talk with some really great people who are always ready to lend a helping hand.

73, Jim, K5ND.

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I will add to this discussion an excellent analysis of satellite antennas from Bob Bruninga, WB4APR. He finds that if you’re using fixed elevation antennas you should never go above 15 degrees elevation. He notes that maximum gain is needed at and near the horizon, less gain needed when the satellite climbs in elevation as it get closer to you. See more at http://www.aprs.org/rotator1.html

What do you think?