QRZ Logbook

Monday, August 29, 2011


That's the number of cell towers that lost power or were damaged during Hurricane Irene.  44% of cell towers in Vermont alone were knocked out.

210,000 wired customers were out of service as of Monday afternoon, and 2 TV stations and 10 radio stations were also knocked off the air.

Meanwhile, ham radio's still chugging along for many in the northeast. Thoughts of amateur radio's decline and "ancient" form of communications continues to shine through despite the conveniences of modern technology, which isn't convenient when a natural disaster such as Hurricane Irene takes out the resources needed to communicate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What's the frequency, Kenneth???

Off and on I've been trying to find a way to listen to the meteor showers that frequently hit the Earth. The idea is that as a meteor hits the ionosphere, it scatters said ions and radio frequency signals that normally would just radiate into space are instead reflected back towards earth. Hams frequently use this method when making contacts via meteor scatter

There are web sites set up for people to listen to the NAVSPASUR (Air Force Space Surveillance System) transmitters on 216 MHz. I've not been able to hear the transmitters even though I live close to the facility in Alabama.

I've tried to listen to the meteors using a "poor man's" method of listening to TV signals from stations in other cities like Chattanooga and Bristol, TN. That idea went out the window when the FCC kicked TV stations off the analog frequencies in 2009. I've tried listening to FM radio stations using this method, but the dilemma I have is that, with Knoxville being such a big radio market, practically every available frequency from 88-108 MHz is taken locally.

So now I'm left trying to find any good radio frequency that would work for me to listen to meteors "pinging" the atmosphere. It needs to be outside the Knoxville area, constantly transmitting, and with a high enough power to be heard distinctly when the meteors pass overhead.

If anyone can assist with this quagmire, I'd be most appreciative.

Oklahoma ham loses radio equipment, home to wildfire

Harold Lazear (K5KLM) of Terlton, OK saw the flames coming and hopped on the roof of his home with a hose to try and do whatever he could to fight the inferno from taking his home and its treasure trove of ham equipment he'd collected over the years.

In the end, the fire won the battle.

The flames approached so fast that when Lazear realized he was not going to be able to hold off the fire, he only had time to jump in his pickup and leave without collecting any radio equipment. It all burned to the ground in 10 minutes.

After building up a collection over the years as a storm spotter and Red Cross volunteer, he now finds himself a recipient of aid from the agency he dedicated his volunteer time towards.

People who wish to donate may do so with a credit card at the Red Cross website, tulsaworld.com/okredcross, or by calling 918-831-1170. Checks can be mailed to American Red Cross-Tulsa Area Chapter, Dept. 995, Tulsa, OK 74182. Make checks payable to American Red Cross-Tulsa Area Chapter.

Friday, August 5, 2011

ARISSat-1 launched from ISS, missing UHF antenna

After a 4-hour delay due to issues with a missing UHF antenna, Sergei Volkov, RU3DIS, and Alexander Samokutyaev deployed ARISSat-1 from the Pirs module of the ISS last Wednesday.

While preparing to deploy ARISSat-1, the spacewalking cosmonauts noticed only one antenna protruding from the bird when there should have been 2, one for 2 meters (VHF), the other for 70cm (UHF).

Controllers in Moscow and Houston decided to postpone the deployment to evaluate the issue as the cosmonauts continued with their remaining scheduled spacewalk duties.

Later in the spacewalk, controllers gave the go-ahead for Sergei and Alexander to send ARISSat-1 into space, gently nudging it aft and nadir of the station in order to eliminate the possibility of collision with the station later.

The images posted are actual screen captures taken by ground stations listening for ARISSat-1's SSTV signal. You can see the helmet of Sergei Volkov and a pre-loaded image of the ARISSat-1 logo. Live cam images are captured at various times which will allow for stations on the ground to get a near-real-time static image of what ARISSat-1 is seeing over 200 miles high. If the satellite goes into darkness, the logo images are transmitted.

In addition to SSTV, voice and BPSK at various times. While in the sunlight, it will transmit on high power and near-continuous transmission. While in eclipse, it will go into power-saving mode, transmitting intermittently.

It's not yet known the full extent of the damage to the UHF system (designed to be a linear transponder), however, hams are reporting they are making successful contacts with it.

For now, here are the modes of operation:
  • 145.950 MHz FM Downlink: FM transmissions will cycle between a voice ID as RS01S, select telemetry values, 24 international greeting messages in 15 languages, as well as SSTV images.
  • 435 MHz - 145 MHz Linear Transponder: The linear transponder will operate in Mode U/V (70 cm up, 2 meters down). It is a 16 kHz wide inverting passband and the convention will be to transmit LSB on the 435 MHz uplink and receive USB on the 145 MHz downlink.
  • 145.919 MHz/145.939 MHz CW Beacons: The CW transmissions will be call sign ID RS01S, select telemetry and call signs of people actively involved with the ARISS program.
  • 145.920 MHz SSB BPSK-1000 Telemetry: When the CW2 beacon on 145.919 MHz is active, this indicates that the BPSK-1000 format is being transmitted. If the CW1 beacon on 145.939 MHz is active, the backup of BPSK-400 format is being transmitted.
ARISSat-1 is also known as "KEDR", which translates to "Siberian Pine" in Russian. It was Cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin's callsign during his flight which made him the first human being in space. ARISSat-1 was launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Gargarin's historic flight. Its callsign is RS01S.

Check out AMSAT's "how-to" page for information on how to operate ARISSat-1.