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Unable to Listen to Satellites

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#1
I recently got a Uniden BC75XLT scanner and a Diamond RH77CA antenna. I have been trying to listen to amateur radio satellites, but I have had no success. I always to listen to the downlink frequency at the right time, I have tried increasing and decreasing the frequency by 10 MHz, and I turned off the squelch, but I still hear almost nothing. I think I can hear very faint voices when I point the scanner in the right direction. I have been doing this on a small college campus, and I once tried going to the second floor balcony of a building there, but I still wasn't able to hear much from up there. Any advice on how to receive a clear signal?
 
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#2
I assume you're trying to listen to SO-50 on 436.800. If true...I think it's a little harder to pick up than previous amateur satellites.

Yes, keep the squelch open, make sure you have a clear view of the sky (being on the ground level is fine), and try orienting your antenna in all different directions (parallel to the ground, 45 degrees, etc).
 
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#3
I have been trying to listen to a few different ones including SO-50. I have alo iso tried VO-52, AO-73, and AO-7 (I realize that is a difficult one, but I do believe I heard faint voices on that one too). I tried pointing my radio in many different directions and angles, but still nothing. My location is the Willamette Valley in Oregon, could this have anything to do with being in a valley?
 
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#4
Not familiar with your area, but I suppose being in a valley could make it important to know when the pass mostly overhead.

Try this: the ISS operates APRS packet on 145.825 NFM (but not all the time). It's a pretty easy catch when they do. If you can hear that, then at least you know your setup is capable of receiving.

I have the same antenna and it's a solid performer for hearing sats / ISS.
 
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#6
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; CPU iPhone OS 5_1_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B206 Safari/7534.48.3)

Don't know; it depends on the astronauts' schedule. I can tell you that when it's on, I can hear the packet activity even before it's above the horizon.
 

Fast1eddie

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#7
Socrates, have you tried a pre amp??? You have the proper "building blocks" for basic satcom monitoring, but remember the signals you want to monitor are not only extremely weak, but also low power. Put your emphasis on the antenna-The Diamond is excellent, I have one too and am impressed with it.

I have a simple GRE adjustable pre amp, it is of excellent construction quality but has no band pass filters, which means you will hear images from other services (FM broadcast radio, for example) which will cover up what you want to hear, so use it carefully.

If you can come up with a good quality UHF antenna and mag mount it to a cookie sheet placed in the clear, think that would improve your odds. Use high quality coax cable and keep the cable run short. Not familiar with your monitoring location and what potential interference sources exist, so examine that.

I have some other ideas for you, if you like please PM me and I will explain.

Good Signals,

ed
 
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#9
I just tried listening to the ISS APRS frequency during a pass at about 23:00 Pacific Time/7:00 UTC. I believe I heard a faint signal, like I have with everything else. Like I said, I am on a college campus, and I am surrounded by buildings, but I have a clear view of the sky. If I were to go to a public park, would I get a better signal?
 
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#10
For satellites, all you really need is a clear view of the sky. Your antenna is good as well as your knowledge of passes, so it's possible your BC75XLT maybe isn't that sensitive to weak transmissions on those bands. I don't have one so I can't say.

Not sure if there's an ATTenuator function on the BC75XLT, but if so make sure it's off.
 

Fast1eddie

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#11
eorange hit the nail on the head-For successful SATCOM reception, get away from the buildings. They shield and attenuate any signals you could possibly now hear. Even with a optimal receiving installation, don't expect full 60db of quieting. With my discone feeding a 7100 with commercial grade rated for microwave) I barely receive AFSATCOM/FLEETSATCOM sigs above S-1. Remember, you are dealing with a different type of signal which is extremely weak and of circular polarization.

I think maybe a year or two back someone posted not too complicated plans for construction of a SATCOM X type antenna. Had good reviews from the guys who built it correctly and followed the dimensions to the exact fraction.

Would love to poke around a NSA warehouse where older and obselete (at least to them) equipment is stored, but I would be shot first.

Perhaps that might be good thing.

Good Signals,

ed
 
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#13
Thinking it was summer...I just came back in from monitoring a pass of SO-50. I used my RH77CA on my VX-8R. The receive from SO-50 was a little scratchy, but as the pass approached overhead, I heard quite a bit of traffic that was near full quieting. This has usually been my experience, but I hadn't been outside for a sat pass in a while and wanted to check again.

The VX-8R is a very good HT, but I wouldn't say the receive is exceptional or anything special.

You should definitely get into an open flat area (which for me is pretty much the entire Cleveland area) and try again.
 
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#14
>> ... The VX-8R is a very good HT, but I wouldn't say the receive is exceptional or anything special.

One of the very first ARISSat-1 reception reports was from a gentleman with your ht and the STOCK DUCK. That - to me - is quite exceptional!

Build yourself a tape measure beam. $15 bucks in parts, max. Get in the world of high gain! You'll love it. AND it always attracts a small crowd when you work a sat (or just a local repeater) in the local park!

Clint K6LCS
K6LCS Shows You How to Work Amateur Radio Satellites - With Minimal Equipment!
 
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#15
Let me clarify. The VX-8R does very well on the ham sats, without a doubt. I get good Rx, and good Tx reports. But for listening, I get similar performance on my VR-500 and my Icom R6.

Beyond that...the VX-8R is near deaf in the mil air (225-380 MHz) range. One day I was listening to an EAM on 311.0 with my R6 in one hand, and the VX-8R heard nothing in my other hand, same antennas. It does OK in the aerial refueling range (upper 200's in my area), but it's not a prize.

Wideband AM receive on the VX-8R is so-so, actually kinda dim in my opinion. VR-500/R6 are much better in that regard.

But since we're talking about sats...yes, the VX-8R is a winner.
 
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