Building a new station

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n1ic

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OK, I sold a bunch of equipment and I have some funds to build a new sat station. I wanted to get some thoughts on if you had a budget of $3000/$4000 what commercially would you build. I have no antennas, I was looking at the FT-857 (would consider the 9100 only if there was a huge reason to do it) and would really like help with rotor, antenna, mounting and whatever else I'm missing. I have played with the arrow and my HT and have done some reading I can't seem to find commercial setups I find a lot of homebrew. I would like a to see what I'm missing.

Thanks in advance, N1IC
 

wd9ewk

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Jan 24, 2014
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Arizona USA
OK, I sold a bunch of equipment and I have some funds to build a new sat station. I wanted to get some thoughts on if you had a budget of $3000/$4000 what commercially would you build. I have no antennas, I was looking at the FT-857 (would consider the 9100 only if there was a huge reason to do it) and would really like help with rotor, antenna, mounting and whatever else I'm missing. I have played with the arrow and my HT and have done some reading I can't seem to find commercial setups I find a lot of homebrew. I would like a to see what I'm missing.
One FT-857 with computer control, using software like SatPC32, could be an option. You'd probably do better if you paired your FT-857 with another radio that could receive all modes at 2m and 70cm. This could be another FT-857, an FT-817 or other multi-band all-mode transceiver (think IC-706Mk2 or Mk2G, IC-7000, FT-100, FT-897, to name some), or an all-mode receiver (FT-817s with fried final transistors still make decent receivers for satellite work, or there are many options for all-mode receivers). SatPC32 will control two transceivers or one transceiver and one receiver as easily as it controls one satellite-ready transceiver like an IC-9100, IC-910, TS-2000, etc.

If you're not looking to spend a lot, you could get an antenna like the Arrow dual-band Yagi, an Elk Antennas dual-band log periodic, or homebrew equivalents of these, put them on a TV rotator or other azimuth-only rotator, point the antenna up 15 to 20 degrees above the horizon, and move the rotator as the satellites pass by. There aren't many azimuth/elevation rotators, and Yaesu's is probably the most popular - which is supported by SatPC32. You don't need huge antennas with our satellites in lower orbits at this point (orbits below 1000 miles/1600km). Larger antennas mean you have to be more accurate in pointing at the satellites, where the smaller antennas allow for some leeway in your pointing.

If you want a fully-automated station, John K8YSE now operates two complete satellite stations - satellite-ready transceivers at each station (I think he still uses a Kenwood TS-2000 at one, and I know he has an Icom IC-910 at the other), antennas with azimuth/elevation rotators, and can work them remotely anywhere he has an Internet connection. I have a video clip of him working a satellite using his Cleveland station from the hotel that hosted the 2012 AMSAT Symposium in Orlando on my YouTube channel if you want to see that in action.

K8YSE's main satellite station is at his home in Cleveland, and his other satellite station is at his new winter home in the Phoenix area. Either of his stations would probably be an example of going with commercially-made stuff for almost all parts of his stations. Look him up, drop him an e-mail, and he would be happy to talk about what he has done. He just wrote an article that ran in the AMSAT Journal about his new station in Arizona. Using his Cleveland station, he is currently the #1 station on the satellite VUCC standings, where he is able to work stations all over the Americas, Europe, and northwestern Africa using our current crop of amateur satellites (location also helps him with that).

Good luck, and 73!
 
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