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Satcom listening

bearcatrp

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Central Mn
I read that area allot and see folks posting about picking up satellite transmissions and other stuff. Is there special antennas used or having a discone or other regular antenna way up in the air used? Just curious. Thanks.
 

prcguy

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I have picked up good usable UHF satcom stuff inside my house on a PRO-43 hand held scanner with Maldol AL-500H whip and with an old PRO-2004 and a Discone. That's not typical and you do much better with a dedicated UHF satcom antenna. For UHF satcom you can pick up a military surplus antenna off Ebay or similar, but it might cost more than your scanner. There is a DIY project listed somewhere on RR for an "X-wing" type antenna that can sit on the ground or roof and pick up most UHF satellites fairly well without pointing anything.

There are other types of satellites to monitor, what do you want to hear?

I read that area allot and see folks posting about picking up satellite transmissions and other stuff. Is there special antennas used or having a discone or other regular antenna way up in the air used? Just curious. Thanks.
 

bearcatrp

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Nothing in particular. Surprised you picked that up in your house. Figured would need a directional of some sort. I’ll be getting my diamond 3000n tomorrow, LM400 came in yesterday so should be up tomorrow. 25 feet is all I can do for now. It will replace my D200R that’s up now.
 

spongella

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I've used a discone for receiving NOAA satellites in the 137 MHz band. As prcguy mentioned, better results would be with an antenna for satellite communications. However give it a try with your discone. Note that the NOAA signal will vary as it passes over, so you'll hear the signal weakly, then it'll get stronger, then finally fade out. At my location passes are several minutes long at the most.
 

bearcatrp

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Did a search on Satcom antennas just to see what was out there. Will see how my discone does before considering another antenna. Thanks for your help folks.
 

bearcatrp

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So if your using a directional antenna, from what I have read so far, aiming it at and angle east or west to pick up transmissions? Or best to know the satellite position and aim at it? Still going to see what my discone can do before venturing off into satcom.
 

prcguy

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You would want to know the orbital slot so you can find the azimuth and elevation headings for your location.

So if your using a directional antenna, from what I have read so far, aiming it at and angle east or west to pick up transmissions? Or best to know the satellite position and aim at it? Still going to see what my discone can do before venturing off into satcom.
 

spongella

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There is another hobby, Free To Air satellite, which uses Ku band and C band dishes to receive TV programs but that is a whole other story. You also need an FTA receiver and TV set for this. Satellites for FTA are geostationary.

Then there are orbiting satellites, such as the NOAA's, in which you need to know when the satellite passes over your area. There are free software programs for that. Ham radio also has orbiting satellites that you can listen to and again you need to know when the satellite is in range.

Your original question was excellent, it has recharged my interest in satellite reception. Thanks.
 
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bearcatrp

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I seem to be in a dead zone in central Minnesota. Police/fire is no problem but just about anything else is dead. Pick up allot of data transmissions between 200-400 Mhz but thats about it. HF is dull. Either I hear the preachers or spanish speakers or hams which is boring to me. Reason why I asked about satcom listening. Am hoping a new discone and coax will help. Current coax is around 20 years old so figured it was time to replace it with LMR400. Also planning on hooking up my Bearcat 780 thats collecting dust.
 

DeepBlue

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I will second everything Prcguy said about the discone, etc. I too have been using the Diamond discone for years for all manner of scanning/monitoring. Currently I use it with my AOR AR-DV1 for MilAir, Satcoms, etc. Previously I used the AOR AR8600 MK II with good results. I have even had reasonable results with my Icom IC-R20 with the whip mostly horizontal to the ground at about 20" off the dirt. I do however recommend a decent low noise preamp for listening to the Satcom pirates. You may also try a decent SDR. I like the SDRPlay 2 Pro. You can see the signals with a waterfall display. Pretty invaluable when trying to detect a braodband signal of unknown transmission type.

I use the Advanced Receiver (ARR or AR2, 2 as in squared I believe) P240-270VDG preamp. Beware of any wideband preamps as they have little to no input filtering and will pick up every electrical device for miles around - not good. The AR preamp is bandpassed for the range specifically. You can see the info here: P military

I get nothing from mentioning them, I just like their preamp. Others will have favorites but this one is mine. Also search out the 2 part plans on the X-wing antenna. It really works. I built one and while I have yet to correctly depoly it, working on the ground in testing again with my Icom IC-R20, it works very well.

Best of luck,
S.
 

prcguy

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You should be aware that 99.9% of all UHF satcom traffic is encrypted. There are some Brazilian pirates and maybe some occasional traffic from Antarctica or the super rare time someone is supposed to be encrypted but screwed up. Otherwise its the bleep hisssssssssss of Type 1 encryption.

UHF satcom is like fishing for the big one, you will spend a lot of time wondering why you are doing it.

I seem to be in a dead zone in central Minnesota. Police/fire is no problem but just about anything else is dead. Pick up allot of data transmissions between 200-400 Mhz but thats about it. HF is dull. Either I hear the preachers or spanish speakers or hams which is boring to me. Reason why I asked about satcom listening. Am hoping a new discone and coax will help. Current coax is around 20 years old so figured it was time to replace it with LMR400. Also planning on hooking up my Bearcat 780 thats collecting dust.
 

bearcatrp

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Apr 11, 2005
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Central Mn
Thanks. Been looking at filters but first have to get my antenna up and running. Is the X wing similar to the omni x antenna? I went back and forth all summer on which to get, then decided the discone comes 1st. Hope I made the right choice. Would really like to get the Icom 8600. Trying to sell my yeasu FT 891 and gear to help fund that. Got the 891 to scan HF. Have also looked into SDR's.
 

DeepBlue

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Jun 14, 2016
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Catching Pirate transmissions is fun but as for actual US Mil Coms, I concur again with Prcguy. I will warn you that scanning frequencies like these will likely not yeild the best results. A scanner will skip over squelched out transimissions naturally and the varying noise levels will make it so you have to set your squelch rather high. You can squelch single channels (frequencies) but scanning will probably not get the results you seek. The 780 is a goodie though. I still have mine.

S
 

bearcatrp

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Apr 11, 2005
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Central Mn
When the time comes to get into satcom, I'll be doing my research on frequencies to load into the R30 and go through one by one. Have noticed scanning with the R30 skips allot of active frequencies. Appreciate all the tips and suggestions from everyone.
 

scanmanmi

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Sep 25, 2011
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I'm not into sats much but it is really cool to be receiving directly from something in space. With a regular antenna I can usually pick up weather sat pictures, the space shuttle, and I recently heard the Russian space walk; very cool. Just use a tracking website to see when something is going to be over.
www.n2yo.com
 
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