I was just wondering how often they beam down pictures and how easy they are to receive. I have the MMSSTV software installed on my computer but Iv never got round to using it. Also do they transmit on the 145.800 freq?
Yes, 145.8 is the correct frequency for the SSTV downlink. Their SSTV schedule is pretty irregular. The best strategy is to keep well informed and try to find out about SSTV events before they happen. There are a couple websites that will help you with this. The first one is specific to SSTV on the ISS: ARISS-SSTV images posts information on when they will be transmitting SSTV and what modes they will use.
The next website, the ISS Fan Club, is a more general site with info on all the ham modes used by ISS as well as reports of when and where they have been heard, and what modes and frequencies they were using.
Finally, the AMSAT SSTV gallery website posts SSTV images received from ISS. If you receive one, you can submit it to be included in the gallery.
Good luck chasing the ISS. Be sure to keep the thread updated on your progress.
Shame I should of got up earlier and maybe I would of caught it. What antenna's do you guys use anything special or just use your regular ones. I have a Watson 881 super gainer and a Maldol AL-500H, also do you have any other tips ?
You're going to need a pretty high pass to hear them with those duckies, but it can be done. Better is a discone, nice and high - actually the best is the Arrow antenna or similar - one that can be pointed and track the ISS as it rises/falls from your perspective. They aren't cheap, but there are plans on the web for building similar antennas. Some folks also use 'Eggbeaters'...
You will also need to be able to tell when the ISS will be visible in your area. Not all passes are good ones - our SATCOM wiki has links to several satellite tracking programs, and note that from time to time, there are some tracking updates (called Keplerian Elements, after Johannes Kepler) you need to do from time to time...
Get your tech license, and with the right gear, and if you happen to catch one of the astronauts on the air, you can talk to them. I've never had the pleasure - I have heard the packet beacon, but it's been years - but it's a real challenge to do. I know of one ham that did it with a 5/8 wave vertical from his car- no doubt it was a fairly high pass, so it can be done even with modest gear.
And not to go too far off topic, but at times the Kenwood can be reconfigured as a repeater - and that there's now more than one ham station on the ISS. Keep in mind that they have a busy schedule up there, but NASA does encourage them to play ham when they have the chance.
Rubber duckie antennae on portables are not good for much of anything except local repeater conversations or line-of-sight simplex. However, the hamsats, ISS, and the Shuttle are received easily with surprisingly simple antennae.
As Mike says above, a discone up in the clear is the best for just about anything. But, I have worked OSCAR 51 from my car and heard ISS and the Shuttle using the same equipment. It does depend on where the satellite is in your sky. For some antenna setups, low passes are better, although a low pass will also be shorter.