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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heavens Above

So I'm sitting there at 5:30 am talking on Echolink to Jerry, NR5A, in South Dakota about his ailing Pixie soon-to-be QRSS transmitter. All the talk about getting on the air and emitting signals causes me to get the urge to fix my antenna.

On Monday, I'd noticed (via Blackberry) that my signal had disappeared from ON5EX's grabber. I could see a signal close to where I usually am, but it looked a bit different. On closer inspection I saw that EA6FNF had fired up a very nice 50 mw DFCW beacon on around 10140060 Hz. My signal was gone. When I got home I discovered a broken antenna wire. Once again, ON5EX and the internet had, in effect, relayed telemetry about the status of my QRSS system.

Fortunately I could fix this from the window -- no roof work was required. Skies were fairly clear on Wednesday morning, and as I looked up across the Janiculum Hill at Rome's pre-dawn sky, I saw a satellite going over from North to South. Of course, I wanted to know what I was looking at, so I turned to Chris Peat's very useful web site, Heavens Above. Very quickly, I was able to find out that it was either the Russian Okean O Rocket, or something called RADCAT.

Check out Heavens Above. Lots of great info on astronomy, satellites, and ham radio spacecraft:
http://www.heavens-above.com/

The antenna was quickly fixed. I should be back on the Belgian grabber now. It was a good ham radio morning in Rome. Thanks Jerry. Thanks Chris Peat.

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