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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back to the Future: Packets from the Space Station

Readers will have noticed that I have an affinity for beacons. All kinds of beacons: WSPR, QRSS, 10 meter CW... (Tony Fishpool says I have broadcaster tendencies.)

My favorite was a VHF Digital Satellite beacon. Out in the Azores, I had my old Kantronics KPC-3 Terminal Node Controller hooked up to a 286 computer and a Realistic HTX-202 HandiTalkie. Antenna was a ground-plane made from a coat-hanger. My rig would burp out packets all day long, and occasionally either PC SAT or the International Space Station would fly over and relay my signal to stations on the European continent or, sometimes, on the east coast of North America. I had APRS data in my packet, including a nice little island with a palm tree icon which would show up on the on-line APRS maps.


Well, after watching the Space Station (and the Shuttle discovery) fly over a few weeks ago, I got the urge to get back into the outer space packet game. Last weekend I dug out the old HT and KPC-3. I even found the cables. For the computer I put to work the OLD Toshiba Satellite Pro (appropriate, eh?) that Kevin, ZL3KE, had helped me revive.

Yesterday before going to work I noticed that there would be a nice pass of the Space Station at around 0750 local. I took a little mag mount antenna and left it on the ground in the backyard. I tuned the HT to 145.825 MHz and fired up the Windows 3.1 terminal program on the Toshiba.

When I returned 10 hours later... SUCCESS! Lots of space packets on the screen: KB1GVR, W1TMS, W1CGT, W1GSH, VE2TMW...

So far I'm only receiving, but soon I hope to be sending
PACKETS TO SPAAAAAACE!

2 comments:

Bert WF7I said...

There's got to be a Dr. Strangepork joke in there somewhere!

Richard said...

Azores, huh? Been there...done that!! CT2BH from 1971-73. Had a great time on that island. USAF Tech Controller in the 1936th Comm SQ. Picked up a couple of old Motorola L43GGB base stations and put them on 2M. As far as I know we had the first 2M FM net in the Azores!! The fishing was excellent and the skin diving great!

Keep up the great work on Solder Smoke.

vy 73

Rich Arland, K7SZ

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