I've been playing around with a little $13 DVB-T SDR Dongle receiver. These devices normally tune 24 MHz to 1.7 GHz, but I modified the first one I had so that it would tune the HF bands. Pete then sent me another one, which I vowed to keep unmodified, thinking that it would be fun to use it to listen to the many small Cube-Sats that are up there. Most have downlinks (and Morse Code beacons) in the 470 MHz range. I whipped together a simple ground-plane antenna for this band (One 6 inch copper wire as the receive element with 4 five inch groundplane elements).
I then went to the "Heavens Above" website, plugged in my location, and clicked on "Amateur satellites." This gave me a very accurate schedule of satellite passes. I started listening.
First I heard (and saw in the HDSDR waterfall) the CW beacon of the Prism satellite at 7:05 am EDT today. Prism is from the University of Tokyo and was launched from Japan.
Cubesat XI-IV was heard at 0813 EDT. The Cubesats are from Japan and were launched from Russia.
ITUsPAT was heard at 1422 EDT. The I is for "Istanbul"
Finally, I monitored a pass of the Japanese FO-29 satellite aka JAS-2 at 1611. Wow, this was like old times on the RS-10 and RS-12 satellites. Lots of CW and SSB stations in the downlink passband. Lots of fun.
At 470 MHz the Doppler shift of a low-earth orbit satellite is quite noticeable, and helps confirm that you are in fact receiving sigs from an orbiting device.
I thought it was pretty cool to take a $13 DVB-T Dongle, connect it to a small, copper-wire antenna, and use it all to receive signals from some 4"x4"x4" cubes in orbit of the Earth.
In response to popular demand, "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" is now available as an e-book for Amazon's Kindle.
Here's the site:
For the print version:
For shipping from a printer in the U.S. (probably better for N. American buyers) Click here: SolderSmoke USA Version
For shipping from a printer in the UK, Spain, or the USA (probably better for UK and other European buyers)
Click here: SolderSmoke EU Version
The two versions are identical, except for a minor difference in the paper used. That's why the prices are a bit different.
Bill's OTHER Book (Warning: Not About Radio)
Click on the image to learn more
W4HBK's QRSS Grabber: The Amazing Pensacola Snapper (Live!)