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Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Beacon on the Echo Satellite

W8KHK gave a very nice Christmas present to the AMfone group. Check out the pictures (and descriptions) of the beacon transmitters that went into space on the ECHO satellite in 1960. Echo was the big inflated silver ball -- it was nicknamed "the satelloon." I was struck by how much the exterior of this rig looks like the solar-powered QRSS rig of Paolo, IZ1KXQ.

FROM W8KHK's POST: Here are a few more pictures of the ECHO beacon transmitter. These are identical to the actual flight hardware, used for testing and measurements. They now reside at the W2DU Florida QTH, and while the batteries have long since expired, if the solar cells are illuminated by a 100 watt bulb, or the actual sun, you can receive the transmitted beacon signal at 108 MHz. Low Tech by today's standards, but in those days it was hard to find transistors that would work above audio frequencies. Photo 21 shows a complete beacon system. To the bottom left is another transmitter, before potting. To the bottom right is another transmitter, potted and ready to be incorporated in the styrofoam "dish" assembly. Photo 22 is a close-up of the two transmitters from photo 21. Photo 23 shows an entire dish assembly, prior to potting in styrofoam. This space project, and many other early space projects from the Astro Electronics Products division of RCA will be chronicled in the soon-to-be-published Reflections III by W2DU.


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