After many previous attempts Ronny, SM7FWZ and Jan, PA3FXB, managed to complete an ISS Bounce QSO on 23 cm today. The rigs used, were a 3 m mesh dish with 375 W on the dutch and a 4 m solid dish with 300 W on the swedish side.
Ground track of the ISS versus the direct path between SM7FWZ and PA3FXB
The window opened from 2015-07-13 08:07 to 08:17 UTC. While the antenna tracking was done automatically by both stations, only Jan could perform Doppler compensation. So they used a kind of mixed mode in tracking the frequencies.
Ronny transmitted on 1296.300 MHz and tried to catch Jans signal manually. So I monitored the frequency, Ronny should be heard on my side. It is nice to see in the video, how Jan appeared on the very left, getting closer and closer to the frequency, Ronny could be heard.
From Monday, June 22nd to Wednesday, June 24th I will be QRV during the evenings on 23 cm and 13 cm using the special event callsign DL65DARC.
Skeds (aircraft scatter, tropo) are welcome via ON4KST, Facebook or email.
Rig will be a 3 m dish with 150 W on 23 cm and 75 W on 13 cm. The QTH locator is JN49CV. SSB, CW and WSJT modes are suitable. Operation on relays is not intended.
If I find some spare time, I will be QRV on June 25th, 26th and 28th as well.
On Saturday, June 27th, you can meet me in Friedrichshafen.
A long time monitoring of the beacon F1ZMT in JN07CX via Aircraft Scatter on 1296.872 MHz shows asymmetrical reflections on most of the crossing planes.
As the distance to the beacon is 624 km and it´s ERP of just 10 W (a panel antenna to the south combined with an omnidirectional big wheel) is rather QRP, only weak reflections can be detected from time to time. This ensures, that received signals were reflected on single airplanes. In this example can be seen, that the reception starts shortly before the plane crosses the path between DJ5AR in Mainz and F1ZMT in LeMans. Unexpectetly the signal can be seen for quite a while after crossing. There is a continuous variation of the doppler shift and no spread of the signal, as is usual for a moving solid reflector.
The monitoring of distant beacons can be a boring job, even when using the waterfall diagram of a SDR. I prefer SpecJT of the WSJT package in JT65c mode. It is much more sensitive and even at slow speed faint refections can be seen clearly.
The example shows F1ZMT in JN07CX, 624 km from Mainz. The beacon operates 10 W into an omnidirectional antenna on 1296.872 MHz. The reflections in the screenshot were caused by 3 airplanes crossing the path one after the other.
On April 7th the PI9CAM team hosted some students, working on a film project. So there was some spare time to schedule more tests in our space debris project. The objects, selected to try on, were some rocket bodies. Many of the larger objects in low earth orbits are of this type. The operation style, as usual, was a center frequency of 1,296.300 MHz, 15 seconds periods with DJ5AR transmitting first. This time we wanted to try FSK441 mode, to compare it with the experiences, we had with ISCAT-B.
On two objects, NORAD #39679 (SL-4 R/B) and #39771 (H-2A R/B) we registered faint but continuous reflections. Only partial decodes were possible. It seems, that ISCAT-B is the better choice.
Reflections of DJ5AR in FSK441 recorded at PI9CAM
On SL-4, a russian rocket body, lauched on April 16th, 2014, a modulation of the reflections with a period of 2.8 seconds could be observed. It looks like, as the object is tumbling.
The first remarkable opening for quite a long time happened from 10th to 11th of February 2015. F5LENs refractive index forecast promised good conditions for these days. It started with some stations from G, appearing on 2 m. While the activity contests were going on in Scandinavia and the UK on 70 cm, a few operators dropped into the microwave chat. At least two new DXCCs could be worked before going to bed: Steward, GM4AFF in IO86TS and Gordon, GI6ATZ in IO74AJ as no. 30 and no. 31 on 23 cm. Only a few beacons could be heard via tropo: GB3FM in IO91OF, GB3MHZ in JO02PB, PI7ALK in JO22IP, OZ5SHF in JO45VX and OZ1UHF in JO57GH as a new one.
Green: Stations worked on 23 cm Red: Beacons heard on 23 cm
In the morning the inversion had moved to the north-east and never before heard beacons from Sweden became audible on 23 cm. SK6UHI in JO57TX, SK6MHI in JO57TQ, SK6UHI in JO97CJ and SK4BX in JO79LI over 1138 km as my new beacon ODX appeared on the band. Many of the Swedish stations were as loud here as locals. Some of them could be worked on 13 cm as well.
January 15th, 2015On February 21st, 2015 Jan, PA3FXB, and I will give a lecture in Dorsten at the GHz convention. It will be held in german and partly in english and is basing on the former lectures “Let´s Bounce”.
We will talk about unusual use of Aircraft Scatter and our experiences using ISCAT. Two years ago the idea, to try ISS Bounce, was born and discussed in Dorsten. We will show what we have done in the meantime in practising this propagation mode.
Jan, PA3FXB, and I skeduled a very special ISCAT test on 23 cm for today. The CAMRAS team had planned to operate PI9CAM with the 25 m radiotelescope in Dwingeloo for some astronomical experiments this afternoon. Before starting with that, we used an ISS pass with low elevation to try ISS bounce with the big dish. Such a pass ensures slow variation of azimuth end elevation angles, which is essential to track moving object like the ISS (or other spacecrafts in low orbits) with an antenna of a weight of 120 tons.
We had very strong reflections right from the beginning, but no decodes. Maybe the signal level was to high? This has to be investigated. Then we changed to aircraft scatter, although the dish had to be kept elevated at 10° by safety reasons, I got strong reflections from airplanes quite close to PI9CAM. Not as strong as from the ISS, but decodable now and it was possible to work in CW too.
Despite the fact, we had no QSO via ISS bounce, we learnt, that it is possible to track objects in low orbits with the 25 m radiotelescope, as long as the elevation keeps low. This opens up a perspective to make use of other spacecrafts as reflectors.
Jan, PA3FXB, and I were discussing the use of digimodes on ISS bounce for quite a while. Today we tried it with ISCAT-B and were successful with the first shot. As in the tests with Ronald, ON7FLY, on AS, we used 15 seconds periods.
From the moment on, traces could be seen in the waterfall diagram, decodes were possible.
When the ISS culmiated and the variation of the dopplershift was fastest, the frequency correction came to its limits. But while I am used to ISCAT in the meantime, I needed no decodes to hear, that Jan was transmitting RRRRs.
At least I decoded a 73 from him. The experiences with ISCAT in ISS bounce are very promising, although the 15 seconds periods are too long. So we have to discuss it and try with shorter ones.