There is no tutorial this week, but we have some really exciting news about the VHF and Above bands.
By now everyone should have heard about the Es’hail 2 geostationary Satellite. Since launch the Satellite has been in test mode. The satellite has been named QO-100 and has been available for amateur use since 12 February. Who has been able to work the satellite so far?
Well, Rickus ZS4A was able to receive the Satellite on Wednesday evening 13 February. Rickus writes “After week of searching for a beacon signal with no luck, on the evening of the 13th of Feb at last with SSB activity for the first time signals were heard and seen on the waterfall.
A 1 metre dish was first used but something was wrong and I took the LNB off the 1 metre dish and mounted it on its original dish 50% smaller than the bigger one. My first signals were picked up through my shack window and then I quickly went outside in the rain with the dish mounted on a tripod. I used my laptop with a SDR dongle and SDR – SHARP software.
I built a DC injector or bias-tee to provide power over 75 Ohm TV coax and a 500mm Oval DSTV dish.
The LNB is a high stability DSTV LNB that’s local oscillator was changed from somewhere around 10 000 MHz to 9358 MHz by Leon ZS1MM.
The signals were really strong and easy to receive and listen to on USB. CW can also be received easily.
Now that it works I will try a bigger dish to see how strong I can get the signals which are currently around -5 dB to -1 dB + on the small dish. This dish works 100%, but I am still itching to receive a better signal.
I think I am the first guy in SA to receive this Sat on a dish.”
Well done Rickus, it was fantastic to watch the video that you recorded. The video is available on the SARL homepage. Here is the video.
I asked Rickus when he will be ready to transmit to the satellite and he said that it would still be a while as there are other EME stuff he still needed to construct and that Es’Hail 2 would need to wait it’s turn. Well, I don’t know about that. I think the excitement of being able to receive that satellite is going to give the Es’Hail 2 transmission a higher priority. Rickus also tells me that he has already heard SSB, CW, JT65 an other digital modes on the satellite.
Here is the CW beacon on 10 489.536 MHz.
Come to the AMSAT SA Space Symposium on Saturday 16 March and listen to Hannes ZS6BZP telling you how to set up a ground station without breaking the bank. Hannes plans to give a live demonstration as well.
You can listen to the satellite’s narrowband transponder from anywhere in the world by using the online WebSDR developed by members of AMSAT-UK and BATC which is located at Goonhilly in Cornwall, UK. Go to
for more information.
Now some news from the SARL Forums.
Willem ZS6WAB is experimenting with an 8 m Beacon on 40.675 MHz into a 5 element Yagi. 30 W into 7/8th coax. The Yagi is 18m up and pointing South. Please listen out for the beacon and provide Willem with feedback on the forum.
Peter ZS2ABF reports that while the RF conditions were good along the South East coast on Monday the 11th, the weather was not and they cut their QSO short due to the lightening.
The 46 Long Distance Group who are active on VHF and UHF here in the centre of the country are actually pretty well organised. They have worked out a schedule that they use over weekends to make sure that they are active on all the popular VHF and above bands.
The first weekend of the month they operate on 2 m SSB and then later in the day the Gauteng stations move to FM on 145.500 MHz.
The second weekend they operate on 70 cm SSB and CW.
On the third weekend they operate on 23 cm SSB and CW as well as 6 m.
The fourth weekend you will find them operating the digital modes (PSK, RTTY, FT8 and SSTV) on all bands.
If any of the above fail then they fall back to SSB on 144.300 MHz. You will also hear CW during their QSOs. This is because when they cannot hear each other on SSB they can still hear each other on CW.
During the week they are on the air on 144.300 MHz SSB from 06:00 to 07:00 local time. Beacons are checked and reports on conditions are exchanged. Aircraft scatter is used extensively to make contact with weaker stations.
Evening activities are from 20:00 to 21:00 local time.
If you are not proficient in CW, then don’t worry. Learning on the air is a good place to start, even if you can only send or receive at 5 words per minute.
Tuesday and Thursday evenings are CW nights. SSB will be used in between to explain what was sent and received.
Evenings are ideal in the summer months to experiment with lightning scatter.
Frequencies for CW 2 m 144.250 MHz, 70 cm 432.150 MHZ and 23 cm 1296.200 MHz.
Stations without 70 cm, 23 cm or 6 m will continue on 2 m SSB.
Lots of activity available to keep you busy, to help you develop your station and become competitive on VHF/UHF. Why not come and join the 46 Group? Contact any of the following folk:
Rickus ZS4A, Carl ZS6CBQ, Marius ZS4MK, Koos ZS6KSG or Dick ZS6BUN. Their contact details are in the callbook on the SARL website.
The next workshop that will be held and which you really need to attend is the AMSAT SA Space Symposium on 16 March.
There is a full day of interesting projects and presentations to experience.
Some of the program highlights are:
Keynote address by Linden Petzer Chief Director: Radio & Satellite Communication with the Dept of Telecommunications and Postal Services
Linden will talk about the Current activities in the ITU with respect to small satellites.
Tom ZR6TG will be talking about the SatNOGS opensource ground station and network.
Anton ZR6AIC will talk about Artificial Intelligence to identify satellite signals.
Hannes ZS6BZP will be telling us how we can build a cost effective ground station to operate Qatar Oscar 100.
That’s just up to tea time. There are still many more presentations for the rest of the day.
I have attended many workshops, seminars and symposiums and always come away having broadened my knowledge of this exciting hobby of ours.
Make sure that you do not miss out.