Working Satellite SO-50

One aspect of amateur radio that I am enjoying lately is working the FM satellite SO-50. To do so I use my Boafeng GT-3TP dual band hand held and an Elk log periodic antenna that I have mounted on a camera tripod.

My basic satellite communications setup.

SO-50 carries several experiments, including a mode J FM amateur repeater experiment operating on 145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink. The repeater is available to amateurs worldwide as power permits, using a 67.0 Hertz PL tone on the uplink, for on-demand activation. The repeater consists of a miniature VHF receiver with sensitivity of -124dBm, having an IF bandwidth of 15 KHz. The receive antenna is a 1/4 wave vertical mounted in the top corner of the spacecraft. The receive audio is filtered and conditioned then gated in the control electronics prior to feeding it to the 250mW UHF transmitter. The downlink antenna is a 1/4 wave mounted in the bottom corner of the spacecraft and canted at 45 degrees inward.

The Elk was loaned to me by Wal, VK4CBW, an avid satellite fan who lives down the road from me. The antenna is basically a held-held job but I do find it gets a bit heavy after a while, hence the tripod.

Today SO-50 was within range at 4.56pm, so I put out a call and was answered by Roy, VK4ZQ, from Nundah in Queensland. And although Roy isn’t that far from me, the satellite is. The apogee height is 665km, which means at its furthermost distance from the earth, it is 665km away. Not bad for a two-way FM contact.



2 thoughts on “Working Satellite SO-50

  1. HI! Grant,
    I just came accross your interesting Blog, and I saw you are also playing with QRP like me.
    I also have the trusty FT-817ND, and last year I bought the ELK log periodic , so yes I do find ,it gets a bit heavy after a while. So I also have a camera tripod, but I’m trying fo figure out how to fix the small elk antenna boom to the tripod to be able to change polarization and directions.

    Do you have a close-up photo or image of this fitting you use to fix the elk ?
    Any help would be very much appreciated. By the way I keep your blog in my favorite documents for mor4e reading.

    Thanks again and hope to work you someday on the air, as Australia, is a very rare country for me here.

    Best 72/73,

    Michel VE2TH The QRP’er

    • Hi Michael, glad you find my blog of interest and use. I simply used the tripod as a passive support. Place the boom on the flat mount plate on the tripod; it relieves much of the weight. Alternatively, tape the boom (white PVE section) to the flat mount plate of the tripod. Works very well for a heath robinson type arrangement.

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