Hey, I can hear AO-51 from my car…

October 8, 2007 | Amateur Radio | By: Mark VandeWettering

I noticed that a 56 degree elevation pass of the amateur satellite AO-51 was going to occur just after 9:00am this morning, while I was commuting. I normally carry my little VX-3R with tiny mag-mounted dual band antenna on the roof. This is the same gadget that I used to receive the AO-51 broadcast of the Sputnik anniversary message a couple of days ago. During that pass, they claimed that they had boosted the power output, so I had no problem getting full quieting using my longer J-Pole antenna, but I was unsure how good this little gadget would do at the normal FM repeater power levels and the smaller antenna.

Well, it seems like I can still receive it pretty well. I didn’t have the doppler shift programmed in (I had just set it to the middle frequency of 435.3 MHz) so I was just listening with the squelch off. Sure enough, lots of white noise, which began to shift in frequency, then quiet, then voices! I couldn’t take notes for the callsigns, but there were people operating from gridsquares DM03 and DM33 which correspond to someplace in southern California and Arizona respectively. Pretty neat! Sometime soon, I’ll have to get my laptop set up to record the audio, and I’ll place it here.

Just a bit of Monday morning fun.

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Addendum: The first of two evening passes sounds like this. Okay, the mp3 is pretty bad, you could try the wav file if you want to wait a lot longer. At the beginning, N5ZNL identifies his position as grid square EL19, which is in Texas. I’m in DM87, just outside of San Francisco. I need a calculator to figure out what the distance is.

Addendum2: The second of today’s passes as an mp3 or alternatively as a much larger WAV file. The audio starts a couple of minutes in. I did a bit better job tracking the Doppler on this one.