Morning ARISSat-1 SSTV

I overslept this morning, and woke up a scant 10 minutes before this morning’s good pass of ARISSat-1 was to begin. Still, all I had to do was go out to my car, grab my Arrow, and my HP laptop, and my trusty VX-3R, and I should be able to make it. I started pulling on my shorts and shoes, and then remembered that my HP laptop had not been plugged in, and the amazing penchant for laptops to discharge when not fully shut down would mean that it was likely it’s battery was dead. No problem, think I. “I’ve still got my Macbook, and it was plugged in.”

I quickly fired up the Macbook and reacquainted myself with the pass. Yep, should start in about 4 minutes, peaking at 72 degrees or so. Nice! I grab my car keys and head outside to fetch a camp chair, my Arrow antenna and the radio.

But when I pop the back, I find that unlike what I expect, my VX-3R isn’t there. I can’t remember: did I bring it in to be recharged? Oh well, I have my VX-8GR which I use in my car as well, and that’s fully charged up. I quickly shift it over to 145.950, and attach it to the Arrow. Even though the antenna is aiming straight down I can still easily hear the voice from the beacon coming in. I scramble for a little patch cable so I can get it hooked to the laptop.

Then I remember: unlike the VX-3R, the VX-8GR has a combination speaker/microphone output, and the normal patch cable that I use with great success on the VX-3R doesn’t work on the VX-8GR. I need some crazy adapter, which I may or may not have. Sigh. On well. I shift Audacity over to record from the laptop microphone (meaning I’ll get road noise from passing cars, and wind noise) but that’s the only way that I will salvage the pass.

I got two SSTV images, as well as some nice recordings in French and Japanese. Sadly, but somewhat predictably, the best image was the standard logo, and the more interesting image was happening as the satellite was approaching the horizon. Still, best I’ve gotten in a while.

The horizontal bar in this one was caused by a gust of wind. Still, not bad.

Toward the end of this one, I was losing the signal pretty badly. I’ve used lots of noise reduction, which helped a tiny bit.

I’ll try to be better for tonight’s high pass.

Addendum: I found the little pigtail doohickey (a Yaesu CT-44, in case you need one) in an astoundingly short period of time. The way that ham radio equipment manufacturers pad their margins by requiring custom cabling (this little gadget costs around $15 from HRO) is shameless. Not only do I have to pay for it, but I have to remember to keep it in my equipment bag for the times I need it. Argh. Oh well, I’ll have it ready for tonight’s pass.