Categories
Beginners and operation

Working satellites with IC-9700

This is a guide how to work satellites with the Icom IC-9700. When trying to understand the IC-9700 I needed to write down how to use it – so this is how this post was born. Several different user scenarios are explained below.

The IC-9700 satellite memory examples and file can be found here.
Please contact us if you see anything that will not work in the following user cases.

Setting up PstRotator and OmniRig

The PstRotator manual is very good so please read it, very important is the section how to use IC-9700 with PstRotator satellite functions.

The file for OmniRig is delivered with PstRotator and is named IC-9700PST.ini. Do not forget to copy this file to the OmniRig folder.

My settings for OmniRig is like this:

And a typical layout for PstRotator Satellites Tracking is like this:

Case 1: Using IC-9700 stand alone without computer control

Read the IC-9700 Basic Manual section 7 “Satellite communication”. It has all the information you need.

I have tested linear satellites with manual tuning (RS-44) and it worked very good. My uplink TX signal (VHF) was fixed and I tuned the downlink signal (UHF) when needed. The VFO tracking/untracking function of the IC-9700 is outstanding.

Some basic rules I learned from skilled operators:

  • “Tune the highest frequency”
  • “Always tune UHF to VHF” – the same as fix the VHF frequency and tune UHF.

Case 2: Using IC-9700 with PstRotator

Once again – first read the excellent manual of PstRotator and the section about satellites and IC-9700. Then – read it one more time!

Some operating hints:

  • Select the satellite from PstRotator Favorites. Correct frequency, mode and subtone (if needed, for FM) are now set to IC-9700, and the radio goes into Satellite Mode. The filter selection, for example if you have chosen FIL2 for USB, should not be changed from PstRotator.
  • The first time on a satellite you may need to correct the offset with the +/- and then click Save.
  • Press the “UP+DN” on PstRotator. Doppler is now adjusted on both RX and TX. You can use the VFO knob on the IC-9700 to tune around on the passband with full doppler control, very nice! Just transmit and you should hear yourself.
  • If a station you would like to receive, or your own signal, is off frequency it can be good to use the RIT on the radio to adjust RX frequency in a smooth way, without changing the PstRotator settings. Also the PBT (Pass Band Tuning of RX filter) can be good to use during RX.

Case 3: Using IC-9700 as TX with SDR-Console v3 as RX

In this case the IC-9700 is working as the transmitter with full doppler control and SDR-Console with a SDR (or panadapter for IC-9700) as receiver, also with doppler control. Be sure to set the correct band for TX to the MAIN VFO in IC-9700 and do not use the Satellite Mode. Then use the same setup as described in this post.

It is possible to use the VFO knob on IC-9700 to tune the TX frequency.

Case 4: FT4 with IC-9700 and PstRotator

Be sure to use DATA mode settings in PstRotator. Then the IC-9700 is using the filter you have selected for DATA.
Then use it just like Case 2 above.

Case 5: FT4 with IC-9700 as TX and SDR-Console v3 as RX

Use the IC-9700 as transmitter and SDR-Console with SDR (or panadapter for IC-9700) as receiver. Be sure to set the correct band for TX to the MAIN VFO in IC-9700 and do not use the Satellite Mode Use the same setup as described in this post.

This is the setup I’m using when running FT4 because I think it gives better control over the QSO than using PstRotator.

Categories
Beginners and operation

Satellite Memory File for IC-9700

This is a memory group file over satellite frequencies for Icom IC-9700 and CS-9700 software. Feel free to use it, change and add, make your own groups etc.

Import the memory file into CS-9700:
Note! Be sure that you not overwrite anything in your IC-9700 when cloning and/or importing the .csv file! Make a backup of your current settings!

  • Mark the Satellite Memory group
  • Right click and choose import the .csv file
  • The memories will now be imported to CS-9700

As CS-9700 seems to handle character set different between regions I have created two files. If one does not work, try the other one. Comma separated is working for North America.

Download the latest files from SM0TGUs Github:
IC-9700_SatFrqMemGroup.csv
IC-9700_SatFrqMemGroup_commaseparated.csv

Note! When downloading from GitHub, you download all the files in the repository as a zip file. Then you can use the file of your interest:

If you have any problems downloading the files from the GitHub location please contact us and the files can be sent via mail.

Categories
Beginners and operation SDR and software

Guide to AX.25 via OPUSAT-II

OPUSAT-II, or Hirogari satellite, has the possibility to send, store and receive short AX.25 messages. This is a simple guide how to set up a Windows system to send and receive via OPUSAT-II.

  1. Download Soundmodem from http://uz7.ho.ua/packetradio.htm
  2. To be able to key your radio, download ptt-dll.zip from the same page and unzip these files to the same folder as Soundmodem
  3. If you use IC-705, download http://uz7.ho.ua/cat121.zip and replace the CAT.DLL file from ptt-dll.zip
  4. Start Soundmodem and set up the ptt for your radio:
  5. Setup the audio input and output to your radio in Soundmodem under Devices menu.
  6. Download MessageBox software from http://uz7.ho.ua/kissmsg8.zip and unzip
  7. Start MessageBox. It should connect to soundmodem.
  8. When OPUSAT-II is in range, transmit via MessageBox (Send) at 436.500 MHz FM and receive at 145.900 MHz. If you are lucky, your AX.25 is stored in OPUSAT-II:


Categories
Beginners and operation SDR and software

FT4 via satellite with SDR-Console and IC-705 / IC-9700

This is a simple guide for working FT4 mode via satellite with the help of SDR-Console software, a SDR receiver and Icom IC-705 as transmitter. The IC-705 can of course be replaced by any other radio that can be controlled via OmniRig.

I have also tested this with an ICOM IC-9700 with equal good result.

The “magic” is done by Omnirig. This smart little software can connect several software to one radio at the same time, in this case SDR-Console and WSJT-X.

This guide requires that you have basic knowledge of the following:

  • WSJT-X and FT4 operation
  • SDR-Console V3 satellite operation
  • IC-705 operation (or other radio if you like)
  • Audio piping between several software
  • Basic operation with OmniRig

Step 1 – Setup SDR-Console and IC-705 with correct frequency

First you need correct frequency for SDR-Console and IC-705. You can download and use the prepared files from this site.
Start SDR-Console and set the downlink (USB) to the satellite you would like to use. Set the IC-705 to the uplink of the satellite, note it has to be LSB-D (LSB with data mode).

Step 2 – Config WSJT-X

Start WSJT-X and config as following:

  • Rig should be Omnirig and your setup for IC-705
  • Mode should be “None” to avoid WSJT-X to set the rig to USB-D
  • Soundcard Input should be the virtual audio from SDR-Console
  • Soundcard Output should be the IC-705 mic

Step 3 – Start Satellite External Radio in SDR-Console

Now start the “Satellite External Radio” in SDR-Console. Select the same OmniRig radio as in WSJT-X. Select the correct uplink frequency and turn on Doppler correction in External Radio.
Now the magic happens! SDR-Console is starting to doppler correct the frequency of the IC-705 and WSJT-X reads the correct frequency from IC-705 in real time!

In this image you can see External Radio and WSJT-X with correct frequency:

Step 4 – Select correct RX frequency in SDR-Console

Select the correct downlink frequency in SDR-Console and enable Tracking in the Satellite Window for the satellite.
Now wait for the satellite to be in your footprint.

Step 5 – Find yourself on the satellite transponder

When the satellite is in your footprint, you need to manually adjust the TX-frequency (at the External Radio window) and RX-frequency, as the SDR-Console software does not have a “tracking RX/TX VFO” function.

  • Find a free area on the satellite transponder
  • Turn your TX output to very low
  • Start transmitting FT4 or use the Tune function in WSJT-X
  • Adjust TX/RX so that your signal is in your RX bandwidth

Step 6 – Start calling CQ

Now you are ready to start calling CQ and making QSOs! Remember – use the minimum TX power, FT4 is very effective. And be sure not to call over a CW or SSB station.

How to use a 2nd instance of WSJT-X for RX of your own FT4 signal

If you would like to check your own FT4 signal (for testing and learning) it is possible to start a 2nd instance of WSJT-X as receiving only.

  • Create a new configuration in WSJT-X where Radio->Rig should be set to None and Audio Input should be the piped audio from SDR-Console.
    Save it to a name of your choice {your_configuration_name}
  • After you have started WSJT-X for the TX (see above) start a 2nd instance with this command in a cmd window:
    {path_to_your_wsjtx}wsjtx.exe –rig-name={your_configuration_name}
  • Now when you TX your FT4 signal the 2nd instance will decode your own signal. See the example below:

Finally, below is a recorded video of a test via satellite AO-73 decoded with a 2nd instance.
If you have any questions about this setup please contact AMSAT-SM (Lars SM0TGU) at info@amsat.se

Categories
Beginners and operation

Transceivers for Amateur Radio Satellites

IC-9700

This is a list of VHF/UHF transceivers that can be used for Amateur Radio Satellites. At the moment I choose only to list:

  • Rigs that have both VHF and UHF (HF as bonus) and all mode
  • Full Duplex Base Station rigs
  • Non Full Duplex smaller rigs that can be used mobile or as portable

Many of the rigs are discontinued. FM only mobile rigs and handheld can be added later to this list but can be found on this page from 2017. In the table below the weight is listed, because that was data I was interested in when I did the summary. For all other data – please follow the link to RigPix. As you see Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu are the main brands.

This list will never be complete in any way but maybe can help if you looking for old used rigs. All info is from the excellent RigPix Database.

Full Duplex All Mode Base Station VHF/UHF transceivers

NameWeight (kg)Note
IC-820/8215.0
IC-9104.5
IC-97015.0
IC-97004.7D-Star, SDR
IC-910011.0HF
TS-7909.2
TS-20007.8HF
FT-736R9.0
FT-8477.0HF

Mobile or Portable All Mode VHF/UHF transceivers
(not full duplex, all has HF)

NameWeight (kg)Note
HS2<1SDR
IC-706MKIIG2.45
IC-70002.3
IC-71002.7 (with front panel)
IC-7051.1D-Star, SDR, Battery
See our posts about IC-705
FT-817/8181.17Battery
FT-100D3.0
FT-8572.1
FT-8973.9
FT-9914.3
Categories
Beginners and operation

Working satellites with IC-705 PstRotator or SDR-Console

This is a guide how to working satellites with the IC-705 or similar rig. When trying to understand the IC-705 I needed to write down how to use it – so this is how this post was born. I will try to explain 3 different user scenarios, each have a case for FM- and linear satellites :

  • Working stand alone (portable) without computer control
  • Working with SDR-Console for doppler adjust and a SDR as receiver
  • Working with PstRotator for doppler adjust

The IC-705 satellite memory examples and file can be found here.
Please contact me if you see anything that will not work in the following user cases – I have limited knowledge.

Setting up PstRotator

I will not explain how to use and set up PstRotator – the PstRotator manual is very good. The settings for Omnirig is like this:

And a typical layout for PstRotator Satellites Tracking is like this (and for reference image for the text below):

Case 1: Using IC-705 stand alone without computer control

FM satellites

  • Select split memory for the satellite in IC-705.
  • If needed adjust the RX frequency with the VFO knob (look at the waterfall).
  • Adjust the TX frequency for doppler when transmitting with VFO knob. Use a printed frequency chart for help.

Linear satellites with SSB transponder
(I have never tried semi-duplex on linear satellites before so not sure if this works)

  • Select split memory for the satellite in IC-705.
  • Adjust the RX frequency with the VFO knob to find a free space on the transponder (look at the waterfall).
  • Adjust the TX frequency (press PTT and use the VFO knob) to the correct frequency on the uplink. Use a printed frequency chart for help.

Case 2: Using IC-705 with SDR-Console v3

In this case the IC-705 is working as the transmitter with full doppler control and a SDR as receiver, also with doppler control.
This is my primary working setup for now!

FM satellites

  • Select the downlink frequency in SDR-Console for your SDR receiver and enable tracking in the satellite window, this will doppler control your RX.
  • Select the uplink memory for the satellite in IC-705 to get correct CCTCS tones.
  • Select the uplink frequency in SDR-Console, it will be transferred to External Radio windows.
  • Start External Radio in SDR Console for doppler control – no need to do anything on the IC-705 – just transmit.

Linear satellites with SSB transponder

  • Select the downlink frequency in SDR-Console for your SDR receiver and enable tracking in the satellite window, this will doppler control your RX.
  • Select the uplink frequency in SDR-Console, it will be transferred to External Radio windows.
  • Adjust the RX frequency at SDR Console to find a free space on the transponder (look at the waterfall).
  • Start External Radio in SDR Console for doppler control.
  • As SDR Console does not link (track) up/downlink VFOs – adjust the TX frequency on the IC-705 with the VFO knob to the correct frequency on the uplink. Doppler is corrected also during TX. Use a printed frequency chart for help.
    You can also adjust the frequency with the mouse wheel in at the External Radio windows. I find this better then using the VFO knob on the radio.

    In late 2021 I have made a virtual VFO control that is working well and this is the way I’m working all my QSOs now.
    Please see this post on my GitHub for more info.


Case 3: Using IC-705 stand-alone with PstRotator

In this case PstRotator sets the correct frequency and mode on the IC-705 and has doppler control for both RX and TX. You are working IC-705 stand-alone as semi-duplex.
Note! I’m not using this setup for now.

FM satellites

  • Select the satellite from PstRotator Favorites. Correct frequency, mode and subtone are now set in IC-705 VFOs.
  • Press the “UP+DN” on PstRotator. Doppler is now adjusted on both RX and TX.
  • No need to do anything on the IC-705 – just transmit and listen.

Linear satellites with SSB transponder

  • Select the satellite from PstRotator Favorites. Correct frequency and mode are now set in IC-705 VFOs.
  • Press the “UP+DN” on PstRotator and check that VFO linking are set to “Reverse”. Doppler is now adjusted on both RX and TX and the VFOs are linked.
  • Adjust the RX frequency with the VFO knob to find a free space on the transponder (look at the waterfall). The TX is linked and will have correct frequency.
  • Change the VFO linking to “Not linked” on PstRotator. This means that both TX and RX are still doppler adjusted but the TX frequency is locked (fixed). If needed you can adjust the RX frequency with the VFO knob on the IC-705.

Finally this is a short video when using the tiny GPD MicroPC with PstRotator and IC-705 as a portable computer controlled doppler adjustment.