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Hardware and "How to..."

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 and it is a challenge but the VFO tracking/untracking function of the IC-9700 is very good.

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 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) kan 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
Hardware and "How to..."

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.

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Hardware and "How to..." 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:


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Hardware and "How to..."

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
Ham Satellite news Hardware and "How to..."

AMSAT SA Dual Band 70cm/2M Yagi Mark II

AMSAT SA has launched Mark II of its dual band 70 cm/2 m handheld beam antenna with a new, easier to hold handle and improved coaxial terminations. The Yagi has been retuned for maximum performance in the amateur radio 2 m and 70 cm satellite bands. The coax cable is terminated crimped brass lugs instead of being soldered making it environmentally more robust. The driven element has been adjusted to accommodate the change in the connection. More about the Yagi. The antenna has a 50-ohm designed driver. The Yagi has a unique element called an ‘Open Sleeve’ which is a director very close to the driven element. The driven element is sized for 2 m. When operating on 70 cm the ‘Open Sleeve’ acts as part of the driven element on 70 cm (the third harmonic of 2 m).

The original concept was developed in 1946 by Dr J T Bolljahn of the Stanford Research institute but was not introduced into amateur radio until the 1950s. The AMSAT SA version is based on a design by DK7ZB with modifications by WB5CXC. The first South African version was a collaboration between Guy Eales, ZS6GUY and Gary Immelman, ZS6YI. It was developed for YOTA 2018 where young people successfully used the antenna operating satellites using hand-held transceivers.

The mechanical structure was redesigned by Gary Immelmann ZS6YI. A choke around the boom was added to isolate the antenna from the coax and reduce the effect human contact has on the antenna. A handle was added on the boom end which makes it more comfortable to hold and further isolates the antenna from the handler. The AMSAT SA Yagi is manufactured in one of Gary Immelmann’s factories in Vereeniging. It has two elements on 145 MHz and 3 elements on 435 MHz.

For its size, the antenna has excellent gain: 145 MHZ: 4.12 dBd or 6.3 dBi and 435 MHz: 6.23 dBd or 8.4 dBi. The Yagi is broadband with measured SWR being almost flat over the entire bands. The antenna is plug and play, no tools are needed except for soldering on a connector to suit the application. It comes complete in a carry bag with full instructions. This antenna can be assembled and dissembled in minutes. The price of the MKII Yagi is R400 for AMSAT SA and SARL members. Non-members pay R500 (approximately $36.75 US). The courier charge is R120 (approximately $9 US, Postnet to Postnet). Ask for a quote for other courier options. Find more details and order forms on http://www.amsatsa.org.za/

[ANS thanks AMSAT SA for the above information]

Categories
Hardware and "How to..."

Avoid heading failure for Rot2Prog

The Rot2Prog rotor controller, sold with the popular RAS rotor series, have a nasty bug if using the rotor with a computer. I not sure when it happens, I have not been able to reproduce it on demand, but in some condition the “Heading adjust” (PP in the setup mode of the controller) seams to be set from the computer to a totally wrong heading….

To avoid this problem I think (but not 100% sure) this is the way to handle the controller:

  • Always turn off the Rot2Prog before shutting down the computer!
  • Turn off the Rot2Prog if you are not using it and the computer is on
  • If you are using the Rot2Prog manually, or using the setup menu, and the computer is on be sure that you do not have any controlling software (like PstRotator) running at the same time

But… If you get this error it is easy to adjust the heading with the PP “Heading Adjust”, turn the rotor to north and then reset the Rot2Prog with “On + F”.