Satellite Downlink

Satellite Downlink

As it was the last club night before the Easter break, we decided that it would be fun to take a week off from the foundation course. The activity of choice – receiving telemetry from the Funcube-1 (AO-73) satellite as it passed over our location.

 

We knew that we’d only get one shot at the satellite, as it passed our QTH at 1930hrs. This have us one hour after our meeting started to construct 2m yagi antennas, set up software and prepare to receive a down-link from the satellite.

 

The antennas of choice were 2m, 3 element, tape measure yagis. These antennas offer a good amount of gain and are very easy and low cost to build. Our design used an affordable tape measure for elements, PVC conduit as a boom, and 3d printed brackets reinforced as pencils to hold the elements in place!

DIY Tape Measure Yagi
DIY Tape Measure Yagi

The antenna was fed using RG-58 terminated with an SMA connector. This plugged into an RTLSDR dongle which allowed us to decode the signal off the satellite in real time.

 

The result was fantastic, we had contact for almost the entirety of the pass, and decoded all of the data on a laptop. The evening also served as great education: with Ken sharing his vast knowledge of operating with amateur satellites.

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