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AMSAT OSCAR-40. It took a licking but It’s still ticking Presented by Bill Tynan , W3XO Edited by Rick Hambly W2GPS. 21 st Space Symposium and AMSAT-NA Annual Meeting Saturday, October 18, 2003, 15:00 EDT Toronto Airport Marriott, Toronto Ontario Canada. AO-40 Background.

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Amsat oscar 40

It took a licking


It’s still ticking

Presented by

Bill Tynan, W3XO

Edited by Rick Hambly W2GPS

21st Space Symposium and

AMSAT-NA Annual Meeting

Saturday, October 18, 2003, 15:00 EDT

Toronto Airport Marriott, Toronto Ontario Canada

Ao 40 background
AO-40 Background

  • Phase 3D, Amateur Radio’s most ambitious satellite, took 10 years and FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to build.

  • Launched November 16, 2000 from the European Space Agency’s launch site at Kourou, French Guiana, South America aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)

  • Several weeks later Phase 3D, now AO-40, suffered a serious mishap (EXPLOSION).

  • ALL is LOST, or so everyone thought.

  • But on CHRISTMAS DAY 2000, AO-40 was brought to LIFE!

What is still working and what isn t


70 cm (435 MHz) uplink

Both L Band (1269 MHz) uplinks

One of two S Band (2400 MHz) downlinks

K Band (24 GHz) downlink

Main computer

RUDAK computer

GPS receivers

JAMSAT camera

Power system

Attitude control system

Not Working

2 Meter downlink

2 Meter uplink

Both 10 GHz downlinks

One S band (2400 MHz) downlink

Propulsion system

What is still working and what isn’t?

What about ao 40
What About AO-40?

  • S band is too hard!

    • So, should I wait for the next high altitude satellite - several years away?

    • Or, resolve to take advantage of what still works on AO-40?

  • But, if S band isn’t that hard.

    • Why shouldn’t I take the bull by the horns, and use what’s up there now?

    • A great high altitude (DX) satellite!

  • But, what gear do I need, and where do I get it?

    • I can’t build that microwave stuff with those tiny surface-mount components anymore, if I ever could!

    • So, how do I proceed?

What do i need
What Do I Need?

  • Rig:

    • 2 Meter SSB/CW receiver or transceiver or

    • 70cm SSB/CW transmitter ~ 25W or 2 Meter/70 cm SSB/CW transceiver

  • Antenna Mount:

    • An Az/El rotator system such as the Yaesu 5400* or 5500 or

    • Two TV rotators - one oriented in the normal fashion and the other mounted horizontally on it or

    • A manually pointed arrangement of PVC or aluminum pipes

*Approach used at W3XO/5

What do i need1
What Do I Need?

  • Yagi for 70 cm (435 MHz) ~ 10 dB or more gain

    • A standard linearly polarized Yagi either horizontal or vertical or

    • A crossed Yagi for circular polarization

  • Small dish:

    • A wireless cable Bar-B-Q or Primestar

    • Commercial, such as 60 cm (231/2 inch), or 90 cm (34 inch) Downeast Microwave*

*Approach used at W3XO/5

What do i need2
What Do I Need?

  • Dish feed:

    • Patch, G3RUH or W0LMD* or

    • Helix

  • Downconverter (2400 MHz to 144 MHz):

    • Commercial DEMI or SSB Electronics etc. or

    • Converted wireless cable unit such as K5GNA AIDC-3731*

  • Bridged T to supply DC to downconverter

  • Coax and rotator cable to connect to equipment in shack

*Approach used at W3XO/5

Working ao 40
Working AO-40

  • First, get a satellite tracking program from AMSAT, and install it in your computer.

    • Nova, SatPC-32 or InstantTrack (DOS)

  • Determine when AO-40 will be in view, and point your antennas in the general direction (Az & El) .

  • Look for the mid-band beacon around 2401.323 (145.323 on you 2 meter radio)

    • Tune around about +/- 50 kHz.

  • Peak your antennas for max signal.

  • Tune up from beacon for activity. If you don’t hear any, look on AMSAT, AMSAT-UK or AMSAT-DL web site for schedule.

    • The transponder is NOT always on even when beacon is.

Working ao 401
Working AO-40

  • If transponder is on, look for a clear spot, set your transmitter to about 435.650 and turn around while whistling or sending dits until you hear yourself coming back.

  • Adjust your power for about an S-6 to 7 signal. Too much signal and LEILA will be on you.

  • For voice, switch to LSB. Transponder inverts signals, so LSB is received as USB.

  • Call CQ, and work the WORLD! Many European countries, JAs, ZLs and VKs are active regularly.

What about those trees
What About Those Trees?

  • Trees ARE bad news for S band signals.

  • Possible solutions:

    • Intensive use of chain saw

    • Mount antenna array higher

    • Work portable:

      • Mount antenna array on a small flat-bed trailer or in a pickup.

      • Ready-made Field Day set-up

      • And, you can work just as much DX as the fixed stations.

  • However you do it, come join us in the FUN of satellite hamming.