W2KGY ISS Contact
Well, the historic moment you have all been waiting for. I’m certainly surprised and grateful for this event. It took a lot of work, but in the end the payoff was well worth it.
We finally had more than two cadets in the club room at the same time.
Easton, KI5GTA, speaks to COL Morgan NA1SS
For the second time in USMA History we made voice contact with the ISS. There were a myriad of great takeaways from both a planning and radio point of view. While this won’t follow my do-it-yourself format, but I am so glad we finally got to say “Beat Navy” to a satellite more than 250 miles above the earth (and it responded!)
I won’t cover anything already written, instead I will give an analysis of the event.
I have been asked this an odd amount of times by hams. Our setup:
- Radio: ICOM-910
- Rotator: M2 AE1000CB, AZEL1000 PEDESTAL CROSSBOOM (PULSE)
- Software: Ham Radio Deluxe using custom rotator script
The rotator is professional grade and thus does not have a large amount of documentation; we had to write a script to get it to correctly rotate. The antennas are also M2, but the model is unknown.
During the contact, HRD crashed miserably. We had to manually rotate the antenna with visual data and the buttons on the server cabinet. We are trying desperately to move our rotator to gpredict on ubuntu, and should be operational again soon.
The equipment was certainly the most challenging part of the contact, as support for this event was through the roof. We filled out a question form in advance and held a rehearsal prior to the actual event. This is the same way the Girl Scouts do their ISS contacts; due to the limited contact time, questions have to be short and efficient.
Once again, moving the equipment or broadcasting the contact to a secondary location will allow for more comfortable viewership.
The only difference is the uniforms… courtesy of KC4IYD
We had about 20 cadets come to the club room, and 15 or so interested adults. We only asked about 4 questions before the pass had ended. It was certainly amazing to hear a West Point Grad in space, but even better in my mind to garner this much support for amateur radio and the W2KGY program.
“One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind” - Joe Taylor when creating FT8
In essence, I think our club has made a giant leap. We now have these satellite capabilities and connections aboard the ISS, so our technical knowledge is abound. Of course we will be pushing for another contact with COL Morgan, but we can utilize our station in the meantime. I plan to work EME (expect blog post soon) and more amateur satellites. Also, SatNOGS will prove an invaluable tool to track and share our data with other enthusiasts.