(Well maybe not infinity, but 400 miles above the earth is close!)
So yesterday, I went to visit a fellow ham friend of mine (K4RGK) to discuss antennas and such. I had been over once before and was fascinated by an antenna setup in the back yard. It was a combination of 2 circularly polarized yagis (2m and 70cm) mounted on to a base with 2 rotors! One rotor controlled azimuth and the other controlled elevation. This was indeed designed for satellite work! While we were evaluating a new antenna that he picked up, his YL (K4UPI) mentioned that their were a couple of satellite passes coming up that would be good to make a contact. We sat down at the radio desk and sure enough, there were 2 satellites that were due up for a high pass in the next 30 mins! After rotating a few dials, flipping that switch and pushing these buttons, the monster or an antenna in the back yard turned itself toward the northwest and waited! The first satellite that passed over had its own issues but the anticipated FM repeater (SO-50) was yet to come!
We were able to see on the computer screen the location of the satellite and the estimated footprint across the earth. As that circle engulfed the north part of Georgia, we started hearing stations giving their call signs and grid locator! They signals were weak at first but increased to practically 5/9 very quickly. Daryl (K4RGK), wanted to make a contact to ensure that all was working well. Many stations started calling him and he made a few more. When he heard a break in the pile up, he passed the mic and controls to me! Kilo-four-November-Hotel-Whiskey, Echo-Mike Seventy-Three! I very quickly found myself in the middle of a QSO that originated from an earth station transmitting to a space station and then received to another earth station (E1D04). The QSOs were happening to fast to digest the fact that my transmission was traveling to space and back! The QSO’s were short and sweet; your call sign, Grid locator and RST. After it was all said and done, I was able to make 2 complete contacts. I made a third contact toward the end of the pass but I must have written the call sign down wrong and was unable to confirm it.
All in all, it was a very pleasant surprise to be able to make those contacts as this was my first experience with an Amateur Satellite Station! This definitely adds a new dimension to the amateur radio hobby. After all, I had just spend hours of studying the Amateur Extra manual which included an entire chapter (and several questions) related to the Amateur Satellite Service (E1D02). Who knows… this may be the next addition to my home station!
Till next time… 73!