On Sunday July, 12 2020 at 06:00 UTC I sent myself three SMS messages through the International Space Station’s APRS digipeater. Here’s how I did it, but first a little background on my motivation for this project.
I recently joined the AMSAT Ambassador program. I’m excited for the opportunity to share my love of satellite communications with others in the hopes that they too will explore this fascinating aspect of ham radio. AMSAT is a non-profit volunteer organization which designs, builds and operates experimental satellites and promotes space education. The ambassador program allows for volunteers to educate fellow hams and the general public about amateur radio in space. This additionally includes mentoring fellow hams in their quest for there first QSO through a satellite. It’s not the most straightforward thing to make contact through a satellite, and having someone to aid you understand the basics is a valuable resource to utilize. I have a few ideas that I’m working on that’ll allow me to share more about AMSAT and amateur radio in space. Be on the lookout for some presentation in the next few weeks.
When I was first licensed back in 2006 one of things that helped pushed me out of the hobby was the high cost of radios. At the time there were only four manufacturers, Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, and Alinco. While the price of radios from these manufacturers remains high, there are now lower priced competitors on the market. One such manufacturer is Wouxun. Does lower price equal lower quality? Let’s take a look.
I find it amazing that with a handheld radio and 5 watts of power you can send a RF signal 300 plus miles into space and connect to a satellite. A satellite that’s roughly the size of a softball, traversing space well over 17,000 miles an hour. Once these signals reach the satellite, it’s sent back to earth allowing you to communicate with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away.