AMSAT and Portable VHF/UHF GoBag⚓︎
July 17, 2021
Making AMSAT Operations Easier⚓︎
I really enjoyed working AMSAT and it’s been two years since I last worked a station, it’s time to get back out there again.
I know one of the main reasons I’ve not gone out to the field behind our house is due to the clunky setup I had. It was just a bag of parts with most everything thrown in to it. My work surface was a little sling in between the legs of a tripod. The tripod itself was only used for the sling, I didn’t actually use it to hold the antenna or anything other than a now empty bag.
I’d get to the field, start pulling random parts out of the bag, and do my best to stack them all in this little sling. Then as the satellite started to approach I’d start MNML and ISS Detector Pro and that was about the last time I could look at the phone, radio, or any audio settings.
Some of this complexity is self-imposed, and I understand that, but I feel what I’m going for is a reasonable setup. I’d like to record not only clear audio of the QSO, but also have a live screen capture of the OSCAR pass, have headphones for myself, and a speaker for anyone who is with me to hear the exchange. If I do this all right, it frees up my hands to work the mic and antenna, and the need to write down the exchange can be done later when I listen to the recording.
I’ve included some images of what the old setup would look like below.
My new setup, which could still use some work, contains the following parts:
- Dell projector case replaces the bag and contains
- Kenwood TM-721 dual bander
- MFJ-916B Duplexer
- Behringer HA400 Ultra-Compact 4 Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier
- SOTAbeams PowerPole 4-Way DC Distribution Box
- Powerwerx watt meter
- Uniden BC7 External Speaker
- 3.5mm TRRS (Male) to 3.5mm TRS microphone (Female)
- Misc 3.5mm to 1/4” audio adapters
- 3.5mm stereo to mono adapters
- 3.5mm stereo cables
- Android phone with three key applications
- Bioenno 12v 9Ah BLF-1209A
- Elk Antennas 2M/440L5 Dual-Band Antenna
- Folding card table
The table is a little bulky, but honestly it isn’t any more difficult than the tripod and offers me so much more flexibility once I am out to the field.
This new setup is simpler to take out to the field, is easy to get everything connected, and is very functional once I’m out there. I can see the phone screen and the details as to where the satellite is, I can easily adjust all the audio outputs, the radio is much closer to me for both the mic and seeing the current frequency, and noting is precariously stacked on another device.
With just a little work I’ll be able to velcro various parts to the lid, pre-wire a bit, and make it even more functional.