Amateur Radio Satellite Gadgets
 
  Antennas:    

Arrow II LEO , 146/437-10WBP
Hand Held Yagi for Satellite


Pros:
- Diplexer Built Into Handle
- Strong Clear Signal
- Reasonably Light

Cons:
- None that we know of

Available from: http://arrowantennas.com/arrowii/146-437.html

 
 


Elk Model 2M/440L5 Five Element, Log Periodic Antenna


Pros:
- No Diplexer Required for 145 Through 440 MHz
- Strong Clear Signal
- Sturdy, Well Built Construction

Cons:
- Slightly Heavier Than the Arrow
- Requires More Precision in Aiming
- Handle Could be Better Engineered

Available from: http://www.elkantennas.com


 
 

The Great Antenna Debate: Now that you have the basic information on the Arrow II and Elk Hand Held Satellite Antennas, you'll likely become part of the great debate as to which antenna is better than the other. The fact is, they're both great antennas! You'll have to decide for yourself as it all comes down to personal taste. Read the article by K6LCS - Clint Bradford as he attempts to put a final word on the debate!
 

UC-4364-328, Amateur Satellite Antenna by Myers Engineering

Pros:
- The UC-4364-328 is a compact (Right Hand) Quadrifilar Helix antenna
- Designed to operate through Amateur Radio satellites, without requiring an antenna rotator.

Cons:
- UHF Receive Only – Not 2-Way.
- Does Not Work Well for Low Horizon

Available from: http://www.antennas.us


   
 

Smiley 270A HT Antenna

Pros:
- Outperforms Diamond SHR-320A
- Collapsible - short when you don't need the gain
- Spring in base protects your HT's antenna connector
- It only costs $20


Cons:
- None that we know of

With its spring base protecting your HT's antenna connector and its 5/8 and 1/4 wave performance, this is a great bargain in the amateur accessory world. Did I mention it sells for less than half of the Diamond SHR-320a?

Available from: http://www.smileyantenna.com/

Submitted By: K6LCS – Clint Bradford

 
 

 

Stephen Gulyas BNC-to-SMA Adapters

Pros:
- TRUE protection of your HT's antenna connector
- Not "one size fits all" - several models for different HTs

Cons:
- Only available from Stephen - no big store carries them, yet.
- Cost - but compare with a $100 bill to repair you HT's broken antenna center pin connector, and t
he cost is nothing.

Hard rubber displaces the stress placed on your HT when attaching larger antennas or cabling. These fine adapters "mate" to a much larger surface area on your HT than the "all-metal" CN3-like adapters. Click on the link below for a .pdf file with pictures, model numbers, and ordering instructions.

Available from: http://tinyurl.com/bnc-adapters

Submitted By: K6LCS – Clint Bradford

 
  Antenna Rotator:  
 


Azimuth – Elevation (Az-El) Antenna Rotator System


Pros:
- Ability to track your satellite pass from Horizon to Horizon.

Cons:
- Prohibitively EXPENSIVE!

You Don’t Need One

If you really want a rotator for tracking across the horizon, use a single plane, (azimuth) rotator with a suitable antenna permanently affixed at 30 to 45 degrees elevation. This will provide superb performance for 95% of all satellite passes.

The one pictured here is a Yaesu G5500: http://www.yaesu.com

$589 for the Rotator, $569 for the Computer Interface

 
  Radios – Hand Held:    
 

Yaesu VX-3R

Pros:
- Very Small, Light Weight, and Compact.
- With the right antenna, capable of successful amateur radio satellite communication.

Cons:
- Difficult to program. (RDMS Software is available.)

Available from: http://www.associatedradio.com/

Really, any good HT, be it Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood, or whatever, so long as it is capable of “split-banding” and PL Tone will be more than satisfactory to work Satellites!

 
  Radios - Base:  
 


Yaesu FT-897D (or FT-857D)


Pros:
- All Bands / All Modes (HF – VHF – UHF)
- Split Band Capability
- Base, Mobile, Portable, you choose.

Cons:
- I’ll let you know when I find one.

Available from: http://www.associatedradio.com/

Again, any good radio, be it Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood, or whatever, so long as it is capable of “split-banding” and PL Tone will be more than satisfactory to work Satellites!

 
  Navigation:  
 

A Good but Inexpensive Compass

Pros:
- Helps locate your orientation and directions.

Cons:
- You don't need one all the time, but it's sure handy to have one when you need it!

Available from: http://www.harborfreight.com

You could go to the Automotive Section at Wally World and get one of those cheep compass globes for your dashboard for about $5 Bucks. This one is $2 at Harbor Freight. There are also good ones on eBay for as little as $7, including shipping.

 
 

I have to mention, of all the articles I’ve posted on this site so far, none have generated more comment and e-mail than the Gadget article about having a compass. Although all the comments have been positive, my general observation is that the selection of a compass is very much a matter of personal taste and preference.

In summary of what I was provided, I will point out that there is a wide selection of compasses available from the Bass Pro Shops, ( http://www.basspro.com ) and Cabella’s, ( http://www.cabellas.com ). The selection available from either of these vendors spans a wide range in quality, application, and price.

An appreciable amount of discussion was given to the Suunto line of compasses, for those who are willing to pay for better accuracy from their instruments. ( http://tinyurl.com/2aavwhw and http://www.suuntoservice.com/dealerlocator ) Mention was also made on SILVA or BRUNTON compasses, with the caveat that attention should be made as to where the instrument was actually manufactured as an indicator of quality. Good advice was also provided in that the flatter the compass is, the more sensitive it is to being perfectly horizontal, the ones with a round dial tend to be more forgiving that the one with a needle. Another offered the opinion that liquid filled compasses were the best overall. And don't forget that your radio has a magnet in it, which will affect your campass if held too close.

All things considered, my humble opinion is one should obtain what works best for you within your budget. As a rule, if I can find which direction is generally north, than I can pretty much find the satellite with my antenna so long as I have a ball park idea where it will be coming over the horizon.

Hats Off to Bryan Walker, KJ4QZJ; Amir Findling, K9CHP; and Clint Bradford, K6LCS for their contributions to the discussion.

Update 17JUN12

 
     
 
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