First satellite contact
I first heard that amateurs had satellites in space (satellites! In space! Just for radio ham use!) that they
could use to talk through before I even got my licence. Late 80s, early 90s, I guess. And then I forgot about
it. It used to be quite hard. You had to know when the satellite would be coming over, use SSB, use two radios,
have two antennas, transmit up on 2 metres, receive on 10 metres, adjust for the doppler effect (yes, even at
the speed of light), and that was before you had to calculate when the satellite would be above the horizon for
you. Nowadays, there are loads of sites and apps that calculate pass predictions.
Then I was browsing Youtube in the 2010s, and I came across a video of K7AGE making a contact through an FM satellite, SO50.
With nothing more than a 5 watt FM handheld, and a handheld directional antenna, Randy makes a couple of short contacts.
It's maybe not the best video, or the best example of satellite operation (I'm sure you can find many more on YouTube now), but it's the one that rekindled my interest in satellites.
Because the average LEO ham satellite goes from horizon to horizon in about ten minutes, satellite time is limited. There are usually lots of people waiting to make contacts, so contacts are usually very short. No time for pleasantries - just exchanging callsigns, and Maidenhead grid locators. Of course, if you try a pass in the middle of the night, you might get lucky and get to have a decent natter to someone.
With my interest newly renewed, I tried to make satellite contacts with an omnidirectional antenna on the roof of my car, but I couldn't hear the satellite. The satellite could hear me though - in this attempt, you can hear me telling someone that I am on the correct frequency for the satellite in this video, around the 3:08 mark. Other people are calling me, but I can't hear them. It's the old saying: "If you can't hear them, you can't work them."
Eventually, I purchased an Elk directional antenna from amsat.org.uk and after several tries, on 2016-07-27, I made my first satellite contact with Walt, ON5NY in Belgium through SO50.
Unfortunately though, no-one recorded it.