Perhaps a Dedicated Satellite version of the Flex-6000?

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  • Updated 2 years ago

Folks here I am not speaking from experience as the idea germinated while indulging the interest in doing satellite work that of one of my sons has (he a University Junior). 

Surveying the available gear to do something better than our initial HT and an Arrow Antenna setup, it sure seems that those folk adding transverters to their Flex-6700s are onto a good thing, but could the SmartSDR software and the Flex-6000 hardware be the basis for a dedicated Satellite setup out of the box?

Might already be good solutions out there - we've made two appointments to get a chance to see other setups and get some Elmering which might suggest present solutions.  It is just everything we've seen so far for Satellite work is not as elegant and capable as the Signature Series is for HF work.

Possibility?  Thoughts?

73

Steve K9ZW

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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Walt

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From my previous posts . . .    about a concept Flex 7000 radio . .

I think they should extend the Freq. range to 500 MHz at least, and even 1300 MHz with 20 watt RF output minimums so you could use multiple slices, full duplex for cross-band satellite work with no add-on boxes. 

Add features in the software to auto-track antenna systems and auto-doppler.

That might get a few more $$$ out of me . . .

Cheers
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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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From what I gather from Steve's previous comments, 500 Mhz and maybe 1300 Mhz is possible but at a very dear price.  Maybe they could get the Department of Defense to pay for most of the development costs so that they could afford to sell it to us.
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Rick

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Hi Steve. You are right about the advantage of the SDR radios in terms of working satellites and probably other VHF/UHF weak signal work, though I haven't tried that. Flex Radio Systems of course did make for a time the Flex5000A which could be purchased fully bundled with a 2nd RX and the V/U module that added 2 meters and 70cm. It is a great radio but they are hard to find. I have one and can't part with it though I did make to move to a 6300 a while back. Rather than use transverters I decided to use a 2nd radio, and for a while used my old FT-847, a radio I suspect will soon be up for sale. With my new station I chose to not use expensive transverters that you either have to buy or build from kits by Down East Microwave. They are excellent stable units. But the waiting list for built ones is months and months. I decided it might be a good idea to have a second good radio on the table next to my 6300 that also provided VHF/UHF operation. I purchased inexpensive down converters for 2m and 70 cm. I recommend High Sierra Microwave. They are very hot! I then use the 6300 for downlink and the IC-9100 for uplink. I pickted up a nicely bundled 9100 from a friend to replace my 847. You could use any number of radios for the uplink including a TS-2000 (which I used with my first Flex5000 that didn't have the V/U module) or a Yaesu 857D or 897D or possible the Icom 7000, and I'm sure there are other possibilities I haven't thought of. With SatPC32 which handles 2 radios, one for up and one for down, you are in business. Without giving things away, look for great articles by Ron Parsons, W5RKN, and Dave Beumer, W0DHB in an upcoming issue of the AMSAT Journal for more details about how to do all this. Ron built a nifty foolproof relay switching box that handles his antennas. I added to this by bundling my down converters in the same box that houses a USB switching board and coax relays that handle the 2m and 70cm antennas. That's enough for now, but you definitely are on to something that some of us are doing - with transverters or with a 2nd radio. But don't you wish Flex still made a radio that supported satellite operation like they did with the 5000A!
73, Happy Holidays
Rick, W2JAZ 
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KF4HR

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I wouldn't have any need for a 500 to 1300mhz output as I prefer to install transverters and amplifiers at or near the antenna and use a lower frequency IF.  It's more efficient and I don't have to deal with high line losses, or expensive feed line to compensate for losses. 

But there are a few features I'd like to see FRS incorporate into a future software build that would enhance satellite operation:

 * The ability to sync two slices together so the uplink and downlink frequencies track each other (both positive and negative)

 * The ability to adjust for Doppler Shift

* And a nice feature found on the Kenwood TS-2000, TS2000X, and TS-990S, the ability to have the Flex frequency display indicate the actual transverter (or downconverter) frequency

If Flex ever incorporates the above 3 features my satellite rigs (Yaesu FT-736R and TS-2000X) will be going up for sale.     
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Walt - KZ1F

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That actually wouldn't need FRS, just a different control surface tied into Predict or the windows varient of it. This, as opposed to tiring into dxcluster. Compute the uplink, the downlink, the shift, the aos, tos, as, el and, as you say, fdx.
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Walt - KZ1F

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The other by-product of this goes to a larger issue. Most everyone consider the SSDR GUI the radio, when, in fact, it is not. It is a domain specific UI to the radio. In the case of a satellite, man made or otherwise, the domain specific UI may well be something like gPredict. gPredict being a UI on top of predict. Rather than interacting with the OP for band, freq, mode etc, much of that information is directly generated by the other application. The OP needs merely to designate which satellite, 'visible' at his qth, he would like to target. What bands and modes the satellite is in is directly discernable via the input from predict. Antenna pointing and adjusting of doppler shift is also handled by the domain specific UI. Similarly, binding the two slices, for uplink and downlink and mode (bands) is also a software operation.
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KF4HR

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All good points Walt.  I have no doubt talented programmers and engineers could come up with all sort of external solutions to assist the Flex 6x00 function better in the satellite mode but it sure would be nice if these satellite functions were incorporated in SSDR.  Maybe v3.0? :)          
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Walt - KZ1F

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It also would be something if the satellites we had availability to weren't just flying repeaters. hihi

On the more serious side, for those that have used xvrtr and defined them in the setup, when they are selected for the given slice, does the slice displace the 70cm freq (for instance) or the 6000 xmit freq?

Can I get my choice of 736 or 2000?
(Edited)
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Have Unfollowed my own thread, as I'll return to it after getting some hands on instruction and enough QSOs to feel comfortable fleshing out this idea.


  • Everyone has pointed out the most serious cons, which do need consideration:

  • Costs could be excessive

  • You can build up a station from a variety of radios you've integrated

  • Many potential owners are heavily invested in transverters

  • Amps/Transverters at the Antennas is a superior configuration avoiding in-the-radio/shack feedline loses

  • There are ways to build up the software outside of what FRS does

I'd really like to spend some time with some of the community who have operating integrated satellite stations as part of my learning process - I'm good at QRZ or the @arrl.net works too.

73

Steve K9ZW


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Walt - KZ1F

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Steve, some learning material you might find informative:
The Radio Amateur Satellite Handbook
The ARRL Satellite Experimenter's Handbook
The ARRL Satellite Anthology
AMSAT Getting Started with Amateur Satellites
AMSAT has a collection of training material as does ARRL

Who is it exactly you are trying to exclude from this conversation?
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Thank you for the booklist. 

My youngest is working through a couple right now.

He's set up some time with a local friend and is working on visiting family, both who work satellites regularly on a casual level.

Still trying to arrange to visit a serious satellite station. 

Only exclusion is myself until I get some of this learned and have hands on - as my "wouldn't it be nice" idea can't develop (for me) until I do.

73

Steve

K9ZW

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Walt - KZ1F

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Ya know what? Reading a bunch of dry, largely mathematical, books can be....well, not light reading, There are a couple of things you can do. Visit AMSAT.org. Very worthwhile organization. Barry Baines, WD4ASW gives outstanding presentations, should you (or anyone) have the opportunity to hear him speak. He's president of AMSAT. Not sure about CEO but if there is one, he's it. I've mentioned him a few times. He was pivotal in getting me interested, indeed, purchasing, the flex. The latest 'fleet' of birds in Amateur Radio or where AR is secondary payload is the Fox series. Fox 1a (AO-85) just went full time AR. There is a whole tab under amsat.org dedicated to Fox.  It seems, aside from experiments in telemetry, the currently active birds are more flying repeaters AMSAT Germany does have a perfectly decent HEO satellite waiting for a launch opportunity and, cash to buy the payload space.

I want to give people an idea of what I was referring to. Here are two screen shots, one of gPredict and the other the dialog where one describes their radio and, optionally module to interface to it.

I believe Simon, has a serious satellite station, if you consider the moon as a satellite. I believe Butch does as well plus a few others whose names escape me.

I did not mean my prior as remotely being a software tutorial but given what we know about the satellites, the information for the satellites displayed on the app come from 2-line keplarian element sets that are updated periodically. So at any point in time software knows where any given satellite is, plus as satellites don't run on Mr Fusion yet, there is programmed down time, so this is also known, programmatically. So, for any given satellite, a program knows, where it is, what mode its in, doppler shift to it uplink freq, downlink freq or band spread. When running with transverters you know the relationship between either the 10M freq or 15m freq and the actual xvrt output freq so, given the required uplink or downlink, the software can work backwards, adjusting for doppler, what freq the two slices need to be on etc. So, in that sense, there is nothing magical about the radio requirements or human input required.

Granted, the following is a snap shot but, based on the data in the 2 line keplarian data, the software computes future locations and, if you watch the screen for any length of time, you'll see all the satellites adjust their position. The big elipses surrounding each are their 'footprint'. Unless your qth is in the footprint, you won't see or hear it. Oh, also note ISS is there as well. As I was getting ready to do the screen shots ISS went overhead.

(Edited)
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Duane N9DG

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Is it just me or is anyone else getting a case of deja vu with this topic discussion? Seems to me that many of these same topics and how to implement them in SDR have already been discussed nearly 10 years ago. For some background peruse the threads about multiple SDRs and V/UHF usage in the various threads in the email list archive from late 2005 through 2007-ish time frame.

http://mail.flex-radio.biz/pipermail/flexradio_flex-radio.biz/

The key differences now vs. the discussions back then is that wide band sampling ADC's were off the radar for consideration at that time. And similarly the role of in-radio signal processing as well. The desire for Ethernet connectivity was certainly there already, though the existing radio SDR hardware at that time didn't have that capability.

It is fun to re-read those threads again and to see and recognize just how much of the concepts and goals discussed back then that have already found thier way into what the 6K's and SmartSDR are today.