Amateur radio

Inaugural Post From Space!


Welcome to my new blog on All Things Radio. I thought it fitting to write about my recent International Space Station reception and recording as my first entry into the blogosphere. For the last few weeks I have been setting up my dual-band Kenwood radio to send and receive APRS data using the ISS beaconing system. For those who may not be aware, APRS is a digital mode which uses either a computer or a TNC (terminal node controller – a type of modem) to send information between amateur radio operators. It can be used for location services, messaging, information, and world-wide communications.

When used between radios the distance is relatively short, much like normal police or amateur radio communication in the VHF range. This is another way of saying the signals are pretty much line-of-sight. To move signals farther distances one either needs a repeater (often referred to as a “Digipeater” or a means of sending the received data through the Internet using gateways. Without getting into all of the technical things, long-range communication pretty much depends on using Internet links. Unless the radio you are communicating with happens to be in space — then you have the opportunity to communicate with people a lot farther away as long as both you and your friend are within the Space Station’s line of sight!

Having first gotten set up to receive APRS signals from the ISS, I was quite excited to receive my first few transmissions as the Space Station passed overhead. Before long however I wanted to be heard by the ISS, and so spent a good deal of time trying to get the settings right. Unfortunately, that took a bit of effort as no one seemed to have just the right settings I needed. Finally I found a step-by-step guide specifically for my radio by Ned Linch (N4LS). Suddenly everything worked!!

I have several confirmed contacts from stations here on earth, as well as having my call sign show up on several maps which indicate what stations have been heard by the ISS. I took screenshots of them of course!

The most exciting thing to date has been the opportunity to listen in on a contact between the astronauts of the ISS and a college in Oklahoma. I tuned into the downlink frequency of 145.800 during a scheduled contact pass and caught several minutes of one-way conversation (the school was sending their signals on a different frequency (split operation)). If you are interested in hearing the bits and pieces I was able to record you can do so by clicking on the audio link below.

This was recorded on 07/01/2015

I will post more audio as I get them, but I have to say this was one of the biggest highlights of my radio-listening career!

Thanks for reading this inaugural blog entry, and I hope you will check back often!



  • Reply Robert’s new radio blog | The SWLing Post 07/23/2015 at 1:53 pm

    […] if interested I have an audio file of a voice CQ call from this past weekend’s ISS special event, along with audio …. The cosmonaut makes a CQ call (after which getting over my shock I returned a call); he calls […]

  • Reply Troy 07/23/2015 at 2:34 pm

    Very cool, nice catch Robert – thanks for sharing & of course … congratulations on getting it!

    • Reply Robert 07/23/2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks, Troy – Maybe it is the kid in me but I still get a thrill out of things like this! 73, Robert

  • Reply Steve 07/23/2015 at 6:31 pm

    Welcome to the blogging world Robert. I look forward to reading your postings.
    Nice signals from the ISS … Usually they are not so talkative and more like ‘hello … goodbye … next’.


    • Reply Robert 07/23/2015 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks, Steve – with the college recording it caught me by surprise and at first I was just amazed I was hearing anything. Then suddenly I thought “I’ve got to record this!” but did not have anything set up as I was not really expecting to hear anything. Then I remembered a recording app on my phone and it saved the day!
      Cheers! Robert

  • Reply Dyson 08/09/2015 at 1:11 pm

    Steve Bauer shares his thoughts on the state of radio and why people should listen at least once to Smooth Jazz. Bill Sparks recaps the latest sports news, and then discusses what it all means with Doug Hunsinger.

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