Sunday, January 9, 2011

Home Satellite Station!

This weekend I replaced the 4-element Arrow VHF beam antenna with a 7-element M-Squared 2M7 VHF beam. The main reason for this was because the Arrow wasn't weatherproof, and I had to get it out of the rain before it corroded. A secondary reason was that the M-Squared antenna has quite a bit more gain than the Arrow -- I've found that this really helps pull the sometimes weak VHF-downlink signals out of the VO-52 and AO-07 sats. Here are some photos of the new installation: The twin Yaesu FT-817ND tranceivers and the Amsat LVB Tracker. The tracker is on left with the green display. The FT-817ND on the bottom with the orange display is used for VHF and is connected to the VHF yagi, while the FT-817ND on the top with the blue display is used for UHF and is connected to the UHF yagi:

This is the Yaesu G-5500 rotator controller. It's directly controlled by the LVB Tracker, and it connects directly wtih the rotators:

The cable feedthrough allows the two rotator cables and two antenna feedlines directly through the office wall. I wanted to keep the cable run as short as possible, so this hole is right beneath the radios. It isn't pretty but it's functional:

The antenna feedlines go to the preamplifier box mounted on the antenna tripod mast:

The preamp box houses the Advanced Receiver Research (ARR) pre-amps. One for 70cm and one for 2m. Both are switchable from inside the office:

Here's a view looking down (up?!) the two antennas. The M2 2M7 VHF antenna is on the left, and the 15-element Diamond yagi is on the right:

And here's the whole assembly:

And in this photo, the proximity of nearby houses is visible. Houses limit the visibility of the antenna to around 15 degrees to the south and 23 degrees to the north.

Finally, here's a short video of the antenna rotation in action:

Here's a list of the station components:

Support Mast:
10' steel pipe 1 1/2" diameter
Older style Radio Shack TV Antenna Tripod
Redwood 2x4 and concrete pier base

Yaesu G5500

Advanced Receiver Research SP432VDG - N connectors
Advanced Receiver Research SP144VDG - BNC connectors (not in use)

UHF Ant: Diamond A430S15 15-element yagi, mounted horizontally.
VHF Ant: M2 2M7 7-element yagi, mounted vertically.

Preamp Box:
Weatherproof camera box mounted to TV-mast support x 2.

Coaxial Cable:
VHF Feed (shack to box): 30' Tandy RG-8/U, PL-259x2
UHF Feed (shack to box): 30' Times Microwave LMR-400, PL259 + N connector
VHF Feed (box to ant): 8' Tandy RG-8/U, PL-259x2
UHF Feed (box to ant): 8' Times Microwave LMR-400, PL259 + N connector

Rotator Cable:
Rotator: Wireman 302 (2x40)':2-16, 6-18 Premium rotor cable, PE jacket
Rotator: Wireman 352 (2): 8 pole molded connector, male and female set.
(Molded connectors attached to controller end of cable)
(PowerPole connectors attached to 16-gauge lines to provide power to preamp box)

Rado Interface:
Yaesu CT-62 serial:CAT x 2
Serial-USB Adapters x 2 (FTDI chipset)

Rotator Interface:
LVB Tracker from AMSAT

Computer OS: Windows 7 - 64-bit

2 x Yaesu FT-817ND

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