From 1988 until 1996 my amateur radio activity was largely focused on satellite operation. I had assembled a world-class ground station for use primarily with AO-13 though I was quite active on the 9600 baud PacSats as well.
Some months before AO-13 took its final fiery plunge we moved back to Indiana and I used that opportunity to sell off all my equipment and antennas with plans to buy new once we had settled in our new home.
Besides, I told friends, it would only be another year or so before AO-40 would be on orbit and I wanted to have the latest and greatest technology in place for it. As it turned out, Phase 3D wouldn’t fly for several more years and when it did, it blew up on orbit before it was fully commissioned.
That mostly ended my time as a satellite operator though I have made numerous LEO contacts using handheld transceivers and antennas since then. More recently, I picked up a TH-D72 handheld and Arrow antenna, made a handful of FM satellite contacts, and then put all that away.
My interest in chasing satellites again has sometimes ebbed, but I think that’s mostly because it’s not easy adjusting the radio frequency for Doppler correction while holding it in one hand and holding and pointing the antenna in the other. All the while tracking the position of the rapidly moving satellite across the sky and trying to log whoever I work.
It can be a LOT of work for the briefest of contacts.
But I do want to resume that action since there are many times when the HF bands simply will not cooperate. Besides, I support keeping ham radio in space. I’m a long-time member of AMSAT-NA and AMSAT-UK and I frequently donate to these causes.
And I’d really like to nail-down VUCC via satellite.
So, I’m assembling a few creature comforts that should make things a little easier, like an audio recorder and cables so I can record the entire pass and pick the details for logging out later. I’d also like to have a portable tripod that will support the Arrow antenna and permit me to easily move and rotate it without having to hold it.
I made a comment to that effect on Twitter a few nights ago when I wrote, “Curious why there are no commercially available portable tripods ready-made for mounting an Arrow antenna?”
I got a lot of replies to that, mostly folks sharing with me how they either built their own or modified a camera tripod to support the antenna. These replies were all good and appreciated, especially those who shared their how-to photos, but these didn’t really answer my question.
Given the fairly large number of satellite operators using handheld antennas, it seems an obvious product idea for MFJ or some other enterprising supplier - even the Arrow Antenna manufacturer - to offer for sale a slick version ready to use right out of the box.
I would buy one today but since it’s not available, I’ll spend some upcoming weekend putting something together myself. And then the chase for VUCC will get underway in earnest.