The Hard Stuff

Making contacts is the easy part. Perfection of the craft, that’s the hard stuff.


I brought home a Kenwood THD-72A, spare battery, and rapid charger from Dayton. The plan was to employ this handheld transceiver along with an Arrow Antenna to jump back into the world of amateur satellites. The 72A being practically the only choice for a full-duplex package in a modern design, excluding some of the latest gear from China.

This radio has a plethora of features and options, and just reading about all of them would take time. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out how to configure it for what I wanted to do – without even cracking open the manual. Success was measured by a handful of contacts on AO-85 and SO-50.

That was the fun part. Now comes the hard stuff.

Years ago, when the FCC told us we no longer needed to maintain a station log, I took them serious and quit logging. I hate logging. I have to count beans during my day job, why on earth would I want to extend that metaphor into my avocation? But at some point you realize that “the man” won’t give you any awards without logging, so I resumed the chore several years ago.

But my current logging application doesn’t make recording satellite contacts easy or intuitive. I’m told it can handle the task, but I’ve yet to figure that out and that’s something I need to solve quickly. Which brings me to more hard stuff…

When I was a young satellite enthusiast, LoTW didn’t yet exist. Now we can’t live without it. So in addition to working out basic logging, I need to figure out how to get those contacts properly uploaded. Solving the logging problem will likely resolve the LoTW issue, but it’s one more task.

Full-duplex is a wonderful feature that permits me to hear my down-link while I’m transmitting. But with a handheld, the speaker and microphone are separated by a couple of inches at best so while listening to the satellite, I was talking into my own ear.


I need a separate microphone so I can put some distance between the audio-in and audio-out.

Recording every pass is a big help with logging, plus, it’s nice to have an audio recording of every pass I operate. I managed to collect decent audio by using the voice recorder option in my iPhone, but that was purely acoustical. I’d like to find a way to get a line-in for better results.

I want a tripod to support the antenna and a pre-amp might be useful for AO-85.

I’d like to assemble a carrying case for all these things so I can easily take my portable satellite station with me wherever I roam.

And I really need to open the manual and learn about using the transceiver. That could take weeks but the radio has so many interesting features and creature comforts that would streamline satellite operation.

Making contacts is the easy part. Perfection of the craft, that’s the hard stuff.

Author: Jeff Davis


6 thoughts on “The Hard Stuff”

  1. Get a headset to isolate audio. I use a stereo audio recorder, Sony 820… I feed rig audio to one side (through a 20db or 40db pad), and ambient audio (seperate mic) to the other. For each pass I start the recorder and say “this is SO50 from home; time now is 17:15Z on May 30, 2016, a low easterly pass”. This ensures I can make accurate log entries, to the nearest minute. I also know what I said, and what I heard.

    I put a counter-weight on the arrow (my 436 preamp and battery) to make hand holding tolerable.


  2. I just dug out my D72 after watching the APRS forum from Garry at Ham Radio Now. I also downloaded the software from Kenwood to configure the radio. There are lots of menus in that beast. I also have a similar recorder, Sony icd-px312. I think it is discontinued, but I think there a lots in the $45 price range. The Sony is nice, it has VOX and you can change the audio input from mic to line level.

    More gear, wires, things to do and to remember. Good idea to minimize the setup time. The YouTube Space Comms guy uses two radios, recorder and headset. I think he has a setup all connected in a small camera bag.

    Have fun


  3. Have you tried Aether it’s a very neat logging App for the Mac; It might be the solution to your issues. 73 Stefano, IUØDFT

  4. Stefano, I do have Aether and MacLogger DX. I have been unable to find where to insert the satellite used for either — and that’s a requirement for LoTW confirmation. I’ll keep looking. Thanks, 73. Jeff

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