I am looking for a website that has the satellite footprint as well as the downlink freq. I just got a 2m/70cm handheld and want to see what I can pick up.

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    $\begingroup$ The satellite tracking websites are often a bit optimistic. I remember many disappointing evenings listening and not hearing anything. Often websites will list satellites that aren't actually on 2 m, because they're deceased, or have 2 m but don't use it, or have a schedule of modes on different days, etc. Read around in some forums too. There are probably only two or three with active 2 m downlinks, plus the ISS on packet. $\endgroup$ – tomnexus Aug 18 '15 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ As of 2-24-2020, additionally, check here https://www.amsat.org/two-way-satellites/ for more current FM operations, or here https://www.n2yo.com/passes/amateur-radio.php at N2YO for more of a satellite by satellite detailing of frequencies. When any of these sites has a link to a detail page, take a look. The Diwata-2 (PO-101) page is very informative, here http://phl-microsat.upd.edu.ph/diwata2. Nearly half the power budget is for the ADCS, and $\endgroup$ – always_learning Feb 24 '20 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I imagine this ADCS will take priority if they are imaging a disaster area with the imaging sensors onboard. The ADCS is used to orient the satellite (and its sensors) at the desired location on earth. The ARU is then no longer a priority on the power budget. It is helpful to be aware of such things. $\endgroup$ – always_learning Feb 24 '20 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ Does it have to be a website? A local running tracking program (app) on your favorite device will give the most configuring options for tracking and signal footprints, possibly provide notifications for you, and be a door to other important understandings, like Two Line Element orbital data, and where and when they are published and updated, which leads to this, and to that, and very interesting fun to share with onlookers when and where appropriate. $\endgroup$ – always_learning Feb 25 '20 at 4:36

n2yo.com is a wonderful resource for keeping track of all of the orbiting satellites. It has many resources for tracking info to enter into tracking software and other places. It also shows a live google map of the location of each satellite.:

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amsat.org also has a wealth of information about contacting and tracking the satellites including uplink and downlink information and tips.: enter image description here


If you're just using the antenna that comes with the HT, don't get your hopes up.

The only FM sat is Saudi-Sat 50, and its transmitter outputs 200mw. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to hear that bird without a directional antenna. In some conditions, you may be able to hear a "moment of something" from SO50, and perhaps pick up the digital signals from NOAA satellites as they go overhead.

There are plans online for building a hand held directional antenna out of anything meta from a wooden stick with arrow shafts, and even using an old tape measure. It is not all that difficult and it's rewarding. In fact, it is very fun to build something and have it work as intended, especially if you don't have the funds to afford the gear.

Arrow antenna makes an inexpensive handheld dual band yagi that's perfect for working sats. I've used it to work stations on SO50 and will use it for the FOX sat booked to launch in October 2015

Consider that only 1 (and soon to be 2) birds are FM, which is the mode common for HTs. The rest are sideband, CW (morse code) or digital modes like PSK, FSK,GFSK, and APRS. The latter modes require a computer and soundcard interface with the radio.

An ideal and a more expensive enterprise would be to setup an array of large 2 meter and 70cm yagis on your roof with a computer controlled azimuth/elevator rotor (Yaesu G5500,) signal pre-amplifier(SSB Electronics,) and low-loss coax like Heliax or a short run of LMR400. You'd need a great radio with dual receive on 2m and 70cm so you can monitor the downlink while transmitting to ensure you're making it into the bird.

All told, I priced such a satellite station described above between $5,000 and $6,500 USD including the ICOM IC9100 which is one of the best satellite radios money can buy since its all band all mod with a built in tnc.

A bonus would be that you could use a modest satellite station to work the big boys who do Earth-Moon-Earth communications; however, you'll likely need 200 to 400 watts of output power to be heard so prepare to shell out some cash for a VHF amplifier.

  • $\begingroup$ 5 years later, there are at least 5 FM birds in the sky, making this answer less relevant. $\endgroup$ – hobbs - KC2G Sep 9 '20 at 22:37

https://www.amsat.org/status/ will show you a list of birds and if there has been any activity reported during the last week. Reports are crowd-sourced, the page allows you to drill down into each report and see who reported and when. Even reports of "not heard" are shown.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to ham.stackexchange.com! $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Sep 8 '20 at 19:07

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