Activity on OSCAR 10 from Sao Tome Island
In the beginning
of 1999 I was thinking about another 
vacation activity on Oscar 10. Unfortunately it is a bit difficult nowerdays
to predict whether the satellite will be available at a certain time or
not. So I had to take the risk eventually not beeing able to do it during
the planned vacation.
I worked straight
forward on that project .I checked out the the possibility to get accomodation
and allowance for radio operation from the hotel for which I found an email
address on INTERNET. Then I made my flight reservations and checked out
the behaviour of OSCAR 10.When the satellite started to wake up from its
sleeping period around March 25 I felt that it could be done in the beginning
of June where I had placed my reservations. I also checked W4SM´s
„Inofficial AO-10 page“ and found that Stacey made a similiar statement
on the further upgrading of AO-10´s signal.
In the beginning
of April I sent a licence request to the SAO TOME TELECOM for a temperary
amateur radio licence asking for the callsign S92RS.
supplied several IRCs for an answer I heard nothing. I tried to make a
phone call 2 weeks before I had to go, but this was also very unsuccessful
because the person at the other side was only speaking Portu-guese which
I did not understand while I was talking English what he did not understand.
A third attempt trying to get a fax from them remained also unanswered.
This did not really bother me, because when I applied for a licence on
the COMOROS I also did not get an answer as well . I was only a bit worrying
about my planned radio operation using 435 and 145 MHz what probably nobody
has been using before in Sao Tome for ham radio.
We left Germany
as announced on Wednesday May 26 towards Lisbon. Because there is a stopover
required in Lisbon anyway before you can take the airplane to Sao Tome
on Sunday we took the chance to stay a bit longer in Lisbon visiting the
city, several museums and made a trip to the most western point of continental
The satellite equipment
- 25 kg for antenna and radios - could be left at the airport where we
picked it up on Sunday before checking in for Sao Tome. 4 hours after we
left Lisbon we had a one hour stop in Abidjan/Ivory Coast before the last
part of our flight brought us in 1 hour 50 minutes to Sao Tome where we
arrived around 2100Z instead of 1900Z as scheduled.
The next morning
I called in the hotel for somebody speaking English and Portuguese to help
me at the TELECOM to get the licence. I was lucky because there was someone
who knows the boss of the TELECOM and arranged a date for me to pick up
my licence. He spoke English so that it was no big deal to get the licence
after I had found the building where he was waiting for me. The licence
was ready with the callsign I had asked for dated April 13 ( about 1 week
after I had sent my request ) and valid until July 7, 1999. The IRCs were
attached to it. The usual fee seems to be about 20 $US even for a one-year-licence,
but they have no fixed prices - so they are looking on you and ask 100
$US. If you refuse to pay so much you will be lucky after some time of
discussion to pay less - maybe 20 $ US. ( „It is negotiable“ as Francisco
CT1EAT told me ). After 10 or 15 minutes I had my licence in hands and
could start to put the antenna and station up. There was enough time because
according to my calculations I could not do anything before wednesday June
2. And even that proved to be impossible. The room which I got in the hotel
had a terrace towards east leaving a bit of sky visible between AZM 310
and 360 degrrees and a minimum elevation of about 20 to 25 degrees. Towards
east palm trees spend a lot of nice shadow thus leaving only a few spots
where the sky could be seen and I therefore had access to the satellite.
So conditions were not too good for working South East Asia, Japan and
Australia and there was absolutely no chance left to work stations from
the west coast of North America or from Hawaii. I was thinking about trying
to get an other room, but then I would have had only access to North and
South America without any chance for Asia and Australia and only a little
chance for Europe. So I decided to stay where I was and trying to make
the best out of it.
to Friday of the first week the access of the satellite was blocked by
the house which is build approxemately from south to north. Until Friday
I was unable to find the beacon or any other signal in the satellite´s
downlink frequency range. So I was a bit alarmed about a possible damage
of my receiver. I made any test to find out was the situation was and came
to the conclusion that the receiver was ok and that my terribly bad radio
horizon was responsible for hearing nothing. The same week on Saturday
when the satellite came around the building by about 5 degrees for 30 minutes
I heard the beacon as well as 3 or 4 of the stronger stations which I managed
to work with 41 to 51 reports whereas I got up to 59 reports from them.
This day I got 4 stations into my log and could explain my situation to
Bernhard DJ5MN. He announced that on 145.890 MHz. Bernhard also sent an
email telling me who else had been calling on the frequency – from which
I have not heard anything. You can imagine that I was smiling when I read
comments in the DX-Cluster later when I was back home that I better should
have worked split. There was no reason for me to work split because I did
not hear all the guys calling. I have used the same equipment during all
of the mentioned activities but never suffered from downlink problems in
a way like this time. My explanation is : The deep fading of OSCAR 10 is
the reason for what we all experienced – my bad downlink when the satellite
was less than optimal. This became better during the next week when the
satellite moved into that hole where I could see the sky thus not beeing
blocked by trees or the house. The number of stations worked grew continuously
during the second week and I was lucky to get 277 QSOs in my log with 212
different stations from 31 DXCC countries.
Here comes a breakdown
of my satellite activity
I had a total of 277 QSOs with
212 different CALLS and 31 DXCC entities.
That is not too bad
for a „new one“ on satellite and if you keep the deep fading and the bad
radio horizon in mind it is a good result as far as I am concerned. After
the experience of the first week I never would have expected such number
of calls worked.
My portable mode
B satellite equipment which I have used on all of the mentioned occasions
consists of :
||FT-290R ( YAESU )
||LNA 145 ( SSB ELECTRONIC )
||TR-851E ( KENWOOD )
||4M-70G ( TONO )
||X6/2m-X12/70cm ( JBEAM ), mod. by
||2 * 10 m AIRCELL 7
|POWER SUPPLY :
||VICOR switching PSU 13.8V / 400 W
/ 1.2 kg
|ANTENNA MOUNT :
was made by hand using a compass for azimuth and an angle ruler for elevation.
The satellite positions were available as printout.