Water Below... Heavens Above

Working the International Space Station /MM

This afternoon Dick, N1LT and I went sailing on
Lake Winnipesaukee on Dick's 25-foot boat. I brought
along my Kenwood TH-D72A APRS handie. We
worked the International Space Station 220 miles
above us using only a wire dipole and 5 watts.

The day was perfect... nearly 85 degrees, sunny with
a 10-15 MPH wind from the Northwest.

Dick, N1LT, at the tiller

We left the Yacht Club around 1:00 pm and sailed
for nearly an hour before setting up for the ISS pass.
The space station was scheduled to go over a little
past 2:00 pm. Until then we enjoyed perfect
sailing and also beaconed our position using the
earth-bound APRS system. There are several APRS
digipeaters in the Lakes Region. Our position was
i-gated periodically to the internet as you'll see in the
Google Maps image later in the story.

As 2:00 pm approached, I changed my setup on the handie
talkie. First I switched to 145.825, the APRS frequency
on the Space Station. I also changed the digipeating path
to ARISS, so the Space Station would relay my signals. Then
I unscrewed my rubber duck antenna and attached a homemade
dipole. The dipole is simply a pair of 19 inch wires connected
to a BNC binding post adapter.

Soon I was hearing signals from the ISS and watching signals
from around North America being relayed through the ISS to
my handie. I transmitted my position beacon with a few button
pushes whenever there was a quiet moment.

Jim, W1PID, works the ISS with a handie talkie

While Dick sailed I pointed my dipole south and west.
After about three minutes, I received acknowledgement
from the ISS that it had heard my signal and relayed
it across the eastern US. Here's a raw packet from
W4AEJ in Niceville, Florida who heard my beacon.
Notice that my transmission was relayed through
RS0ISS-3 (the ISS):

2011-07-19 18:15:28 UTC: W1PID-7>T3SW0S,RS0ISS-3*,qAS,W4AEJ-5:`c1'l!dY/>=

Here's a screen capture of Google Maps which is used
to show the position reports of W1PID-7.

You'll notice in the information bubble that RS0ISS-3 has
digipeated the signal. You'll also see our track from the
yacht club through the islands and out into the lake. I had
set our transmitted icon as a small sailboat.

You can see APRS information from around the world at
http://www.aprs.fi Plug in the callsign and SSID you want
to search for.

You can see the location of the ISS by going to the following
site: http://issfanclub.com/

Dick and I returned to the mooring at 4:00 pm. We were
exhilarated by the perfect sailing and by working the ISS
while operating /MM.