Article by: AA2RR – Ron Richards
The International Space Station has a FM repeater that can be used by amateur radio. I’ve been listening with my HT with a Signal Stick antenna. The down link to listen is 437.8. Due to the Doppler effect you should set the frequency to 437.810 as it comes over the horizon. As it moves toward you shift to 437.805, then 437.800 as it’s overhead, then 437.795, then 437.790 as it fades out over the horizon. Usually a pass that’s directly overhead lasts about 8 minutes. QSOs are very quick do to short time the “bird” is in sight. What you’ll hear is a call sign and a grid square. Having a grid square map will help you pinpoint locations. Usually I have a tape recorder going so that I can listen to the whole pass and play back later for locations. On my Apple Phone, I have GoSatWatch app to know when the ISS passes over us. If the timing is just after sunset or before sunrise and the sky is clear, you can actually see the ISS. Of course, communications can happen day or night when it passes overhead . One additional Apple phone app that I use is ISS spotter that shows in real time where the ISS is and lists when the visible passes occur.
Now, I’ve also used two radios (my HT and IC-705 and an Arrow antenna) to make contacts thru the repeater. There are several great YouTube videos that explain the setup needed to do that. Check out Sean Kutzko’s videos from DxEngineering on YouTube.