It’s possible to do Long Range Communications using Budget Ham Radios and Satellites!
Long Range Communications using Ham Radios and Satellites
I was tinkering with my Baofeng radio today while doing some research on communications, when I made a discovery. you can do Long Range Communications using handheld Ham Radios and Satellites!
As long as there are satellites orbiting the earth, you can communicate hundreds of miles using a handheld radio (HT). This really expands the abilities of the Baofeng handhelds.
What Gear is Required for Long Range Communication?
You have 2 choices, a satellite phone or HF radio.
Reliable satellite phone communication is limiting because both parties should have a satellite phone and satellites could be deactivated or damaged. You also won’t get to scan around to hear news and reports from around the globe.
Start with a satellite that’s easy to work, SO-50.
SO-50SAUDISAT 1C (or SO-50, Saudi-OSCAR 50) carries a mode J FM amateur repeater experiment operating on 145.850 MHz uplink and 436.795 MHz downlink. The repeater is available to amateurs worldwide as power permits, using a 67.0 Hertz PL tone on the uplink, for on-demand activation. SO-50 also has a 10 minute timer that must be armed before use. Thus, first transmit an initial carrier with a PL tone of 74.4 to arm the timer.
Find out where SO-50 is currently located
Upgrade your Handheld’s Antenna
Your stock antenna probably won’t have the resonance you’ll need to talk to space. You can try the antenna we recommend, but you’re mileage may vary, so please do your research.
For the Baofeng radios or other handhelds that need SMA-Female Connector antennas:
If you’re using the TYT TH-UVF1, or another radio (Icom, Yaesu, but check your manual for verification) that utilizes SMA-Male Connector antennas:
By adding a better and longer antenna, to your handheld, it can greatly increase the transmit/receive range of the radio over the stock rubber-duck antenna.
Do your background research
Here is a website, www.work-sat.com, dedicated to HAM FM communications via Satellite Communications.
They have 2 files that will be very helpful:
- 4 page tutorial on Satellite/HAM communications in PDF format: SAT-08-2015.pdf
- A cheat sheet for programming the Satellite Communications freqs: HT programming for the “easy” FM voice amateur satellites
Baofeng using SO-50 to communicate from Florida to Texas
Amateur Radio has quite a following and many of these operators participate in exercises to be ready to keep essential communications flowing during emergencies.
What does this mean for you?
There are radio operators who are experienced, and trained to relay important information and communiques, even when there is no power from the grid. These individuals will know what information needs to be broadcast and the proper format to present it in. Information in a crisis can be the difference between life and death.
What this also means for you is that amateur radio is a multi-use essential information gathering tool and long range or local communication device.
This is the bare minimum of gear that you’ll need to communicate long distances over the HF bands.
Of all of these items listed, #6, is as important or more important than the remainder. Without knowledge and training, it doesn’t matter what ham radio gear you have, you probably won’t ever be able to communicate with anyone. You may be able to hear other communications, but your ability to truly communicate will be severely hampered.
You need to start learning now. Find a local ham radio or amateur radio club to join, or find an experienced ham radio operator to work with to get you the knowledge that you need.
With the proper gear and the knowledge behind it, there will be times that you’ll be able to communicate around the globe.
Here are some simple steps to get you started down the satellite communications path.
See how easy it is to do some long range communications using handheld ham radios and satellites. Now we have viable comms that can cover hundreds of miles in an emergency or bug out situation!