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Long Range Communications using Ham Radios and Satellites

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.

Satellite Phone

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:

Baofeng using SO-50 to communicate from Florida to Texas

Amateur Radio

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.

  1. HF Transceiver
  2. Antenna
  3. Antenna Tuner
  4. SWR Meter
  5. DC Power Supply
  6. Knowledge and practice

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!


  1. This is awesome man. I just actually got a UV-5R a couple weeks ago and happened to come across this.

    I’m a super new HAM, so I’m still learning how to even transmit, but will have to give this a rip!



  2. I have done some pretty extensive work with HAM radio and satellite comms. There are several challenges that you would need to overcome to work the FM easy SATs. The first would be knowing which satellite is going to be over head at exactly what time of day and exactly where it will come up over the horizon. The pass of each satellite only lasts around 8-12 minutes as they are not in a geosynchronous orbit.

    There is software out there can can use the tracking data that’s available and generate a real time map of the satellite locations and let you know when the next passes would be.Try this, its’s free and works remarkably well. During a SHTF this software will become unreliable because it gets it’s tracking data from the internet.

    With just an extra long whip you may find it rather difficult to follow the satellite overhead and get a good signal. I would HIGHLY recommend a 2m/440mhz dual band yagi for talking to satellites.

    The yagi will give you enough signal gain to reliably hit the bird in the sky. You might also want to consider mounting the antenna onto a cheap tripod which would allow you to easily track the bird through its arc in the sky. The antenna in the link above can quickly be disassembled and fits into a small carrying bag. This makes it great for heading out away from your home to initiate communications to prevent unwanted people from triangulating your location. The yagi will also give you a very focused and narrow beam transmission which will also make it more difficult for tracking and triangulation.

  3. I know this is a rather old post, but for a few years, I have been using the android app “ISS Detector.” It is free (but for a couple of dollars it gets much much better).

    This app allows you to get info on when the ISS and all satellites out there will be passing in your area. It gives you the frequencies of each and a comoass so you can aim your phone or radio. And it even has an alarm to alert you that a pass is coming up.

    It comes with real-time graphs of the passes and has links to several ISS- and satellite-related links.

    Give it a try.

    Richard, KR4ZAN


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