CubeSats for Amateur Radio


I sense there are some Amateur Radio citizens sneaking around the TMRO forum.

Yes, I too caught that bug a while ago, and am slowly climbing up the skill ladder in listening and communicating with some of the CubeSats built specifically for Amateur Radio.

The 2018-12-03 Space-X SSO launch included a gaggle of CubeSats. One of them was Fox 1-Cliff by AMSAT.

The Fox 1-Cliff CubeSat is alive and sending telemetry.

Read more about AMSAT. and

Then it came to me that perhaps a TMRO Community thread about CubeSats in Amateur Radio might be fun to try out. Yep, TMRO has seen a bunch of discussions in 2018 about cube- nano- and pico-sats, so the idea for this thread might be relevant. Let’s see how it goes.

Any thoughts, discussions, suggestions?


Yes I too have worked through the odd sat and have been lucky enough to grab a quick contact with ISS as they signed off from a school contact. Only a quick Hi and Bye but was really cool. We in the radio world are effect by by space even on HF and not using the sats we are effected by what the sun is up too. I am very limited at by teh rules and restrictions of the home QTH but i am working on a portable set up … so far IC706MkII and uBitx (which i have to play with some more) leaving me short for sat work (although I have done it with handheld and handheld beam). If i could afford one a TS2000 with the microwave board would be great but my budget just wont go that far. I know its an older radio now but it is such a good does everything rig (I know jack of all trades master of none). Any how perhaps a start would be a list of names and callsigns so





When I want to listen or communicate to Amateur Radio Satellites, I use the iPhone app from Fabrice Aneche - (example images below). I can easily set up my favorite satellites in “My Sats” (I think all the ones in “My Sats” list are CubeSats; the most recent one being Fox-1Cliff from the recent SpaceX SSO launch). You see from the image the Sats I selected, and a summary of the next calculated pass including elevation. I can look for convenient passes (eg: ones with a higher elevation - I have my setting to filter out passes < 45 degrees elevation), then click to add a future notification to my calendar. During the pass the app can display the location relative to me, and (very nicely) the doppler-shifted frequency for transmit and receive. During a typical pass, I have my Arrow Yagi in one hand (for wrist-powered elevation, azimuth and rotation-polarization), the HT in the other hand (with an up/down button to increment frequency for changing doppler-shift), and my eyeballs looking at the app to see where to point the Arrow. Sometimes I am successful. Sometimes not.

@M0THM-Tim_McConnell I am very jealous of your ISS contact! You can see it is in My Sats list, but I have never actually heard it. :frowning_face:

Idea for a TMRO:Space guest. Find a proven Amateur Radio geek in SoCal who is good at this, and arrange for a live field space-pod interview. Tie the discussion back to the general theme of CubeSats and their increasing popularity, and time it so as to work one of the CubeSats from a recent launch.

Example screens from my iPhone below.


It looks like an anomaly has occurred with the Fox-1Cliff Amateur Radio cubesat recently launched on SpaceX SSO. Do I sense this anomaly is not recoverable?


The handy Space Weather Forecasts posted in another thread by @FITorion always mention conditions for Amateur Radio. Wouldn’t you know it, today I picked another bad day to fire up the old radio. Was not able to hear much more than static on HF (20m, 17m, 15m, 10m).

But then… used VHF (uplink) + UHF (downlink) for a brief listen to Amateur Radio cubesat satellite SO-50 (launched 2002 on a Dnepr rocket) as it passed over my location. Listened to the queue of people working it, then transmitted, and over static heard the tail end of my call repeated by another. So it worked! I touched space!

One hand for the Yagi antenna, one hand for the iPhone app that shows where to aim it, one hand for the radio and one hand for the microphone press-to-talk. Yep… four hands.

SO-50 is in a slightly polar orbit of about 65 degree inclination, and the passes overhead are generally NW-to-SE or SW-to-NE. An easy catch. Now back inside to thaw my fingers.


Have a friend who’s deep into HAM, and one night at our local astronomy club he did a slow-scan downlink from the International Space Station just by sighting it as it went over us. Was super super cool.


if your’re standing using handheld antenna a foot switch for PTT and throat mic frees your hands for in your case phone and antenna. both of which can be got on eBay for silly cheap prices.