The New Year has been busy, we’ve had some large commercial orders as well as plenty of personal customers, many I am sure eager to try their hand at receiving the recently launched FUNcube satellite, as well as many other signals: remember the FUNcube Dongle Pro Plus is capable of receiving narrowband signals of any sort with the appropriate software from LF to 2GHz (full specifications here).
The inventory level remains good, you can order by following this link.
You don’t need big antennas to receive the FUNcube satellite, I’ve had success receiving the satellite with a simple rubber duck antenna. At home, I’m currently using an end-fed half wave mounted on the end of an 8m telescopic fibreglass fishing pole (with the ubiquitous duck tape, of course!) with good results, even with 20m of RG58 cable loss.
Using a half wave antenna means there’s no need for a ground plane. Similar results can be achieved with a 1/4 or 5/8 wave, but it will need a ground plane of some sort for optimum results. Of course, a simple dipole tuned for 145MHz will work. Whether you use horizontal or vertical polarisation is up to you: the satellite is rotating so inevitably you’ll experience some fades if you use linear polarised antennas such as those described.
What I have found is that having the antenna out in clear space helps a lot: these days there’s so much RF noise from all sorts of sources that having the antenna mounted outside, away from your computer equipment and home network (even plasma TVs and other domestic electronics can emit plenty of RF noise) is very beneficial in receiving the weaker signals from space. As a rule of thumb, if you plug in the antenna and see an increase of more than about 10dB of noise floor, consider moving you antenna. It’s just like astronomers being affected by light pollution, but in the radio spectrum.
Many thanks, Howard