3D Print Your Next Antenna

Building antennas is a time-honored ham radio tradition. Shortwave antennas tend to be bulky but at VHF frequencies the antenna sizes are pretty manageable. [Fjkaan’s] 2 meter quadrifilar helicoidal antenna is a good example and the structure for it can be created with 3D printing combined with electrical conduit.

Many people, including [G4ILO] use PVC pipe for the structure, and that design inspired [Fjkaan]. Despite being a bit less substantial, the conduit seems to work well and it is easy to cut. The helical design is common for satellite work owing to its circular polarization and omnidirectional pattern.

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SDR: Satellite Death Receiver

Halloween may be over, but [happysat] has found a way to listen to the dead. Satellites, that is, specifically those in the 136-138 MHz and 150-400 MHz ranges. He’s using an RTL-SDR dongle and a QFH antenna to detect the death throes of decommissioned navigation and space research satellites.

[happysat] was listening to NOAA/Meteor on the 137MHz band when he made this discovery. When a satellite is near end of life, the last bit of fuel is used to push it into graveyard orbit. This doesn’t always work, however, and when the light is just right, a chemical reaction makes the long-dead batteries conduct and these satellites in purgatory transmit once more.

They’re not sending out anything proprietary useful, just unmodulated carrier that sometimes interferes with currently operational satellites on the 136-138 MHz band. [happysat] captured some audio from two of the oldest satellites that are still broadcasting, and links to a TLE set of dead satellites he created. Check out his frequency database for SDR# as well. Don’t have a weather satellite-capable antenna? Build one!

[via /r/RTLSDR]