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TUCoPS :: Radio :: mir.txt

Monitoring the soviet Mir space station

           How to Listen to the Soviet MIR Spacelab
                    by Pete Kemp, KZ1Z
I have received a number of inquiries lately asking how one can
receive radio transmissions from the Soviet MIR Spacelab.  While
most people believe that a big monetary expenditure is needed and
a huge dish must be constructed, such is not the case.  Listeners
using very simple receivers and antennas can accomplish this task
with a very modest capital outlay and a little research.  A basic
system consists of a receiver, an antenna and some good software
for tracking.  Put them all together and its wow time.
a. Receivers:  Look for a good programmable scanner, available from
           a variety of sources, e.g. Radio Shack, mail order,
           discount stores or "used", prices range $100 and up.
b. Antennas: The better the antenna the better the signal.  While the 
           work with high and close passes it isn't the greatest.
           Externally mounted antennas are best and fall into two
           basic categories: directional and omni-directional.
           The directional antennas work best, but they require a
           small rotor. Omni-Directional antennas e.g. the discone
           and vertical units are most popular.  A good quality
           coax (antenna lead-in) to get the signal to the receiver
           should not be overlooked.  Signal pre-amplifiers may
           also be used.  Antennas and related supplies are
           available from: Radio Shack (locally) and from Grove
           Electronics in Brasstown, NC. (1-704-837-9200) Antenna
           prices range upward from $30 plus hardware.
c. Tracking programs: Once the equipment is set-up, you may enhance
           your quality listening times by actually knowing when
           the MIR is scheduled to pass by your area.  To do this a
           number of software programs are available from AMSAT,
           tel: (301) 589-6062. AMSAT offers a wide range of soft-
           ware for most computers.  To use them, you must program 
           in your position coordinates: e.g. longitude, latitude
           and height.  Once you set-up the program, then you will
           have to program in the latest Keplerian elements into the
           system.  These Keplerian elements are variables used to
           calculate the orbit passes.  They are available from a
           variety of telephone BBSs (Ham and Shortwave Echo areas,
           Compuserve [go HOM-11]) and are updated at least weekly.
           Potential listeners may listen to AMSAT Nets on shortwave
           amateur bands for voice updates. (3.855 Wed 0200/0300/
           0400 UTC 14.282 Sun 1900 UTC and 21.280 Sun 1800).
Frequencies:  The MIR is currently conducting amateur radio operations
           on 145.55, 145.525, 145.575 and reports out of Europe say
           that 145.400 is also being used.  Contacts on these
           frequencies are in English.  The MIR also uses 143.62
           for ground relay work in Russian.

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