Ham Radio Satellite Tracking for Beginners

Ham Radio Satellite Tracking for Beginners

Ham radio or amateur radio is very popular with radio lovers. What is Ham radio? This makes use of the RF spectrum for non-commercial message exchange, self-training, radio sport, emergency communication, private recreation, and contests. It is a service that draws electronics, communication, and people together. Through this radio, people can talk into space, around the globe, and across the town, without any need for a cell phone or internet. It is educational, fun, social, and helpful.

What is Ham radio satellite?

Ham radio satellites are active satellites that offer communication from one ham to another ham. They support the student team with their scientific experiments by transmitting telemetry to Earth.

Where is a ham radio satellite located?

The majority of the ham radio satellites are situated in low Earth’s orbit in a near-circular area. It is circling Earth many times in a day. A non-circular/elliptical orbit can take these ham radio satellites high above the region and are visible for quite some time.

The optimum transmission of a Ham radio

Satellite transmissions are generally limited to 15m-10m bands and 1296MHz and over microwave bands. This is because the ionosphere does not transmit signals efficiently at low frequencies. Satellite antennas should be small for shorter wavelengths.

A handheld radio can transmit around a range of 2-18 miles. However, a potential base station equipped with a large antenna can range to hundreds of miles. The input frequency of a satellite is referred to as the uplink, while the output frequencies are referred to as the downlink.

Ham radio functions above the AM band of broadcasting in the GHz range. The frequency range of transmission is above 1.6 MHz-AM bands to above 27 Hz-citizen’s band. 15 MHz-27MHz is good band transmission during the day while 1.6 MHz-15 MHz during the night, also known as short-wave radio is ham bands.

Operation of a Ham Radio

Ham radio operators can be from students, truck drivers, doctors, kids, missionaries, movie stars to politicians. The operators should pass a licensing exam that is issued by the FCC-Federal communications commission. This license permits the ham radio operator to use the ham radio on the RF permitted by FCC. These RF bands are also referred to as Amateur bands. Message transmission could be through voice communication on radio, Morse code, or transmission of a computerized message through satellite. The ham radios permit message transmission through radio around the globe either through voice or Morse code.

Can a ham radio satellite be tracked?

Ham radio satellite tracking can be done with its signal. This is also referred to as Direction Finding or DF in the radio world. There is also a sport called Fox Hunting to track the ham radios. As Amateur radio or ham radio is usable only with a license, they can be tracked as well with that license. It is in the public record.

Uses of a Ham Radio

  • Communicate from your home, on top of a mountain, behind a car’s wheel, and the best part is no internet or a mobile network is required.
  • These radios are very helpful in emergencies such as a calamity or a disaster when the regular communication paths are inoperable.
  • The ham radios come in very helpful for public service agencies and emergency message transmission. Some instances are the 9/11 New York tragedy and Hurricane Katrina.
  • Ham radios come in handy for interaction from one ham to another through a Morse code or microphone or text or image.
  • Ham radio can link the International space station to link astronauts through other hams in space or redirect signals to earth by bouncing off from the moon.

Does Ham radio make use of satellites and can they be tracked?

Ham radio has more than 18 fully functional radio satellites placed in orbit. They function as store and forwarding the digital relays, repeaters, and linear transponders. These radio satellites develop satellite communicational science.

Ham satellites can be tracked through their signals. There are several signal tracking and satellite tracking software that lets you know the position of the radio satellite with your location on the earth.

The primary features of satellite tracking software that are helpful to beginners to track are:

  • Precise and fast satellite tracking in real-time using algorithms.
  • There is no limit on the tracking number.
  • Provide a visual presentation using tables, polar plots, and maps.
  • Permits modules with their visual layout and permits customization.
  • Use of many modules simultaneously.
  • Autonomous tracking using antenna rotator and radio control.
  • Predictions of satellites and their detailed information.
  • Automatic updates through FTP, HTTP, local files using the web.
  • Prediction data and information by clicking on a particular satellite.
  • Configuration options permitting customization for look and functionality.
  • Multi-platform implementation using desktop environments. The best place to find out which satellites are active and in what mode is the AMSAT home page. Click the Sat Status link to get complete information about what each satellite does and its current operational status.

How do you track a ham radio satellite?

Keplerian element or Keps provide a satellite’s mathematical data. A satellite tracking software aids in reading these Keplerian elements. Through these elements, you can get tabular and graphical orbital predictions. AMSAT provides Keplerian data.

For satellite access, a satellite tracking program is available from AMSAT. They are professional and easy to learn through. When using software, you will need the Keplerian elements of a satellite that you are looking for that is available on the home page of AMSAT. Click on the link Keplerian Elements. Once you get this information, enter this data into the tracking software. Always ensure the data settings and your time displayed on the computer is precise to get the right tracking information. This way you can track a ham radio satellite.


Ham radio satellite tracking can be done by entering the Keplerian elements data into your satellite tracking software. These elements of data are available from the home page of AMSAT. Once you click the link Keplerian elements, you can get this data. Ham radios are devices that operate in a particular signal range to transmit data, voice, and messages without using the internet or a mobile network. They are very handy and helpful when there is a case of an emergency such as a calamity or a disaster when other channels fail to help in communication.