Review: ARRL Satellite Handbook

The book is split into two parts. The first part covers some history of amateur radio satellites, software and terminology, and some of the gear you’ll need.

The second part consists of several QST articles describing simple antenna and rotor controller projects that can be used for satellite contacts.

Two appendices let the reader get down and dirty with the math and physics of satellite orbits and the various components and subsystems that go into satellites.

There’s a good discussion of Keplerian orbital elements (“Keps”), which are essential to figuring out where and when to look for a particular satellite. Fortunately you don’t need to use them yourself, software takes care of all of that. Unfortunately the discussion about Keps is made a little bit confusing by using three completely different sets of numbers in the tables showing different Keps formats and the text describing each of the elements.

One of the projects is titled “Work OSCAR 40 with cardboard box antennas!”, a great example of how you don’t need fancy expensive gear to hear satellites.

I think I’d call The ARRL Satellite Handbook more of a primer than a handbook, which implies something more comprehensive. Still, it does a pretty good job of covering what you need to know to start working the “birds”.

4 stars out of 5.

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