The Third Hand
When I was much more active working amateur radio satellites orbiting the Earth, and as nice as it was to work satellites from my ham shack with my Yaesu FT-847 all mode satellite radio that included tracking array antennas on the roof with included preamps at the feedpoints, and tracking software on the computer, I now enjoy working satellites while away from home with this simple setup that takes seconds to deploy as a satellite comes up over my horizon.
While working SSB linear transponder satellites like VO-52 with the setup seen in the photo, I discovered that a third hand would be beneficial, and that would be the custom made mic holder that you see positioned around my neck and holding the mic of my Yaesu FT-817 near the corner of my mouth.
This works out very well with vox enabled on the FT-817, and when I give a call or answer a call, as soon as I speak the FT-817 kicks in to transmit mode.
This leaves my left hand (or right if I prefer as although I'm predominantly left handed, I am ambidextrous as most left-handers are) for making adjustments to the Yaesu FT-817 and the Icom R20 when required.
Upon hearing my transmit audio on the downlink coming from VO-52 on the Icom R20 communications receiver that is tuned to the frequency of whom I am working, I quickly make adjustments to the transmit audio on the FT-817 adjusting for doppler shift as I find myself in my headphones, and I'm now exactly where I should be for the other station to hear me precisely centered on his or her receive frequency.
The doppler shift is easily kept in check while working with a setup like you see here, or using a similar system to work through the SSB linear transponder satellites.
Working the FM birds is a lot a fun, but working the linear birds is also a lot of fun with an easy to put together portable setup like this, and besides there is a whole lot more room on the linear birds on any given day.
The Icom R20 communications receiver has proven to be a terrific choice for working the SSB linear transponder satellites as it has a very sensitive and selective receiver.
Using two Yaesu FT-817's also works well, however being I own a Icom R20, I like the portability of the unit as it sits nicely in the chestpack that I am wearing, and is readily accessible if required.
Of course it goes without saying that there are many other choices for a receiver available today, and I believe some of the SDR receivers available may be the way to go for portability and bandwidth, with front-end filtering as well as the many other features they offer.
I keep a small receive only Advanced Receiver Research (ARR) preamp in the pocket of my chestpack along with a small battery (a disposable 9V battery will power it).
If required the ARR preamp is easily placed in line with the coax from the receive antenna entering and exiting the pocket of my Conterra radio chest harness.
Click on the photo for a closer look.....