Thursday 29 July 2010

Space Pirates

About 18 months ago or so I bought a second hand computer controlled scanner- an Icom PCR1000. This little set has wide coverage from around 100Khz to 1300Mhz.
Its not too good as a shortwave receiver but it performs well enough as a scanner. I connected it to my backup VHF/UHF antenna- a Dualband colinear in my loft, programmed it up with a few Airband, Marine Band, PMR446 and various other frequencies and it happily scans the bands when I am in the shack and remember to turn it on!
A few months ago I read that there were US military satellites that had outputs around 255mhz, I programmed a few spot frequencies into the Icom and forgot about them, so whilst working from home this afternoon I was very surprised to hear 255.550Mhz spring into life.
What I heard was however not any military type communication, rather it was a CB type conversation in what I believe was Portuguese. You see these satellites have a problem with piracy-the bulk of the pirates that are using the satellites appear to be in Brazil. There have been crackdowns and raids but the problem still goes on.
If you are interested there are more details here and here.

In the meantime I am quite impressed that my little Icom with its loft mounted vertical (which of course is a long way of resonance on 250Mhz) is picking these signals up.

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