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First Ham Satellite — OSCAR 1 — will Join AMSAT’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at Dayton


A working prototype of OSCAR 1, Amateur Radio’s first satellite, will be on display at AMSAT’s Dayton Hamvention® booth. AMSAT’s exhibit will be in Building 1 (Maxim Hall) at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. OSCAR 1 (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) was launched into orbit in 1961, at the dawn of the Space Age. Built by a group of California-based radio amateurs for about $60, OSCAR 1 was the first nongovernmental satellite. It transmitted a simple “HI” in CW for nearly 20 days and was heard in 28 different countries. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, recently had to troubleshoot a problem with ARRL’s OSCAR 1 in preparation for its Dayton appearance in a special “OSCAR Park” display commemorating AMSAT’s 50th anniversary. He said it was a “rather humbling” experience.

“Apparently, OSCAR 1 was not transmitting properly,” Carcia said. “So, I took it back into the shop, changed the power cable, and checked the transmitter. I had to tweak it just a bit.” Carcia said the satellite now functions.

Only three OSCAR 1 satellites were made. One was launched into orbit, of course, while the Smithsonian Institution houses the other. “Assuming it doesn’t get bounced around too much en route, it will be transmitting a chirpy ‘HI’ on 145.224 MHz,” Carcia said. “The load is a 50 W resistor, so you can copy it about 50 feet or so away from the source.”

AMSAT will present Amateur Radio satellite operation demonstrations outside the main entrance of Maxim Hall, 8 AM – 4:30 PM, on all three days of Hamvention. “AMSAT will be demonstrating actual contacts with the operational amateur satellites,” AMSAT said in its weekly AMSAT News Service newsletter. “We especially want to invite youth to make a contact via an amateur satellite. All are invited to observe, participate and ask questions.”

AMSAT will hold its forum in Room 2 on Saturday, May 18, starting at 12:10 PM EDT. AMSAT Vice President of User Services Robert Bankston KE4AL, will moderate the session.