Whether you’re a ham or just a listener, capturing images from the International Space Station is always a lot of fun. With a little help from a satellite tracking program, you can easily receive images from the ISS with nothing more than a cheap RTL-SDR dongle, a scanner, or a handheld VHF radio.
My simple setup consists of:
- MM-SSTV to decode
- Orbitron for tracking and auto doppler shift
- Heavens-Above website for pass predictions
- RTL-SDR dongle
- SDRSharp with the following plugins:
- Backup radio:
- Kenwood TH-K20A
- Zoom H2n Audio Recorder
- Horizontal VHF Antenna
- Vertical VHF Antenna
The reason I use two antennas on two radios, is so that if the polarity shifts during the pass, I can easily decode both images and merge them later in Photoshop. Ideally you should use a yagi antenna, but the ISS usually puts out at least 25W for SSTV transmissions. The signal should easily be full quieting on a handheld if you’ve got a clear shot at the sky.
For updates on the next ISS SSTV event, keep an eye on ariss-sstv.blogspot.com