This afternoon 26-February 2006, I got Bill McArthur who was operating amateur radio station NA1SS on the Space Station on 2 meters FM voice on my first try. I started calling him at the AOS time given for an overhead pass of the Space Station on a chart Jim Henderson, KF7E, sent me. That was at 3:21 PM local time, same as UTC. Just when I was convinced it was a bust after calling a couple of minutes with no reply, Bill called me from the Space Station and was full quieting. I was flabbergasted! He said he was hearing me perfectly also. He asked me several questions, and I was able to fill him on the reason for my presence here. We chatted several minutes until he was well past the zenith. Then he broke off with me to answer a caller from Libreville, Gabon. By the time he called me again it was nearly LOS time and he didn't hear me. His signal was no longer full quieting by then. This was a very good pass, almost directly overhead.
I had just gotten around to improvising an antenna for the purpose today. As you can see in the picture below that Lesley took during the radio contact, it isn't pretty, but it worked. I only have two watts of power available on the two meter amateur band from a Kenwood hand held radio. I knew I had to have something better than the "rubber duckie" antenna I normally use with it to have much chance of success. The boom is a length of PVC pipe. The only solid wire I could find that was large enough for the antenna elements was some strands of alumaweld taken from a scrap of large guy cable. It has a hard steel core, so it was impossible to straighten it properly - thus the curls. I cut it to dimensions I found on a web site.
The downlink frequency from the Space Station was 145.80 MHz. I talked back to Bill on 145.2 MHz.
This was quite a thrill. It was exciting when I heard radio signals of the first Russian Sputnik satellites back in the latter part of the 50's. I never dreamed then that some day I would carry on two way radio communications with someone in space by amateur radio, especially not with a hand held radio with so little power.
73, Charles - S9SS
At about 1306 UTC today 4th March 2006, Lesley S9YL duplicated my feat of last weekend of talking directly line of sight by VHF two-way radio to Bill McArthur at amateur radio station NA1SS on board the International Space Station. She called him after hearing him in communication with an amateur radio operator on St. Helena Island, and she had an exciting chat with him. Lesley was using the same 2 watt VHF hand held radio I used and the junkyard yagi antenna I built. I was very thrilled that she got a chance to share the excitement also.
Lesley, S9YL, in Communication with International Space Station Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur