So, during the last couple of days I sat (and hopefully passed) the RSGB Foundation amateur radio exam. I’ve been excited for this moment for a while (~6 months!), and with any luck I should receive my callsign in the next few weeks. Hopefully the callsign I’ve chosen (M6CCN - my initials) is still available - and then I’ll be able to do my first solo QSO/CQ calls.

The main thing that got me interested in amateur radio was the possibility of being able to communicate with the International Space Station - I’ve always been interested in space exploration (in fact, I work as part of a space research organisation), so that aspect of amateur radio really appealed to me. Apparently the space station transmits voice calls every so often, but I haven’t managed to pick up any as of yet (they mostly seem to transmit APRS packets).

There are some great places to find information on ISS passes - like here, as well as plenty of content on Google - there is a large amount of material online dedicated to communicating with the ISS.

A related project I’m considering undertaking over the summer will involve taking a DVR tuner and connecting it to my Raspberry Pi - and using the two as a software defined radio (SDR). Then it will be a case of programming the Pi to record radio transmissions on 145.800 and 145.825 at the same time as ISS passes - which can then be analysed at a later date. This will make it relatively easy to listen to (and decode) the ISS APRS data transmissions.