My SSTV station for Receiving MIR Pictures

  • PC running Windows95
  • 16 bit Sound Card (Sound Blaster)
  • Satellite Tracking Software WinOrbit
  • The latest Orbital Elements from AMSAT
  • A 2 Meter Handheld radio or Police Scanner
  • Software for decoding the SSTV signal

Satellite Tracking software

Although it is not necessary with the SSTV software I use, its still nice to know when MIR is coming overhead. If you are using a beam antenna you will need to know where it is located in the sky. That is what the Satellite Tracking Software does for you. There are several nice ones, I just happen to use WinOrbit. Also its free! WinOrbit is a good program, but takes a little time getting used to it, and learning the terms. A couple of pointers to start out.

  • Make sure your computer system's time is correct.
  • Make sure you have the correct offset between UTC and your Time Zone (Setup | Time Zone).
  • Keep your Orbital Elements up to date.

Orbital Elements

Often times called "Keplerian Elements". These are a series of numbers that define to the many tracking programs the characteristics of a spacecraft's orbit. They come in two formats. NASA format, and AMSAT format. They are nothing more than an agreed way the file is laid out. Personally I prefer the NASA format. For more details on what all of the numbers mean, check out WinOrbit's help file. These should be updated once a week. On AMSAT's web page you can sign up for them to e-mail them to you weekly.

To update WinOrbit's database with the latest data, here is what you do:

  1. In WinOrbit, go to Setup then Misc. Settings.
  2. Make sure the box labeled Enable Automatic Updating is checked.
  3. Get the latest Element Set.
    1. Connect to AMSAT.
    2. Save this to KEPS.KEP in the WINORBIT\KEPS folder.
  4. Start WinOrbit. It will automatically update the elements.

Enter Your Latitude/Longitude

If you don't know your Latitude/Longitude, click here. Click on setup then Observer/QTH. A dialog box will pop up where you can enter your latitude, longitude, and elevation in meters. When the data is entered, click on append, and close down the window.

Software for decoding the SSTV signal.

W95SSTV is the software that I use. The online help file (README.WRI) is well written, and walks you through setup. There are several different modes of SSTV. The one that is being used by MIR is Robot 36. Be sure you have selected this mode. There is also a very nice feature called "autosave". I set the squelch on "the light side". Then I check the Autosave box, and the Auto RX box. This allows for un-attended reception of SSTV pictures.

Presently the SSTV is being transmitted on weekends on 145.985 Mhz. so you will need to tune your radio there.