Hi Domenico,
Thanks for your interest in the ISS reflections
Now about your questions.
1. I started calling Andreas as soon as my dish could see ISS. That was on May 23 at 8 degrees elevation. So the distance would have been close to 2000 km at that time. Andreas reports that he heard me right from the beginning! Own echo's is not possible because the time is too short
2. We heard the strongest signals when ISS was right overhead. In my case that was at about 60 degrees elevation. Distance probably somewhere around 500 km? On the SDR recording from Andreas we can see the signal peaking 20 dB over the noise and sometimes even a bit more.
3. We both used analog CW but we both listened in the SSB passband (approx. 2.5 kHz) to have some margin of error is case our Doppler compensation was not 100% OK. But once I found Andreas I did not touch the RIT of my rig anymore during the QSO. Doppler compensation worked fantastic!
We hope to try other modes in future. FSK441 but also JT65 in 30 sec period mode, and when ISS is overhead probably SSB is possible
I am also involved in the restoration of the 25 m Dwingeloo dish PI9CAM (see www.camras.nl) And the dish will be on air in a few months from now (I hope) We hope to experiment with passive satellite reflection there. ISS will be the start and with the dish having 48 dB gain it will be possible with QRP But maybe it's possible with other low orbiting satellites too....
To be continued!
73! Jan PA3FXB
Hello Jan, PA3FXB
It is very interesting that you heard the strongest signals when the ISS was right overhead and that in your case that was at about 60 degrees elevation with distance from the ISS somewhere around 500 km and that in the SDR recording from Andreas you can see the signal peaking +20 dB over the noise and sometimes even a bit more.
It is also interesting that both of you were using analog CW and both listened in the SSB passband (approx. 2.5 kHz)
As you can see looking at my previous budged calculations the expected S/N ratio on CW was +6.9 dB using a receiving bandwidth of 500 Hz on CW
It is possible that my calculations showed a less level in ratio S/N = +6.9 dB in comparison to your received +20 dB because for calculation with the RADAR equation I have used a reflection factor for the ISS of only 10% wich in reality is very low because for the Moon we use a reflection factor of 7% but the Moon is made of stone and not a metallic reflecting object like the ISS.
Considering that the ISS is made almost of metallic structural material as well for supporting the solar panels and considering that the efficiency of a metallic parabolic dish is never better than 50% I have uptodate my previous link budged calculation using a reflection factor of 50% for the ISS and as you can read belove the S/N ratio at a distance of 700 km jumped up to +17dB over the noise !
This means that your experimental investigation receiving +20 dB match well with my calculation showing +17 dB and for the future we can consider that a reflection factor for the ISS of 50% is a real figure to be used.
Since you live in a quite location the antenna temperature at 1296 MHz when aimed toward the Cold Sky can be only 5 degrees kelvin instead of the previously estimated 50 degrees kelvin so that the overall Noise Floor of your receiving system decreases by 3.29 dB
Read please the following revised calculations using a ISS reflection factor of 50% instead of 10% at a range of 700 km and 5 degrees kelvin for the equivalent antenna temperature Ta instead of 50 kelvin
LINK BUDGED CALCULATIONS by i8CVS
We consider the ISS like a passive reflector with reflectivity factor of 50 % to try a QSO by reflection EarthISSEarth
DATA:
1) The solar panels of the ISS plus the central body large like a Boeing 747 have a metallic reflecting surface of about 2000 square meters and we consider the ISS like a circular RADAR target having being a metallic plate an estimated reflectivity factor S of 50 % at SHF
2) The range EARTHISS at elevation of 35 degrees is about 700 km
3) Our EME station at 1296 MHz uses a 3 meters dish in diameter with gain of 29 dB and 200 W at the feed
4) The overall noise figure of our receive system is NF = 0.5 dB while the antenna temperature is 5 kelvin when pointed at the Cold Sky and we receive on CW using a filter with a BW large 500 Hz
5) We use only analogic reception without digital software like WSJT or similar tecniques.
CALCULATION PROCEDURE :
Aiming the dish towards the ISS when distant 700 km and transmitting on CW and using the RADAR equation we calculate the Signal to Noise ratio S/N to see if on CW the echoes reflected by the ISS are above or belove the Noise Floor of receiver.
First of all using the RADAR equation we calculate the round trip attenuation in dB between EARTHISSEARTH when approaching to TCA the average range is 700 km
RADAR EQUATION
Pt x Gt x Ar x S Pr =  ( 4 x 3.14 x R^2 ) ^2
Where :
Pr = power received in watt
Pt = power transmitted = 1 watt
Gt = isotropic gain of a ground antenna at 1296 MHz = 1 time in power or 0 dB
Ar = aperture area of isotropic antenna at 1296 MHz = 0,0043 square meters
S = Sigma or Radar Cross Section i.e. the surface of the ISS in square meters with reflecting coefficient of 0.50 = 50 %
R = distance or range EARTHISS = 700 km = 700000 meters
NOTE: (4 x 3.14 x R^2)^2 calculates the surface of a sphere having a radius R=700000 meters squared 2 to take account of the round trip "EARTHISSEARTH"
CALCULATION OF ATTENUATION "EARTHISSEARTH" :
S = Sigma of the ISS with reflecting surface of 2000 square meters and reflection coefficient of 50 % = 2000 x 0.50 = 1000 square meters
Calculation of the aperture area Ar of isotropic antenna at 1296 MHz
/ 2 2 /\ 0,2314 Ar =  =  = 0,0043 square meters 4 x 3,14 4 x 3,14
Calculation of the received power Pr on the EARTH collected by the isotropic antenna at 1296 MHz
1 x 1 x 0.0043 x 1000 25 Pr =  = 1.13 x 10 watt (4 x 3.14 x 700000^2 )^2
Calculation of the attenuation Att for the RoundTrip EARTHISSEARTH
Pt (1watt) 24 Att =  = 8.81 x 10 time in power 25 1.13 x 10 watt
24 and in dB the Att = 10 log 8.81 x 10 = 249.5 dB 10
CALCULATION OF THE OVERALL NOISE FLOOR FOR THE RECEIVER :
Data of the 1296 MHz receiving system :
Overall Noise Figure of receiving system NF= 0.5 dB = 35 kelvin Bandwidth BW of receiver on CW = 500 Hz Equivalent Noise Temperature Ta of the antenna when aimed toward the Cold Sky = 5 kelvin
Calculation to get the Noise Floor KTB of receiver
Where : 23 K = Boltzmann constant = 1,38 x 10 joule/kelvin
T = Equivalent noise temperature Ta of the antenna plus the equivalent Noise Temperature Te of receiver i.e. T= (Ta + Te)
Computation of the overall Noise Factor F for the receiver F = 10 ^ (NF/10) and so F = 10 ^(0,5 / 10) = 10 ^0,05 = 1,12 in factor
The equivalent overall Noise Temperature Te of the receiver is Te = ( F1) x 290 = (1,12 1) x 290 = 35 kelvin
The overall Noise Floor KTB of the receiving system with the antenna connected is :
KTB = K x ( Te + Ta ) x BW and in numbars :
23 Noise Floor KTB = 1,38 x 10 x ( 35 + 5 ) x 500 = 185.5 dBW
LINK CALCULATION "round trip" EARTH ISSEARTH at 1296 MHz on CW
TX power at feed.................................+23 dBW = 200 watt Antenna Gain in TX................. ...........+29 dBi  EIRP transmitted to the ISS. ..............+52 dBW = 158.5 kW Attenuation EARTHISSEARTH...  249.5 dB  Power Pr received on EARTH over isotropic antenna ............................  197.5 dBW Antenna Gain in RX......................... + 29 dB  Power incident at receiver input ......  168.5 dBW RX Noise Floor......................... ........ 185.5 dBW  S/N ratio CW at RX audio output... + 17.0 dB
CONCLUSION :
At a range of 700 km from the ISS and using a 3 meters dish with 200 W at the feed and a receiving system with a Noise Floor of 185.5 dBW =  155.5 dBm it is possible to hear your hown echo signals in plain analogic CW with a Signal to Noise ratio S/N of +17.0 dB wich is very strong.
If two stations are equipped with the same equipments it is possible to make good QSO for a short time when the ISS is close range around 700 km at elevation of about 35 degrees.
Increasing the BW of receiver at 2700 Hz to try receive SSB it is possible since 10 time log (2700/500) = 7.3 dB and +17 dB  (+7.3 dB ) = +9.7 dB and so the signal scattered back by the ISS in SSB will have a S/N ratio of about + 9.7 dB i.e. well over the Noise Floor of your receiver.
It is necessary to use a precise traking system particularly fast to move the dish as soon the ISS approach the TCA because the beam wide of a 3 meter dish with gain of 29 dB is large only about 5 degrees at the 3 dB points so that traking the ISS at 1296 MHz with a 3 meter dish or even larger for EME it seems to be the more critical point of the experiment.
73" de
i8CVS Domenico
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