Early Winter Will Be Totally Tubular at Schulman Auction
Jumping into the Deep Space Waterhole

A Bearcat Captures the ISS…Because It Can

So, I’m one of those who likes to leave a scanner on all the time. It comes from a habit I developed as a kid. My father was a police officer and in those days, police transmissions were not encrypted. While I loved wheeling around the shortwave bands during the day, when Dad was working nights, I’d tune down to the VHF bands and hone in on the frequency assigned to his patrol division and see if I could hear him.

In our area, the larger police jurisdictions have long since encrypted their signals, but other agencies like highway patrol and sheriff departments have not. It’s as interesting as ever to listen in on law enforcement activities.

Right now, I have a Uniden Bearcat BD536HP scanner with an Arrow II Dual Band Yagi hung in the window. This suffices until I manage to get a Discone antenna up a nearby tree. Obviously, these scanners do all the work my tuning hand did in the old days, and I’ve set my scan frequencies pretty wide, encompassing more than just local law enforcement.

In fact, late the other night, I could hear a horde of motorcyclists roaring down a nearby highway. Perhaps 10 minutes later, I heard an EMS transmission to a nearby hospital about a motorcycle accident and the patient they were transporting to the nearby ER.

Anyway, the point of this post is what most of you already know. With VHF, the sky’s no limit, and midday yesterday, my scanner picked up a fun one. I’m sitting at my desk working on a project and the scanner crackles to life with a voice talking about astronauts. I swung over to read the screen and saw it was the International Space Station.

I quickly opened the ISS Tracker app on my phone and saw it was indeed over our horizon by about 17 degrees, moving from NNE to ENE.

The astronaut seemed to be talking to school-age students, answering what was probably a question about how she came to be interested in being an astronaut. I took a 30-second video of the conversation just for the fun of it. A nice momentary distraction…

Charles Keller, KFØCOM