UHF Pirates – 250 MHz SATCOM Monitoring

UHF SATCOM refers to satellite repeaters that operate between 240 MHz and 270 MHz. To receive SATCOM, you need a receiver that can tune the frequency range in narrow FM (most modern scanners can do this). You also need an outside antenna, and possibly a LNA preamp.

The satellites in question are operated by the US military. They are essentially repeaters in geostationary orbit. Because they are open (no access control) they are often used by third parties, most often by people in Brazil. It is very common to hear Portuguese transmissions. One listener, who spent several years living in Brazil, described it as

Portuguese slang spoken by people who never paid attention in school

Back in 2009, 39 Brazilian pirates were busted, but the activity continues.

Here’s a recording of SATCOM pirates, and another recording of SATCOM pirates

255.550 MHz is very heavily used by the Brazilian pirates. As I am typing this, I am also hearing pirates on 253.500, 253.750, and 262.190 MHz.

There is an excellent breakdown of all of the 250 MHz SATCOM Transponders By Satellite

While you can start with a basic outdoor scanner antenna, such as a discone antenna or other scanner antenna, many serious listeners eventually build a directional antenna, such as a helical. I will have construction information about one that I built in a future article.

Next, since the signal levels are often very weak, the use of a LNA preamp is highly recommended. I built one of the Down East Microwave Inc. GaAs pHEMT pre amp kits, and find that it really helps a lot.

7 thoughts on “UHF Pirates – 250 MHz SATCOM Monitoring

  1. Pingback: Construction of a Helical Antenna for SATCOM Listening | HFUnderpants.com

  2. Hi, I have just heard the pirates on 255.55 using a 5 element DAB antenna hand held with an AOR AR8200 scanner. This was my first test of the antenna for satcom.

  3. For the past two days, I’ve been hearing the pirates on 252.150 MHz, after making my own off-center dipole antenna from copper pipe! One side is 4 feet, and the other side is 18 inches. I have it up on my wall about 6 feet, and it receives them great at times, yet fades in and out at other times. This is my first reception of Brazilian pirates using these satellites. My radio is a Yupiteru MVT-7100. Great article!

  4. Pingback: The SATCOM Pirates Are At It Again | The Cyber Daily

  5. need some help with unids:
    2015-11-29
    245.20 1306 NCG Radio Maria STL, via satcom mass (mono) STL for AM 1400khz ?
    249.40 1837 ? UNID WFM Indian? Mx, via satcom qrm from satcom trfc
    255.78 1827 PAK WFM BC STL, via satcom qrg: 255.7757 weak stereo carriers at +/- 19khz
    261.28 1744 ? UNID WFM BC, via satcom cut up by data bursts
    265.55 1334 ? UNID WFM BC, Latin America very poor (via satcom)
    268.45 1352 ? UNID WFM BC, Latin America v poor (via satcom)

    2015-11-30
    254.74 2207 IRN IRIB STL, via satcom (east) acapela yl song low mod
    257.10 2001 WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) v poor, rlg service?
    257.60 2116 ? WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) coldplay song: trouble
    260.63 2219 ? video buzz?, via satcom (east) xmod or cable tv leakage? 260.633mhz
    267.10 1634 ? UNID WFM BC STL, via satcom (east) v poor
    269.65 2202 PHL UNID soft pops WFM STL, via satcom (east) not// DWKC stream

    2015-12-01
    265.45 1909 UNID WFM BC, via satcom (west) qrm from Brazil freebanders
    269.96 1913 NCG UNID SS RLG WFM BC, Nicaragua (via satcom) qrg: 269.957 Stereo! corkscrew drift pattern

    2015-12-04
    249.45 1606 UNID WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) satcom is rxing it off-freq
    253.75 1622 UNID WFM BC, Latin America (via satcom) severe qrm from freebanders
    254.07 1623 UNID WFM BC, Latin America (via satcom) v poor. qrg: 254.075
    261.60 0612 WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) severe qrm from mil comms
    265.55 0619 2nd WFM BC on frq, Latin America (via satcom) distorted om tlk xf mx
    268.35 1738 WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) ex poor
    269.95 1749 2nd WFM BC on frq, Latin America (via satcom) v poor

    2015-12-05
    243.63 1400 ? Vatican R WFM STL, Africa? ( via satcom S.E) stereo, qrg: 243.625
    252.63 2047 UNID WFM BC STL, poor qrg: 252.625mhz
    254.77 1829 COD UNID FF WFM BC STL, Congo? satcom is rxing side of 295.8 blocked by Brazil open mic from 1906
    254.78 1921 PRG Radio Uno, Asuncion (via satcom) football commentary qrg: 254.775 180km
    257.15 2037 UNID WFM BC STL, very poor,severe qrm
    269.85 1433 ? UNID WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) terrible qrm from US Navy

    2015-12-08
    249.57 1949 SS mono WFM STL, Latin America (via satcom) long SS monologue
    268.44 2029 PRU Radio La Beta, Cajamarca (via satcom) Mono WFM STL

    2015-12-09
    250.09 1034 UNID WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) obliterated by legit. trfc
    252.05 1027 UNID WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom)

    2015-12-11
    244.27 1813 ? UNID WFM BC STL, unknown (via satcom)
    249.40 1847 UNID Asian WFM BC,
    249.56 1544 ? WFM BC STL, Latin America (via satcom) qrg: 249.563
    265.25 1839 UNID WFM BC STL, unknown (via satcom) very distorted

    2015-12-12
    257.38 1103 UNID WFM BC STL,
    259.15 1705 ? UNID SS WFM BC STL, Rhumba mx (mono) strong when found then gradual decline
    267.05 1742 UNID WFM BC, Latin America (via satcom) v poor

  6. Pingback: Interesting Find – KF4BZT Home QTH

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