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AO-27 crowding and activity awards

I also feel strongly that there are serious problems with AO-27 on weekends,
especially on transcontinental passes.  However, it's not necessarily power
that's an issue, as QRP stations like myself do make contacts.  But it is a
struggle.  95% of the stations on AO-27 really make an effort to be courteous
and the problem is simply overloading.  There is just too much traffic for a
single channel on weekend passes over land.

The problem is not just on weekends.  Low elevation transcontinental passes 
on the West Coast are often very hard to work.  It's kind of a 'Catch 22'
situation.  The passes where one is likely to find the uncommon states or 
distant grid squares are also the most difficult ones to work.  I've tried 
to work Maine at least five times (probably more) and still haven't made
a clean contact.

    last to bring up.  But didn't it sound a little too
    much like a louder version of the S.O.S from the
    same old alligators many including myself got tired
    of hearing on AO-27 making their usual dozen per
    pass contacts.  Come on people, try a little self
    control.  I for one sometimes just like to listen but
    just can't hear anyone very well when everyone 
    wants to hear THEMSELVES all talk at the same
    time.  I've said it before but here it comes again.

					        -- K5PK

Steve is right.  We really do have a problem with that.  I've been making
detailed logs of weekend passes for awhile now, and at some point, i'll 
run a PERL script over it to make it readable to other people.  Part of the
problem may be the activity awards designed to increase utilization of our
amateur satellites, and having more people to contact (especially on the
linear transponders), to increase enjoyment for all concerned:

    The W4AMI Satellite Operator Achievement Award requires 1000 two-way contacts
    with any station on any satellite (OSCAR-6 or later). Endorsements are issued
    for 2000, 3000, and 4000 contacts, and a special certificate is issued for
    5000 or more contacts.

And for the linear transponders, that makes a lot of sense.  I've been trying
for almost a week now to make my first contact on FO-20 or FO-29, and usually
there seems to be two or three QSO's in progress.  I'm still trying to learn
to find my own downlink quickly, track by hand and account for doppler, so i
i still haven't yet managed make that first contact.  So there, the award makes
lots of sense.

On an FM transponder, i'm afraid the activity awards are causing more problems
than they're solving.  Right now, we have too much activity.  And a lot of 
that activity are a number of regulars saying hello to each other every day 
they're both on.  Except on major transcontinental or weekend passes, that
doesn't do that much to interfere with experienced operators making new 
contacts.  Most of the same operators being complained about, are also making
considerable effort to work and help newcomers.  But it does discourage those
who aren't very assertive from operating on AO-27 (and probably SO-35 if the 
trend continues).  Many operators have been unwilling to do a sked. with me 
on AO-27, and i think they're right. It is simply too crowded.

So does it really make sense to have activity awards apply on FM transponders?
Not if the satellite is already overcrowed and the contacts being made are with
operators they have been repeatedly worked before.  I'm not saying there should
not be points for activity on FM transponders, but how about changing the rules
for future contacts to deal with the problem of duplicative contacts?

				-- KD6PAG

P.S.  The biggest problem on AO-27 outside of transcontinental weekend passes
is people calling CQ who can't hear the downlink (and on rare occasions, rag-
chewing by QRO stations).
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