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Re: uo-14 courtesy



It's funny that i should be the one making this response, given that i'm
usually the fellow out here arguing for restraint on AO-27.  We may want
different conventions for UO-14 than for AO-27, but here are my thoughts
as a regular QRP user of AO-27.

I now routinely run 1W into an antenna similar to an Arrow even for the
transcontinental passes on both birds.  I could run 5W, and occasionally
do towards the ends of passes with alot of Spanish-speaking QRM, but i
don't like to.  More power doesn't seem to help that much and i hear my
own downlink better with less power.  At 1W, i figure i'm probably not
stepping on very many people and if it do, i'll probably hear it and back
off.  I also seem to make more QSOs on 1W, maybe because people like
working a low power station that sounds good or is especially distant.

On Pacific and/or overhead passes, i run about 140mW routinely. (Spanish
QRM takes it up to 1W sometimes.)  On UO-14, the downlink at 140mW is
awesome; better than some of the terrestrial repeaters around here! That
i am able to make QSOs, even be enough of a regular user as to need to
show restraint, says the problem is not just one of power.  One of the
charms of these birds is that skill can compensate for power and fancy
stations, and that it doesn't take kilobucks to do well.  But given the
current level of popularity, perhaps the term 'easy sats' is a bit of a
misnomer.  AO-27 is not easy to hear, and consequently, SO-35 and UO-14
are basically overloaded during the most popular times (as is AO-27 on
transcontinental weekend passes).  At other times, they are still a good
place to get started, at least, on the west coast of North American.

Informal exchanges dominate the J-FM birds, and usually it is just the
callsign and the grid square.  Sometimes a full exchange is given, but
often a three-way or even two-way exchange suffices for the activity
awards.  When a regular activates a rare grid, that operator usually
knows the other regulars by voice and/or suffix, and a full callsign is
just a waste of valuable satellite air-time.  We know definitively who
we're talking to.  Most are relaxed contest style, but we talk about
the weather and our stations when things aren't so crowded.  I think
the problem is how people handle things when they do get crowded.

My feeling is that the problem when things get busy are mostly duplicative
contacts and occasionally, long exchanges.  (I suspect a long exchange on
J-FM constitutes a quick QSO on HF, but i've been too busy trying to keep 
up with QSL cards to think about doing HF once i learned how to work the
sats.)  What is a duplicative contact to me?  Someone i've heard every
week lately, unless they've been off the air long enough to be wondering
how they're doing, or are operating from an unusual grid square. If some-
one says hello to tell me whether or not my station is operating properly, 
while i might hear that station almost every pass, i don't consider that
to be duplicative as it's providing a useful signal report, important to
a QRP station, and helps me avoid possibly generating QRM by knowing when
i'm being heard and when i'm not.  But other stations i've worked recently
will be duplicative after that.  Criterion: Is useful information being 
passed?

I have no problem people quickly giving out a grid square, it helps one
know who to contact and in the long run avoids excessive traffic.  For
example, i'll avoid answering CMxx and DMxx stations on transcontinental
passes from CM87 as i know i can probably work them on a 'local' pass.  
If more people would do that, then more people could use the J-FM birds.
I like to get a name from unfamiliar operators, unless they've already 
said it a couple times during the pass.  That helps me find errors in
callsigns and confirm good guess as to what the correct call was.

My feeling is that the activity awards may not make sense on J-FM birds,
since they get too much activity already, or maybe need to be modified to
not count duplicative contacts.  The rule for 'rovers' in the terrestrial
VHF and above weekend contests seem to be fair ones for that; at least
one station needs to be in a different grid square for additional contacts
between those two stations to be counted.  And encourages people activate
rare or uncommon grid square.  So that's one rule that might help.

A rule saying about making only N contacts per pass discourages rare grid
squares.  Are people going to drive for hours (or operate maritime mobile
or hike in), just to be on the air for a few contacts?  I doubt it. Better
to say you can answer (and take credit for) as many stations as you wish,
but only *initiate* N calls per pass on J-FM birds (and not ID too often).
That will encourage roving and also good operating practices, as those
stations will be the ones receiving the calls rather than making them.
And reduce the duplicative contacts.  So that's another rule that might
help.

Let's work on making this more fun for everyone concerned.  And have rules
or conventions/customs which encourages good operating procedures without
penalizing those stations who simply make lots of contacts because they
run an excellent station (e.g. a category i someday hope to qualify for).

		         	-- KD6PAG
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