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RE: field day

> It is nice to see that you are interested in making some 
> satellite contacts. 
>   What you are proposing is fun, challenging, and rewarding.  
> To learn how 
> to do so in the next 3 days is pretty hard.  You may be 
> smarter than me, but 
> it took about 2 years of encouragement and some help to make my first 
> contact.  I made that contact in late May.  There are a lot 
> of others on the 
> bb who have much more experience, but being a new guy I know 
> very well the 
> frustrations and joys of the first satellite contacts.

I only had my first FM satellite contact last September.  Seems such a long
time ago, with all the activity since.  However, I had done a lot of reading
on the subject, and had a pretty good handle on the issues before I hit the
PTT that Sunday afternoon.  I had previously worked RS-10 several years ago,
which was also good fun.

> First, I strongly suggest going to the AMSAT Homepage and 
> learning as fast 
> as you can.  It is at http://www.amsat.org.  Print out the 
> document called 
> Easy Satellites.  It has been recently updated and is a very good 
> introduction.

Yes, that is a good one.  I'd suggest reading all of the introductory
articles there, as each one covers satellite operation from a different
angle.  I have also written an article entitles "Satiquette", which, as its
title suggests focuses on operating procedures, and is intended for FM
satellite operators.  That is not linked from the AMSAT site, but can be
found at http://www.qsl.net/vk3jed/satiquette.html

> If someone in the club has an Arrow Satellite Antenna it would be the 
> easiest way (that I know of) to use a factory made antenna to 
> make a contact 
> at field day.

Given the short notice, this is recommended, though there are a number of
relatively simple designs out there on the Net.  Jerry, K5OE, has a home
brewers page which features a number of simple antennas, if you want/need to
go down the home brew path.

> I also strongly suggest working on your procedures and 
> equipment  before 
> Field Day!  It will be much easier to make contacts at almost 
> any other 
> time!

One can imagine!

> One word of caution, the FM satellites (AO-27 and UO-14) have 
> very sensitive 
> ears!!  Only one conversation at a time can be held on the 
> bird (like a 2 
> meter repeater)  It is considered impolite (and is illegal) 
> to transmit the 
> 2 meter uplink unless you can hear the satellite and know if you are 
> interrupting a contact.  UO-14 puts out a great signal which 
> is actually 
> easy to hear with a mobile 440 FM rig or with a 440 handheld. 
>  AO-27 is a 
> bit harder, and really does not sound good unless you have a 
> directional 
> antenna.

This point can't be overstated.  Here, we have a lot of problems with
stations not hearing UO-14, but putting in a strong signal on the uplink.
It only creates problems, which get worse as the bird becomes more heavily

> That should give you a start.  (Even if the start ends up 
> with a contact 
> next year at field day!)  Stick around the bb and keep trying 
> and talking 
> and you will get this part of amateur radio mastered as well 
> as the other 
> parts.  There are lots of people who would love to help.

That's one good thing here, there's a lot of willing helpers if you get
stuck at any stage. :)
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