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Need help with FO20 and FO29

I still have not been able to make any ssb qsos with the FO20 and FO29 sats.

My equipment:

FT-726 - 10 watts max out
eggbeater II on 70cm with SSB electronics preamp
eggbeater II and 11 el cushcraft linear on 2m
(the cushcraft is vertical and aimed at the horizion so I use the eggbeater for higher elevations)
approximately 40 feet of LMR400 on all antennas

arrow antenna hand held

I have made cw contacts on FO20 and FO29 with limited success. When I do, I still have trouble losing myself in the downlink. This is partially because my signal seems to be weaker than other stations I am hearing and partially because when I adjust my transmitter frequency to match where I am hearing the other station, I forget to switch to the receive vfo and when the other station starts transmitting, I am trying to
tune it in with the transmit vfo until I have moved the transmit frequency out of range before discovering my mistake.

Now, on ssb, I can't find myself at all until I do it first on cw. To transmit on cw, both 70cm and 2m vfos must be on cw.  After I find myself on cw, I can sometimes switch the 2m vfo to lsb and the 70cm vfo to usb, say "aaaaahhhhhh" and zero in my signal.  But I lose my signal in the downlink shortly thereafter and have to switch the receive vfo back to cw, then switch to the transmit vfo and put it back on cw, then find my signal again.  Once I have found it again, I must put the transmit vfo back on lsb again and
switch back to the receive vfo and put it back on usb again, then switch back to the transmit vfo and fine tune myself back on frequency again.  (The rig will allow for transmit on one
sideband on one vfo and receive on the other sideband).

When using the arrow antenna, it is even harder because I have one hand tied up moving the antenna's el, az, and polarization as well
as all the switching, keying with the same hand I use to turn the vfo knob on cw, and using the up/down switch on the mike to move the frequency on ssb.  Did I mention that I was turning the antenna's el, al, and polarization to maximize my signal in the downlink?

Now, I have been told that using 3 watts and an arrow antenna I should be able to work ssb with on an overhead pass of the FO birds.  What am I doing wrong?  I am trying to run my satellite station on a shoestring budget.  Will I have to
wait until I have more power and better antennas to work ssb?

I have made several ssb contacts successfully on RS-13 mode A.  But I seem to have a lot better signal into RS-13, the doppler is not as bad, and since I use a totally different rig for receive I know which vfo I am adjusting and I can switch the transmitter from cw to ssb without having to switch the receiver.

Dave W8IJ
Camp Hill, PA FN10

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