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FD on AO40

Bill Acito wrote:
It looks like my AO-40 station will come together for FD weekend, but I won't be able to get any practice in before then. Looks like the busiest weekend on the bird might be my virgin run.

I have a feeling there may be others like myself prep'ing for this weekend who won't have a lot of experience on AO-40.

Assuming we have addressed our equipment issues, what are the top ten operating errors we should avoid or watch out for this weekend considering the load on the bird, from those of you who are frequent users?


1. Stay away from the middle beacon
2. Be aware of Leila
3. Fix transmitter, move receiver for Doppler others?

Wayne replies:

Field Day is a tough environment to debug a new AO40 station because so many extra variables are introduced.  But here's my quick suggestion list:

1.	Make sure the time zone setting in your tracking software matches the time zone setting in the clock of the computer that you use at Field Day.
2.	Keep in mind that Massachusetts has a large magnetic declination.  Learn how to point your dish to the "true" azimuth.
3.	Desense may make it hard to find your downlink.  If you send continuous slow dits from an electronic keyer, you will have an easier time hearing your downlink because the dits will mostly come back between transmissions.  Set the radio's AGC to "Fast" while searching for you downlink.  But switch it back to "slow" when making SSB contacts.
4.	Use headphones!  You will hear better, and the station on the other end will hear fewer feedback echoes.
5.	Try to at least listen to the AO40 beacon before Field Day.  Then you will know the local oscillator frequency of your downconverter (+/- drift due to temperature changes).  One less variable (or at least a smaller variable).
6.	Test your cables and connectors before Field Day whenever possible.
7.	Bring your toolbox, soldering iron voltmeter and flashlight with you.  "Be Prepared" for unexpected problems.
8.	The AO40 pass is from about midnight to 11 AM Eastern time.  So it will be DARK when AO40 rises and you do your final frequency and azimuth adjustments.  Adjust and inspect everything carefully during daylight.
9.	Be sure to make a contact with K5XB, 1A North Texas (me!!!)

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA
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