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Beginner Birds




I can't stand it any longer.  I simply have to wade into this discussion.

For a very long time in the 60s and 70s I lived just a stone throw from a
world class satellite operator.  I was present the evening he heard his
own down link on one of the very early Oscar birds.  Impressive....By all
means.  Convincing....not in the least.  I was an HF DXer and nothing, in
those days, was more important than working a new DXCC entity.  In those
days we still chased countries, even though some of the "countries" were
and still are inhabitated piles of sand and rock!  It took a 400 mile
move and the lowest of point in the sun spot cycle for me to rediscover
satellite communication.  My first satellite QSO was on RS-12 and I did
it on CW because that was, and still is today, my most comfortable mode. 
This when my station was still strictly HF with a tribander beam and 100
watt transciever.  By then I'd knocked off nearly all the available
current entities but still the DX blood was running in my veins.  I
stumbled across N4ZC calling CQ satellite on 15 meters.  Since I'd moved
away from the only satellite operator I'd ever known I thought Roger had
gone banannas.  Calling CQ satellite on 15 meters??  Little did I know
that he was really into RS-12 with both feet and mono banders on both 10
and 15 meters.  I knew he was a big gun DXer but why work RS-15, a LEO
satellite?  N4ZC, to my knowledge is the only one in the world to have
satellite DXCC on a LEO bird.  Roger explained how RS-12 worked and
provided the pass times for the rest of that weekend.  I didn't even own
a computer in those days.  (Some ten years ago.)  I was hooked after that
first QSO and when I'd run out of pass times I had no alternative but to
call my old friend and ask for some hard copy printout pass times for
RS-12.  I think I recall someone saying that nearly every QSO was a new
state and definately a new grid.  So very true and it wasn't long before
I decided that WAS was a definate possibility on RS-12.  I'd never
obtained that award as an HFer because it presented very little
challange.  You could do it on a sweepstakes weekend if you put your mind
to it.  It took me nine months on RS-12.  Not too long after I'd been on
RS-12 an article appeared in QST that told the world how to operate this
bird and even gave a prediction table for calulating pass times.  What an
explosion of activity that created!!  I also discovered that one could,
on occasion, convince an HF DXer to give this funny little HF satellite a
try.  Yes, I was a DXer and I'd try any "trick" to convince a DX station
that it was something new and really quite exciting.  I have several DX
QSOs on RS-12 that are extremely rare on any of the birds today such as
4U1UN and JW8GV!  I soon moved up to Mode A and really took on the
challange of RS-15.  That bird was not nearly as difficult to work as
some might believe.  It provided me with many hours of enjoyment and my
first European QSO on satellite.  The next logical step was Mode B.  I
got up on AO-10 and 13 but unfortunately 13 was doomed just as I got the
"hang of it".  I struggled on AO-10 with a minimal Mode B station until
AO-40 was up and on.  As it turned out, one needed more than "minimal" to
work this bird effeciently.  My Elmer, K0VTY, Joe, came into the picture
with full clarity again and thanks to his wonderful help and "schooling"
he has made working AO-40 relatively easy and straight forward.

Would I welcome and support another Mode A bird?  Very probably so.  I
have never made a QSO on an FM bird save for one lone QSO on MIR. 
However, that was simplex
and my first (and last) attempt at doing so.  Will I work ECHO?  Probably
not.  I may listen for a pass or two but get into the fray.  I don't
think so.

Any Mode A bird would be a great beginner satellite but that's just the
opinion of one who has been there and done that.  It might be fun to be
able to Elmer someone up onto satellite communication again.  With my
disinterest in FM birds I miss that part of being an AMSAT area
coordinaator.  I'm simply not enough of a technical expert to Elmer
someone up to AO-40 and convince that same someone that a few hundred
bucks minimal need be invested just to get up at 1:00 A.M. to "perhaps"
work a new satellite country as I am at this moment.

Thanks for the bandwidth.............

73  Frank, K0BLT

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