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Re: ECHO Voice operations

Hello Bob,

I in no way want to dissuade you from looking at solving the problem Bob - 
but I don't think this is the answer.

At 02:50 PM 7/30/2004 -0400, Bob wrote:

>I think I can offer some amplifying remarks::
>1)  I would argue that it is a -simple- answer but it is also
>a -simple- problem too.  Only one person can talk at a time
>on an FM net and that is what Directed nets have always
>been about solving.

It's not a simple problem - it involves trying to get 500 amateurs with 
different operating habits, in different geographical locations, running a 
multitude of equipment with varying degrees of skill to share a single FM 
channel.  If that's simple, then I'd like to see what you define as complex.

>2)  If we never do organized nets, then we are saying that
>ECHO and FM satellites are only CONTEST birds and
>have no other purpose because we are training everyone
>to just continue with the status quo.

I disagree.  I don't think you should use on-air satellites to train people.

I recently assisted a family with a 10 year old YL get on the air.  It was 
done by a FB effort on the part of her dad VE4WKP to help her get her 
license (advanced class in Canada) then listening to satellites, learning 
how to track them with her Arrow antenna, and learning proper radio 
procedure on local repeaters.  After many months of listening, she made her 
first contact last week.   She's a FB operator - better than most any I've 
ever seen.  Her callsign is VE4MWK - you should listen to her sometime.

But her training wasn't limited to a 12 minute session and her dad taught 
her very excellent radio procedures. So no, I don't believe you should be 
training people on FM satellites.  Train them on the ground, and when they 
are ready encourage them to take the next step.

>3)  If we never do organized nets and let the users learn
>that the VOICE transponder is ONLY for a free-for-all zoo,
>then that is what we will always get.  And then we will
>-never- be able to use it for anything else (Formal demos,
>Emergency Comms, whatever) beacuse the users wont
>know how to react.   People dont like change or surprises.

Regardless of the lofty goals of having a nice, orderly on-air society, I 
think the complexity of terrestrial society reflects that it will be a 
free-for-all.  I can understand why, thinking the problem is simple, that 
you would think otherwise.

But since you bring up emergency comms, I don't believe this is part of the 
charter.  Anyone who has taken an emcomm class (or for that matters holds 
an amateur license) knows (or should) that you use the most expedient means 
of communications in an emergency.  And while satellites are wonderful 
things, waiting 90 minutes for a satellite pass is not expedient.  I will 
grant you that there are very rare times when it may be the only means, but 
for an established emcomm station, the choice should be packet, not 
voice.  You not only make sure the message - no matter how long - gets 
transmitted to the right destination but you can get an acknowledgement 
back when it is received.

>4)  We need to accustom users to the fact that there
>MAY BE TIMES when free-for-all operation is not desired
>is to be aware of the schedule and/or to listen first.

It should always be to listen first.  And that would include a net control 

>After 10+years of operating the voice birds with aboslutely
>no planning, discipline, specific purpose or organized plan,
>I think it is time for AMSAT to try something else for a change.

After my 1+ year of operating voice and pac satellites, I would say if you 
feel that way then AMSAT should not build FM satellites.  They are not 
useful for anything except the shortest QSO.  You should know this - you 
gave many excellent reasons for people only to use the minimum compressed 
packet on NO-44 and I totally agreed with it.  I think the same should 
apply for voice on FM satellites as well.  But can you enforce it?  Doubtful.

>Now I am ALL FOR routine operations just like now, they
>are fun and enjoyable, and I think they can continue...but we
>must also set aside time and  discipline ourselves to allow
>for other possibilities sometimes.

And I think we have - I'm looking forward to the Wednesday experimenters 
day and have got 3 2.4G antennas to try out.  I haven't gotten anything for 
L-Band yet, but I will.  Those are definitely other possibilities.  I will 
even try PSK, even though my experiences with it on AO-40 were not 
good.  I've made some improvements on my station and am eager to try it out.

>When I say a directed net, please don't think in terms of the
>typical long-winded directed nets one may have heard on
>other frequencies.  Instead a 20 minute coast-to-coast NET
>will require modified or accellerated techniques:

Since Echo goes south to north on your acending pass example, I think you 
mean Equator to Pole, not coast to coast (unless you are saying Caribbean 
to Hudson Bay.)

>*) Each such net should plan on two-net controls, one to
>begin the net and one at the other end of the country to
>end it, tailored to the pass geometry.

What happens if someone in the middle has emergency or priority 
traffic?  Can they break in at any time? They might not be in the footprint 
when you start the net, and may be out of it when you hand it over to your 
northern control operator.

>*)  The purpose of a net can be just about anything, but
>with the WEB page, the AMSAT-BB and the digital downlink
>everyone has amble opportunity to be aware of what
>the particular net or topic might be for any given pass in
>advance.  or if it is available for zoo operations...

Some of the biggest guns don't subscribe to the BB, rarely go to the AMSAT 
website, aren't AMSAT members (despite my chiding them to join) and don't 
do packet.  So what are you going to do when they start making QSOs in the 
middle of the net?

>But the bottom line is that the NET CON always LEADS who
>talks next.   SO that communications is -successful- not just
>lots of random calls and lucky hits in the ether.
>Such a net control would have looked at the map and
>be aware of the geography of the pass for example a
>south to north east coast pass.  He might say

Nice idea, but here is how I see the scenario for your ascending pass 
scenario with the satellite over VY:

You left out that someone is already on the satellite:

"YV2XXA - yes, you just blocked my contact with YV3AAA."

"Net?  what net?

You spend 2 minutes explaining the net, during which XE4ABC hears VY3AAA 
and tries to make a QSO with him. (3 minutes into the pass, satellite now 
over Cuba)


7 guys who think they have priority traffic jump in including the 1 guy 
sitting on his sinking boat in the Bahamas.  You miss the emergency 
call.  You get partial callsigns and only get two them resolved.  You call 
them for their priority traffic, and they give you their grid square and 
ask if there is anyone from FN51 on because they need that grid.  In the 
mean time the guy you stepped on keeps trying to call his YV3 back and you 
are always breaking up.  (6 minutes - satellite off the coast of North 


3 of the guys with priority traffic think "I'm in an ARC - I'm representing 
the group so I'll announce our field day results" and again you get partial 
callsigns.  (now 9 minutes - satellite over Pennsylvania)


8 guys who live in Florida, a KP2 and a CO8 jump in and double with each 
other.  You get a partial WB4 and ask that station to come now, at which 
time the 4 guys with WB4 calls double with each other, and the W2 snowbirds 
say they will wait for New York checkins. Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi 
seeing that they are almost out of the footprint jump in trying to check 
in. (now 12 minutes - satellite at the bottom of Hudson Bay and southern 
net control is already 2 minutes out of the footprint without realizing it).


Boston Net Control has been sitting there waiting for his cue not realizing 
South is out of the footprint. Finally he calls for any emergency traffic, 
finds out that North Carolina is still waiting for a call and picks it up. 
(16 minutes, satellite up near the Chesterfield Inlet)


4 guys in NC and 5 guys in Tennessee jump in, double.  Net control says 
"nothing heard".  (18 minutes - Satellite over Resolute Island.  Boston is 
now down to 2 degrees of elevation.  Two guys in Toronto try to call Net 
Control to find out what is up.)


Never happens,

It's just another name for a zoo - instead of having people listen for call 
signs, you are now going to have one guy who unfortunately will need the 
best equipment and run the most power act as net czar.

>Since everyone is listening FULL DUPLEX he does not
>need to ROGER each checkin.  ALso NO PHONETICS,
>NO SPELLINGS, just rapid fire  talk.

Not everyone will be full duplex.  How do you resolve callsigns except 

>They can be short 4 second checkins just for making
>contacts, or they can be by area, region, whatever.
>Or can be taking reports of other kinds.

You can't make contacts - remember, you described this as a directed 
net.  IMHO your assumption of a 4 second checkin is not going to happen - 
they will want to tell you "no traffic" and other stuff like their grid 
square so other people can call them.  Minimum 15 seconds per contact and 
that is only under ideal conditions.

>OR SCHOOLS!  Let a school sign up to be NET-CON
>for a pass (kinda like with ARISS).  The school is
>just one-half of the QSO throughout the pass.  THey
>can talk about anything, but all people checking in
>are talking to that school, unless otherwise directed.
>etc...  (but doing it like we do now is more often a
>"negative" demo of how not-to-comunicate....)

This is why we have ARISS.  School demos are great things - they are demos, 
not nets.  I think giving schools their own satellite (EDUSat?) would be 
great Bob.  I'll be the first to sign up to help schools in my area set up 
stations to use it.  But I think you will find they consider the internet a 
better venue.

>Some occasional net-style operating will require good net
>controls with  good skills.  And there are some very good
>operators out there with these skills... that are a joy to
>just listen to.  We all could learn...

I've taken the ARRL EmComm training courses and I totally agree that net 
control operators need very finely honed skills.  But AO-51 is not the 
place for them to practice.  That is why we have ARES and RACES nets.

> >Before you go off and try to enforce a net structure on
> >Echo, I would propose you first demonstrate that you can
> >do so on FO-29 first.
>That wont work, because demonstrating a directed net
>when there are no checkins wont prove anything.. hi hi...

Huh?  FO-29 generally has 6 or more people on it at one time.  If you hold 
a net on it, perhaps more would show up.  So my statement that you need to 
practice this on a SSB satellite before going to Echo still stands.

After seeing this proposal, I'm even more convinced that you need to 
demonstrate success elsewhere like FO-29 than when you first posted it.

>Anyway, I would sure like to hear one of our community's
>great operators get on there and just take control once
>in a while.  In fact, sometimes it does happen when there
>is a rare station,  He just works like a contestor and
>runs the frequency most of the pass.  And the neat thing
>QSO's  in this situation in total then would have occured

Some of the big guns would say they already are.  But that is for them to 

>Problem is, he gets branded as a LID or selfish.  Where in
>fact, he did most people a favor.  I'd just like to *occassionally*
>see that happen but within the context of a purpose and
>the support of the community...

I never get to hear the truly east coast passes, but I have heard they are 
always a zoo.  Out here on the west coast we don't seem to have the same 
problems you seem to experience in the east. I don't think it's a lack of 
operators, it's just that we seem to know each other and generally 
apologize if we step on one another.   I'll make a recording of a pass some 
day and send it to you.  But not now - Echo is still the "hot prize" and 
it's drawing everyone with a 50 watt dual bander and a ground plane.  Quite 
frankly all most of us are hearing is a big continuous carrier, even way 
out over the Pacific at half-past midnight.

>Just some thoughts.  Bob, WB4APR

So as I said, I don't want to dissuade you from looking at solving the 
problem - but I think this is far from the answer.


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