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For the new ops on AO-51 and the other FM sats

I've been listening to a lot of the problems some of the new folks are having on AO-51, especially since it has been in high power mode, and I think I might be able to offer a few points to help.

Resist the urge to just announce your call repeatedly. I've seen this grow into a bad habit of lots of operators. There are times when the satellite is relatively empty where this practice makes sense, but most of the time it is counter productive. A tactic that will lead to more contacts by everyone would be to listen until you hear a station you'd like to work, then give a quick call to that station like "KC4EOD from KO4MA in EL88".  It lets the station you call and everyone else on the bird know you can hear the satellite. This means folks are more likely to take a shot on answering your call, resulting in more chances to make a contact. It also is more expedient, meaning more total QSOs for everyone per pass. And that's a good thing right?

My second suggestion is to do your best to put together a station capable of full duplex. There is no substitute for being able to hear your own uplink when it comes to avoiding QRMing the satellite. Lots of the several second long dead spaces on AO-51 are where more than one station is uplinking, with neither of the resulting signal getting thru the PL decoder. If either of these operators could hear the downlink and would stop transmitting, someone could be using the satellite. Full duplex does not have to be expensive, with options like receive converters from Hamtronics, inexpensive scanners, and sometimes is as simple as wiring up the rig you may already have.

Hope this may be of help, and hope to hear you on the air.

73, Drew KO4MA
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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