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OK Tim, 
Don't get too down in the dumps over this. 

First of all,  AO-51 is a LOT weaker than UO-14 was. 
AO-27 has the consistently best signal strength of the current FM 
birds. It stays on for 6 minutes each pass, plenty of time to 
work somebody.

Second, there are folks that are working AO-51 and SO-50 
with HT's and rubber ducks and whips, but I'll bet they aren't 
hearing all that well.  I have some experience on that, and 
a  rubber duck is the last resort and you're lucky to ever hear 

There have been MANY stations who can't hear the birds that 
come on with a big signal and call CQ during the entire pass and 
never hear anybody coming back to them.  I can safely say  that 
there is not one pass where there aren't several stations talking or 
making quickie QSO's.   You can hear the background noise 
coming from some of these stations speakers in the background
when they're calling CQ  and they are not hearing a thing, including
not hearing themselves calling CQ.   I presume they think they are 
all alone  and wondering where everybody else is.
(Everybody else is calling them!).  They need a preamp or a much 
better antenna.  It takes a lot of aluminum to get that  18 or 20 dB
of gain from a little  preamp.

You'd probably be better off listening with a quarter-wave ground
plane than the  5/8 wave.  The 5/8 wave has a pretty low  radiation 
angle.   I've tried several different antennas on my MOBILE rig and 
the  quarter wave works better than many of the "gain" antennas  for 
doing satellite work.

Get a GaAsfet  preamp, you'll get a  GREAT improvement in the received
signal.  I have an  ARR preamp in the car and can actually hear  AO51
and  SO-51  fairly well.  I can hear  AO-27  even better.  Sometimes I 
actually get a little  S-meter reading. 

Your  IC-706 with it's 25 watts or so on 2 meters should be more than
plenty to make contacts on any of the FM birds.  Don't forget to turn on 
the 67 Hz  P.L.

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck! 

John,  K6YK
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