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Fun on AO-51 (was Apathy)



All,

Since May of 2005 I've logged about 600 LEO satellite contacts with
about 1/3 of those on AO-51 including some great DX. 

Great fun for sure!

On AO-51 I've worked modes U/V, V/S, PACSAT, QRP, and copied telemetry.
Some of my operating highlights include:

- V/U from home
- V/U mobile 
- V/U portable with a homemade "Arrow" antenna and an old ICOM-24AT HT
- V/S portable with a homebrew corner reflector on my AO-40 vintage TSI
AIDC-3733 downconverter
- V/S portable with a homebrew patch antenna
- V/S portable with a homebrew 2.4GHz "cheap yagi" beam
- V/S with a surplus 2 foot dish and homebrew patch feed
- V/S with a homebrew 4 foot dish and homebrew patch feed
- exchanged emails and downloaded pictures via AO-51 PACSAT - (the 4
foot Texas Rattler pic from Roy W0SL was really neat! as well as the
Swamp Beard orchid pic from Ron VK6AKI)
- downloaded telemetry using TlmEcho
- given demos to my local radio club members
- made contacts with school demos and the 2005 Boy Scout Jamboree
- introduced satellite operating to several groups of kids while
operating portable

I've made lots of new Ham Radio friends, had QSO's and exchanged emails
on a variety of topics, received help and answers to my questions from
several generous and friendly experts, and learned new things including
PACSAT operation, automatic doppler and antenna tracking control, and
antenna design and construction. What's next? AO-51 Mode L/S and AO-51
38.4 PACSAT!

I've listened to and participated in many AO-51 passes where 15 to 20
QSO's are completed during the pass by orderly and considerate operators
and other passes where the entire pass is complete mayhem with people
stepping on each other every transmission. I missed a rare maritime
mobile grid the other night due to just such a pass. Argggghhhhh! Maybe
Mike will show me his QSL card from his contact some day if I'm real
lucky (big grin.) The "complete mayhem" passes are not a problem for me.
I continually hear new callsign's on the satellite every week. AO-51 is
introducing new people to the satellite community on a regular basis and
that's a good thing. Kudos to AMSAT for launching AO-51. After a while
people do learn how to operate an FM bird as evidenced by the many
orderly passes.  

These days I usually just look for a new station (to welcome them to the
satellite), or a new grid or state or DX, and try to limit my contacts
to one or two per pass in order to share the resource. It's also nice to
say a quick hello to my new satellite friends. I also the enjoy the
longer SSB QSO's on FO-29, VO-52, and AO-7.

For those folks that are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the HEO
birds you are missing all the fun RIGHT NOW. I encourage you to get
active NOW, enjoy one or more of AO-51's many modes as well as the other
LEO's, and share your enthusiasm with other non satellite operators to
bring new hams into our satellite community. This month's AO-51 schedule
provides some great opportunities to share our hobby with the Boy Scout
Jamboree on The Air and the High Power V/U mode. Check out the schedule
and operating notes at
http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/echo/ControlTeam.php Why not give it a
try!

Some resources that I've purchased and found really useful are the AO-51
book, the Digital Satellite and Telemetry Guide, WISP, and PCSat32. All
of these are available from AMSAT and your purchase keeps AMSAT running.
Using PCSat32 I've had many AOS to LOS QSO's on FO-29 and VO-52 without
ever having to touch the tuning dial on my radio. Full Doppler control
is really neat! Did you know that Erich Eichmann DK1TB has generously
donated all of the proceeds from the PCSat32 license sales to AMSAT.
Thank you Erich!

I for one am really glad that the AMSAT BOD had the foresight and wisdom
to get AO-51 into orbit. Thank you!

The AMSAT Board of Directors heard our voices, the HEOS's are coming,
but AO-51 is here right now! And what a great satellite it is!

73,
Steve, WI2W
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