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Re: A Satellite Weekend!

Sounds like you had a really great weekend! I spent a
bunch of it up on my roof installing a new ground
system for my HF vertcal, adding SSB preamps for my
2M/70cm terrestrial antennas, and cleaning the
73, Jim  KQ6EA

--- hasan schiers <schiers@netins.net> wrote:

> I planned it a week in advance when I saw that I
> would have Friday through 
> Tuesday off, with no other presssing obligations.
> (4th of July weekend)
> First, I had some station work to do:
> Station Setup:
> 2m/70cm nested quads (4 el on 2m, 8 el on 70cm), M2
> CP-30 RHC 70cm. Az/El 
> rotors (manually controlled), Yaesu GS-800 Az,
> KR-500 EL. Metal crossboom at 
> 8'. All antennas fed with 80' of LMR 400, Gasfet
> preamps for both bands, at 
> the antennas. (SSB Electronics)
> Rigs: Kenwood TS-2000 (old firmware, no tone on FM
> satellites), Kenwood 
> D7a(g) handheld.
> 1. Move the 70cm preamp from a nested 2m/70cm quad
> to the M2 CP-30 14.2 dBc 
> right hand circular 70cm antenna. Results: No more
> cross mod in mode J, 
> greatly increased sensitivity on 70cm receive. This
> opened up Mode J on 
> AO-51 and FO-29.
> 2. Trim the surrounding trees so  I could turn and
> properly elevate the 
> array. This took about an hour with a extensible
> tree-saw. Results: No more 
> hanging up of the CP-30 in the low lying tree
> branches.
> 3. Install SatPC32 on the new computer, get it
> working with the TS-2000. 
> (Quite easy since WA4EWV emailed me his doppler.sqf
> file for SatPC32.)
> I printed out all the passes of VO-52, FO-29 and
> AO-51 for the period I had 
> off. (Friday evening through Tuesday evening), and
> highlighted the best 
> passes with a yellow highlighter), then arranged my
> "schedule", so I could 
> catch the best passes to evaluate the system changes
> I had made.
> On Sunday night I had completed all the work and
> decided to listen to AO-51 
> (which I knew I couldn't use because the TS-2000 had
> no 67 Hz tone in SAT 
> mode. AO-51 was pinning my S-meter for most of the
> pass even with close in 
> vegetation losses. Until I got below 10 degrees, it
> was very strong. This 
> got me to thinking that I could use my hand-held on
> the uplink (since it had 
> PL tone). I rigged up a switch so I could switch
> between my normal setup and 
> having the HT do the uplink quickly. This way, I had
> doppler control of my 
> receive frequency, and didn't have to worry too much
> about doppler on the 
> uplink (5 khz max change for the pass) Next AO-51
> pass, I made several 
> contacts and was quite excited. This struck me as
> silly, as I've been doing 
> sats since AO-6 and practically lived on AO-7, AO-8,
> AO-10, AO-13 and AO-40. 
> An FM satellite? Fun...nah. Actually, the operating
> techniques for AO-51 are 
> so idiosyncratically different from my real
> satellite interests (linear and 
> HEO stuff), that it sort of captured my imagination
> and I had real fun with 
> all of the passes, listening 80% of the time, and
> popping in for a quick 
> exchange a few times each pass. Nothing more than
> call and grid 
> square...this leaves a LOT of openings for others to
> make contacts. Not 
> exactly meaningful conversations, but a very
> considerate way to share a 
> limited resource.
> Now, on to the 'real' satellite work with VO-52 and
> FO-29. I was astonished 
> at how much better I heard with the preamp moved to
> the M2 CP30 RHC 70cm 
> antenna. It made FO-29 pure pleasure. When I had
> open sky, the 4 element 2m 
> quad on the uplink only needed 5 watts output (not
> even considering the loss 
> of 80' of LMR-400) to produce a very solid signal.
> The 2m quad is vertically 
> polarized, rear mounted. I ran into a lot of old
> friends, and made some new 
> ones. Signals were just outstanding. As always,
> vegetation losses from the 
> surrounding trees were VERY predictable on Mode J. I
> could even observe 
> shooting between branches, not to mention the
> regular broad obstructions of 
> the trees and adjacent forest a mere 10' away in
> wide swaths of directions 
> (180 to 5 degrees , requiring elevation of > 20, and
> some places 30 degrees 
> to clear enough of the vegetation to not suffer high
> losses) The losses, as 
> would be expected,  were far higher on the downlink
> (70cm) than they were on 
> the uplink (2m). This required careful attention to
> uplink power. The 
> solution is NOT to increase TX power as the RX
> losses increase...otherwise 
> one just becomes a passband hog. Slight increases in
> uplink power are 
> justified by the vegetation losses on 2m, but no
> amount of uplink increase 
> could make up for downlink losses from the trees.
> I made lots of FO-29 qsos and even hit one pass
> where I was really loud the 
> entire pass....and NOT ONE QSO! I don't know where
> everyone was, but for 15 
> minutes straight I called CQ briefly, listened,
> resumed calling CQ, tuned 
> the passband...NADA! Very strange.
> VO-52 is so loud! The antenna mounted preamp at the
> antenna (4 element 
> vertically polarized 2m quad) really does the job.
> Very little fading, 
> signals 5 to 8 units out of the noise. It reminded
> me of how much I enjoyed 
> mode B on AO-7. What fun! Uplink power on 70cm: 5
> watts to the M2 CP-30 RHC 
> antenna (up 8' on the cross boom). When in the
> vegetation, I had to increase 
> power to as much as 35 watts to stay in the bird. I
> could tell how to make 
> the adjustments to the uplink, by listening to the
> passband on 2m. If the 
> passband stayed loud, but my sig went in the toilet,
> it was time to increase 
> uplink power. I had to manage my uplink power a lot
> during a pass to be 
> considerate.
> On none of the satellites did I find I needed to
> change polarities. Vertical 
> polarization on 2m and RHC on 70cm worked admirably
> on VO-52, FO-29 and 
> AO-51. I saw VERY LITTLE polarization fading. LEOs
> are nice for that. 
> (actually so was AO-40).
> I was really bummed out when AO-40 shut down. With a
> little motivation and 
> effort, I have been able to enjoy sat ops again, in
> spite of no HEO bird. 
> The maddening race to adjust my rotors (but not
> having to do doppler due to 
> PCSat32) and carry on a conversation has been quite
> nostalgic. Planning, 
> scheduling and then executing a successful pass can
> be quite entertaining.
> My efforts paid off with many pleasant qso's, and
> the linear birds (VO-52 
> and FO-29) showed many qsos that lasted the entire
> pass AOS to LOS. The 
> "good old days" are back. I have found a "half-full"
> glass and relegated my 
> "half-empty" one to the cupboard.
> That's a summary of my weekend. Sat Ops have been
> lots of fun on this 
> "Satellite Weekend".
> p.s., between passes 6m opened and I worked a flurry
> of stations on two of 
> the days.
> Hope I didn't bore too many of you. I had so much
> fun, I just had to write 
> about it.
> 73,
> ...hasan, N0AN
> ----
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