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first impression



I operated OSCAR satellites back in 1974-1976. It was simple with 2 meters up and 10 meters down. Not much doppler effect either. I got back on a month ago after a lapse of 32 years. I would like to give my impressions to date. I have had QSOs on 6 or 7 different birds using CW, SSB and of course FM. By far the most productive mode is FM. It is also the easy way to get on OSCAR. The transponders on AO7, VO52 and FO29 go aching for use. On 15 minute passes  you can find just one or two other users. Sadly nobody at times. Of course you need to be able to manage doppler and to track the bird with some degree of accuracy. I guess I have had over 400 QSOs during the past month. I have worked 42 states and 7 countries along with about 110 grid squares. Being newly retired the XYL encourages me to stay in the shack. However of the 400 QSOs I have probably only worked 120 different stations. The biggest disappointment for me is the lack of information in QST and CQ magazines on OSCAR. I had no idea that there were that many potential birds flying and providing the opportunity to make contacts. Having been a ham for 56 years and always active I don't miss a lot. Oh I see the AMSAT booth at Dayton. But there is little effective public relations going on to attract hams to use OSCAR satellites. There is some but not to the extent that is needed. I just rejoined AMSAT. It is obvious that there is plenty of transponder "spectrum" going unused. It is a very modest challenge to use  satellites other than FM birds, in my opinion. I have some M Square yagis that I put together along with an elevation and azimuth rotators. I put them up about 15 feet off the ground. I learned a few things about switching polarity too. We did not have circular polarity being used in 1974 if my memory is working.

The best part about being back on is the opportunity to meet a new group of hams. I have learned about SatPC32 and struggle to get it working with the Vista operating system. I also got the RHCP vs. LHCP wrong on my 2 meter antenna. I owe thanks to K9QHO and K9CIS for helping me on that issue.

Most use AO51 as the bird of choice. I wonder why there is so little use of SO50 ? It works great and is under used too. These are my first impressions. There really is a lack of public relations about how much is out there in the way of satellite opportunities. Of course that is just my opinion. One thing for sure you do not need to count the sun spots to see if you can make contacts. I would like to see folks give a little opening to some of the Central American stations who come on frequency but get stepped on. A QSO with a TI4 or a KP4 is still DX even for a guy like me who has been around long enough to have worked them all. One day HR1LW called me on VO52. What a thrill. There was no one else on. A few weeks later he called me again and called me by name. Same for a few European QSOs that I have had.

My XYL wants to thank all of those that have kept me in the shack and out of her hair as she adjusts to my retirement. I do too.

73   Jim W9VNE
       Cincinnati, Ohio  EM79tb
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