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First week as a satellite newbie



Greetings, all:

Bryan KL7CN/W6 here in CM98fn.

A week ago, the used IC-W32A and Arrow 146/437-10WBP I purchased from  
N3PKC via QRZ.com arrived. Hurray!

The very first night I stood in the back yard and waved the antenna  
above my head in one hand and held the IC-W32A in the other. I heard  
K6LCS on SO-50, but couldn't quite manage to get things aligned to get  
them to work.

The next night I brought the gear to our local Sacramento Java Users  
Group meeting. It might seem like a funny association, but there have  
been a couple members of the group who very recently got their radio  
licenses and I wanted to share the satellite experience with them.

So, later that night, Marnie KI6SXU and I stood on a darkened street  
corner between buildings in a business park in Rancho Cordova, and  
scanned the sky for SO-50 with the Arrow. Late-leaving workers and  
security guards made double-takes at us as they drove by, but then we  
heard him! Chris, KG7EZ in DN32! I stuttered through calling him back,  
and we made contact! Chris was very gracious and encouraging as we  
elatedly told him that he was our very first satellite contact!

After the thrill of first contact was done, we packed up the gear and  
went inside to look up the call sign and grid square -- sure enough,  
there he was! We spent the next hour looking at Google Maps,  
AMSAT.org, and QRZ.com. We completely skipped the rest of the meeting!  
Marnie, who's had her license all of two months, concluded that this  
was actually fun and that she could imagine herself chasing satellites  
with her retired grandfather at his middle-of-nowhere cabin in Arizona.

Since then, I've made 10 more contacts on both AO-51 and SO-50. It  
took a while to discover the mode schedule for AO-51; it sure started  
working better after the 17th when mode VU was turned on. I added an  
old tripod to the mix after watching K7AGE's excellent video tutorials  
which helps quite a bit. I've heard the ISS on 145.825 Packet but  
haven't heard anything else from them.

This is fun. It's inspiring! I keep imagining the science curriculum  
that could be written around this! I want to show it to my high-school  
age cousins!

Of course, I aspire to a lovely ground station with a wonderful  
computer-controlled high-power VHF/UHF transceiver and a fabulous  
antenna array mounted on rotors on a tower. But this manual operation  
makes it fun! I walk around outside on the sidewalk, moving the tripod  
so it has the best view of the pass. I make a complete fool of myself  
as I juggle the HT, the notebook with coordinates, the flashlight, and  
my cellphone to check the time. (Note to self: petition Icom to put a  
clock chip in their HTs -- obvious?) What a hoot!

Thanks for listening; I'll hear you on the birds -- I'll be the fellow  
that sounds like a noob.

-- bag
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