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Third week as a satellite newbie



Greetings, all:

Bryan KL7CN/W6 here in CM98fn.

Two weeks ago, I posted here my first week's experience as a satellite  
newbie.

After three weeks, it's still fun. I know this because it's 6:00 in  
the morning in California, and I just came back inside after standing  
out on the sidewalk in the bitter 40-degree cold -- and yes, I can  
hear the chuckles from the Midwest but that's very cold for here.

I was out there the foggy dark dregs of night talking into my now- 
beloved IC-W32A VHF/UHF handheld radio and even more beloved tripod- 
mounted Arrow antenna. I met with WB9YIG, K8CXM, my co-conspirator  
WA4NVM, and WB9L for an early-morning club -- the FM satellite  
enthusiast's club! I scribbled down their callsigns and the callsigns  
of the others I heard into my little Moleskine notebook, all by the  
light of my cell phone -- an ironic choice of illumination. I waved at  
the couple of early-morning commuters who drove by with wide eyes and  
dropped jaws. They must think I am as crazy as the fellow down the  
street who shovels dirt around his grassless yard. What else could  
explain a grown man pointing a TV-antenna-looking-thing at at the sky  
while listening intently into a pair of iPod headphones attached to  
it, and all while carefully taking notes and occasionally talking into  
a microphone -- in the middle of the night?

I suppose the craziness of it appeals to me most. It's the frontier!  
It used to be unusual to have conversations with people from other  
countries; now it's common -- the Internet changed that. And it used  
to be unusual to carry around a small radio for the purpose of  
communicating with your friends; now it's also common -- cell phones  
changed that. And, as well, it used to be unusual to send short  
computer-based messages by wireless to your posse; now it's popular  
with young people the world over -- texting changed that. But talking  
to your friends using low-earth-orbiting satellites tracked by hand --  
who does that? Crazy people, that's who: amateur radio operators!

-- bag
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