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Contacts with ISS and a story to boot.

Good evening to all hunting the elusive contact with the ISS.
The little story that follows is not intended to rattle any cages {maybe
a friendly NEENER, NEENER, NEENER...  ;o} only to let you know what is
happening in the Pacific NW specifically the "Greater Seattle
Metropolitan Area" with regard the ISS.
About three weeks ago a couple of us were discussing the ISS, and
possible contact with same, on a local repeater.  As the conversation
progressed a few more people came into the discussion.  Well, this went
on for several evenings with further discussion and sighting reports. 
Each night the impromptu net grew as more and more hams joined in.  The
conversations began to progress from the visible sightings stage to
tracking software, where to get it and the KEPS needed to keep current,
and discussion of the old days of contacting MIR.
Now the conversations were getting interesting.  Questions and answers
flew every night, covering such things as AMSAT, NASA, ARISS, and the
URLs where information could be found on the Internet.  We were
diligently listening to each pass that gave the slightest chance of a
contact.  And when possible some of us would meet on the repeater before
and after each pass to cuss or discuss how good it was etc.  Then in the
evening every body would show up [again on the repeater] to report our
findings and opinions to those that were unable to listen earlier.
Our group now stands at a dozen plus - old and new hams working toward a
common goal.  Interest has grown to include satellites in general with
the emphasis still on the elusive ISS contact.  People are scurrying
around blowing the years old dust from their long forgotten TNC with
renewed interest in packet radio.  When in a conversation on a repeater
or a QSO on HF, we find ourselves suddenly saying 73 and QSY to 145.800
FM.  For some, that are at their place of employment, all work ceases
upon the approach of a pass.  This seems to have become an addiction
with us [obsession may be more descriptive].
Rather than continue this little epistle [and believe me I could]  I
will stop her and share the results of all the above.  This loosely
netted group has made three voice contacts with Valery [one poor guy got
so excited when he heard Valery come back to him, he didn't know what to
say!].  Two packet messages have been left on the PBBS, one of which has
received a reply from the crew.  ISS pass schedules are e-mailed to
about 10 people every couple days.  Many Unproto packet QSOs have been
made and confirmed [including NY state].  Interest has been generated
and initial contacts have been made with a local school to apply for a
school contact through ARISS.  At least two hams are collecting
information needed to build a soundcard to radio interface and
downloading software needed for packet [and SSTV when it becomes
I will stop now and sit back reflecting with a great deal a of amazement
on what one short conversation was able to bring about
73 de <michael> Burien, WA - CN87
btw:  For those that I owe digipeat QSL cards to, they went via "snail
mail" yesterday.  Enjoy!
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