[amsat-bb] Re: Satellite Usage - 2012

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Tue Aug 28 21:28:27 PDT 2012

Hi John!

Thanks for taking the time to post your message.

> I really expected the activity on the FM birds to diminish when AO-51
> died.  We only get 7 minutes of AO-27 and that doesn't make
> up for the much longer passes on AO-51.  SO-50 has never been
> off the air since I started in 2006 but it is the most difficult
> to hear throughout the pass.  For that reason, activity on SO-50
> was fairly low.  If you can't hear it, you can't work it.  But
> to my surprise, SO-50 activity dramatically increased when AO-51
> went silent.  Those who work the FM birds became determined to
> work through this satellite despite the difficulties in hearing it.
> Of course, if you are not full duplex, you don't know when you are
> hearing the bird and that sometimes results in those who call but
> cannot hear the responses.  They might assume that there is no activity
> on the bird when in fact there are many stations trying to make qso's.

When AO-51 failed late last November, I figured that usage of the other
two satellites would increase.  That has certainly happened.  Crowds
are up, and more new stations are showing up to try them out.  Many
who saw AMSAT's demonstration station at Dayton took the time and
effort to try making their first satellite QSOs, and it has been fun to
work some of those who I talked with at Dayton.  :-)

> One of the things that powers DX on the HF bands are dxpeditions.  Groups
> spend large amounts of money to travel to destinations all over the world
> so that others can put that country in the worked/confirmed column.  With
> satellites today it's the VUCC award that drives the activity.  When someone
> shows up from a rare grid, the birds are sometimes overwhelmed.  ND9M has
> worked from hundreds of USA grids and has also worked from his ship on the
> linear birds.  UT1FG/mm has been very active over the past three
> years and has created pileups on the ssb birds not unlike those on HF.  To
> say the activity is down on the linear birds in recent years is simply
> incorrect.  And more hams are operating satellites away from home than ever
> before.  You work with what you have and make the best of it, fm or linear.

As much as some speak ill about grid expeditions and stations trying
to make a very short QSO, that does help kick up the levels of activity.
These days, you'll hear this activity on SSB as well as FM.  Not a bad
thing.  I haven't done a lot of road trips in the past few months, but I am
looking to do more of that as the summer comes to an end here in

> The future of AMSAT and the satellite phase of our hobby is all about the
> new people.  When you hear someone new on the bird and it's a noisy signal
> with an incomplete callsign, maybe without phonetics, call that station.
> Giving out that first contact with a newbie far outweighs 100 contacts with
> those that you have worked many times before.  Sometimes the effort doesn't
> result in a qso, but maybe there is a possibility to follow up with an
> email or postcard with an offer of help.  Just remember we all started out
> at some point with no experience.  Most everyone can remember their first
> contact and how important it was in terms of encouraging future operating.

Agreed!  The new stations are making their ways onto the satellites,
as that MP3 file KK5DO made and referenced in another post this
evening with N5AFV's comments.

> So if you're reading the AMSAT-bb and are discouraged by the fact that there
> are no High Earth Orbit Satellites, don't be.  Times change, technology
> changes but we continue by using what we have to the max and working towards
> improving our situation where we can.  AMSAT works very hard to explore
> every possibility for building and launching new satellites.  It's a
> tremendous
> effort that most of us don't realize is happening day after day.  We all
> need to support this effort.  FOX I and II will be here before we know it.
> These birds should give us some room for more qso's and new operators.
> In the meantime, AO-7 continues to work at an altitude of 1450KM. FO-29 is
> at 1200 or 1300 KM some of the time.  These birds provide an opportunity to
> work DX if you can see down to the horizon.  If you can't, you can always
> go to a location that is better and use your FT817 with an Arrow antenna
> and work down to the horizon.  There is nothing wrong with using an Arrow
> or ELK antenna to work DX.  WD9EWK has proven that point time after time.

And you can see examples of my operating from home and some
other locations in a few videos at: http://www.youtube.com/va7ewk

I have never had a home satellite station.  For most of the time I have
been working the satellites, I have either lived in an apartment that was
not a good place to set up antennas inside or out, or a house in an
area covered by strict deed restrictions and a rental agreement that
don't let me set up antennas.  Initially with the FM birds, and now in
SSB and occasionally CW.

I am now giving some thought to setting up a temporary antenna
array in the back yard.  Last year, I went to San Diego to give a
presentation to a radio club out there on satellite operating.  I saw
the station John W9EN uses at his house.  His 2m and 70cm
antennas, along with an az-el rotator, can be quickly set up in his
yard, then the cables connect to the outside of his house to go to
his station inside.  When he's done, he can take the antenna array
down.  Very impressive!

If we had HEO satellites now, I would make changes to my station.
The FT-817s could still work, but I would consider a radio with more
transmit power for the uplink.  An FT-817 could still do well as a
receiver, or with possibly a preamp connected to it.  My handheld
Elk log-periodic antenna would be swapped out for larger antennas
with more gain.  Until then, I'm having fun with the satellites we
currently have - whether I'm at home, or on the road.

My satellite log has over 11,000 QSOs in almost 7 years' time,
with all but a couple dozen of those made with portable equipment
set up wherever I happened to be - in 14 different US states and 3
other countries.  With hamfests coming up in the fall, along with
the AMSAT Symposium in late October, I'm looking forward to
being on the satellites from more different locations.  And some
new ones (I've never operated from Florida, and haven't been to
that state other than to change planes in Miami since the mid-



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