[amsat-bb] WD9EWK - 2016 Field Day report (l-o-n-g)

Paul Stoetzer n8hm at arrl.net
Tue Jun 28 12:17:57 UTC 2016

"Seeing how well I did on the ISS and NO-84, it is unfortunate AMSAT limits
the use of the orbiting digipeaters to a single QSO per satellite under its
Field Day rules. I don't disagree with the "one QSO per FM satellite" rule,
but question its application to the orbiting digipeaters. It seems like if
we are wanting to encourage more than just FM satellite operation during
Field Day, working packet would be one way to do that. Especially with that
NO-84 pass where only two of us were around to make QSOs."

My research from the AMSAT-BB archives shows that the one QSO per FM
satellite rule was added for 2001 after the chaos that ensued during
Field Day 2000. The rule was also applied to all single channel
satellites, including APRS digipeaters. In recent years, the use of
the ISS digipeater in particular has fallen off a cliff. Reading
through the AMSAT-BB archives I see reports of operators achieving the
AMSAT OSCAR Sexagesimal Award and VUCC solely through the ISS
digipeater. With the level of activity today, that seems unthinkable.
It may be time to suspend that rule for next year and evaluate the

My biggest rule wish would be for both the ARRL and AMSAT to limit the
ERP allowed on satellites. I listened to one pass of AO-73 out over
the Atlantic early Saturday evening where one station was tuning their
tube amp during the pass (I could hear their tone shift from extremely
harsh to pure). They then proceeded to CQ on CW and phone for the
entirety of the pass, without even a few seconds of a break. I was
never able to hear my downlink on that pass and only heard one
successful QSO.


Paul, N8HM

On Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:12 AM, Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK)
<amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net> wrote:
> Hi!
> This year's Field Day for WD9EWK was back to the mountains, in the Kaibab
> National Forest about 25 miles (40km) west of Flagstaff, Arizona, in grid
> DM45. This is where I had worked Field Day for a few years in a row until
> 2012, and really wanted to get back there after the past two Field Days
> where I operated from the Phoenix area. I also had another ham who was
> trying Field Day for the first time in almost 25 years of being licensed.
> For both of us, our plans were almost vaporized as we were heading to our
> site, and Murphy stuck around for the early part of the afternoon. We ended
> up having a great time, despite the early setbacks.
> The ham who accompanied me to the mountains is a long-time ham and coworker
> of mine, Mark N7UJI. He has mostly been on VHF/UHF bands, and until a year
> or two ago didn't even own an HF rig. Since then, Mark has equipped himself
> with some nice gear. Mark still has a Technician license, which limited his
> Field Day activities, but he wanted to try his portable station which was
> similar to what I took north for HF and 6m: Yaesu FT-897D, Buddipole
> portable dipole. Of course, I had other radios with me for the satellites:
> Kenwood TH-D72A, Icom IC-2730A, two FT-817NDs, Wouxun KG-UV9D, and an
> SDRplay
> SDR receiver with a couple of Windows 10 tablets. Our plan was simple - set
> up separate stations, then work whatever we could without going crazy.
> On our way to the Field Day site, we received calls from our office. A power
> cut shut everything down at the office, and we had to stop in Flagstaff to
> join a phone call to discuss how to react to the power outage. This ended
> our
> hopes of having time before the 1800 UTC start of Field Day to set up our
> stations, but that didn't stop us. After this and another phone call in the
> next hour, we were able to get to the place I had been talking about for
> Field Day over the past few weeks...
> The site I went to was the Garland Prairie Vista Picnic Ground, along the
> old
> US-66 between the cities of Flagstaff and Williams in the Kaibab National
> Forest. The operative word here is "was". All signage for the picnic area
> was
> removed, the picnic tables were gone, no restrooms, not even the concrete
> sidewalk leading to the former site of the restrooms. Other than the gravel
> driveway through the former picnic area, there was nothing left of its
> former
> state. Mark and I had our own folding chairs and tables, so we found some
> trees and set up our stations for HF and 6m under them. We arrived at 1800
> UTC, and Mark set up his HF/6m station as I prepared for a shallow ISS pass
> about 20 minutes later.
> The ISS pass was a shallow pass, with maximum elevation of 10 degrees across
> the northern sky. With a hill immediately north of me, I had no luck even
> hearing my own packets being retransmitted by the ISS. No QSOs logged, but
> there were more - and better - ISS passes later in the afternoon.
> As Mark and I set up our HF stations, Murphy paid me a visit. The internal
> battery packs in my FT-897D both had problems. After 10 to 15 minutes, one
> of the two packs dropped from its nominal 13.2V down to 9V. Something went
> wrong with that pack, and soon I discovered a similar problem with the other
> pack. I used my jumpstart battery pack that normally powers my satellite
> station for the HF/6m gear. Mark's FT-897D packs did not have problems, but
> the lack of decent propagation on 10m and 6m meant he didn't do much
> operating with his own call. Mark found a club in Prescott, 40 miles (60km)
> south of us in Prescott, on 10m SSB for his first HF QSO in the almost 25
> years he has had his ham license. I also worked Mark on 10m and 6m SSB, to
> give him a couple of other QSOs for his log - and mine. We could have made
> QSOs on 2m, 222 MHz, and 70cm, but didn't do that. Mark was happy to play
> around with his radio, and watch me work stations. Mark would pay closer
> attention to what I was doing, anytime I went to work satellites.
> Not knowing if AO-7 would survive the expected onslaught of high power from
> so many stations during Field Day, I looked to a western FO-29 pass around
> 2135 UTC for my first Field Day satellite QSO. This was also a shallow pass,
> with a maximum elevation of 8 degrees. I could hear myself through the
> satellite using my two FT-817NDs and Elk, but made no QSOs. Again, with
> Mark
> watching me, I was unsuccessful on a satellite pass. I explained the use of
> the two radios for full-duplex operation, how I tracked the satellite using
> an app on my mobile phone, and how I twisted the antenna so its polarity
> was
> in line with the FO-29 downlink.
> After the FO-29 pass, there was an SO-50 pass coming up from the south,
> going
> to the northeast. This was another shallow pass, up to a maximum elevation
> of
> 13 degrees. With my IC-2730A 2m/70cm FM mobile radio and Elk, and the power
> output set to LOW (5W), I tried to get through. I may have heard myself
> once,
> but heard a lot of other stations on that pass. With the next satellite
> pass
> over an hour away, I started to make a few HF QSOs, and saw a bunch of
> passes
> on various satellites that should be better for me and my QRP station
> later.
> An ISS pass at 2312 UTC was the turning point, where Murphy went away...
> The 2312 UTC ISS pass, with a maximum elevation of 37 degrees, was a good
> pass for me. With the pass going clockwise from the northwest to southeast,
> it would cover most of the continental USA and Canada. With my TH-D72A and
> Elk, I started watching the HT's screen for stations I could call and make
> QSOs with. I changed my APRS position beacon to show "CQ FD" followed by
> my Field Day station classification, state, and grid locator. That worked
> well, as VE5AA in Saskatchewan sent me an APRS message with their Field
> Day exchange. I was able to complete the exchange with VE5AA, and this was
> my first Field Day satellite QSO for 2016. I tried for other QSOs, and was
> successful making exchanges via APRS messages with two other stations -
> KK6QMS in southern California, followed by K7RDG in southern Arizona.
> K7RDG, the Cochise Amateur Radio Association club station, was operated by
> Fernando NP4JV on the ISS pass. Fernando tweeted later in the day that the
> K7RDG-WD9EWK ISS packet QSO got K7RDG its first Field Day satellite QSO. I
> also saw another Arizona club station on that pass, WK7B, but was not able
> to get that station in the log. Not yet, at least...
> About 10 minutes after the ISS went by, there was an SO-50 pass that
> favored the west coast. Back to the IC-2730A and Elk I went, the radio set
> at 5W, and this time a successful satellite QSO using the microphone
> instead of just using packet. I made a quick QSO early in the pass with
> W6KA in southern California, the Pasadena Radio Club's station, operated
> by Tom WA0POD. I heard myself through SO-50 at other points later in the
> pass, but I logged no other QSOs.
> I went back to HF, made a couple of 20m SSB QSOs, and decided to focus on
> just satellite passes over the next hour or so before Mark and I packed up
> for the day. At 0035 UTC, NO-84 passed by from the northwest to the south,
> up to a maximum elevation of 56 degrees. I started sending my position
> beacon, basically calling CQ on the pass. Exactly one other station showed
> up on this pass - WK7B. WK7B was the Thunderbird Amateur Radio Club's Field
> Day station, located northeast of Flagstaff and 26 miles (almost 42km) east
> of me. The Thunderbird Amateur Radio Club is a Phoenix-area club, and they -
> like me - prefer to do Field Day in the mountains of northern Arizona. :-)
> Rick K7TEJ was at the keyboard for the packet activity from WK7B. Rick and
> I, along with Fernando NP4JV, had been practicing how to make quick packet
> QSOs on ISS and NO-84 passes over the previous week or so, and it paid off.
> Even with the weaker downlink from NO-84 compared to the ISS, it was easy
> for us to complete the Field Day exchange. Unfortunately for both Rick and
> me, nobody else showed up on the pass.
> A few minutes after NO-84 went away, there was one more ISS pass for me to
> try at 0049 UTC. I worked two stations on that pass - KG6BFD in southern
> California, and Jack KC7MG in central Arizona - but neither of these
> stations
> sent me a Field Day exchange. I had sent my "1B AZ" Field Day exchange plus
> my grid locator DM45. I saw a few other stations from California and Nevada
> on the pass, but wasn't able to make any other QSOs. This was the last of
> my Field Day packet QSOs, and two more passes were coming up in the
> 0100-0200
> UTC hour.
> A few minutes after 0100 UTC came a very high LilacSat-2 pass. I saw that
> the
> satellite had been active on earlier passes, so I took a chance and set up
> for
> it. I was not disappointed. For this pass, instead of using the IC-2730A I
> used on the earlier SO-50 passes, I went with my Wouxun KG-UV9D and the Elk.
> This meant I was only working half-duplex, but the joke between Mark and me
> was "Chinese radio, for a Chinese satellite". LilacSat-2 rose to a maximum
> elevation of 63 degrees, and I almost thought this was something other than
> Field Day.
> As the satellite rose from the south, I quickly made a contact with Glenn
> AA5PK in west Texas. I had seen Glenn on one of the earlier ISS passes, but
> missed getting a QSO with him then. This was the LilacSat-2 QSO that will go
> toward my Field Day score, but it wasn't my last contact. I worked 5 other
> stations, most of whom were operated by hams I know - W6KA operated by Tom
> WA0POD, Fernando NP4JV in Tucson after leaving the K7RDG Field Day station,
> Jack KC7MG in central Arizona (again, no Field Day exchange with KC7MG, but
> still nice to make the QSO), and Frank K6FW in California.
> The LilacSat-2 pass, being a very orderly pass, allowed me to explain to my
> audience - OK, it was an audience of one, Mark N7UJI - some things about
> satellite operating. For example, how I was working LilacSat-2 half-duplex,
> compared to using full-duplex on the FO-29 and SO-50 passes earlier. I made
> QSOs, but explained how working full-duplex meant I didn't have to rely on
> anyone else to answer me before knowing that my signals were making it
> through the satellite. I also demonstrated how antenna polarity matters for
> satellite operating, simply by twisting my Elk antenna to make the downlink
> signal sound weaker, before twisting it so the signal sounded better again.
> Along with answering Mark's questions about satellite operating, Mark was
> paying attention to the QSOs I made. He heard how most were calling me by
> name, and I knew their names. Mark asked me "Do you know all these people?"
> A little later, another question: "Why don't you save yourself some time
> and ask, 'Is there anyone I don't know on?'" I had to laugh at this one,
> knowing that this was a small part of the wider community of amateur radio
> operators, and many of us who work satellites do know each other and cross
> paths at different events.
> By this point in the late afternoon/early evening, around 0130 UTC (6.30pm
> local time), sunlight was starting to go away. Clouds, along with the trees
> around the picnic area, meant it would be dark here before sunset. I wanted
> to show Mark one more satellite pass, and have a shot at additional QSOs to
> wrap up my 2016 Field Day. XW-2F was coming by to the west, up to a maximum
> elevation of 32 degrees. A nice pass. I used an FT-817ND as my transmit
> radio, and the receive side of my station was an SDRplay SDR receiver with
> HDSDR running on an 8-inch Windows 10 tablet. Both were connected through
> a diplexer to my Elk log periodic. I plugged in a speaker, so Mark could
> hear what I heard from the SDRplay and tablet. I explained how the SDR
> receiver worked compared to a "normal" radio, where I could receive more
> than a single frequency, and in this case see the entire transponder
> downlink on the tablet's screen. Many of you here have read about my SDR
> exploits on this list and in other forums, and Mark liked what he saw. As
> with the earlier FO-29 and SO-50 passes, I worked XW-2F full-duplex.
> Once the satellite came up from the south, I made a quick QSO with Frank
> K6FW in California. After this QSO, it seemed like the center of the XW-2F
> transponder sounded like FO-29 on many passes - a few stations were
> competing for the center of the transponder. I tried to make a couple of
> other QSOs, but with so many stations in the small transponder, and at one
> point having to deal with someone sending CW over my SSB signals, I made
> no other QSOs. After the unsuccessful passes earlier in the day, I was
> finally able to show Mark some examples of amateur satellite operating -
> different modes (SSB, FM, packet), different radios or combinations of
> radios, and a fair amount of "what to do" and "what not to do" for
> satellite operating.
> After XW-2F went away, Mark and I packed up our stations, and drove to
> Flagstaff for dinner. After that, the 2-hour drive home. Even with only 3
> QSOs in his log, Mark had fun. I had as much fun talking radio and being
> able to successfully demonstrate satellite operating for Mark, along with
> making some QSOs for my own log.
> I have updated my log, and uploaded all of my Field Day QSOs to Logbook of
> the World, but haven't started to put together my entries for Field Day. I
> logged a total of 21 Field Day satellite QSOs, and 3 other QSOs that only
> involved exchanges of grid locators. All done with only 5W transmit power,
> to stay within the Field Day QRP power class. By satellite...
> ISS:        three Field Day packet QSOs on 2312 UTC pass, two non-Field Day
>             packet QSOs on 0048 UTC pass. Station: TH-D72A/Elk
> NO-84:      one Field Day packet QSO on 0035 UTC pass. Station: TH-D72A/Elk
> SO-50:      one Field Day FM QSO on 2334 UTC pass. Station: IC-2730A/Elk
> LilacSat-2: one Field Day FM QSO on 0111 UTC pass, 4 other non-scoring Field
>             Day QSOs and one non-Field Day FM QSO. Station: KG-UV9D/Elk
> XW-2F:      one Field Day QSO on 0134 UTC pass. Station: FT-817ND/SDRplay/
> Seeing how well I did on the ISS and NO-84, it is unfortunate AMSAT limits
> the use of the orbiting digipeaters to a single QSO per satellite under its
> Field Day rules. I don't disagree with the "one QSO per FM satellite" rule,
> but question its application to the orbiting digipeaters. It seems like if
> we are wanting to encourage more than just FM satellite operation during
> Field Day, working packet would be one way to do that. Especially with that
> NO-84 pass where only two of us were around to make QSOs.
> That's it for now. Field Day is always fun, even when I worked last year's
> Field Day from a balcony at my office, as I had a project to work on during
> that weekend. It has been more fun over the past 10 years since I first
> worked satellites during a Field Day back in 2006. I know I won't set any
> records, but I was able to achieve my goals for this year - more packet
> QSOs than the two I made during last year's Field Day, using SDR for at
> least some of my Field Day satellite activity, and demonstrating satellite
> operating for another ham.
> 73!
> Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
> http://www.wd9ewk.net/
> Twitter: @WD9EWK
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