[amsat-bb] Saturday (7 May) at Sierra Vista AZ hamfest & other operating/travels report (long)

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Thu May 12 20:56:30 UTC 2016


Sorry for the delay in posting this report. A project at the office has
consumed a lot of my time this week - not just during the workdays, but
also a couple of very late evenings and early mornings.

Last Saturday's Cochise Amateur Radio Association hamfest in Sierra Vista,
Arizona, was another good event for AMSAT. This is a small, half-day
hamfest in southern Arizona, which had a good turnout on a great day. No
rain or heavy winds to deal with. After the hamfest, the afternoon and
evening was nice for some sightseeing and - of course - more operating.

After I drove down to Sierra Vista the night before the hamfest, I only had
a 15-minute drive to reach the hamfest on the edge of town. The gate for
the hamfest site was open when I arrived a few minutes after 5am (1200
UTC). I started to set up my AMSAT table, knowing there was an SO-50 pass
an hour or so after that. Even though the hamfest didn't officially start
until 7am (1400 UTC), I still had a small crowd on hand for that pass that
went to the west of the hamfest. Seven QSOs went in the log on that pass, 6
from stations in the western USA plus XE2BHL in Tijuana. A good start to
the morning. The hamfest site is in grid DM41, not a rare Arizona grid with
some active satellite operators in the area (NP4JV, W7JPI, W7JSD).

I missed the passes for the XW-2 satellites after SO-50, as I had been
talking with people walking around my AMSAT booth, outside the buildings
at the club's "Green Acres" site. After the crowds eased, I set up for a
demonstration on AO-73 around 1535 UTC. I moved the VFO on my receiver
through the transponder and down to the telemetry around 145.935 MHz, so
the crowd could hear the SSB activity as well as the data that comes from
this satellite. I was able to work 3 stations, AA5PK in Texas followed by
XE1AO and XE1AU (a club station at XE1AO's university in central Mexico).
Omar, as always, greeted the crowd in English as I talked to him in

Some time passed before another satellite pass, the first of two AO-85
passes that have probably become the best for demonstrations. With the
stronger 2m downlink from AO-85 compared to SO-50's 70cm downlink, many are
now able to hear the satellite with almost any 2m FM radio they may have at
a hamfest. The first of the two AO-85 passes Saturday morning came a little
after 10am (1700 UTC), which provided for 14 QSOs from coast to coast. A
great way to show off the capabilities of AMSAT's newest satellite, and for
several in the crowd to hear the satellite for themselves on HTs with
either duckie antennas or (in one case) a telescoping whip antenna.

The later AO-85 pass, just before 12 noon (1900 UTC) and the official end
of the hamfest, came up from the west and wrapped around the north. This
wasn't as busy as the earlier AO-85 pass, but still enough activity for
most of the pass. Stations in the western USA and Canada, and as far east
as K8YSE in Cleveland, made up the 8 QSOs logged on this pass. The shortest
QSOs were made with Fernando NP4JV, who was across the field from the AMSAT
booth, and with Sid W7JSD who worked me from his house a few miles away.
Sid had been out to the hamfest earlier in the morning, and I asked him if
he could possibly try working this pass when he returned home.

On the two AO-85 passes, John K8YSE figured prominently in both passes. Not
that John made lots of QSOs on each pass, but that he initially made QSOs
with me as K8YSE/7 from his Arizona station, and then made QSOs with me as
K8YSE from his station in Cleveland. He was physically in Arizona at his
home in the Phoenix area, and remotely operating his Cleveland station
later in each of these passes. The crowd was impressed with the ability to
be on from two different stations at the same time. They were also happy
with the extremely long-distance QSO with NP4JV. :-)

Along with talking with John through both of his stations and seeing both
Fernando and Sid, Fernando had his daughter Yalitza ("Yali") with him at
the hamfest. Yali took the Technician license exam at the hamfest, and
passed. Yali has not received a call sign from the FCC yet, but hopefully
she does soon, and we can hear her on the satellites from DM41 in the near

Unlike most of my hamfest road trips, I had not made definite plans to go
anywhere after the hamfest. Talking with Fernando and Yali at lunch after
the hamfest, I wanted to try working at least one pass from the nearby
Coronado National Memorial. This memorial is south of Sierra Vista, at the
USA/Mexico border. It is so close to the border that my mobile phone made
the switch to a Mexican carrier, until I left the memorial. The best place
to work an SO-50 pass just after 3pm (2200 UTC) was just inside the east
entrance of the memorial, near the large Coronado National Memorial sign at
a parking area in front of that sign.  I set up my station, took pictures
of it and my GPS receiver, and proceeded to work 13 stations on that pass
across the USA and Mexico. I think some were hoping another station was
going to show up, so that helped me in making at least 10 QSOs to have this
pass count as an activation for the ARRL's National Parks on the Air
activity. This was my second NPOTA activation, and the first for me at a
National Park Service site in Arizona following my operating from Lake Mead
in Nevada the previous weekend (29 April-1 May). Like with the hamfest,
this memorial is also in grid DM41.

After working the SO-50 pass, I stopped at the visitor center to get the
obligatory stamps in my passport to show I was at this location, and then
took my time heading back to Sierra Vista. My drive home took several
hours, with a drive through another scenic part of southern Arizona to
Nogales along another portion of the USA/Mexico border, and then up through
Tucson back home. I stopped to work one AO-85 pass in the evening, around
8.25pm (0325 UTC), logging 4 QSOs from a spot northwest of Tucson in grid
DM42 before finishing my drive home.

Between the hamfest and operating from the Coronado National Memorial, this
was a fun day in southern Arizona. I'll be on the road for another hamfest
in eastern Arizona on 4 June, plus I hope to operate from more National
Park Service sites around Arizona during the summer. Thanks to the Cochise
Amateur Radio Association for their hospitality in providing AMSAT a space
at their annual hamfest, and to all of the stations that worked WD9EWK
during the hamfest and later in the day at the other locations!


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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