[amsat-bb] AMSAT Demonstration Station at the Dayton Hamvention Recap

Paul Stoetzer n8hm at arrl.net
Fri May 27 03:31:00 UTC 2016

Good evening,

This was my first year running the AMSAT demonstration station at the
Dayton Hamvention after Keith Pugh, W5IU, had run it for many years.
After volunteering at the demo station the past couple of years, I
knew what to expect: a poor horizon to the north (due to the arena),
high levels of RF (including lids running FM simplex inside the
satellite subband on 2m), and lots of fun demoing satellite operation
to curious newcomers as well as meeting many satellite operators I've
worked on the satellites in person.

The core of the demo station was similar to past years. I brought my
pair of Yaesu FT-817s (known fondly among many satellite operators as
a Yaesu FT-1634) as well as a Windows 10 tablet and a FUNcube Dongle
Pro+. The antenna was an Arrow II 146/437-10BP and I also brought a
cheap Optera camera tripod. In addition, John Papay, K8YSE, brought
his Icom IC-910H, laptop, and Arrow antenna on a speaker stand with a
mount that allowed a smooth way to change polarity throughout the
pass. With this mix of equipment, we were able to demonstrate several
methods of satellite operating: computer controlled Doppler tuning of
a transceiver designed for satellite operating, manual Doppler tuning
with a pair of VHF/UHF all-mode transceivers, and use of an SDR
receiver with a VHF/UHF all-mode receiver for full-duplex operating on
linear transponders.

The demo area was up and running by the time the outdoor areas of the
Hamvention opened at 8:00am on Friday morning. Our first pass was an
XW-2A pass at 8:17am, with K8YSE operating his IC-910H and KD8CAO
running the antenna. The demos were generally a two man operation with
one operator at the radio and one serving as the antenna rotor. After
this pass, we listened to the 70cm PSK31 signal from NO-84 and a few
packet bursts from the ISS using the FUNcube Dongle Pro+ and Windows
10 tablet before a pair of AO-85 passes and an XW-2F pass operated by

By special request, the AO-73 transponder was activated a day area and
was available for Friday morning's demos. I operated the 10:51am pass
with my pair of Yaesu FT-817s. A video of this pass is available on
the AMSAT North America Facebook page:

Later, I operated an SO-50 and FO-29 pass with that pair of FT-817s as
well, but had to fight strong desense. After those two passes, I
grabbed a diplexer I had brought and placed it on the 2m transmit side
(to filter out the third harmonic from the transmitter) and
experienced no further desense problems with my setup. PY5LF captured
part of the SO-50 pass on video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVPb1a9NqxQ K8YSE then operated the
rest of the FO-29, AO-7, and SO-50 passes that afternoon.

On Saturday morning, we opened with listening (and decoding a bit) to
the PSK31 beacon on NO-84. Unfortunately, we did not have HF transmit
capability. The signal from NO-84's PSK31 transponder is very good and
I highly recommend anyone who can transmit on 10m at 25-50 watts and
receive a 70cm FM signal give it a try.

After working an XW-2F pass with the pair of FT-817s, I decided to
give the SDR receiver a try and made one QSO each on XW-2C and XW-2A
using the SDR as a downlink receiver. This was the first time I had
tried doing this and it was fun, though I definitely need some more
practice with it! I also tried the SDR receiver on AO-73 and FO-29 and
made a couple of QSOs.

Shortly after the ARRL Youth Forum ended around noon, a large crowd
began to arrive at the demo area. Nine-year old Hope Lea, KM4IPF, who
had given a talk at the Youth Forum operated a pass of SO-50 around
12:19pm and made many QSOs from coast-to-coast. A video of this pass
is available from the AMSAT North America Facebook page:

After the SO-50 pass, we made several QSOs on FO-29 and then listened
to the SPROUT digitalker. The SPROUT digitalker is generally active on
Saturday passes. A video of this pass is available here:

K8YSE then operated the Saturday afternoon passes of FO-29, AO-7, and
AO-85 with his Icom IC-910H setup. Highlights included several of us
passing around the microphone to work Paulo, PV8DX, in Brazil.

We got an early start on Sunday morning, operating a pass of AO-85 to
the northeast using my dual FT-817 setup just prior to 8:00am.
Although I was the only person in the demo area, I made three QSOs on
AO-85, holding the antenna myself and leaning over the table to
operate the radio. After this, I operated a pass of XW-2F around
8:30am. For the 8:44am XW-2A pass, ARRL Media & Public Relations
Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, took the microphone and made several QSOs
on that pass while I pointed the antenna. Although I did have a tripod
for the antenna, I was simply using the stock camera tripod mount and
had no way to adjust polarity. Since polarity is so critical while
operating satellites, the operators who pointed the antenna while
using my Arrow generally took the antenna off the tripod and held it
in their hand for quick polarity adjustments. K8YSE's speaker stand
mount demonstrated a good way to mount an Arrow antenna on a tripod
while retaining adequate control over polarity.

The next pass after this was a low western pass of XW-2C where I made
several QSOs. At 9:37am, we operated a pass of AO-85 and made QSOs
from coast-to-coast. A video of AMSAT VP of Operations Drew
Glasbrenner, KO4MA, at the microphone is available at:

I would note that we were using a pair of FT-817s, barefoot, on that
pass and were able to make several QSOs with just 5 watts, mostly full
quieting. Though AO-85 can often take a bit more power to get in to,
QSOs using 5 watts and an Arrow antenna are very possible.

Passes of SO-50, AO-73, and FO-29 rounded out the demos for the
Hamvention and we were QRT at 12:12pm on Sunday, but not before
working MI6GTY in Northern Ireland on FO-29. It was nice to get Europe
in the log from the Dayton Hamvention demo station and it was our last
QSO of the 2016 Hamvention.

The AMSAT demo station has been a fun place to spend a majority of the
last three Dayton Hamventions and I would encourage all satellite
operators and those curious about satellite operation to visit the
station outside of Ball Arena (near the ARRL and AMSAT booth areas)
next May. Volunteers and guest operators are always sought!

A few pictures are posted on the AMSAT North America Facebook page:
(The AMSAT North America Facebook group is very active - in fact,
traffic has likely surpassed the traffic on the AMSAT-BB. If you are
not a member, I would encourage you to check it out

Thanks to the following for volunteering at the demo station (and
apologies if I missed anyone):

Mark Hammond, N8MH
Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA
John Papay, K8YSE
Doug Papay, KD8CAO
Art Payne, VE3GNF
Wyatt Dirks, AC0RA
Michael Kirkhart, KD8QBA
John Brier, KG4AKV
Jeff Griffin, KB2M
Hope Lea, KM4IPF
Sean Kutzko, KX9X

Thanks to the following for providing equipment for the demo station:

Mike Young, WB8CXO (Batteries)
Keith Pugh, W5IU (DC power distribution)


Paul Stoetzer, N8HM
Secretary, AMSAT-NA
Washington, DC

P. S. I did not keep logs at the demo station, though I will remember
if I worked you! If you need a card or LoTW upload for EM79, please
let me know.

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list