[amsat-bb] My experiences from HB0

hb9wdf at bluewin.ch hb9wdf at bluewin.ch
Mon Aug 14 09:21:38 UTC 2017

I got many mails with the question, why HB0 is so rare on satellite. So here my experience from my last activation in this tiny country.
It was the second activation of HB0. My setup was a FT-100D / FT-817 combo, the Arrow Antenna and an 18Ah LiPo power pack. Before I went to Liechtenstein, I made several tests with the equipment from HB9. A day before my activation, I had a sked with Chris NK1K on FO-29. It was an success.
Liechtenstein is very difficult for satellite. The ground of the valley is 460 m ASL high, between 2-5km wide and about 25km long. The mountains around the valley are over 2000m ASL high and steep. The public places are rare and tiny. The solution for satellite operation is to go on the top of the mountain. For hiking, you need many hours o reach the top of the mountains. But there is a cable car (the only one in the summertime) and serves the mountain "Sareiserjoch", which is 2000m ASL high. The panoramic view from there is amazing. But still not the best place for satellite operation. There is a mountain in the north / west side, who take over 10 degrees of elevation. To high for the North Atlantic pass.
The service of the cable car is open only between 8am and 17pm. There is no mountain lodge for an over night stay. Camping in the higher mountains are difficult and can be dangerous for an one man expedition. I have no experiences in camping and dealing with the changing weather conditions in the higher mountains...
You see: The possibilities for HB0 on satellite are very limited.
Last Sunday I was ready at 8:30 am for start the activation from HB0. My first satellit was SO-50. I had a qso with Jérôme F4DXV - after that I was very surprised: many stations called CQ and no one got an answer each other. I had no pileup and heard my signal very clearly on the bird. I only had two qso on this pass.
After SO-50 I was qrv on AO-85. I met Jérôme again and - after the qso, I was the only one on this satellite who called. And AO-85 was in a very good shape. I think, that many stations don't understand the deal with doppler: On SO-50 they don't find the downlink, on AO-85 the uplink.
Then I had a sked with Chris NK1K on AO-7. The pass of AO-7 was at the edge of the mountain on the north / west side of my place. Most of the time, the satellite was a little bit behind the mount. I heard a very weak signal from Chris and no downlink from my own signal. Then I made a big misstake and powered up my TX to high. The LiPo got an overload and shutted down. For a reset I had to connect the power supply. But this device was still in Switzerland in my home on my shacktable. I was very frustrated.
I had a new idea: I went down with the cable car, jumped into my car and drove to Gaflei. Gaflei is only 1500m ASL high. But good enough for the passes in the west. I plugged my station at the car battery.
But the tiny parking lot crowded very fast. Many cars were around me. The DC cable was to short for a good position of my station. Consequently the activation on FO-29 was a disaster. I had a big pile up. But I got strong interferences and had problems to listening on my downlink. 
That was the reason why I stopped my activation and returned to my home. Yes, I was very frustrated at this time ...
Now I have plans to optimize my station. And I have a new contact to an OM in HB0. Maybe I get a better opportunity in the future.
73s Michael, hb9wdf

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