[amsat-bb] Re: LEO in Europe

John Mock KD6PAG kd6pag at amsat.org
Mon Oct 15 22:38:32 PDT 2007

I have had considerable experience in the 'States in mode J-FM, including
operation under challenging circumstances while traveling by car on my
Southwest trip earlier this year.  I got back recently from two weeks in
France.  I also made another trip to France two years ago.  

My experience on both trips was that i found mode J-FM was definitely more
difficult for me overseas.  There were a number of things that made it seem
alot harder for me.  First, many stations in/near Europe seemed to want to
do a full four-way exchange rather than the often abbreviated form that i 
often hear in the 'States.  Here, my experiences is that when two stations 
already know each other, or they know the satellite is particulary busy, 
they will just quickly give their calls (often in quick phonetics) and maybe
the grid square in four characters if they haven't said it recently.  On the
other hand, overseas, the exchange is six characters and appeared to take 
alot longer.  So alot fewer stations seem to complete QSOs during the passes 
i tried to work than i experience at home.

This seemed further complicated by language barriers.  While most stations
seemed to speak some English, on the average, it did not sound like their
primary language. So folks necessarily had to speak slower and repeat things
more often.

Third, the passes that i tried to work seemed alot busier.  I gave up on
weekend passes on my last trip, as even on SO-50, i couldn't seem to get a
word in edgewise.  With a 10 minute walk to where i could find a decent
horizon, it just wasn't worth the effort.  The weekday passes i worked were
better, but they still seemed to me to be as busy as the transcontinental
passes over the 'States on weekends.

Fourth, there did seem to be more stations who either seemed to be calling
without being able to hear the downlink, or perhaps heard it poorly enough
that maybe they could only work the strongest stations???  It's certainly
something i've experienced alot in the 'States, but usually it's only one
or maybe two stations on a given pass that seemed to have that problem.

Finally, i didn't seemed to know how to get people to answer me.  In the
'States, one just transmits their callsign and grid square, and people
answer if either seems unfamiliar.  That didn't seem to work for me (but
then again, i wasn't hearing my own downlink very often).  Was it just a
matter of too much competition???  After all, i was only running 1W or
maybe 2W, which usually works fine in the 'States.  Did i need to call
CQ??  I was reluctant to do that, as at home, unless the bird is very
quiet, calling CQ usually a clear indication that one is a neophyte and
can't hear the satellite.  I'm really not sure how to increase my success
rate while in Europe.

Next time i'm overseas, i'll certainly try again.  But only if i don't
have to walk very far to do a satellite pass.  *SIGH*

		         -- KD6PAG  (Networking Old-Timer, Satellite QRPer)

[Note: If i'm in your address book, please replace 'qsl.net' with 'amsat.org'.]

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