[amsat-bb] Re: A0-51 "easy sat" not so easy for QRPers

Mark VandeWettering mvandewettering at gmail.com
Mon Feb 25 15:26:06 PST 2008

Tony Langdon wrote:
> At 08:36 AM 2/26/2008, Robert Bruninga wrote:
>>> How about trying to use the more preferred protocol of...
>>> Callsign phonetically. grid square, op mode
>>> Like...
>>> Kilo-Six-Lima-Charlie-Sierra, Delta Mike 13, handheld
>> On FM, in my opinion, there is no need for phonetics except for
>> calls with troublesome letters.  Most calls can be heard easily
>> without using up time with phonetics.
> I disagree, signal levels for some stations can be marginal, 
> especially on the downlink.  There are also a LOT of troublesome 
> letters, particularly if your audio lacks high's.  Is it a B, D, E, 
> G, P, T or V? :-)  Or maybe it's a _really_ muffled C?
I mostly agree with this, there are some calls which
are rather difficult to pull apart sometimes, and often
just the fact that you are slowing down to say them
phonetically helps.

But perhaps this is a good time to introduce a little personal
rant of mine.   First of all, I work satellites exclusively
QRP with a TH-D7A and an arrow antenna (no preamp).
This is a fun way for me to work, and I enjoy it a great
deal, and quite frankly, with some ear buds I can hear
the satellite very well, and always get good strong signal
reports above 10 degrees or so, which is pretty much
the minimum altitude I feel comfortable keying up on given
that my horizons are very nearly that high anyway in most

That's what makes the following particularly frustrating:
someone with a LOT more power than me simply comes
on and blasts over my QSO.  Well, that's just the half of
it.  It's even worse when they ask for a repeat (often
multiple times) for a callsign which I, with my completely
meager equipment, can hear perfectly well.   Of course,
as I patiently wait to try to jump in at the end of a QSO,
I hear multiple people keying up and blasting over the
satellite.  This happens time, after time, after time, after
time, especially on the more crowded passes over the
central U.S (I'm a west coaster). 

Yes, I understand there can be fading and the like, but
once the satellite is above even ten degrees, I pretty
much always get full quieting from AO-51.   I keep wondering
why people with presumably much larger stations have
so much more difficulty hearing the bird.   I'm left with
equally puzzling alternatives: that people running much
more power than I simply don't have sufficient receive
gain to hear the satellite, or that they simply don't care
whether they interrupt existing communications and just
key up over people.

Some more minor peeves: people who take a long time
to thank people for the contact when the pass is very
busy, people who make a half a dozen or more contacts
on a busy pass, and people who apparently aren't listening
closely enough to realize that the person that they are
replying to has already given their callsign and grid half
a dozen times in the pass.   (Yes, i know, the footprint
is continually changing, but c'mon...  it gets a little silly).

Back to the original subject:

I find it hard to believe that it's hard for people to send and
receive full quieting signals to AO-51, even with the most
modest of equipment, at least over the great majority of
passes over 10 degrees or so.  Perhaps if you are asking
for repeats, you should consider that your receive performance
isn't the greatest, you should work on upgrading that portion
of your station before clogging the satellite.  The maxim
"you got to hear 'em to work 'em" should be the motto
of every satellite operator. 

Hope to work more of you in the future.

    Mark KF6KYI

> Also, if there is fading, the longer phonetics may still get enough 
> information through to avoid a repeat.  Repeats are more costly in 
> terms of time, when they occur.  And don't forget the impact of 
> different accents.  I have enough problems with getting my details to 
> a lot of Americans (even when using phonetics!) over a good, strong 
> IRLP link.  At least the smaller footprint of a LEO limits the 
> variety of regional accents in many cases.
> 73 de VK3JED
> http://vkradio.com
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