[amsat-bb] First week as a satellite newbie
bag at mac.com
Mon Nov 17 22:21:10 PST 2008
Bryan KL7CN/W6 here in CM98fn.
A week ago, the used IC-W32A and Arrow 146/437-10WBP I purchased from
N3PKC via QRZ.com arrived. Hurray!
The very first night I stood in the back yard and waved the antenna
above my head in one hand and held the IC-W32A in the other. I heard
K6LCS on SO-50, but couldn't quite manage to get things aligned to get
them to work.
The next night I brought the gear to our local Sacramento Java Users
Group meeting. It might seem like a funny association, but there have
been a couple members of the group who very recently got their radio
licenses and I wanted to share the satellite experience with them.
So, later that night, Marnie KI6SXU and I stood on a darkened street
corner between buildings in a business park in Rancho Cordova, and
scanned the sky for SO-50 with the Arrow. Late-leaving workers and
security guards made double-takes at us as they drove by, but then we
heard him! Chris, KG7EZ in DN32! I stuttered through calling him back,
and we made contact! Chris was very gracious and encouraging as we
elatedly told him that he was our very first satellite contact!
After the thrill of first contact was done, we packed up the gear and
went inside to look up the call sign and grid square -- sure enough,
there he was! We spent the next hour looking at Google Maps,
AMSAT.org, and QRZ.com. We completely skipped the rest of the meeting!
Marnie, who's had her license all of two months, concluded that this
was actually fun and that she could imagine herself chasing satellites
with her retired grandfather at his middle-of-nowhere cabin in Arizona.
Since then, I've made 10 more contacts on both AO-51 and SO-50. It
took a while to discover the mode schedule for AO-51; it sure started
working better after the 17th when mode VU was turned on. I added an
old tripod to the mix after watching K7AGE's excellent video tutorials
which helps quite a bit. I've heard the ISS on 145.825 Packet but
haven't heard anything else from them.
This is fun. It's inspiring! I keep imagining the science curriculum
that could be written around this! I want to show it to my high-school
Of course, I aspire to a lovely ground station with a wonderful
computer-controlled high-power VHF/UHF transceiver and a fabulous
antenna array mounted on rotors on a tower. But this manual operation
makes it fun! I walk around outside on the sidewalk, moving the tripod
so it has the best view of the pass. I make a complete fool of myself
as I juggle the HT, the notebook with coordinates, the flashlight, and
my cellphone to check the time. (Note to self: petition Icom to put a
clock chip in their HTs -- obvious?) What a hoot!
Thanks for listening; I'll hear you on the birds -- I'll be the fellow
that sounds like a noob.
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