[amsat-bb] WD9EWK from Tucson AZ hamfest and DM51/DM52/DM53 - report
Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK)
amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Tue Apr 7 21:24:56 PDT 2009
Saturday (4 April) was a great day, between the hamfest in Tucson
and taking a quick 300-mile/500km road trip after the hamfest to
go back home. I was able to do demonstrations at the hamfest in
one grid (DM42me), and then operate from 3 other grids in the
afternoon (DM51, DM52, DM53).
Tucson AZ, Radio Society of Tucson "Desert-Fest '09" hamfest (grid
I drove to Tucson the Friday evening before the hamfest, so I would
not have to make the long drive in the dark early on Saturday
morning. I was out there before 0530 local (1230 UTC), setting up my
AMSAT table and getting ready for the first of 4 passes I worked at
At 1349 and 1529 UTC, I did demonstrations on AO-51. The first pass,
to the east, yielded 11 contacts from all over North America. The
later pass had 5 more contacts, and a lot of intermod from some
transmitters in downtown Tucson to the west of the hamfest site.
Later in the morning, I had VO-52 passes at 1556 and 1730 UTC. Fewer
contacts were made on those passes compared to the AO-51 passes; only
1 QSO on the first pass, and 2 on the later pass. Thanks to all the
stations across North America that made contacts with WD9EWK, and my
apologies if I did not work your station.
I have to thank Randy Malick KF0X and the Radio Society of Tucson for
allowing me to bring an AMSAT table to their hamfest, the first for
this club. Randy had traveled to other hamfests and events across
Arizona over the past few months drumming up interest in this event,
and his efforts paid off. The RST club even provided WiFi Internet
access to those at the hamfest, thanks to the RST's D-Star repeater
After the hamfest, it was time to hit the road...
near Sunsites, Arizona, in Cochise County (grids DM51bx and DM52ba):
I had planned on operating from grid DM52 in southeastern Arizona
during the day, before heading toward grid DM53 for the AO-51 passes
in the evening. I glanced at my maps, and saw I could make a stop at
this spot - a spot I visited in May 2008 - and put DM52 on the air as
well as grid DM51. I figured I could stay for the AO-27 pass at 2030
UTC and the SO-50 pass at 2100 UTC, and still be able to drive up to
DM53. That was what I did.
After finding the spot on a side road running parallel to US-191, I
took pictures and set up my station for the pass. When the AO-27
repeater switched on, I started making contacts. In 7 minutes, I
made 10 QSOs. A little later, I logged 10 more contacts on SO-50.
All of these contacts were with stations all over the USA, and - at
the end of the SO-50 pass - Adrian ZF2AE in the Cayman Islands popped
up for a quick QSO.
This was a nice stop, logging 20 contacts between those two passes.
I will try to return to this area next month, with a hamfest in
Sierra Vista southwest of here - if there's still interest in these
south of Safford, Arizona, in Graham County (grid DM52do):
After my DM51/DM52 stop, I wanted to work north toward DM53 in time
to look around with lots of sunlight. I went north on US-191, and
saw that the western AO-27 pass was coming up around 2210 UTC. I
pulled off the highway, onto range land that was alongside the road,
to set up for the pass. When the AO-27 repeater switched on, I made
3 quick contacts with Mexican stations. After those contacts, I was
visited by a Bureau of Land Management ranger.
The ranger drove up and took an interest in my handheld log periodic.
He wondered if I was tracking animals with transmitters. I said that
I wasn't doing that, but I could with the radio equipment I had. I
told him about talking with other ham stations via satellite, and
asked if there was any problem being at this location. The ranger
said "no", told me I could continue, and he drove off. All of this
took place in the span of about 3 minutes, approximately half of the
7-minute AO-27 pass. In the last couple of minutes, I worked KL4E
and KL7XJ in Alaska. This was probably the first time I had an FM
satellite pass where I worked stations in Mexico and Alaska, but none
in the continental USA.
After the pass, I got back onto the US-191 highway, and went to the
town of Safford...
Safford, Arizona, in Graham County (grid DM52dt):
This was a quick stop on my way to grid DM53, and an SO-50 pass at
2243 UTC. Safford is in the Gila River Valley and next to Mount
Graham, 10720 feet/3267m high. Mount Graham is home to several
observatories, which I did not visit on this trip. I might come
back and visit them in the future. I parked in the parking lot of a
high school, and was ready for the satellite.
For some reason, there was a lot of interference during this pass. I
was able to log two QSOs, with KL7XJ in Alaska followed by AC6P in
California. After this pass, I had approximately 2 hours to find a
spot to work from during the upcoming AO-51 passes.
south of Fort Thomas, Arizona, along US-70 in Graham County (grids
DM52ax and DM53aa):
Northwest of Safford, US-70 runs parallel to the Gila River toward
Globe. About 18 miles/30km northwest of Safford is 33 degrees North
latitude, the line between DM52 and DM53. US-70 cuts through the
southwest corner of DM53, and I didn't have many options for setting
up in this area. I used the tactic I employed last fall for working
from the DM23/DM24 line in California, parking at the spot only for
the passes. This worked.
The first pass to the east was at 0056 UTC. Still lots of sunlight,
and the moon was visible in the eastern sky. This turned out to be
the busiest pass I have ever worked on an FM satellite. Stations
from all over North America showed up, and I logged 28 QSOs. Six of
those were with Mexican stations, two with Canadians, and the rest
were spread out all across the continental USA.
As the sunlight went away, I had one more chance to work AO-51 from
this spot. I started putting my callsign on AO-51 around 0237 UTC,
and shortly after that XE2RV came on. After chatting with Rafael for
a couple of minutes, waiting for more stations to join in (we were
leaving gaps for others between our transmissions, and inviting them
to join the fun), I made contacts with 6 other stations in the US and
Canada. Now that I know an easier way to get from Phoenix to DM53, I
can return to this location in the future.
I am happy to send out QSL cards for anyone who made a contact with
me during this day-trip to Tucson and southeastern Arizona. Just
e-mail me the QSO details, and - if you're in the log - you will get
a card. I am finishing up the design of these cards, and will get
them in the mail - along with cards from my other recent trips - over
the next few days.
I have lived in Arizona for over 3 decades, and had never been to the
part of Arizona in the northern part of DM52 around Safford and DM53.
It was a nice drive, and it was fun to work the satellites during this
trip. After Saturday, there are only 3 grids left for me to operate
from in Arizona - DM31, DM54, and DM55. Time to work on those... :-)
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