[amsat-bb] WD9EWK at the Superstition hamfest (Mesa AZ) and DM32/DM42 on Saturday
Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK)
amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Dec 6 20:34:32 PST 2009
More fun on the satellites yesterday. Between the Superstition Amateur
Radio Club's annual hamfest and a quick afternoon/evening road trip
south of Phoenix to an unusual grid, it was a good day. Lots of
interested people at the hamfest, and lots of QSOs for those hoping
to work the rarely-heard grid DM32 later in the day.
Superstition Amateur Radio Club hamfest, at Mesa Community College in
Mesa, Arizona (grid DM43bj)
This hamfest is the first one of the Phoenix-area hamfest "season", as
the weather turns cooler and the winter visitors - "snowbirds" - from
other colder parts of North America make their way back to central and
southern Arizona. When I showed up at the hamfest around 0515 local
time (1215 UTC), there were already more people setting up than in the
past couple of years. Good weather also helps with that, of course.
Although cool by local standards (36F/2C at that hour), no rain was seen.
I set up my AMSAT table, and prepared for the first of 6 passes I would
use for on-air demonstrations.
The first two passes of the morning, at 1254 and 1434 UTC, were on
AO-51. These were the first passes I worked since the satellite was
flipped around and its antennas were not favoring the Northern
Hemisphere. Once the satellite was up from the horizon, there was
little noticeable difference compared to previous passes. Near the
horizon, it was tougher to hear - but not impossible. As usual, there
were lots of stations on the pass toward the east. I was able to make
8 contacts with stations across the USA and in southern Mexico. One of
those QSOs was with Bob WA7DXZ, who let me know he would be coming to
the hamfest in a couple of hours. He showed up as promised, stopping
by to say "hello" a couple of hours after we made that QSO. The second
pass to the west had fewer stations on, and only 3 QSOs went in the log.
The next pass I planned to try for a demonstration was on AO-7. It was
in mode B at 1448-1510 UTC, coming almost directly over my head (81
degrees maximum elevation). This was the first time I attempted a
demonstration using this satellite. Unfortunately, I had some local
QRM to deal with on the SSB downlinks - generators with lots of noise
audible on my receiver (one of my FT-817NDs). Thankfully, the noisy
generators were north of me, and pointing my antenna away from that
direction reduced the noise. Thanks to AA5PK, KC7MG (he was not too
far away from me, in Casa Grande south of the hamfest site), WC7V, and
XE1AO for the SSB QSOs. In fact, XE1AO said that his QSO with me was
his first on AO-7. Maybe we'll hear more activity from Mexico on that
satellite in the near future.
Later in the morning, I had two VO-52 passes and an SO-50 pass where I
had demonstrations. Again, I made contacts with 4 stations on the first
VO-52 pass to the east at 1618-1630 UTC, and two on the western pass at
1754-1806 UTC. In between these two passes was the SO-50 pass I worked
at 1730-1742 UTC, with 6 QSOs.
When I wasn't on the radio, I had a steady stream of traffic around the
AMSAT table. All of the demonstrations draw nice crowds, and the AO-7
demonstration in particular brought out the largest crowd. The longer
pass time meant people stuck around longer, including many who had been
on the satellites in the past. Some of those were active on AO-7 in the
70s and early 80s during its first life. I apologize to those who were
waiting for me on passes where I didn't show up until 3 or 4 minutes into
the pass, as I was chatting with people around the table and I was not
watching the clock closely.
This hamfest also turned out to be a nice get-together for satellite
operators currently active on satellites. A nice roundup:
Larry drove in from California, Ed and Leo came up from southern Arizona,
and Bob and John live in the Phoenix area. A nice get-together for those
of us that get on from the southwestern USA. Many others who are
occasionally on also stopped by throughout the morning, including a
couple from northern Mexico.
Thanks to the Superstition Amateur Radio Club for providing me a space
for AMSAT at the hamfest, and all of the stations across North America
that made contacts with WD9EWK during the demonstrations. But this would
not be the end of my day on the satellites...
Southeast of Maricopa, Arizona, in Pinal County (grids DM32xx and DM42ax)
32 59.960 N 112 0.000 W
A few days before the hamfest, I mentioned I would also make a trip to the
rarely-heard grid DM32 in the afternoon after the hamfest. Less than 45
minutes away from the hamfest is the northeast corner of DM32, a grid that
has no resident satellite operators and most of it is off-limits due to an
Air Force bombing range and several wilderness areas in the grid. The
southwest corner of the grid crosses into northern Mexico. I have gone to
this area on many occasions in the last couple of years, putting both of
these grids on the air for satellite operators.
The location on the boundary that I use is very close to where four grids
(DM32, DM33, DM42, DM43) converge - in the middle of a farm. I do not go
onto that spot, but park on this boundary on the side of a road to work
from both DM32 and DM42. I drove here after most people had left the
hamfest around 2000 UTC, an hour before the first of two AO-27 passes I
hoped to work at this location.
I arrived with 10 minutes to spare. I set up my radio, the antenna was
already assembled from earlier, and I was ready for the 7 minutes of AO-27
repeater time. In 7 minutes, 12 QSOs were logged with stations all over
the USA and Canada - including QSOs with several who had previously told
me that they hoped to work DM32. The western AO-27 pass at 2240-2247 UTC
had 4 more QSOs, including a QSO with Craig KL4E doing a demonstration for
a Boy Scout group in Anchorage, Alaska.
Later on, there were two AO-51 passes - 0004-0018 and 0144-0156 UTC. The
first pass to the easy was a popular pass, with 14 QSOs from all over the
continental USA and Alaska (KL4E was on doing another demonstration for
that Boy Scout group in Anchorage). The later pass wasn't as busy, but
still put 8 more QSOs in the log with stations along the US west coast and
in Alaska (KL4E again; this time he was at home). A total of 38 QSOs were
logged on these 4 passes.
Compared to many of my other road trips, this one was a very short trip.
I drove less than 100 miles/160km for the day. There was no shortage of
activity on all of these passes, 10 in total. Anyone who worked WD9EWK
yesterday and wants a QSL card only needs to e-mail me the QSO details.
If you're in the log, I will mail you the card(s). No SASE required.
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