[amsat-bb] One year on the birds

David Wing david at cdwing.com
Wed Dec 30 08:42:18 PST 2009

My first contact on satellite was 29-Dec-08 via AO-51 and the QSO was
appropriately with Clint Bradford, K6LCS.  It is appropriate that it was
with Clint because Clint is the one that sparked my interest in working
satellites.  I remember reading about amateur radio satellites in my
Technician exam preparation book where it was discussing the various forms
of amateur radio.  I also distinctly remember the impression that the author
said working satellites was challenging and not easy to do.  Along comes
Clint to do a demo at one of the PAPA System monthly breakfasts with his
Arrow II and an HT and showed just how easy it can be.


At that point I was intrigued enough to put an Arrow II on my Christmas wish
list and a few days after Christmas, I got myself on AO-51.  I remember that
first pass seemed very busy but Clint and I had pre-arranged to work it and
having that successful contact fanned the fire.  The next morning I got up
early and drove over to a local hill with no trees and buildings so that I
could work an early morning easterly pass of AO-51.  I easily worked N9AMW,
K8YSE and K9QHO and I would say that it was that pass that firmly implanted
the satellite bug because that day I started designing an easy to use log
sheet to keep track of AOS, Max El, LOS, call signs, etc.  


Trying to hold the antenna, a clipboard/pen and radio while tracking AO-51
in the sky, making QSOs and logging call signs, times and grid squares must
have looked pretty comical for the neighbors, but I never even noticed.  I
added a clipboard lamp, a little digital clock and figured a way to mount
the antenna and radio on a tripod.  This made things a lot easier but it was
still a chore to set up.plus now that I was not totally consumed in all I
had to do, I was noticing neighbors with raised eyebrows as I set-up in the


>From that early start I graduated to a gable-mounted G-5500 with my Arrow II
and SatPC32.now I could operate from the comfort and privacy of my indoor
shack (and yes, there have been many early morning passes worked while in a
bathrobe).  This past Thanksgiving I finally got a short rooftop tower with
high gain antennas and polarity switches.  What a world of difference!
SO-50 is like a whole new satellite!


After year 1, I have 1500+ QSOs, 130+ unique grid squares and I'm still
hunting for my last five states.  I've made several friends that I QSO with
regularly, sometimes multiple times in a day.  I've enjoyed working the new
birds SO-67 and HO-68, unusual modes like AO-51 SSB/FM and I'm working to
get my S-Band set-up working and a couple of 70cm helix antennas built and
put into use (thanks to Mike/K9QHO for the info and encouragement).


Happy New Year to everyone and hope to work you on the birds sometime!







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