[amsat-bb] Yes, my call was XE2/WD9EWK today...

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Thu Feb 19 23:30:25 PST 2009

Hi all!

Despite a lot of local QRM on the SO-50 downlink and the 
absolute wall of stations in the first half of one AO-51 
pass (50W could not break through from here!), it was a 
very nice day in Mexicali.  A good day to visit, with nice
weather and (mostly) good conditions on several satellite
passes.  After over 4 years since my last trip to Mexico, 
this would be my first opportunity to work the satellites
from there.  Please note that my callsign when in Mexico is
XE2/WD9EWK, as the Mexicans follow the CEPT convention (also
used by FCC in the US except for visiting Canadian hams)
with the prefix/indicator comes before the foreign ham's 
call.  Please keep that in mind, if you are using Logbook of
the World and upload satellite contacts to that system - I 
hope to do the same for my satellite QSOs eventually, including
those made from Mexico. 

After getting my paperwork at the border (Mexican immigration)
and at the communications ministry, I was itching to get on the 
air.  The ISS was passing by just after midday local time (2039
UTC, to be precise), and I was able to work it from a spot in 
the west end of Mexicali for a few QSOs.  I tried SO-50 from 
there around 2250 UTC, but had lots of QRM from nearby TV
transmitters on towers very close to that area.  Ouch!  After
that pass, I went across the city to the "Ciudad Deportiva" 
(Sports City) complex, near the baseball stadium that is home to 
a Mexican winter-league club and the recently-concluded Caribbean
Series tournament.  More open space, and not as close to those 
pesky TV transmitters. 

The AO-51 pass around 0010 UTC was crazy for the first 5 minutes.
I could only break through a couple of times, and at one point
it was nothing but stations calling for me - and I could not even
get through to acknowledge any of them.  I apologize for that, as 
even 50W into my handheld antenna was no good against all that RF
to my east.  I sincerely hope K5D is not greeted in the same manner
if they show up on the FM satellites, especially since they will 
only have 5W to work with.  After K7WIN cleared some space for me 
to come through the crowd (many thanks, Jeff!), I was able to log 
contacts.  SO-50 right after that pass was a bit easier, with fewer stations and less QRM from those TV transmitters. 

There was a really high AO-51 pass to the west around 0147 UTC,
and I was on there from a park area in a neighborhood a few miles/km
southwest of the baseball stadium.  This turned out to also serve
as an impromptu demonstration for a local radio club, the "Red
Digital Noroeste" (Northwest Digital Network).  Four club members
were there, and saw me work that western pass.  I was closer to
the TV transmitters, but they seemed to have less effect on the 
AO-51 435.300 MHz downlink compared to the SO-50 436.795 MHz 
downlink (and zero effect on the ISS 145.800 MHz downlink).  This
was a great pass to show satellite operating to hams who had never
seen or tried this part of the hobby.  Thanks to all the stations
from central Mexico up through the western USA and Canada on the 
pass!  Then a quick get-together with the local hams to talk about
radio, satellites, and other stuff hams like to talk about almost
anywhere before crossing the border back into the USA and calling 
it a night.  

Quick stats... I worked 5 passes this afternoon/evening.  On those
passes, I worked 6 stations through the ISS U/V cross-band repeater 
on one pass, 12 on the 2 SO-50 passes, and 28 on the 2 AO-51 passes.
I operated from 3 different locations in Mexicali, two in DM22go and 
one in DM22gp (the baseball stadium), and all 3 were not too far 
south of the USA/Mexico border.  Alex XE2BSS/N2IX, who was with me 
during the day, took some pictures and has started uploading them to:


Alex is still adding pictures to this page, so consider it a "work
in progress".  Check it again in a couple of days to see additional
pictures he posts there, and run the link through Babelfish or some
other translation site if you can't read the Spanish-language text
on that page.  

For Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, I will continue to be in
grid DM22.  For those two days, I will have an AMSAT table at the 
Yuma AZ hamfest, and will do satellite demonstrations on FM and SSB
satellites as I had originally planned.  I don't have firm plans for
Sunday yet, but hope to be on satellites once again from somewhere.
Monday is still my travel day back to Phoenix, possibly including
stops to work passes in other grids on my way home. 

Good night, and 73!

Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK (now also XE2/WD9EWK) - Calexico, California

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