[amsat-bb] K5D an embarrassment

Jim Danehy jdanehy at cinci.rr.com
Mon Feb 23 12:04:41 PST 2009

I no longer read the AMSAT bulletin board. I have intentionally not operated the satellites for several months. I have some local friends who still do read AMSAT BB and attempt to operate the satellites. They forwarded to me W4AS and WD9EWK's emails concerning the (quite predictable) debacle with K5D. 

My two local friends who continue to read AMSAT BB and operate AO 51 are very disgusted with the operating on AO 51. It got to the point with me that any attempts to show leadership by example or the written word received a substantial amount of push back. So I put my ham radio operating in a different mode.

I have been a licensed amateur since October 1952 and I have worked every DX entity except North Korea. My total on the ARRL  DXCC Honor Roll is 364 entities. I only cite my background in order to show some sense of credibility and knowledge. I worked the satellites back in circa 1974 ( Oscar 6 ) when it took some technical savvy to adjust for the Doppler effect. It was fun and working some DX was a thrill that still lingers.

Upon my recent retirement I decided to equip my station with a satellite setup. I have a substantial amount of money invested ( $3500 ) in antennas and transceiver. I can work just about anything that I can hear. Since August 2008 until December I made more than 800 QSOs in 200 grids and 15 countries. I met a lot of fine people who gave me good advice.

Unfortunately the operation of AO 51 is a large embarrassment. I have never in 56 years of operating ever seen demonstrated such poor operating procedures. I am not writing this note to trash AMSAT. I could continue to operate, experiment and enjoy HF and VHF radio and ignore the Satellite operation. However, I have always thought when you see something that is terribly wrong you have an obligation for the ( Ham  and AMSAT ) community to speak out. That is the spirit in which I write.

Operating an FM repeater on a satellite is asking for trouble. To attempt to work DX on an FM repeater is a guarantee for trouble. Some operators have very little operating experience of any kind. They take the lead of others they hear operating. I read the AMSAT Journal in a matter of minutes and never look at it again. The articles remind me of an IEEE Journal. Most ( not all ) of the authors are not currently active on the satellites based upon my constant use of the birds for four months. Very little is written  about how to operate. There is a need for such articles. Sebastian, W4AS is correct in stating that there are a substantial number of users who never read or are even aware of the AMSAT BB. Fewer yet are AMSAT members who get the Journal. 

If you think that AO 51 represents the normal operating ability of the average ham  you are dreaming. AO 51 represents the VERY  WORST  operating I have every witnessed. It is an embarrassment. I could list dozens of examples but that would be a waste of time. 

AO 51 is not the only satellite. I had to give up on AO 7 because of a K3 station who continues to use high power and trashes the transponder for others who would like to use it. I have had numerous people write me about that station. You can copy him in 5 or 6 spots when he transmits. That is an embarrassment too. Yet nobody speaks out. It reminds me of the fable about the Emperor and his new clothes. 

I have heard some licensed operators turn the microphone over to their kid who then CQs after CQs. . . .I list that of the many infractions because it is easy to cure. Tell the operator to take the microphone back. 

The satellites with transponders go relatively unused. Why ? If you do not know the answer then you do not understand the question. 

To those that continue to use and hopefully enjoy AO 51 jump in and speak out when you see somebody doing something that is not helpful to the satellite community. I think Sebastian did. I know that Patrick also has his heart in the right place.

I recently travelled to the Turks & Caicos Islands for a vacation and some radio operating. I got to use a rare prefix  VQ5 rather than VP5. A couple of my local friends asked if I was going to operate the satellites. I just looked at them and smiled. They did too. I worked HF and it was enjoyable. 

73  Jim W9VNE

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