[amsat-bb] WD9EWK from DM34/DM35/DM36 on 30 May - report (long)

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Mon Jun 1 10:20:31 PDT 2009


Saturday was another fun day.  A long day, starting out early at
the hamfest in Prescott, Arizona, and ending up at home just 
after midnight (0700 UTC) after driving approximately 400 miles
(644km), but a good day.  

Prescott Hamfest in Prescott, Arizona (grid DM34sn):


I started out at the hamfest.  Officially, it did not open until
0800 local, but I was there when the site was opened for those
setting up in one of the spaces two hours earlier.  This let me 
get on the air for an AO-51 pass around 1320 UTC.  This pass was
more to hand out contacts with the grid for the hamfest (DM34sn)
than a demonstration, but a couple of people stopped by to listen
in while they were setting up their spaces.  Thanks for the 16 
contacts with stations from across the USA, Canada, and Mexico. 
The later AO-51 pass, just after 1500 UTC, added 5 more contacts
with a slightly larger audience - the hamfest officially opened 
at the start of this pass.  

After a couple of hours where the crowds started building, VO-52 
passed by around 1710 UTC.  As I've seen at other hamfests, the
VO-52 demonstrations seem to attract the largest crowds.  It might
be the later pass time, or that SSB via satellite is more of a 
curiosity than FM, but there was a nice crowd.  For this pass, Ray
W1OTH - a ham from the Prescott area and AMSAT member - took care
of the antenna while I worked the radio.  I forgot to mention in 
my e-mail last week where I would camp out on the downlink, but I
started around 145.910 MHz where I made two quick contacts.  After
not hearing anyone else after those contacts, I tuned around and 
went down a few kHz to work two other stations near the end of the 
pass.  Four contacts on a VO-52 pass, where I'm not actively tuning
through the passband looking for every possible QSO, is not a bad
thing.  The crowd liked it. 

Not long after that VO-52 pass, the skies darkened and it started 
to rain.  I felt, and then saw, hail falling.  This did not last 
for long, but the hamfest emptied out not long after this quick
burst of bad weather.  Even with the storm, this was a good morning.
Lots of people stopped by, and there appeared to be more people 
at the hamfest this year compared to last year.  Thanks again to
Ray W1OTH for sticking around the AMSAT table for a little while
and helping with the VO-52 pass.  

After the hamfest, the Saturday road trip started.  I was off to 
the first of my two stops for the radio after the hamfest....

near Drake, Arizona, east of AZ-89 at the DM34tx/DM35ta grid 


I stopped at this spot a couple of times in 2008, as a way to
operate from these two grids and not be parked along the nearby
state highway.  This is just inside the Prescott National Forest
north of the city of Prescott, and about 15 miles/25km south of
the I-40 freeway and old US-66.  Unlike in 2008, AO-27 and SO-50 
had overlapping passes in the mid-afternoon from this location.
I decided to work AO-27 when it was on, not using the PL tone
needed for SO-50.  After AO-27 shut off at the end of its repeater
time, I would work SO-50 for whatever time was left on each pass.

The first AO-27/SO-50 passes came around 2037 UTC.  As usual, 
there were many stations out for the pass.  In 7 minutes, I logged 
15 QSOs before switching to SO-50.  In the last few minutes of the 
SO-50 pass, 4 more QSOs went in the log.  Not a bad effort, other 
than dealing with the overlapping footprints for the two satellites.

A little later, the two satellites were passing by to the west of 
my location.  Again, starting with AO-27 while it was on, I worked
7 stations from central Mexico to western Canada.  My time on SO-50
after AO-27's scheduled shutdown was limited by an impending 
thunderstorm and a quick visit by a Forest Service ranger.  The 
ranger asked if I was looking for a missing dog, and I explained 
that I was not tracking animals with my setup.  I had a chance to
acknowledge 2 stations I heard on SO-50 after that, before I heard
some thunder near me.  That was my cue to pack up and move on to my
last stop of the day.

Grand Canyon Village, Arizona - south of the lodges along the South 
Rim in Grand Canyon National Park (grid DM36wb):


I drove through a hard rain to get from DM34tx/DM35ta up to the 
Grand Canyon, but it stopped raining about 20 miles/32km before I
reached the national park entrance.  The DM35/DM36 grid boundary
was right at the entrance, but that was not a good place to set 
up.  No places to park, and the line was right at the booths for
the park rangers to collect the admission fees.  I planned to go 
into the park and find the best spot I could, which would be
somewhere firmly in grid DM36.  

Grand Canyon Village is a small town inside the national park, 
along the South Rim.  Most of the lodges (hotels) on this side of
the park are here.  I took some pictures as I drove from the park 
entrance to the parking lot I decided to work from (Parking Lot 
"E", south of the lodges at the South Rim), and waited for the 
first AO-51 pass around 0028 UTC. 

I knew there were some hills that ringed Grand Canyon Village, and
those hills meant I had to wait almost 2 minutes after the predicted
AOS time before I could clearly hear the AO-51 downlink.  Once I 
heard it, I announced my location.  Then the fun began - lots of QSOs
for stations across North America.  In the span of 11 minutes, 22
contacts were logged.  No Canadians, but many from all over the 
continental US and a couple of XE stations went in the log.  I guess
DM36 was a rare grid for many on the satellites.  :-) 

Between that pass and the later AO-51 pass to the west, I did some 
sightseeing around the village and along the South Rim.  A weird
(at first) sight was seeing some deer grazing in the rail yard at
the Grand Canyon train depot.  This is still a working depot, for
the Grand Canyon Railway that runs daily between the Grand Canyon
and the city of Williams about 60 miles/100km to the south, a 
favorite for tourists who do not want to drive into the park.  Lots
of people were taking pictures as the deer ate some grass and 
wandered around the railroad tracks.  

I went back to the parking lot after taking lots of photos, and 
was ready for the western AO-51 pass that started around 0208 UTC.
I worked 8 stations on this pass - 1 in Alaska (thanks KL7XJ!),
the rest in the continental USA.  I made another sightseeing stop
at another point along the South Rim as I left the national park,
to start my almost 4-hour drive back home.  

For any contacts made with WD9EWK on Saturday - at the hamfest, or
after the hamfest - I will be happy to send out QSL cards.  I have
cards ready for QSOs made at the hamfest, and will have cards for
the other two locations in the next day or two.  No need to send
me QSLs or SASEs for Saturday - just e-mail me directly with QSO 
details.  If you are in my log, you'll get a card (or cards) for
the contact(s).  I will also send out cards from my trip to Dayton
two weeks ago with these cards, all going out in the same envelopes.  

I was asked on the air if I was using my new Alinco DJ-G7T on any
of the Saturday FM satellite passes.  I was not - I was using my
Icom IC-2720H 2m/70cm FM mobile radio.  Since I'm still tweaking
that radio, I will leave that to other passes where I am not trying
to demonstrate satellite operation or when I'm parked in unusual

Including my drive up to Prescott on Friday (29 May) evening, I 
drove just under 500 miles/800km for this trip.  The hamfest was 
fun, the two stops after the hamfest - putting some rare Arizona 
grids on the satellites for a few passes - went well.  Thanks to 
everyone who worked WD9EWK during the hamfest demonstrations, as
those contacts help show off the capabilities of our current 
satellites and how it doesn't take lots of fancy (and expensive)
gear to enjoy this part of our hobby.  



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