[amsat-bb] WD9EWK at the Tucson hamfest and New Mexico yesterday

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Oct 18 18:03:19 PDT 2009


Yesterday was a busy - and enjoyable - day spent in southern Arizona
and (briefly) southwestern New Mexico.  A hamfest, followed by a 
drive toward the Arizona/New Mexico border, for a total of 549 miles
(883km) including my drive down to Tucson on Friday evening.  

The hamfest was the Old Pueblo Radio Club's annual hamfest in Tucson.
I attended this event last year, which was a very cold morning.  For
yesterday, it was warm enough so I didn't need a jacket.  In fact, it
was getting rather warm by mid-morning.  The better weather meant a
larger crowd showed up - buyers and sellers.  I brought the AMSAT
"flag" back to this hamfest, and set up next to the ARRL table.
There was a regular stream of traffic by the table, and good crowds
for the demonstrations (one AO-51 pass, two SO-50 passes, and two
VO-52 passes - although I did not work stations on the first of the 
two VO-52 pass).  

The AO-51 pass started just before the official start of the 
hamfest at 7am (1400 UTC).  Despite the fact that this pass went
by to my west, there were 12 QSOs made with stations across much
of the USA along with stations in Canada and Mexico.  Not a bad
start.  There was a VO-52 pass at 1537 UTC I had hoped to work, 
but I had problems hearing the downlink.  Normally, I have not
had problems with the 2m downlinks, even with an air force base
a couple of miles/km east of the hamfest.  I apologize to those
who were hoping to hear - and work - me on that pass.  

SO-50 first came just after 1600 UTC, and there were a couple of 
JOTA stations from Texas on there.  I worked one of them, along 
with 4 other US stations.  Then the second (western) VO-52 pass
showed up an hour later.  This time, I had no problems hearing 
the downlink.  Glenn AA5PK in Texas and Bob W7LRD in Washington 
state answered my CQ calls.  Thanks for the contacts - they 
helped bring out a "that's cool" remark from a long-time ham 
who was previously active on AO-10 and AO-13, seeing me work 
SSB via satellite with two FT-817s and a handheld antenna.  The
final SO-50 pass came by a little after 1800 UTC, and 3 more
stations were logged.  

Thenks to the Old Pueblo Radio Club for providing me the space for
the AMSAT table, and also to those stations who worked me (and, 
on the first VO-52 pass, tried to work me).  Having the crowd hear
where the other stations are located helps to show that our 
satellites cover a large area - even if the footprints are not what
we might hope for.  

After the hamfest, I decided to spend my afternoon and early evening
around the Arizona/New Mexico border.  I've operated from several 
locations in southeastern Arizona on trips earlier this year, so I
wanted to do something a little different.  Instead of parking on a
grid boundary, this trip would be to the state line.  From Tucson,
I drove about 135 miles/217km - a little less than 2 hours - on the 
I-10 freeway to reach the state line.  There is a freeway exit very 
close to this spot, and from there I drove on a dirt track up to the 
state line (grid DM52lf).  Along with the signs on the freeway showing
the state line, there was a concrete marker across the freeway on the
state line.  I lined up my truck so the radio gear in the back of it 
sat on the state line, and took lots of photos of that and the area - 
along with the GPS readout.   Then I waited for the 2235 UTC AO-27
pass.  Once the AO-27 repeater switched on, I worked 5 stations on 
that pass.  

This location was a good one for passes to the west, or high passes
to the east.  For the AO-51 pass around 2318 UTC, which was a shallow
pass to the northeast, a hill blocked me in that direction.  I drove
5 miles/8km east of the state line to reach the town of Road Forks in
New Mexico (grid DM52mf).  From here, I had good visibility to the 
northeast down to the horizon, and I was ready for this pass.  The
first few minutes were busy, when I worked 10 stations in a 3-minute
apan.  After that, several minutes passed with many signals or QRM
clogged the uplink.  Just before the end of the pass, I was able to
work two more stations before the satellite went away from me.  Even
with the period where I logged no QSOs, that was still a good pass.

I went back to the state line for the second AO-51 pass, at 0054 UTC.
This was a very high pass, approximately 65 degrees maximum elevation
to the west, as the sun was setting behind mountains to the west.  
Stations were heard from southern Mexico to Alaska and western Canada,
and across most of the USA.  Clint's JOTA station was on the air, 
and David XE3DX was also operating a JOTA station with a group of
Mexican Scouts (Drew - I will get you more information on the XE JOTA
satellite activity shortly).  WD9EWK logged 17 QSOs on this western
pass.  Whether it was the rarely-heard grid DM52 or the fact I was 
working from a state line, it was an enjoyable pass.  

When AO-51 went away for the last time, I quickly disassembled my 
antenna and packed up for the 240-mile/386km drive home.  Between 
the hamfest and the post-hamfest activity at or near the Arizona/New 
Mexico state line, I logged a total of 56 QSOs.  I will mail QSL cards 
to all of those who worked WD9EWK at the hamfest.  If you worked me 
after the hamfest and want a card, please e-mail me with the QSO 
details.  I plan on mailing cards from Saturday's activity, along with 
the cards from my east-coast trip last week in the coming week.  

Thanks to everyone for the QSOs, and especially the QSOs at the hamfest
during my demonstrations.  Having some regular satellite operators show
up and make contacts with me - especially when we are mentioning where
the other stations are located - makes a great impression on the crowds
listening in.  



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