[amsat-bb] XE2/WD9EWK from DM21 and DM22 yesterday

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Fri Feb 19 08:02:43 PST 2010


As I'm getting ready to make the 45-minute drive from Calexico CA
to the hamfest at Yuma AZ, I wanted to post a little more about my
exploits (along with Larry KI6YAA and his son Kevin KJ6DDS) 

It took longer to get paperwork yesterday morning in Mexicali.  
Instead of a 5- to 10-minute process at the border to get the 
"tourist card" entry visa required to apply for the XE ham permit,
it took over 20 minutes.  More paperwork was required, to satisfy 
any Mexican army checkpoints away from the city (which we did not
see).  Once that was done, and the newly-issued entry visas were 
photocopied, we went to the Mexican communications ministry office 
on the south end of Mexicali.  Computer problems here delayed the 
process for Larry and me to file the paperwork for our XE radio
permits, but we were able to get out of there in about 45 minutes.

Instead of stopping for an early lunch before leaving Mexicali for
DM21 after filing the paperwork for the permit, we left the city
and drove quickly.  Unfortunately, we were a few miles/km short of 
the DM21 boundary before the first AO-27 pass around 2025 UTC.  We
stopped at kilometer 61 on Mexico route 5, the highway from Mexicali
to the town of San Felipe on the Gulf of California.  After a few
minutes to set up the station, XE2/WD9EWK was on the air from grid
DM22ib (32 4.915 N 115 15.305 W).  

Since the plan for the day was to try for DM21, this AO-27 pass was
the only time I transmitted from DM22 this afternoon.  As usual for 
this satellite and a pass that favors the US east coast, it was busy.
Even with that, XE2/WD9EWK logged 17 QSOs on the 7-minute pass.  When
this pass wrapped up, we packed my truck and first went north to a 
small shop to get some food and drink.  After that, we drove south a 
little further.  I was not so interested in working from the DM21/DM22 
grid boundary, but definitely wanted to find a safe spot on the north
edge of DM21 with good visibility to both the east and west.  We
found that spot south of kilometer 78 on route 5, parking near a 
bridge over a section of the Laguna Salada, a salty dry lakebed 
that is mostly below sea level and is the lowest spot in northern 
Baja California.  According to GPS, this was in grid DM21jw 
(31 56.845 N 115 12.612 W).  

SO-50 came up from the south around 2130 UTC, and we were ready.
Larry and Kevin were taking pictures and listening to the passes
with their gear, and I was working stations with my gear.  The
first contact I logged at DM21jw was with Omar XE1AO in central
Mexico.  I also heard ND9M on this pass, when Jim parked at the
DL79/DM70 grid boundary in Texas.  Very nice to work him there, 
even as I wished I could have made that contact when I was closer
to home.  :-)  In all, I was able to log 13 QSOs on this pass.

Not long after that SO-50 pass, I had another AO-27 pass to the 
west at 2205 UTC.  Fewer stations were on, but I was able to work
all of them - 7 in all.  At this point, Alex XE2BSS/N2IX drove
down from Mexicali and joined us for the rest of the afternoon.  

The AO-51 pass that came by around 2240 UTC was one I had not 
planned to work originally.  The maximum elevation for this pass
was only 2 degrees, but it was in the direction that had no 
obstructions for at least 100 miles in that direction.  Nothing 
got in the way at this roadside spot from NNW working clockwise
around to SSE.  I was able to hear stations around 2243 UTC when
I had AOS, worked 6 stations between 2245 and 2249 UTC, and the
satellite simply went away as predicted at 22:49:23 UTC.  

Twenty minutes later, another SO-50 pass came up from the southwest
toward the Pacific coast.  Eight stations were worked, from the 
west coast across to KD8CAO in Michigan in the last seconds I could
hear the downlink.  Again, I could make QSOs down to the horizon in
the direction SO-50 went away from me (NNE).  

The second AO-51 pass I had out here came by at 0017 UTC.  This
was the pass with the highest elevation I had all afternoon at 
DM21jw, with maximum elevation of 51 degrees toward the east.  
ND9M was on from another grid (DM80), and we both worked lots of 
stations.  I logged a total of 17 QSOs on this pass.  

Even though the third - and last - AO-51 pass from DM21jw was
scheduled to appear at 0157 UTC, just after sunset, we decided
to stay out for this pass.  We also saw NH7WN's e-mail and his
plans to work this pass from Honolulu, and I wanted to try to 
make a contact with him before we left this area.  Two minutes
into the pass, I heard Robert through the satellite, and we 
made the contact.  Robert was very happy, and all of us in the
salty lakebed were also happy with this.  I don't know if NH7WN
has worked Mexico via satellite before, but it was our pleasure
to have had the chance to make that QSO last night.  Seven other
stations in the USA and western Canada were logged before the 
satellite went behind a mountain at 0208 UTC.  NH7WN also worked
a few stations while he could hear the satellite.  

We packed up our equipment with the light from our vehicles.  The
sunlight had evaporated during the last AO-51 pass, and we did not
want to stay out there into the nighttime.  Alex and I drove back
to Mexicali, making the 78km drive in about an hour.  We met another
Mexicali ham when we reached the city, David XE2DAK.  David has been
on the satellites lately, and was very interested in hearing of our
stories from this afternoon.  

For the afternoon, XE2/WD9EWK logged 78 QSOs - 19 from DM22ib, 
and 59 from DM21jw.  Some stations were worked from both grids,
and others were only worked in one or the other.  I think that
these passes, despite the presence of other stations in unusual
or rare grids along with my station, gave many the opportunity 
to get all of these grids in their logs.  ND9M was on a few
passes, along with NH7WN on the western AO-51 pass.  When I 
return home, I will design and print QSL cards for both of these
locations.  I will be happy to send QSLs to all who worked 
XE2/WD9EWK yesterday, and I would like to receive your QSLs for
these contacts toward a future satellite VUCC certificate from
that area.  

Thanks to all the stations on these 7 passes for the QSOs, to 
my audience for the afternoon (Larry KI6YAA, Kevin KJ6DDS, and
Alex XE2BSS/N2IX), and Mother Nature for a nice afternoon to 
sit in the middle of the dry lakebed.  Lots of photos were 
taken, along with a nice high-quality video of the 0017 UTC AO-51
pass; all of this will find its way on the Internet shortly. 


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK (and, for the next 6 months, XE2/WD9EWK)

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