[amsat-bb] AO-7 was Rockin' tonight!

Tim - N3TL n3tl at bellsouth.net
Sat Jun 26 19:58:16 PDT 2010

Hey everyone,


I've never heard AO-7 so busy.


I'm sure she has been - "in the old days," back in the 1970s when she was
still new to orbit. But tonight on the pass that reached the W4G Field Day
site about 0026 UTC, I heard more stations on AO-7 than I've heard in the
two years I've been working the satellites - and I stayed in the CW portion
of the passband! If CW was that busy, I suspect the SSB going on above
145.950 was even busier. Some may disagree (because I'm confident I'm not
the only one who heard the "FMing"), but I was happy to hear the Grand Old
Girl get such a workout.


I promised the clubs from Athens, Ga., and Commerce, Ga. - who do a combined
Field Day effort using the 1x1 call W4G - that I'd try to get them the
100-point satellite bonus. In 2009, I worked most of the Saturday and
Sunday-morning FD passes as the W4G satellite station, and we did ok. For a
number of reasons this year, I didn't commit to more than the time necessary
to get them the bonus.


I took a different tack with the station setup this year, too, because I
wanted to show the folks how little gear is necessary to effectively work
the satellites - even the highest-orbiting, oldest one in the amateur fleet.
I used an FT-817ND as the transmit radio, and a Yaesu VR-500 handheld
all-mode receiver as the receive radio. I connected both to my Elk antenna
with a Diamond diplexer. In addition to hand-holding the Elk and manually
tracking AO-7, I tuned for Doppler manually and used a straight key for CW.
There was a lot going on during the pass, for sure.


My goal was to show those folks that effective satellite communications
doesn't require significant expense or so much equipment that portable
operation is problematic at best. If you can connect an all-mode VHF/UHF
receiver and an all-mode QRP rig that also covers VHF/UHF to an Elk or an
Arrow handheld antenna, you only need to add headphones (to avoid feedback
during full-duplex operation) and a key or microphone to work any of the FM
or linear satellites. I dare say that if all the stations I heard on AO-7
tonight had been running no more than 5 watts into their antennas, the FMing
probably wouldn't have been nearly so bad.


Thanks from W4G to W5MSQ, N9AMW and W8DXA for the calls. I had a splitter
cable from the headphone jack on the VR-500 to two sets of headphones, so
several people got to listen to portions of the pass on the second set of
headphones. It was fun seeing the looks on their faces as they heard CW
arriving from orbit!


Best of luck to everyone this Field Day!


73 and God Bless,

Tim - N3TL

Athens, Ga. - EM84ha

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