[amsat-bb] Re: Field Day AO-51 configuration - another option

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Wed May 5 09:57:54 PDT 2010

Hi Drew!

Thanks for your reply.  Having this discussion out in the open is a good

> No one is trying to limit the the usefulness. Exactly the opposite, the idea
> is to pick the mode that is the MOST useful. It's a quantity versus quality
> problem. On a typical V/U FM Field Day pass, very few contacts actually get
> made, and most of the pass (at least on the east coast) is nothing but a
> fragmented dogpile of pieces of calls, whistles, blowing in the mike, etc.
> Some people enjoy that, others walk away in disgust, and think "why would I
> want to be part of that mess".

As with any other part of the hobby, if operators choose not to cooperate,
problems like that will occur.  The same thing happens on HF during a
contest or trying to work a DXpedition.  With cooperation, at least 40 or more
QSOs could be completed on a 15-minute AO-51 V/U FM pass.  It is unfortunate
that some (many?) do not take the time to get familiar with satellite operating
before Field Day weekend.  In a less-than-perfect situation those operators who
are able to complete the QSOs would be a great example of what the situation
could be if we were in an emergency situation instead of a weekend operating
exercise or "contest".

> It's my contention that we pick a mode on AO-51 that provides a more
> challenging goal for the technically inclined portion of the hobby,
> encourages clubs to actively seek help from their local AMSAT types, and
> provides a more civilized environment on just one of the eight LEOs likely
> to be active that weekend. Think of it as showcasing what amateur satellites
> can be like on days other than Field Day. By limiting the accessibility, we
> improve the quality of the experience for those actively participating, and

.... and possibly paint an inaccurate picture of amateur satellite operation on
days other than Field Day, to someone listening to the activity?

If only a few dozen stations are going to be able to use an L/U configuration
throughout Field Day weekend, and even fewer an L/S configuration, is this
really what amateur satellites are like on days other than Field Day?  Beyond
my own recordings of passes I have worked and listened to since early 2005,
K8YSE has an archive of MP3 recordings of FM satellite activity over the past
several weeks.  Many passes that are not way out over an ocean will have more
activity than an L/U or L/S pass will be able to offer with the
current numbers of
stations capable of those configurations.  Right now, it is a "chicken and egg"
situation - with only one satellite with L or S capability, not many
will add these
to their stations unless there were more options to use the gear.  S is easier
to deal with than L, with the strong downlink signals from AO-51 copyable with
downconverters and simple S-band antennas, but still a smaller number of
stations on S than V/U using FM, SSB, CW, etc.

Your response from earlier this morning included my comments about AMSAT
and its fundraising goals and increasing its membership.  I appreciate that you,
as one who wears many hats for AMSAT (director, officer, volunteer, and
probably a few others), picked up on that.  AMSAT should be interested in
ensuring that it is an organization interested in building up its
membership.  This,
in turn, will help in the fundraising efforts.  Otherwise, catering to
a few dozen
stations for Field Day weekend may turn off more people from taking up
this part
of our hobby than a crowded pass might.  Judging from the numbers of unique
callsigns in my log, I contend that the chaotic V/U FM passes during past Field
Day weekends haven't kept people from getting out and trying the FM

If the scheduling caters to that small number of stations that can work L/U or
L/S, this may cause some to think AMSAT is an elitist organization.  I hear
that from time to time at the hamfests I attend, whether I'm talking with some
who were active in the days or AO-10, AO-13, or even in AO-7's first life in
the 70s.

> just listening. Again, AO-51 is one of many satellites. If it were just
> AO-51, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Since AO-51 has the flexibility that the other satellites lack, we are able to
have this discussion regardless of the status of other satellites.  If AO-51
was the only satellite, there would probably still be some discussion due
to this satellite's flexibility.

> One option that hasn't been floated is trying a mode switch on the early AM
> Sunday pass. We could go from L/U to V/U very easily. If we do this, I'd
> like to work with Bruce and actually count the number of QSOs reported per
> mode.

Now this would be interesting.  There would need to be a command station
available during the weekend - either a west-coast station during the last
Saturday evening pass, or an east-coast station for the first Sunday morning
pass - to make this work.  Could you please check with the command stations,
and see if this is something that you (or one of the other command stations)
could commit to?  Let's see if this is even possible, before the discussion
shifts to which 2 modes will AO-51 have during Field Day.

Unfortunately, relatively few logs are submitted for AMSAT Field Day.  Using
additional resources like recordings from passes like those K8YSE has archived
and information from stations that worked those passes would be useful.

Thanks for your time in having a discussion here on the -BB.  I'm
looking forward
to seeing you in Dayton, and attending the AMSAT events over that weekend.


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