[amsat-bb] Re: Field Day mode for AO-51

Tim Cunningham tim_cunningham at charter.net
Wed May 5 22:57:33 PDT 2010

> I have a couple questions:
> 1.  The folks who can't eek out a contact with the handheld and Arrow 
> during
> Field Day, have you practiced?  It's how I have done it the last couple of
> years without that much trouble, patience and timing are the keys :-).  We
> have a good Field Day location where I can see down to the horizon.

Time is limited for many people and Field Day unfortunately is a time for 
many to experiment with their buddies. Satellite? We can do that! Watch 
this? How many times have you cringed when you heard that? Now we have a 
group of buddies standing around with their favorite liquid beverage, known 
to cause judgmental impairment, having a good time laughing and tinkering... 
For some, this is their definition of Field Day while others take it a bit 
more seriously. There is a wide mix of people on Field Day and we have to 
accept that as a known historical fact. If they become disgruntled and say 
this is not the way I envision Field Day, they may not come back.

> 2.  Has the single contact per FM bird rule really helped anyone?  In the
> old days a couple big stations got on and essentially ran the bird.  Is it
> fair?  NO! but they handed out a lot of QSOs and we seemed to get more 
> Field Day entries as well.

No, it has not helped promote more contacts on an FM satellite. It has only 
allowed chaos to reign (fewer contacts) on the FM satellites.

Historical and factual information can clearly answer this question. When 
there are big targets to hit (stations that can be heard clearly) things run 
smoother and more contacts are made. You can debate it, but the facts are 
clear and supported by this operators experience. We already know the end 
result and that it indeed produces more contacts at a faster rate to move 
them in and move them out of the way in DXpedition style. This net control 
operator style of operation turns chaos into something more predictable and 
controllable while handing out contacts to stations that may never have a 
chance with the numerous stations calling over top of each other. I can 
remember sitting in a chair many years ago (year 2000 to be exact) handing 
out 1 contact after another on an FM bird which really led to the creation 
of the rule for a perceived problem. At the time I did not feel good about 
doing it, but when we stopped doing it, chaos reigned once again. When we 
started net control operation again, contacts were being made at a rate of 
greater than 5 to 1. We looked at each other sitting at the radio and 
discussed how many contacts were made when we operated in this fashion and 
thought we were doing a service in the Field Day spirit by handing out 
contacts when none were being made or people were just calling over top of 
each other with no actual communication taking place. As we lost the bird 
another clear station came on and did the same thing. Unfortunately, this 
caused "The Great FM Satellite Field Day Rift" to give it a name. We were 
exercising what we thought was in the best interest of turning chaos (no 
contacts being made) to something more efficient and productive that 
undeniably allowed more contacts to be made.

Operation on FM satellites is more efficient with a control or net operator. 
This was a crafted communication skill utilized to solve the immediate 
problem of no contacts being made and it worked very well.

Thus, the rule added in the 2001 AMSAT Field Day Rules to limit contacts to 
1 was instituted. The rule was clarified in 2001 by the statement:

[Operators are encouraged not to make any extra contacts via these 
satellites (Ex: UO14 &AO27).]

It is a reasonable rule to the extent of only allowing 1 point so somebody 
does not run up a score or monopolize points from another station in the 
AMSAT Field Day Competition. The problem is the rule went too far by 
encouraging operators not to make any additional contacts on these 
satellites. Statistics do not lie. They only validate the end result and 
there should be plenty of results since 2001.

Furthermore, in a June 2001 QST article written by Steve Ford, WB8IMY, he 
published the following statements:

[The politically correct thing for me to do is wag my finger at you and say, 
"you must not use more than 5 W on the 2-meter uplinks to these satellites. 
If we all play nicely and keep our power levels low, everyone will have a 

[If you must run high power to capture a spot in the FM mob scene, at least 
be considerate. Once you've made a valid contact, get off (italics). Don't 
attempt to monopolize the birds throughout their 15-minute pass.]

It is naïve to think that everybody running 5W will solve the problem. It is 
Field Day and everybody is hungry for their bonus points for the ARRL Field 
Day. When there are a thousand stations trying to squeeze into the same pipe 
at the same time, you should expect chaos. There is no way everybody will 
get a chance to work an FM satellite on Field Day. It is not possible with 
the given bandwidth and time allotted. Somebody has to be above the noise 
(more ERP) to create a target to call. This is a well known FM capture 

Call it monopolizing the satellite or whatever you want, the point is being 
missed! We are suppose to be communicators and find ways to turn chaos into 
success. That success was demonstrated during a 2000 Field Day exercise. 
Limiting the number of points for the AMSAT Field Day Competition was a 
reasonable and fair thing to do. The problem is it went too far and 
discouraged operators from making any additional contacts. This is an easy 
problem to solve by striking that single statement from the rules.

Thinking back I could only imagine how many clubs, groups, or individuals 
were jumping up and down with joy because they made a contact on one of the 
FM birds with a net control operator issuing contacts at a rate greater than 
5 to 1. The other reality is that a station is going to call a station that 
it hears clearly. Call it the contester in us or a DXpedition style of 
operation. If you are condemned to one contact, think about how much 
bandwidth is wasted because there are several stations calling you and you 
are encouraged not to answer them. This is what happens. Yes, we ignored the 
stations calling in 2002 because we complied with the suggestion of making 1 
contact and "get off". It was very sad to continue to listen to the chaos in 
2002 after our initial contact with no more discussion on solving the 

I always felt that the ARRL promoted net style operation to avoid chaos and 
create order in my 29 years of being a HAM. That is why Steve Ford's 
comments caught me by complete surprise. Nets are the entire reason I do not 
like to operate HF, because every time I got on HF to rag chew, several 
stations would join the discussion, and then announce a net was starting. 
Basically, the other stations checked in to chase those occupying their net 
frequency out of the way.

> The one bird one contact has been a noble experiment, maybe it is time to
> examine the results.

Excellent idea! I can appreciate this.


Tim - N8DEU

Decatur, Alabama

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