[amsat-bb] Time for a repetion of considerate operating practice on FM satellites

Ib Christoffersen oz1my at privat.dk
Fri Sep 3 07:48:45 PDT 2010

Hi European operators,

It looks like a repetion of the considerate operating practice 

at least here over Europe is in place.


Sorry it is long :-)


Here it is with minor modifications since last year:


The first issue of this article is from 2000 - but with some modification it
is still useful. I wrote this because the operating practice on the FM
satellites by a few operators is less than productive. Unfortunately it
makes it difficult to have real QSOs for the rest of us.


The FM satellites function just like a FM repeater. They can accommodate one
station at the time only. This makes it necessary for us to be very
considerate, when we use these satellites. We have a number of satellites
using frequency modulation operating at the moment. That is a good thing
since they obviously attract a lot of new operators to the amateur satellite


We have AO-51 and SO-50 both on all the time and AO-27 on for 6 to 7 minutes
during daytime South to North passes. New to us are HO-68 and SO-67.


The operating practice by a large number of us in Europe is appalling.
People call on top of one another, whistling, and use repeater tones, do not
allow a QSO to finish, call OHLA-OHLA, call CQ three to four times and
include the locator and so on.

Some seems to have the idea that it is their satellite and they therefor
monopolize whole passes using excessive power to "drown" low power stations.


The most popular satellite, AO-51, attracts quite a large crowd on every
pass. If you want to hear examples of the above, try to listen to this very
useful satellite during a weekend pass on 435.300 MHz plus minus Doppler.


I do not pretend to have the perfect solution to these problems and I most
certainly do not want to be called a policeman on the satellites - but a few
gentleman agreements would make life (an overstatement - it is just a hobby)
a lot easier for all of us. 


The golden rule - do not transmit if you can not hear the downlink, is not
known by some stations. I have personally called a lot of stations, where my
downlink signal has been very good - but the station called did not answer -
or asked for the call again several times - but gave a 59 report.


In my humble opinion we should adhere to some simple rules, which I will put
forward here:  


Calling "CQ satellite" 3 - 4 or more times and give the call and the full
locator at the same time is non-productive. It simply takes too long time.
Experienced operators easily pick out new stations using a short CQ call. It
is not really necessary to call CQ - just give your call. 


Considerate operating practice allows a QSO to finish. Many operators on the
FM satellites do not adhere to this. You very often find a station calling
on top of a running QSO, which makes the QSO take much longer time than
necessary. Often it is because the QSO takes a long time, which leads to the
next "rule".


Make the QSO short when the satellite is busy. Valid QSO's just need to
exchange calls and signal report. That is it. You do not need locator or
operator name. If there is very little traffic OK go ahead and talk about
anything - but not when the satellite is busy.


Here in Europe we also have the habit of asking for the full lokator. I have
tried to avoid that, but I have failed in this respect. For a terrestrial
QSO or in a contest you need the full lokator - but not for a satellite QSO.


A considerate operator will make one QSO per pass. If you are an experienced
operator, who has made a lot of contacts before - limit your contacts to new


Do not use the FM satellites to elaborate on the weather situation in your
local area, when the satellite is busy.


Give priority to portable and mobile stations if they can hear the


Give DX stations (rare calls) a chance to get through. I have just witnessed
a JY4 station being "drowned" by local QSO's. JY was new to me even if I
started satellite work in 1992.


If someone is really annoying - don't try to block their signal - try to
send them a polite e-mail especially if they are from your own country.

Also respect if people want to use their own native language. It is
perfectly OK to talk Danish, German, Russian or any other language, as long
as they do not carry on for many minutes.


Do not talk very fast. It will not help. Remember we have different
languages and use phonetics.


Look at your satellite-tracking program in order to avoid calling stations
that are out of the footprint.


If you are a newcomer to satellites try to use them on a weekday morning.



QRM from non-radio amateurs and non-satellite radio amateurs.

Over the years I have heard taxi drivers in Spain, music from Arabic
countries, telephone conversations in Russian - Danish, Dutch, German,
Italian, Spanish (continue the list) radio amateurs using the uplink
frequencies for local calls, packet transmissions from Siberia - over the FM

Some of these problems with other radio amateurs can be solved if you have
the calls. Just send the radio amateur a mail and ask them politely to stop
the transmission. I have had good experiences with radio amateurs in Denmark
and other countries in Europe.


Approaching your local authorities can perhaps solve a number of these
problems with misuse of the frequencies. When the offender is in a foreign
country it is the only way to deal with this. Use your national radio
amateur organization - that is one of the reasons for their existence.


Finishing remarks.

The FM satellites are a great asset to our hobby since they attract a lot of
new operators. A big number of these new operators move to the other
satellites and become potential supporters of AMSAT.

Despite the above - the FM satellites are fun - but do not try to work
through them on a day where you are in a bad mood :-) 


The schedule for AO-51 is on: http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/echo/CTNews.php


OZ1MY/Ib, member of the AO-51 Operations Group


Have a nice weekend.

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