[amsat-bb] KB5WIA/P Mini Grid-Expedition Report (CM89)

David Palmer zdap42 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 22 11:44:37 PST 2011

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday's mini grid-expedition to grid square CM89 was a lot of fun.
 I live in grid CM88 (between San Francisco and Sacramento), so CM89
was only an hour north of me and easy to get to.   We drove up to
Colusa in the morning, and I was able to get my QRP-portable equipment
(twin FT-817ND's and an Elk antenna) set up at around 11:30am local
time, just before the first of six passes.

Satellite SO-50 came by first at 19:44z, it was a nice easterly
ascending pass and I made around 5 QSO's with good sigs.  I then had
time for lunch, and the next pass was AO-27 at 20:38z with good
signals as well; I made 8 QSO's on that bird.  At 21:24z SO-50 came
around again, this time to the west, and I was able to get a few more
QSO's in.  Next it was time for AO-27 to come around again at 22:18z,
also to the west, and I made a couple of contacts there.

At 22:33z FO-29 came by on a low easterly pass, and I had a super
difficult time hearing my downlink on this one!  One big problem was a
huge "POP" a few times a second, which kept resetting the AGC in both
the radio and the one in my ears!  I only figured out after the pass
that the noise blanker (NB) on the '817 did an awesome job at removing
this popping noise.  Another issue was my location, next to a local
casino, turned out to have a huge amount of RF noise -- guess
thousands of "gaming machines" tends to generate some interference!
All in all, I made no contacts on FO-29, but heard a number of
stations coming back to me faintly ... I just didn't have enough
receive sensitivity between the pops and the slot machines to pull
them out.

Finally at 23:14z AO-51 came by, and I was able to make around 10 nice
QSO's on that bird.  Yes, AO-51 was crowded, but like others have said
recently, no more crowded than many days on HF.  With just a bit of
patience, it wasn't a problem at all to make contacts yesterday on
'51, even on a mid-day easterly pass.

Overall, the day went well. It was fun to work the six passes in
rather quick succession (about 3.5 hours from beginning to end).   The
weather was beautiful (sorry Patrick, no earthquakes, power failures,
or lightning strikes), and it was a nice day to be sitting in the back
of the pickup truck playing with the sats!

Lessons learned:
1)  Remember to double-check that tracking software is set for new grid square!
2)  The noise blanker on the FT-817ND works wonders.
3)  Plan to choose a radio-quiet location next time!

For anyone that worked me and wants QSL cards, just send me one and
I'll send you one right back.  I'll head back out that way in another
few months in case anyone missed me.

73 de Dave KB5WIA

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