[amsat-bb] Re: FD Mess

N0JY n0jy at lavabit.com
Tue Jun 28 08:05:09 PDT 2011

Hi all y'all,

As I sit here in Colombia (South America) visiting the XYL (KD5FCQ's) 
family wishing that I had been able to get through the right channels so 
I could have been on the air from here with my Arrow and HT, and having 
been far removed from Field Day this year, I was blown away when I got 
on to check my emails and it downloaded 100+ messages all at once... 
hoping to read about how successful Amsat FD was but the subject in the 
messages of course pretty much tipped off the content.

So I would like to make a few comments, not having had to sit in 100 
degree heat for two days nor spend hours tearing down, setting up, 
tearing down again and setting up again my satellite station.  I hope a 
lot of the furor I perceive is the result of heat and exhaustion and 
probably heat exhaustion too.  Although it's 31 degrees Celsius here in 
Cali and I think that's about 90 and way humid in U.S. terms, with no 
air conditioning, so I'm moving kinda slow too...

In the many years past that I have manned our Tri County ARC FD 
satellite station, having been playing with satellites for a few decades 
now, one of the first things that comes up from the group (new ones who 
weren't there to ask the prior year, anyway) is about the bonus points 
and contacts on "AO-51" (their most recognized FM satellite).  I give 
them the analogy similar to was mentioned in this thread by another, 
that trying "AO-51 (an FM single channel satellite) is like trying to 
have a conversation on the local repeater with a large uncontrolled 
group (no net or round table protocol) where a bunch of folks transmit 
at once and double and worse and nobody can understand anyone else, for 
the most part.  The all understand that well enough.

So I introduce them to the linear birds, the story of AO-7 is always a 
winner to capture their attention especially it being older than many of 
them, and when the see the display of all of the satellites available 
via SatPC32 (which I show on a monitor for all to see during the entire 
event as well as some of the Amsat videos from the symposiums and 
meetings I show between passes) they are excited anew at the fact that 
there is way more up there than "AO-51".  And we're off to the races!

Sure, it won't be for a few hours until these satellites come into range 
so they disperse and operate and experience the other stations or stay 
and watch some of the Amsat videos and look at the display board I also 
set up or chat with us more about satellites, but when the bird comes 
into range they are back and ready!  I have an external speaker in 
addition to our headsets, so all can see the tracking and watch the 
antennas (yes, we do the whole computer aided doppler antenna rotator 
and stuff like that because I did my time with hand tuning and antenna 
pointing and I know good when I experience it) an the excitement and 
enthusiasm is contagious even back to the old guy like me which makes it 
well worth the time spent on the equipment and displays.

Oh, so there are only about 5-10 people at a time at our station... well 
yes, we're small and in the "country" but it's no less worth the 
effort.  But that's still maybe 20-30 people or more both hams and 
visitors throughout the FD ops, and of those some will become more 
interested and even though it may take a few years... now that I am not 
there for FD this year, there are some others who were just observing a 
year or two ago who are now willing to take up the challenge and do 
their best at running a satellite station for the club FD.  I don't know 
their setup or the results yet, I hope to read that in the next few days 
as they recover from heat and exhaustion and heat exhaustion but I'm 
jazzed that I (we, ALL of us who get on the satellites and make the 
contacts that give them the experience) may have played a part in that 
coming about.

The FM birds are great for demos at the club meeting and hamfests and 
such, but I leave them alone for FD.  Well, not completely... I will 
check them early Sunday morning and usually get the one contact for one 
or two birds because it would probably be remiss of me to let the 
opportunity slip by for the spectators and the points.  But only if 
there are no linear birds up at the time.  And the spectators find that 
the FM contact wasn't necessarily so great compared to the many we could 
make with one linear satellite on one pass, but it is yet another facet 
of what is available to them in the amateur radio satellite world.

Don't be sad, don't be mad, don't freak out about the rules for one day 
of the year where chaos ensues due to the general physics of frequency 
modulation on one channel with thousands of participants... why not 
educate and enjoy!

I appreciate your time if you read this far, letting me share my 
thoughts from far away as a devoted Amsat and ARRL member (please reply 
off reflector if you have disagreements with my personal choices of 
memberships) and one who has had the PLEASURE of working satellites with 
many of you over the years.  It's all good.

(HK/) N0JY

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