[amsat-bb] Re: Satellite Usage - 2012

Bob- W7LRD w7lrd at comcast.net
Tue Aug 28 11:24:50 PDT 2012

to dove-tail on John's post...this is not a "plug and play" hobby. We must remember, "if this were easy, everyone would be doing it". Satellite op's are a very small percentage of a small hobby. I recall when AO-40 finally became available, we became S band experts almost overnight. Short of HEO we can "tweek" our efforts by maybe having a Suitsat type sat thrown out the door every time there's a EVA, maybe one with L/S transponder, how about a MEO like RS-15. Then there's on board experimental propulsion for these little birds. We can go on and on you know the drill...Yes we can and do make it "easy" to get started with satellites, however once the bug bites, at least for this old curmudgeon I believe, "the difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer". It is essential we support all efforts of AMSAT not just that little niche we "approve" of. Still rebuilding antenna systems....... 
73 Bob W7LRD 

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Papay" <john at papays.com> 
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org 
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 10:10:49 AM 
Subject: [amsat-bb] Satellite Usage - 2012 

The Funcube Dongle postings veered off into a 
discussion of the current state of affairs with 
the satellites that are still working. After reading 
about how the activity on the linear birds was down, I 
had to wonder a bit. It has not been my experience. 

I really expected the activity on the FM birds to diminish when AO-51 
died. We only get 7 minutes of AO-27 and that doesn't make 
up for the much longer passes on AO-51. SO-50 has never been 
off the air since I started in 2006 but it is the most difficult 
to hear throughout the pass. For that reason, activity on SO-50 
was fairly low. If you can't hear it, you can't work it. But 
to my surprise, SO-50 activity dramatically increased when AO-51 
went silent. Those who work the FM birds became determined to 
work through this satellite despite the difficulties in hearing it. 
Of course, if you are not full duplex, you don't know when you are 
hearing the bird and that sometimes results in those who call but 
cannot hear the responses. They might assume that there is no activity 
on the bird when in fact there are many stations trying to make qso's. 

I started using the ssb birds in late November 2007. There wasn't much 
activity on AO-7, FO-29 and VO-52 at that time. But over the last two 
years, activity on the linear birds has steadily increased. Much of the 
increase can be attributed to the newer people who started on the FM birds 
and quickly decided to get involved with the linear birds. I think the 
availability of satellite capable radios has really helped. If you have 
a TS2000 you can be on a linear bird without much effort. They are easier 
to hear than an FM bird. Some are using a pair of radios to achieve full 
duplex with great success. And I highly recommend SatPC32 which I have used 
now since 2006. It runs 24x7 on a Vista Quad machine and doesn't crash. The 
recordings on my website were made possible using the auto multi-satellite 
tracking feature of this program. Recordings are made without any outside 

One of the things that powers DX on the HF bands are dxpeditions. Groups 
spend large amounts of money to travel to destinations all over the world 
so that others can put that country in the worked/confirmed column. With 
satellites today it's the VUCC award that drives the activity. When someone 
shows up from a rare grid, the birds are sometimes overwhelmed. ND9M has 
worked from hundreds of USA grids and has also worked from his ship on the 
linear birds. UT1FG/mm has been very active over the past three 
years and has created pileups on the ssb birds not unlike those on HF. To 
say the activity is down on the linear birds in recent years is simply 
incorrect. And more hams are operating satellites away from home than ever 
before. You work with what you have and make the best of it, fm or linear. 

The future of AMSAT and the satellite phase of our hobby is all about the 
new people. When you hear someone new on the bird and it's a noisy signal 
with an incomplete callsign, maybe without phonetics, call that station. 
Giving out that first contact with a newbie far outweighs 100 contacts with 
those that you have worked many times before. Sometimes the effort doesn't 
result in a qso, but maybe there is a possibility to follow up with an 
email or postcard with an offer of help. Just remember we all started out 
at some point with no experience. Most everyone can remember their first 
contact and how important it was in terms of encouraging future operating. 

So if you're reading the AMSAT-bb and are discouraged by the fact that there 
are no High Earth Orbit Satellites, don't be. Times change, technology 
changes but we continue by using what we have to the max and working towards 
improving our situation where we can. AMSAT works very hard to explore 
every possibility for building and launching new satellites. It's a tremendous 
effort that most of us don't realize is happening day after day. We all 
need to support this effort. FOX I and II will be here before we know it. 
These birds should give us some room for more qso's and new operators. 

In the meantime, AO-7 continues to work at an altitude of 1450KM. FO-29 is 
at 1200 or 1300 KM some of the time. These birds provide an opportunity to 
work DX if you can see down to the horizon. If you can't, you can always 
go to a location that is better and use your FT817 with an Arrow antenna 
and work down to the horizon. There is nothing wrong with using an Arrow 
or ELK antenna to work DX. WD9EWK has proven that point time after time. 

A good ham radio operator is one that looks at a problem as a challenge 
rather than a show stopper. Ham radio ingenuity over the years has been 
amazing. So if you are having trouble and are frustrated, develop an 
action plan to move forward. The resources available to us today are 
unprecedented. And there are mentors out there that are willing to help. 
Above all, stay positive and have some fun! 

John K8YSE 

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