[amsat-bb] WD9EWK - Wednesday evening in Indiana, working AO-85...

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Thu Oct 15 03:46:28 UTC 2015


After flying from Phoenix to Indianapolis, I drove up to Fort Wayne for the
night. On the 125-mile drive, I made two stops to work AO-85 passes. I have
worked from EN70 and EN71 before, but those past occasions were times I
operated from Ohio. Between a freeway rest area and a parking lot for a
large store, I was able to give out these two grids and have fun on the new

Between pass predictions I printed at home last night and my AmsatDroid
Free app on my mobile phone, I had a good idea when I could work passes. I
decided to focus on AO-85 tonight, even though I basically have my complete
satellite station with me. I decided I would stop about 25 to 30 minutes
before the first of the two AO-85 passes I worked, so I could disassemble
my suitcase and carry-on bags enough to get my gear ready for the pass. I
assembled an Elk antenna, pulled out everything related to my 8-inch HP
tablet and SDRplay receiver, my IC-2820H 2m/70cm FM mobile radio (that was
an item of interest in the Phoenix airport this morning, especially with
its faceplate packed away from the radio), and accessories like an audio
splitter, diplexer, coax, etc. I had everything ready in time to take some
pictures, and tweet a couple of them before the pass.

I used the same setup that I have used at home a couple of times with this
satellite - Icom IC-2820H 2m/70cm FM mobile transceiver for the uplink,
set to transmit in narrow FM; SDRplay SDR receiver, 8-inch Windows 10
tablet with HDSDR, all connected through a diplexer to my Elk log periodic.
I plug an audio splitter into the tablet's headset jack, and split the
receive audio between earbuds for me and a Sony audio recorder. I know I
could also have HDSDR write an audio recording at the same time it writes
an RF recording, but I don't want to risk overloading the tablet.

When 2305 UTC came, I could hear AO-85 after it was up about 2 to 3 degrees
elevation. It sounds like most stations were using narrow FM on the uplink,
as most signals sounded pretty good this evening. I was able to log QSOs
with 7 stations, including Paul N8HM on top of the parking garage next to
the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Dayton, site of this weekend's AMSAT
Symposium. During this pass, I could hear XW-2F passing by - just like I
did on Sunday evening back in Phoenix. I saw stations working the XW-2F
transponder, and also saw XW-2F's CW beacon, as I worked AO-85.

After that pass, I drove north to Fort Wayne. I realized that Fort Wayne is
basically at the EN70/EN71 grid boundary, but did not want to try to find a
good spot for that boundary in the dark. I have only been through Fort
Wayne once before, so I'm not familiar with the area. I kept an eye on my
TH-D72A's GPS location, waiting to see EN71 appear on the screen. Once that
happened, I looked for an exit off I-69, and for something like a truck
stop or large parking lot at a store or shopping center to park. Just north
of the grid boundary, I exited the freeway, and found a parking lot just
west of the freeway.

After setting up my gear on the roof of my car, and waiting for AO-85 to
pop up over the western horizon around 0051 UTC, I had no problems hearing
it. I worked 8 stations during this pass, including someone else heading to
Dayton (Wyatt AC0RA - he was in EN60 for this pass). It was also nice to
hear stations from the western USA, like Larry WA6DIR and Jack KC7MG, from
here in Fort Wayne, plus VE4AMU in Manitoba.

Most stations sounded pretty good on both passes. The later pass was a
little harder for me to hear, not keeping up with the fading as well as I
had been doing on the earlier pass. I think more stations were transmitting
in narrow FM tonight. A couple were not, and one sounded so-so at best -
even after trying to adjust the FM settings in HDSDR in an attempt to clean
up the audio. My portable setup worked well from the rooftop of my rental
car in two different locations, a good sign for upcoming activities later
on in the coming week.

The SDRplay is working very well as my receiver for working satellites,
including AO-85. HDSDR's AFC function works well, except in close proximity
to the XW-2F CW beacon and/or transponder signals (the 2305 UTC pass had
both AO-85 and XW-2F in view at EN70). Being able to fine-tune how narrow I
heard the FM signals, and being able to raise the filtering on the low end
of the received signals to eliminate any noise from the telemetry, makes
this a very powerful way to work these passes. I will try to upload the
telemetry from the RF recordings of both passes this evening.

I have uploaded the audio recordings, along with photos and screengrabs,
from both of these passes to my Dropbox space:


Again, press F5 if the file/folder listing doesn't appear immediately. I
hope to be able to upload my RF recordings in a day or two from Dayton,
depending on the Internet access at the Symposium hotel. I won't try to
upload them using my mobile phone's hotspot, as they are too big to do
without exhausting my monthly data allowance in a matter of a couple of
days. I hope to have tonight's QSOs uploaded to Logbook of the World
shortly, for those looking to get confirmations for EN70 and/or EN71.
QSL cards will also be available after the trip; please e-mail me with
the QSO details, and I'll send a card if you're in the log.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, between making a quick stop at the border
tripoint where 3 states come together (Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) and
driving down to Dayton to attend the AMSAT Symposium. Please follow my
@WD9EWK Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/WD9EWK ) for updates on my
activities, and my car should show up on APRS as WD9EWK-9 (visible at
http://aprs.fi/WD9EWK-9 among other places). Day 1 was fun, and there is
a week to go...


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Twitter: @WD9EWK

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