[amsat-bb] Thunderbird Hamfest @ Phoenix AZ, last Saturday (9 January) - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Wed Jan 13 04:41:18 UTC 2016


Last Saturday (9 January), I had an AMSAT booth at the Thunderbird Amateur
Radio Club's annual hamfest in Phoenix, Arizona. This is one of several
hamfests in central and southern Arizona away from the summertime. The
morning was a little cool and humid, but as the sun came up this was a
great morning. As the rain that had soaked the Phoenix area last week moved
away, a nice crowd - buyers, and sellers - came out to the hamfest.

During the hamfest, I had lots of opportunities to talk about our new AO-85
satellite, along with the group of Chinese amateur satellites launched last
fall, and more Fox-1 satellites in the pipeline. At these hamfests, the
most popular events are the on-air demonstrations. Starting with a very
early AO-85 pass before 6am (1300 UTC) which was a good pass for collecting
telemetry, through two AO-73 passes later in the morning, there is always
interest in seeing satellite activity in person. Besides the AO-85 and two
AO-73 passes, I also worked a pair of LilacSat-2 passes and an XW-2F pass.
This makes for a nice mix of FM and SSB satellite operating. As always,
many thanks to the stations who called and worked WD9EWK during these
passes! It helps to have stations come on and say "hello" to the crowds,
and also mention more than a grid locator for their location. I uploaded
my log to Logbook of the World for the contacts made at the hamfest, and
would be happy to send a QSL card if anyone would like to receive a card
for a contact with WD9EWK at the hamfest. Please e-mail me directly with
the QSO details, so I can check my log before sending a card your way.

For the final demonstration pass I had at the hamfest, a western AO-73 pass
a few minutes past 10.30am (1730 UTC), I had contacts with Frank K6FW near
Los Angeles and Glenn AA5PK in west Texas. After I finished the contact
with Glenn, someone in the crowd pointed out that Texas was to the east,
and I was pointing my Elk log periodic westward. I explained that the
satellite was over the eastern Pacific Ocean during this pass, and that
both of us would be pointing our antennas at the satellite - not in the
direction of the other station for each contact. The proverbial lightbulb
came on at that moment, followed by "cool". We who regularly work
satellites know that we may not point our antennas anywhere in the
direction of where the other station is located, but sometimes it takes a
moment for that concept to make sense for someone who knows little or
nothing about satellite communications.

For almost all of the passes I worked at the hamfest, I used my SDRplay
SDR receiver and an 8-inch Windows 10 tablet for my downlink receiver. I
figured a hamfest would be a great place to demonstrate the power of an SDR
receiver like the SDRplay, combined with the small yet functional Windows
tablet - something I wrote about for the AMSAT Journal and the AMSAT-UK
OSCAR News publications in the past year. "Eating my own dog food", you
could say. I was able to use the shade from my parked car so I could see
the tablet's screen, and the tablet/SDR receiver combination attracted lots
of interest from the hamfest crowd. Using HDSDR on the tablet, I was able
to see the transponder and other telemetry from the satellites. I think I
talked about the tablet/SDR combination as much as the satellite that were
recently launched and those coming up during 2016.

Thanks to the Thunderbird Amateur Radio Club for providing AMSAT space for
a booth at the hamfest. This is the 10th consecutive year I have been at
this hamfest representing AMSAT. I'm looking forward to the next hamfest
where I will represent AMSAT - the Yuma Hamfest, which is also the 2016
ARRL Southwest Division Convention, in southwestern Arizona next month.


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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