[amsat-bb] QSO Protocol

R.T.Liddy k8bl at ameritech.net
Mon Oct 3 18:15:49 UTC 2016

Kevin,    (et al)
Your write-up & explanation sounds very fair and proper as far as I'm concerned. Its philosophy, in general, is
the same that I use. If I put out my Call and someone responds with my Call and their Call, I'll repeat their Call
and usually my Grid Square. They will respond with some kind of acknowledgement - QSL, Thanks, Roger, 73,
Good Luck, 10-4, etc. Then, someone else will jump in with their Call or I'll announce mine and the sequence
will repeat itself. If I'm in a rare Grid and/or there's a pileup, I would probably say QRZ or go back to a partial
Call that I heard to speed things up. This is all very similar to HF Contesting while running a pileup.

On the Linear Satellites, it is pretty straightforward. I go a fair amount away from the middle of the passband and
put out my Call. It is usually obvious when you hear a response since I'm the only one there that a Station would
be calling. We have a normal exchange and carry on. However, on the FM Satellites, it gets pretty chaotic at times
since Stations often transmit on top of each other for reasons I won't go into here. In this case I need to hear my
Call and their Call to ensure they are really calling ME, otherwise I become someone transmitting on top of some
other Station. Once I'm sure they are calling me, I'll respond with their Call and my info. I'll roger that QSO quickly
and WAIT to see if I get another call. Then, I'll wait a little more to see if other QSOs are going to take place and
I'll put my Call out again if nothing transpires. I always avoid monopolizing an entire Pass. Sometimes, if I'm in a very
rare Grid, there will be a non-stop stream of callers that I'll have to deal with. Unfortunately, with a single-channel bird,
that's just the way it is since there may not be another operation there for quite a long time.

Trying to make a Log in real time on a Grid Expedition is nearly impossible with only two hands and two feet. In my
case, I'm doing everything manual in every respect. Wait for AOS and hear the Satellite and properly point the antenna
and adjust the polarization and hear myself on the downlink and put out a call. Then, respond to the callers and tune the
receiver and constantly maximize the downlink signal by adjusting the antenna azimuth, height and polarity. Continue
doing all of this until LOS. In the South, you also have to deal with Sun and heat and sweat come down into your eyes
and your glasses sliding down your nose. In the North, you must deal with the wind blowing over your tripod and little
black flies and mosquitoes biting you or crawling into your ears and nose. Everywhere, there is always the chance that
Police or Security Guards or curious onlookers or property owners will try to talk to you DURING a Pass or will park
their vehicle directly in front of your antenna!!

So, to avoid losing any QSOs during any/all of the confusion and happenstances of the above, I use a small digital
recorder to make an audio record of each Pass. Later, I transcribe the contacts into a spiral notebook as a permanent
record of my Grid Expeditions. If there is a question of whether a contact was actually made, the info is maintained on
paper or I can re-listen to the captured audio. A recognizable reply from a Station-in-question's Call is good enough
for me and I'll always give the benefit of the doubt in favor of a QSL. Faking a contact is only cheating one's self out
of the real satisfaction of making a valid QSO with a needed Station.  Amen.

GL/73,      Bob  K8BL     (Portable from 77 Grids in US & Canada - so far!) 

      From: Kevin M via AMSAT-BB <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
 To: "amsat-bb at amsat.org" <amsat-bb at amsat.org> 
 Sent: Monday, October 3, 2016 9:34 AM
 Subject: [amsat-bb] QSO Protocol
As far as valid QSOs for ARRL awards are concerned (DXCC/VUCC/WAS), they simply state a 'contact' must be made. But no where do they ever define what a contact consists of. They leave this definition up to the award applicant and the stations that he/she contacts. When asked, I have always explained a contact as, "I called you and you knew it was me, you answered and I knew it was you..." In short, as long as we both understand that we 'contacted' each other, then it's a contact.

My point is, there is no specified rule that says a grid square or any other piece of information is exchanged. There is actually no rule that says the CALLSIGN must be EXCHANGED. A contact exists when the two parties involved in the communication agree that the contact happened... whether they exchange a 'QSL' on air, via e-mail, LotW or by USPS mail, if both parties agree that it took place... then it took place. The requirement for any more, is to saddle the participants with a burden to overcome the non-natural hindrances that can occur with high volume traffic over man made devices... i.e. satellites. If EME or meteor scatter operators want to place certain burdens upon themselves to ensure that their imaginations, tricks of the senses, or natural phenomena did not insert a bit of faux communication that did not actually take place, that is their perogative. BUT, why should one penalize a station and say that a contact did not take place simply because some guy with 50 watts and crap for a receiver decided to say, "Halllo! One, two, three, haaaalo!" over top of Jeeves while he was uttering his grid square. Further, since satellite passes are a time limited resource, why should we take away precious airtime from others by forcing a repeat of a piece of information that we likely already know, and at the very least can easily look up online, etc.

Simply put... if I'm in a rare grid square working lots of stations on a frenzied pass and I hear a voice I recognize saying his/her callsign while obviously calling me, but someone keys on top of him in the middle of saying his callsign, is it really necessary for me to say, "Who is the Hotel Mike?" when I KNOW who it is? OR worse, stop to take the time to ask, 'What's your grid again, Paul?' - Paul knew it was me, I knew it was Paul, I'm simply going to say, "In the log, Paul," and call the next station.

Common sense and basic trust in personal integrity goes a long way towards making life simpler and more enjoyable.... QSL?  73!  N4UFO, EM95, over.
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