[amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites

Matthew Stevens matthew at mrstevens.net
Sun Dec 10 22:42:35 UTC 2017

I share your sentiment last about, and have (I think) done as much as anyone could to reach out to new sat ops, bringing new guys to this aspect of the hobby. But, they aren’t the ones who have been causing such headaches on AO-91 (and the other FM birds). The ones that Paul and others have talked about “calling out” are ops who have been around for a long time, many who have made thousands and thousands of sat QSOs. Sadly, they are accomplishing the opposite of what I and others have been trying to do as far as bringing new guys to the sats.. I know at least one newer op who I’ve worked with, who pretty much refuses to work FM sats because he doesn’t want to throw his callsign out into the fray caused by inconsiderate operators.

In all but a few cases, the new ops I’ve worked with have been enthusiast, eager to learn and willing to listen to advice from people who are skilled at satellite operating. However, the more experienced ops that have been causing so much trouble don’t do any of those things, even after numerous polite emails etc. They will not make basic improvements to their station, and don’t even exhibit the most basic good practice that applies to ANY amateur operating - like listening before transmitting.

Social media isn’t required for people to use common sense while operating. Just be polite, don’t tie up a pass. I can remember my first few SO-50 passes getting started on sats last year. I worked N6UA who was somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming I think. I called him - because I had listened to the pass (without transmitting) for a few minutes, and noticed a lot of people calling him. I figured that was a good sign he was someone I wanted to work even though I had no idea who or where he was! Contrast that to certain stations in the Northeast US who, rather than listening first and allowing the guy who is in a rare location make contacts, instead call literally every person they hear on the pass - including if the person they call was actually trying to call someone else!

Just some thoughts from a guy who was listening to the pass in question :-)

- Matthew nj4y

Sent from my iPhone

> On Dec 10, 2017, at 16:27, Bernie and Cheryl <hamdan at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> Dear Folks:
> I certainly don't want to argue with the central premise, i.e., that when there's a rare grid square, it is good operating practice to back off of the bird and let everyone have a crack at working the "DX".  Neither do I have a problem with good operating practice dictating that people not hog the bird (as has been described by Paul and other posters).  I do have a problem with public shaming, especially if not preceded with a congenial email suggesting that the operator in question give people a chance. Most folks have their email addresses on QRZ.com.
> The important thing to remember is that AMSAT hasn't published (to my knowledge) a rule stating that /only/ certain types of QSO's can occur on the FM satellites.  I just looked at the website and there is a section called "Working Your First Satellite" and I don't see anything on there like that.  The section on "Communications Satellites" has nothing like that either.  Unless the control operators of the satellite (e.g., AO-91) made a decision in that vein, then the bird is open to all comers.
> Paul's post mentioned that the FM birds open up the hobby to a lot of people.  That means the FM birds are going to have new people on them, and I think good operating practice indicates that people are welcomed on satellites, and if they make a mistake, the "suggestion" to improve their operating practice occurs in such a way that they aren't shamed, i.e., a tasteful email or perhaps even a snail mail.
> His post also mentioned that he monitored Twitter and took some other steps while preparing for the pass.  I have to be honest and say I'm not a big social media person.  I only opened up a Facebook page last year, and don't really know or care to know how to get on Twitter.  Other than checking when AOS occurs, I typically don't do that much preparation for a pass.  I don't think that disqualifies me from being able to operate on the birds.  Like I said above, I will back off if I'm aware that there's a rare grid square on there, but I don't always know that's the case.  All of us are coming within the footprint of the bird at different times, and so the newest person in the footprint won't always know what's happening at that moment.
> I guess the reason why this thread affected me to the point that I felt the need to reply is that I could see the situation degenerating very quickly into a war between two classes of operators.  And then, given the nature of FM birds, it will be impossible for anyone to use them (it would be relatively easy for one angry operator to jam the bird during a pass), short of handing out CTSS tone codes to a select group.  Until something like that happens, the satellites are a shared resource, and we're always going to be faced with folks who screw up unintentionally. I'd just hate to see a flame war on the birds like we sometimes see on the internet.
> I'm not suggesting that satellite operating is "The Wild Wild West".  I think it's just a matter of education, and courtesy.
> Admittedly, I'm on the FM birds rarely (I've operated AO-91 exactly once).  I prefer the linear transponder satellites with their opportunity to have a real conversation as opposed to shouting out grid squares, but recognize (as Adrian points out in his post) that the setup for those birds requires more infrastructure that may be beyond a lot of people.  However, I've been around a while (my first satellite QSO was on RS-10 back in 1994) and I remember how excited I was when I made my first QSO's, and know how devastated I would have been if someone called me out in a public forum because I did something wrong that I didn't know was wrong.
> All I'm asking for is that all operators in good faith be granted a modicum of courtesy, and we should be careful before deciding that someone is acting in bad faith.  I love this hobby and my heart aches at some of the stuff I've heard on 75 meters, and on the local 2 meter repeaters.   I'd hate to see that transfer over to the satellite community, which by and large, seems to be pretty professional.
> See you all on the birds.  73 de Bernie, KF0QS
> On 12/10/2017 11:35 AM, JoAnne Maenpaa wrote:
>>> There's no need to work a hundred stations on every pass of AO-91,
>>> especially when two guys in rare grids with low power equipment are
>>> attempting to hand them out. It's all about situational awareness.
>> I remember situations like this arising during AO-51 operation. Of
>> particular note beside working 100 stations on a 10 minute pass were those
>> fellows on AO-51 with enough aluminum and RF wattage to capture the AO-51
>> receiver then greet each other every morning like they hadn't spoken for 20
>> years. They would then give each other a weather report. This was followed
>> with a status of breakfast report. We often found out someone's dog needed
>> to step outside! Then the same 3 or 4 fellows would repeat this again on the
>> next pass. They would begin with the missing-person from 20 years ago
>> greetings ... even though they had already greeted each other 90 minutes
>> ago.
>> Other operators began note these boorish manners and after a while much of
>> that behavior was gradually moderated and mostly went away.
>> --
>> 73 de JoAnne K9JKM
>> k9jkm at amsat.org
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