[amsat-bb] WD9EWK's first time on AO-51 V/S tonight

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb@wd9ewk.net
Thu Aug 31 22:20:31 PDT 2006


I've had an AIDC 3731 downconverter, one converted by K5GNA, for just
over a year.  I haven't used it until tonight, when I had some free time in
the evening.  I took it and a bunch of stuff to my stepson's Boy Scout
meeting (a church in grid DM43ap, northeast Phoenix), and hoped to
work an AO-51 pass while he was in his meeting.

After a storm blew through Phoenix (it kept me off an SO-50 pass around
0220 UTC), the skies cleared enough to make a try at the AO-51 pass
around 0320 UTC.  I set up my station, and waited for the satellite.

TX was my IC-W32A HT at 5W, turning off the 70cm side of the radio,
into my Arrow Antennas 2m/70cm handheld Yagi.  RX was with the
downconverter into a Yaesu VX-2R (I could disable TX on this radio, to
protect the downconverter - plus it had an attenuator).  I had a 6dB
attenuator in the coax line, along with the VX-2R's attenuator function,
so the S-meter wasn't moving much until I heard the satellite.  Once I
found the downlink, it wasn't hard to keep up with it through the pass.  I
let the downconverter with its dipole and corner reflector sit on the car's
roof, and had a splitter from the VX-2R's speaker-mic jack to feed an
earpiece and my Sony digital recorder.

I heard one QSO finish up, then I made a call.  Angelo N5UXT in New
Orleans heard me and I worked him first, then I was called by WA4EWV.
I heard a W9HT toward the end of the pass, but could not work that
station.  I could follow the Doppler on the RX signal well enough, and
every so often the signal would take a dip and then come back up.  If I
held the downconverter and twisted it, I could get the signal back up,
but most of the time I just set it on the roof in the general direction of
AO-51 and held the Yagi in one hand and a speaker-mic into my IC-W32A
with the other hand.  I really wish I had a small camera or camcorder with
me, to get a photo of my "station", but at least I have an audio recording
of the pass with my 2 contacts.

I am impressed with how well the downconverter worked, and with AO-51 in
this V/S configuration.  This was the first time I did anything that used a
ham frequency above 23cm.  I'm hoping to have some time Friday morning
to work an AO-51 pass and try this again, but if that's not possible I want to
work some passes this weekend before the mode change.  This was fun!


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK - Phoenix, Arizona USA

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