[amsat-bb] Yuma Hamfest report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sat Feb 18 21:45:45 PST 2012


The Yuma Hamfest wrapped up this evening, after a full day with lots
of people wandering around the Yuma County Fairgrounds site.  This
year's hamfest is also the 2012 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention,
which brought more people in.  The AMSAT table saw lots of traffic,
especially with the model of the Fox-1 satellite on display along 
with flyers about the Fox project and getting started on the FM birds.

The AMSAT table was inside the main hall, next to the large ARRL table.
With all the people coming by the table, I did not work any passes in 
the morning.  I was able to do one afternoon demonstration, on an AO-27 
pass just after 2000 UTC.  Thanks, as always, for all the QSOs!  Please
note that I am *not* the QSL manager for K7UGA satellite activity, but
direct the QSL requests with SASE to K7BHM. 

One of the planned events for this hamfest was the launch of a high-
altitude balloon carrying (among other payloads) an APRS transmitter
and a 2m/70cm cross-band FM repeater.  Due to uncooperative winds 
predicted for Yuma, which could have blown the balloon onto one of 
two military bombing ranges to the north or east of Yuma, or possibly
south across the USA/Mexico border, the launch was moved north to the
town of Quartzsite AZ.  Instead of the crowds seeing the launch in 
person, a live video link was established from Quartzsite to a large
screen in the main exhibit hall.  Once the balloon was no longer 
visible on the video link, the exhibit hall switched over to showing
a web site plotting the path of the satellite using APRS data. 

After the balloon was up to about 20000 feet/6100m, I could hear the
70cm downlink from the repeater.  This repeater is essentially like 
SO-50 - 2m uplink with PL tone, 70cm downlink - but without having to
deal with Doppler.  I made a quick QSO through the repeater using my
TH-D72A HT and a long duckie antenna from the AMSAT table in the main
hall.  After seeing that I was able to hear and be heard through that 
repeater, I changed antennas to my Elk log periodic, and proceeded to 
make a few more QSOs.  These additional QSOs were made using the K7UGA 
call sign I have been using this week on the satellites, an added bonus 
for those around Arizona and a couple of hams outside the exhibit hall 
at the hamfest.  The fact that I could hear, and work, the balloon's 
cross-band repeater surprised many in the main hall.  Especially with
the HT.  

After the balloon's approximately 2 1/2-hour flight, it crash-landed
in the desert north of Interstate 10 between Quartzsite and Phoenix.
As the recovery team drove up to the area where the balloon was 
laying, the crowds in the main hall were treated to another live 
video feed.  We were able to see them find the balloon on the ground.

Over the two days at Yuma, I (as K7UGA) worked 5 different satellite 
passes along with the repeater on the balloon this morning.  Thanks
again to the Yuma Amateur Radio Hamfest Organization - an actual non-
profit corporation set up just to host this annual event.  They had
several drawings throughout the event - door prizes, a prize for 
simply registering for the hamfest, other prizes given out during the
barbecue this evening, and 16 prizes in the grand prize drawing after
the barbecue.  


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK (and one of the K7UGA satellite operators)

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