[amsat-bb] SO-50 QSO's

Paul Stoetzer n8hm at arrl.net
Sun Aug 3 19:47:48 UTC 2014

Also heard over the past few days on SO-50:

-"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10"
-"CQ satellite"

You are definitely correct about the primary cause - people need to
put some effort into optimizing their receive setup as SO-50 has a
weak downlink signal. I was on a 10 degree max eastern pass of SO-50
(mostly over the Atlantic Ocean) around 1400Z this morning and had a
nice 4 minute chat with KG4JPL. Signals were S9+20 on my meter at 10
degrees. I am using an Arrow II 146/437-10BP, two FT-817s, and a High
Sierra Microwave LNAA432 preamp.

Here are a few tips:

-If it's the middle of the day or the evening and the pass is covering
most of the United States, there is someone on. Definitely wait to
hear it before transmitting. Only the night owl passes are devoid of

-Be sure you can adjust polarity. I've seen SO-50 signals go from
inaudible to S9 with a simple twist of the Arrow/Elk.

-Use good quality coax (I use LMR-240UF at the moment) and the
shortest run you can use.

-Operate full-duplex. Baofengs are cheap and have adequate sensitivity
to receive SO-50, get one to use as your receive radio if you're
trying to use a dual band HT without full-duplex capability. You might
even mount the receive radio directly to your antenna if you are using
an Arrow to eliminate coax losses.

-Listen to what's going on. If there's a QSO in progress, wait until
it's complete. If a station calls someone else, don't call them unless
the station called is obviously not responding. If there's a rare grid
or other rarely heard entity on the air, let those who need the grid
work that station, don't try to make other QSOs. If you key up and
have clearly lost the battle with another station, unkey.

-Throwing out your callsign once in a pass is OK, but it's better to
call specific stations.

The good news for FM satellite fans: EO-80 and the Fox-1 series are
coming! They will be much easier to hear with nice, loud 2m downlinks!
EO-80 is even capable of putting out 2 watts
(http://www.amsat-f.org/site/spip.php?article82) which would make it a
whopping 20 dB louder than SO-50, though it probably won't (and
shouldn't) be set to 2 watts output very often.

And remember to donate to the Fox project here: http://www.amsat.org/?p=2957


Paul, N8HM

On Sun, Aug 3, 2014 at 3:18 PM, John Belstner <jbelstner at gmail.com> wrote:
> I heard lots of new calls on SO-50 today and I really wanted to give them a shout back and say welcome.
> Unfortunately, that's about all I heard was a bunch of folks throwing their call sign out.
> Is there some "transmit only" mode that I'm not aware of?   ;-)
> On a more serious note, try to hear the downlink first before transmitting.  It reduces QRM and greatly increases your chances of making a QSO!
> Thanks and 73,
> John W9EN
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