[amsat-bb] Re; Inclusion

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Tue Jul 22 23:11:06 UTC 2014

Hi Gus!

You would have been happy with how AMSAT presented satellite
operating at the ARRL Centennial Convention that just concluded
in Hartford over the weekend.  We had a day-long training seminar
last Thursday (17 July), and we touched on the extremes for stations
capable of satellite operating.  We actually talked about the home
station first, complete with an IC-820 sitting in front of the
presenters' podium along with a laptop running SatPC32.  We also had
a TS-790 in the room, copying the signals from the OSCAR I model that
ARRL allowed us to use for the weekend.  Later on, we talked about
the minimimalist extreme for satellite operating, for both FM and SSB.
Unfortunately, we do not have audio or video recordings of the seminar,
as ARRL advised at the start of each presentation that Connecticut state
law forbade the audio or video recording of the presentations.

Outside the convention center, I had demonstrations of both FM and SSB
operating.  The SSB demonstrations, using AO-7, went off very well.  The
first demonstration came at the end of the day-long training seminar on
Thursday afternoon, and we were able to work stations from coast to
(almost) coast.  The second SSB demonstration, on Saturday also using AO-7,
was working out to just as successful, until the satellite switched off at
mid-pass.  The FM demonstration we attempted on Saturday with SO-50 was not
as successful.  We could hear the satellite, but with only 5 watts we were
not successful in hearing ourselves or making any QSOs. I have audio
from the two AO-7 passes, and plan on making slideshow videos with photos
other information from the convention weekend to go along with the
audio.  These demonstrations illustrated the minimalist approach to working
satellites, which also made the point that even working the (almost)
old AO-7 didn't require a huge expenditure for equipment (I used two FT-817s
with my Elk log periodic antenna).  Many hams still envision a station that
could work the previous HEO satellites as the minimum required today, even
with lots of presentations given by satellite operators and the YouTube and
other videos showing that it doesn't take a lot to do this.

An unexpected treat happened on Saturday morning.  I had planned on being
outside the convention center for ISS passes, prepared to show off the ISS
digipeater, and - if a voice was heard on 145.800 MHz -
talk to an ISS
crewmember.  The first of the three workable passes from Hartford came a
little while before the convention officially opened for the day at 0835
local/1235 UTC.  The ISS was passing across the northern sky, with maximum
elevation of 25 degrees. I heard only packet on 145.825 MHz, and was able
to bounce a few packets through the ISS digipeater using a TH-D72A and Elk
dual-band log periodic antenna.

The next pass, around 
1010 local/1410 UTC, was the best of the passes for
the morning - going across the southwestern sky with maximum elevation of

59 degrees.  I had a radio listening to both 145.800 and
145.825 MHz.  I
heard nothing on 145.825 MHz, but thought I heard something on
145.800 MHz. 

I started calling for NA1SS using my TH-D72A/Elk combination, and Reid
(the same astronaut who was on for Field Day last month) answered my call.
audience went crazy, and I was happy to make contact and have a nice 3- to
minute chat.
  I asked Reid if he might be on the microphone for the next pass
over the eastern USA around 1200 local/1600 UTC.  He said he would try, and
we were outside for that as well. 

Once we told people in the hall of the successful contact, the ARRL
made sure
there was a larger crowd outside for this pass.  Several
minutes before AOS,
I was out there again, this time answering lots of questions from different
people.  After AOS, I started calling for NA1SS, but never heard anything
145.800 MHz during the shallow (maximum elevation 6 degrees) pass.

I'm sure more will be written about the convention, especially the AMSAT
there.  Based on feedback from those attending the day-long seminar, and
feedback throughout the convention, AMSAT did a great job showing off this
of amateur radio.  The Thursday seminar and Friday afternoon forums (one
by AMSAT President Barry Baines WD4ASW discussing the current state of
followed by a "how-to" session for working the FM satellites led by Peter
Portanova W2JV) were full, and all 3 sessions had audiences that were
and asking questions. 

Now back to the different discussions about the extremes for stations to
satellites, and FM vs. digital (and anything else) via satellite, already
progress... :-)



> As far as doing demos for the uneducated, broomstick waving is an
> excellent introduction, highlighting the equipment simplicity and low cost.
>  I do personally think that the shack-potato option might also appeal to
> /some/ of the audience, so I hope the other end of the operations spectrum
> is mentioned at least briefly.

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