Clint Bradford clintbradford at mac.com
Sun Feb 15 18:01:15 UTC 2015

This post does NOT apply to about 99.4% of the members here ... So if you are a seasoned FM bird operator, just skip reading. BUT if you are new to the FM satellites ...

I have heard a couple hams trying to work SO-50 the past week. They have their sat prediction software all set up properly ... have improved their antennas ... and have the proper set of frequencies programmed ...

But they are not working full duplex (where you can monitor the downlink as you key your mic) and are stepping on other transmissions. AND they are simply declaring, "CQ satellite ... " over and over and over.

That is not how we should be working the FM birds.

Ideally, we should be working the FM voice satellites in full duplex mode, where we can simultaneously listen to the downlink as we are transmitting. This might mean a second radio with an earpiece (to avoid feedback) to make sure you are "making it" and are not stepping on others' contacts. Carefully monitor the downlink, and wait for a break in the conversations to announce yourself. You might find it helpful to record your sessions for later review. Even if you don’t make a contact during a pass, a recording can help you recognize the callsigns and voices of other operators. Pocket recorders or smartphone apps are great for this. 

Knowing your grid square - and having a grid square map - is a quick way of identifying locations of what you will hear. There are also fellow satellite operators who are working towards awards based on the number of unique grid squares they contact: that is why you should know yours as you work the birds. The ARRL and Icom have grid square maps: Icom’s is free and available at better ham radio stores. 

When you clearly hear others, listen for a break in the action, and use the ITU-approved phonetics to announce your callsign, grid square, and operating mode. I am K6LCS in grid square DM-13, so it becomes ...


There's a little "debate" on the necessity of the "operating mode" declaration. If you state, "handheld," it used to tell seasoned satellite operators to let you in and get your contact made - knowing you were working low power. Some might use "demo" as their op mode - as they operate in front of a club or hamfest. It is not "improper" to include an op mode - many do not.

SO ... simply keying up and declaring "CQ satellite" over and over again is simply not the proper protocol to be using. It does not identify neither you nor your location. 

More information on working the "easy birds" always at ... http://www.work-sat.com

Clint Bradford K6LCS
909-241-7666 - cell, Pacific coast time

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