[amsat-bb] Long Beach CA presentation on 4 March & W6RO satellite activity on 5 March - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Mar 6 23:36:11 UTC 2016


I'm back home, after a quick two-day trip to southern California for a
presentation and some sightseeing. Not as much radio operating on this
trip compared to some of my other recent trips to California, but still
a great time!

I had agreed to give another satellite-related presentation to the
Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, after giving a presentation there
in April 2015. Where my original presentation focused a lot on the history
of amateur radio satellites, the presentation I gave on Friday (4 March)
evening would focus more on current and upcoming projects. So I left home
on Friday morning for the 6-hour drive from Phoenix to Long Beach, with
two stops to work AO-85 passes at Palm Springs and Riverside, both in grid
DM13 in southern California. Before the meeting, I had dinner with some
hams who would be at the meeting later in the evening. Endaf KG6FIY, the
ARALB president, along with Tom WA0POD and Jim AA6QI from Pasadena, met me
at a restaurant near the meeting site. After dinner, we drove south to the

Unlike with last year's presentation where I gave demonstrations of working
FO-29 and SO-50, my options were limited to XW-2F and XW-2C passes that
partially overlapped, about 30 minutes before the 7pm (0300 UTC) meeting
time. With a nice crowd, I set up my portable station - FT-817ND, SDRplay
SDR receiver with HDSDR on a Windows tablet, Elk log periodic - to work the
two satellites. XW-2F came up first, and I made a quick contact with KJ6MSU
in southern California. Unfortunately, no QSOs were logged on XW-2C. The
crowd could see the transponder, along with the digital telemetry and CW
beacons, on the tablet's screen. We also saw some strong adjacent signals
just above the XW-2F transponder while working that satellite.

There was a nice turnout for this meeting. I'm not used to groups here in
Arizona having Friday evening meetings, but it works for the ARALB. After
some club business, I gave my presentation. It is really nice to talk about
the different satellite and satellite-related projects that are taking
place now. It was also fun to answer the questions from the crowd.

Since most of my recent California trips have included additional driving
and operating from different places, and I have not done much sightseeing,
I wanted to be more of a tourist this time. Endaf KG6FIY gave me some
suggestions on what I could see and do on a Saturday, and I went with that.
Before I met him to start the touristy stuff, I worked an SO-50 pass from
a shopping center parking lot. Once I picked up Endaf, we first drove to
the Griffith Observatory, overlooking downtown Los Angeles. It was a nice
day to walk around with the clouds over the area, not too hot or cold.
>From there, we took our time driving back through Los Angeles down to the
Long Beach harbor and the Queen Mary.

I have been to Long Beach in the past, and have driven near the Queen Mary,
but have never been on the ship. Endaf had arranged for me to go on the
ship, and visit the wireless room. Some insist on calling the room a "radio
room", and signs on the ship refer to it by both names. At the room, I met
David Akins N6HHR. David, a member of the ARALB, is the manager of the W6RO
station on the Queen Mary. He invited Endaf and me to come in the room,
sign a visitor's log, and then sign a radio operators' log. David verified
that we held amateur licenses, so we could use the radios. Endaf began to
work HF from one operating position, as I looked around the room and took
pictures. Then, a surprising offer...

David explained that the W6RO station included a satellite station - a
Yaesu FT-847, 2m and 70cm Yagis, along with a Yaesu az/el rotator. Even
though the FT-847 can also work HF and 6m, it is only used at W6RO for
satellites, and had not been used in some time. It had been installed in
the days of AO-13. David asked if there were any satellite passes that
could be worked, and I saw an AO-7 pass just after 2.30pm (2230 UTC). With
a half-hour to quickly get acquainted with the radio and rotator
controller, I started reading the satellite section of the FT-847's
operating manual. I also posted on Twitter and the AMSAT-BB my intent to
work the AO-7 pass as W6RO.

The satellite station is not computer controlled, but the FT-847 has the
functionality to work satellites without the computer. The rotator
controller could also be worked manually, moving it to follow the track
I saw on my AmsatDroid Free tracking app. The pass had a maximum elevation
of just over 70 degrees, making it a good pass to try from W6RO. I have
never used an FT-847 to work satellites, but had figured the radio out
sufficiently to give it a go.

I had posted that I was going to try working below the center of the AO-7
transponder, but ended up working slightly above the center of the
transponder. As I was trying to line myself up, I found that the SUB-TUNE
knob on the FT-847 would only tune downward - even if turned it clockwise.
This meant to adjust my uplink higher in SAT mode, I would have to
disengage the SAT mode and swap VFOs briefly to use the large VFO knob to
make the adjustment, then swap VFOs again and press the button to reengage
SAT mode. After a few minutes, I was able to hear myself, and hear Dave
KG5CCI answering my calls. Dave was the first station I put in the W6RO
log. After some challenges with how I had to tune the uplink frequency,
I was able to log two more stations before LOS - Larry WA6DIR in the Los
Angeles area, followed by Bryan KL7CN/W6 near Sacramento in northern

At W6RO, operators are asked to log QSOs and give out a QSO number. For my
satellite QSOs, those numbers started with "I" followed by 3 digits. I did
this, along with giving out the DM03 grid locator for Long Beach with each
of these QSOs. The QSOs have been entered in the W6RO log, and the W6RO
QSL manager will be able to properly confirm the QSOs I logged - including
the notation that these were satellite QSOs. Please look up W6RO on QRZ.com
for the address and other information. W6RO only handles paper QSLs, and
does not use any of the electronic QSLing systems like LOTW or eQSL.

While I was operating, Endaf was taking pictures and made a couple of short
video clips. The pictures were being tweeted using his @endaf_99 Twitter
feed. If you do not use Twitter, you can still see the pictures without
having to sign up for a Twitter account at:


Endaf's two video clips are on YouTube, at:


I had also tweeted photos of the W6RO station and antennas, along with
other photos from throughout the two days I spent in California, using my
@WD9EWK Twitter feed. Just like with Endaf's Twitter feed, mine is also
visible without first signing up for Twitter at:


For just the photos I tweeted, use:


After I put my QSOs in the W6RO log, and David verified everything looked
OK, we left the ship. Endaf and I had dinner at his house, before I drove
home. On the way home, I made a couple of stops to work some late-evening
SO-50 passes. The first stop was at a rest area along I-10 in Yucaipa, in
grid DM14. I logged 8 QSOs from this location on a pass just after 8.30pm
(0430 UTC). Then back to the driving, and I went about 45 miles east to
Thousand Palms, east of Palm Springs in DM13. After filling the car's fuel
tank, I logged 4 more QSOs on the 10.10pm (0610 UTC) SO-50 pass, and then
made the drive from the Palm Springs area to my driveway in just over 3.5

Thanks to the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach for their hospitality
once again. In particular, the club president Endaf Buckley KG6FIY and the
W6RO station manager on the Queen Mary, David Akins N6HHR. I hope the ARALB
is able to put the W6RO satellite station on the air again, and often. :-)


Twitter: @WD9EWK

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