[amsat-bb] AMSAT @ Scottsdale AZ hamfest, 19 March 2016 - report

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Mon Mar 21 03:31:55 UTC 2016


I had an AMSAT table at the Scottsdale Amateur Radio Club's "Springfest"
hamfest, held in a church parking lot yesterday (Saturday, 19 March)
morning. This hamfest is one of the 3 major hamfests for the Phoenix area
in the non-summer season, and the good weather helped to bring the crowds
out. Lots of buyers and sellers, and lots of interest in AMSAT and amateur

With the launches of AO-85 and the 9 Chinese amateur satellites in the past
6 months, many hams are taking a closer look at this part of the hobby. For
some, the recent launches and projects currently in the pipeline are
bringing some back to the satellites. Along with talking about satellites,
many copies of AMSAT's "Getting Started with Amateur Satellites" flew off
my AMSAT table. Demonstrations, whether at 6am (1300 UTC) or 11am (1800
UTC), had nice crowds.

It was nice to have AO-85 available during the morning, as SO-50 was not
passing by during the morning. I also had 4 other satellites that were used
for demonstrations - AO-73, XW-2A, XW-2C, and XW-2F. The three XW-2
satellites were passing by in the first couple of hours, and AO-73 and
AO-85 came by later in the morning. For all of these passes, I used my
SDRplay SDR receiver for the downlinks, connected to an 8-inch Windows10
tablet and HDSDR software running on the tablet.

As I have seen at other recent events, using an SDR receiver makes for more
conversations - and not just in the context of working satellites. With all
of these satellites employing a 70cm uplink and 2m downlink, I didn't have
to worry so much about the sunlight making the tablet's LCD panel
unreadable. Once I set my downlink frequency on the tablet, and for AO-85
activate AFC in HDSDR to track the downlink, I only had to worry about
using the wheel on a Bluetooth mouse for fine-tuning. Despite some QRM in
the area of the hamfest site, northeast of a nearby airport, the SDRplay
did a decent job hearing all of these downlinks. For AO-73 and AO-85, I was
able to play back the RF recordings I made with HDSDR later at home, so I
could upload telemetry to each satellite's telemetry server from those
passes. By the way, HDSDR's recordings do a much better job picking up
AO-73 telemetry than I ever saw when I used the FUNcube Dashboard to
directly receive the telemetry and then upload the data to the FUNcube data
warehouse server. Same thing for copying AO-85 telemetry - HDSDR's RF
recordings do better for capturing the data than I saw when using the
FoxTelem software to directly control my FUNcube Dongle Pro+.

For those who worked WD9EWK during those demonstrations - THANK YOU! The
demonstrations make a positive impression on this part of the hobby for the
crowds. My mockup of the AO-85 satellite - a 4-inch cube of wood, with two
whips representing the antennas coming out of two sides - also helps to
reinforce that small satellites can do more than "beep" in orbit. AO-73 and
AO-85, in particular, are great examples of what we can do with small
satellites. I have uploaded my log to Logbook of the World from these
demonstrations, and am happy to send QSL cards to anyone who would like one
for QSOs during the hamfest (just e-mail me with the QSO details - no need
to send me a card and self-addressed stamped envelope).

Thanks again, and 73!

Twitter: @WD9EWK

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