[amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites

Bernie and Cheryl hamdan at ix.netcom.com
Sun Dec 10 21:27:30 UTC 2017

Dear Folks:

I certainly don't want to argue with the central premise, i.e., that 
when there's a rare grid square, it is good operating practice to back 
off of the bird and let everyone have a crack at working the "DX".  
Neither do I have a problem with good operating practice dictating that 
people not hog the bird (as has been described by Paul and other 
posters).  I do have a problem with public shaming, especially if not 
preceded with a congenial email suggesting that the operator in question 
give people a chance. Most folks have their email addresses on QRZ.com.

The important thing to remember is that AMSAT hasn't published (to my 
knowledge) a rule stating that /only/ certain types of QSO's can occur 
on the FM satellites.  I just looked at the website and there is a 
section called "Working Your First Satellite" and I don't see anything 
on there like that.  The section on "Communications Satellites" has 
nothing like that either.  Unless the control operators of the satellite 
(e.g., AO-91) made a decision in that vein, then the bird is open to all 

Paul's post mentioned that the FM birds open up the hobby to a lot of 
people.  That means the FM birds are going to have new people on them, 
and I think good operating practice indicates that people are welcomed 
on satellites, and if they make a mistake, the "suggestion" to improve 
their operating practice occurs in such a way that they aren't shamed, 
i.e., a tasteful email or perhaps even a snail mail.

His post also mentioned that he monitored Twitter and took some other 
steps while preparing for the pass.  I have to be honest and say I'm not 
a big social media person.  I only opened up a Facebook page last year, 
and don't really know or care to know how to get on Twitter.  Other than 
checking when AOS occurs, I typically don't do that much preparation for 
a pass.  I don't think that disqualifies me from being able to operate 
on the birds.  Like I said above, I will back off if I'm aware that 
there's a rare grid square on there, but I don't always know that's the 
case.  All of us are coming within the footprint of the bird at 
different times, and so the newest person in the footprint won't always 
know what's happening at that moment.

I guess the reason why this thread affected me to the point that I felt 
the need to reply is that I could see the situation degenerating very 
quickly into a war between two classes of operators.  And then, given 
the nature of FM birds, it will be impossible for anyone to use them (it 
would be relatively easy for one angry operator to jam the bird during a 
pass), short of handing out CTSS tone codes to a select group.  Until 
something like that happens, the satellites are a shared resource, and 
we're always going to be faced with folks who screw up unintentionally. 
I'd just hate to see a flame war on the birds like we sometimes see on 
the internet.

I'm not suggesting that satellite operating is "The Wild Wild West".  I 
think it's just a matter of education, and courtesy.

Admittedly, I'm on the FM birds rarely (I've operated AO-91 exactly 
once).  I prefer the linear transponder satellites with their 
opportunity to have a real conversation as opposed to shouting out grid 
squares, but recognize (as Adrian points out in his post) that the setup 
for those birds requires more infrastructure that may be beyond a lot of 
people.  However, I've been around a while (my first satellite QSO was 
on RS-10 back in 1994) and I remember how excited I was when I made my 
first QSO's, and know how devastated I would have been if someone called 
me out in a public forum because I did something wrong that I didn't 
know was wrong.

All I'm asking for is that all operators in good faith be granted a 
modicum of courtesy, and we should be careful before deciding that 
someone is acting in bad faith.  I love this hobby and my heart aches at 
some of the stuff I've heard on 75 meters, and on the local 2 meter 
repeaters.   I'd hate to see that transfer over to the satellite 
community, which by and large, seems to be pretty professional.

See you all on the birds.  73 de Bernie, KF0QS

On 12/10/2017 11:35 AM, JoAnne Maenpaa wrote:
>> There's no need to work a hundred stations on every pass of AO-91,
>> especially when two guys in rare grids with low power equipment are
>> attempting to hand them out. It's all about situational awareness.
> I remember situations like this arising during AO-51 operation. Of
> particular note beside working 100 stations on a 10 minute pass were those
> fellows on AO-51 with enough aluminum and RF wattage to capture the AO-51
> receiver then greet each other every morning like they hadn't spoken for 20
> years. They would then give each other a weather report. This was followed
> with a status of breakfast report. We often found out someone's dog needed
> to step outside! Then the same 3 or 4 fellows would repeat this again on the
> next pass. They would begin with the missing-person from 20 years ago
> greetings ... even though they had already greeted each other 90 minutes
> ago.
> Other operators began note these boorish manners and after a while much of
> that behavior was gradually moderated and mostly went away.
> --
> 73 de JoAnne K9JKM
> k9jkm at amsat.org
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