[amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites

Devin L. Ganger devin at thecabal.org
Sun Dec 10 21:55:52 UTC 2017

I've not yet gotten on the birds, so I am only an interested observer at this point, but it seemed to me the original complaint (and reference to public shaming) was regarding those rare people who treat the FM birds as their own personal fiefdom on a ongoing basis.

I've not been a ham for a long time, but I know enough to know that sort of behavior is not accidental. It is the result of a willful choice to remain ignorant of good operational practice, or in knowing it, to not bother to use it.

Newbies like me will make our mistakes. But most of us want to learn from them and gladly accept feedback. We WANT to see things from another perspective.

Observing (and occasionally poking our noses out to participate) in these discussions is very educational, but occasionally frustrating because it seems like there is a well-established consensus on how to share these resources within the community, but occasionally we talk past each other on deciding how to approach those who aren't playing as nicely.

Finally, one thought -- just as the DX world has trackers, has anyone at AMSAT or anywhere else thought of putting  up a website specifically for satellite operators to notify others if they plan to activate a specific grid or perform some other non-standard activity? Such a website could be tied in with various social media channels to watch for specific hashtags/keywords (so folks already posting have to make one tiny change) and collate the information on the website, both in human-readable and machine readable feeds (so, for example, a pass predictor app could consume that feed and tell you "hey, WA7DLG is going to activate grid XXYZ on this next pass")? Such a setup would take a little bit of work to put together, but with some community user education, it could become a valuable resource *in addition* to the existing methods folks are using. Knowledge is one of the big pieces in combatting the "I didn't know" game and making it as easy to get to, in as many methods as possible, makes it more likely such a resource would be used.

I am certainly willing to volunteer time and resources to host and help develop such a resource if anyone else is interested.

Devin L. Ganger (WA7DLG)
email: devin at thecabal.org
web: Devin on Earth
cell: +1 425.239.2575

-----Original Message-----
From: AMSAT-BB [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On Behalf Of Bernie and Cheryl
Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 1:28 PM
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites

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 comers.

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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Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. AMSAT-NA makes this open forum available to all interested persons worldwide without requiring membership. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the official views of AMSAT-NA.
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