[amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites

R.T.Liddy k8bl at ameritech.net
Mon Dec 11 03:26:32 UTC 2017

Please include your Call when posting so we have a clue who you are.
TNX/73,      Bob  K8BL

      From: Scott via AMSAT-BB <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
 To: daron at wilson.org; hamdan at ix.netcom.com; amsat-bb at amsat.org 
 Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 10:05 PM
 Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Behavior on FM Satellites
I've got to go with the crowd that thinks poor operating needs to be called out, particularly on the FM birds.
The ARRL has called out bad operating publicly in QST since Hiram Percy Maxim's "The Old Man" rants (their words, not mine) - feedback is a gift - and if folks don't call it out, it can't improve.
I won't go into the issue of old timers repeatedly chatting on busy FM birds - but will point out there are a number that very patiently wait and listen, and with a very potent signal call newcomers that are trying to have a first QSO or two, making the new guy very happy and setting a good example for everyone. 
For those that shy from social media - if you were to look - you'd find DX operators severely discouraged by rotten operating, and being fairly vocal about why they don't think it's worth the effort.  Adrian's post is yet another example of the same thing.
You can't shrug off what's happening with "the kids are new." The kind of behavior that one wrote about, and that I listened to, was several operators in a row calling without anyone waiting for the station called to acknowledge the calling operator.  Lack of situational awareness is a kind description of it.
Public shamming of a new guy getting his feet wet probably isn't the way to go, but Paul didn't seem to suggest that except as a last resort.  Those FM birds are a very scarce resource, put up there by some very dedicated people that spent alot of time and effort to make it happen. They are often available for less than an hour a day each to the entire ham population.
People need to actively reach out to folks that need help, in an encouraging way where it's innocent enough, and in a more direct way where it's thoughtless or worse.
And we probably have to ask ourselves how it is that new comers show up with so little an idea about what's expected.  I can't imagine that happening with anyone from Matt's radio club for example, but if you're encouraging folks to try satellites, make sure you educate them about how to go about it, beyond buying an HT and an Arrow and pointing it up.
Rant over.  TOM
In a message dated 12/10/2017 5:55:27 PM Central Standard Time, daron at wilson.org writes:

 Thanks Bernie, 

I think you hit most of the highpoints. All operating is about courtesy, it
should be a highlight for us at all times. However please remember that
amateur radio operators are in the hobby for different reasons.

Some folks hang works of art and family photos on the wall, some folks like
certificates. Some folks like to have a conversation on the radio, some
folks prefer to exchange only callsign, grid and signal and do not wish to
talk further. Some folks might be very well technologically connected and
choose (or not) to use that connectivity for amateur radio planning, while
others may prefer to use amateur radio without being dependant on social
media. Some folks sit in a hamshack with multiple radios, computer access,
tracking systems and 'plan' their contacts based on a footprint...others
stand in the yard with a yagi and two handhelds and just work whomever comes

I'm not a contester, but I sure like to pick up a new grid square and more
importantly as one who has roved and done satellite work, I like to share
them when I can be helpful. The satellites are a limited resource, we need
to take turns and let others in. 

There have been west coast passes where I've listened to the downlink and
I'm the ONLY one on the pass. I've had passes where I could visit with
someone a few states away for most of the pass, stopping between comments to
ask if anyone else wants in. And I've had passes where I tried for 5
minutes and couldn't squeak my callsign in.

For the most part I think we're all willing to play nice, but certainly we
need a reminder and there is no doubt we need to continue educating people
how to use satellites.

Daron N7HQR CN74

> -----Original Message-----
> From: AMSAT-BB [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On Behalf Of Bernie 
> and Cheryl
> Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 3:27 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
> 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
> 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

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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.
Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
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