[amsat-bb] A Critique on Operations of the FM Birds

Chris Hoffman cq.kg6o at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 20:25:01 UTC 2020

We all want and need more good operators on the FM Birds, and each pass is
a severely-limited resource.

Unfortunately, I am constantly bearing witness to operating practices which
run counter to these facts.

To promote more operators using the birds we have, so that they can give up
new grid squares, and perhaps become more active down the road, and in
order to build the AMSAT membership I offer the following:

FOR *ALL* FM SATELLITE OPERATORS: Please update your personal/favored Best
Practices Guide with your reflection upon the following suggestions...

1) *Record your audio for each pass*
  - If you are running portable: I'm in love  with my little Sony voice
recorder that has simultaneous audio in and out on 3.5mm jacks.
  - If you can run 50w, and/or high gain, you have zero excuses not to do

1b) When you are recording your passes, please *don't ask for callsign
  - Just be sure the entire callsign was clear for the recording.
  - That repeat takes up an entire window for a new contact.

2) Keep your contact to *pass*ing *no more than the exchange (e.g. callsign
and grid square)*
  - Even one extra transmission soaks valuable bird time needed for the
next contact to start, ad provides no added benefit to the community.
  - e.g. There is no need to let the distant operator know you sent them a

3) *Don't repeat contacts*, even just to say 'hello.'
  - It soaks an entire contact window for someone else, and that person
usually is not on the bird for every pass.
  - I have seen this, first-hand: hearing a conversation on a satellite
crushes new operators (literally and figuratively). They were waiting for a
window to make a contact on the only pass of the day, and hearing this
provided an excellent excuse for the new operators give up, and abandon sat
work entirely because they realize they may never be able to get to the
'level' of someone having that conversation, depriving the rest of us of
future new contacts.

4) *Don't use 50w †*
  - I continually hear big-gun stations wind up crushing less-powerful
operators trying to get into the bird -- many of whom are usually equipped
with just a handheld and a handheld beam... and many of those are just
trying to make their first contact via our 'smart space debris'.
  - This practice alsso keeps 'honest' 5-watt'ers from being able to score
needed Grid Squares as the neelessly-stronger stations carelessly override
our signals... [aherm] especially when acting contrary to Suggestion '3'.

5) *Use Full Duplex*
  - Out of consideration for others, please do not try to make a
contact via the bird without a full-duplex radio and the ability to hear
others on the satellite.
  - Good-quailty Full-duplex FM radios are cheap and available online for
as little as $100, or new for $250 (DJ-G7).
  - By hearing your signal on the bird, you will begin to hear and
understand that your signal may be stepping on other operators also trying
to get in.
  - As soon as you hear yourself on top someone else, consult Suggestion 4,
and make a decision about how needed your contact is.

*  - *If it's a blank passband... THAT'S A GOOD THING! Every blank second
is an opportunity for a new station to make a call, which is what we want.
   - ASSUME that there is ALWAYS someone new on, usually with just an
arrow/elk and their handheld, trying to make their first contact.

VUCC wasn't earned in a day, but it shouldn't take 3 passes for one
operator to make a single contact.

I believe I may be re-sending some variation of this [message] each time I
encounter more of the operating practices I've recently observed on
AO-91/92 and SO-50 which sparked this Email*.

† 47 CFR § 97.313 <https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/97.313> -
transmitter power necessary'
* Flagrancy may earn an edited copy of these suggestions sent directly to
you. Repeated Flagrancy may earn a shame-mail to the group.

KG6O atsin arrl dot net

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