Saturday, January 24, 2015

Recordings of AC0RA/M on SO-50 during January 2015 VHF Contest

These are a few recordings I made of SO-50 passes in the last 24 hours.  Wyatt, AC0RA, is operating from his truck for the 2015 January VHF contest.  In his "spare time," he has activated a few grids for the satellite crowd.  I recorded this directly from my Icom IC-9100 USB cable feed into Audacity.

From EN44-45:

From EN54 (only partial - I switched to AO-73:)

From EN55:

Photo of AC0RA/M, courtesy of @WyattAC0RA Twitter feed:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What are all those sounds on FO-29? A waterfall perspective!

If you've been reading my blog or Tweets, you know that I am a fan of SDR and satellites.  By using a Software Defined Receiver, in my case a FUNcube Dongle Pro+, I can see/listen/record an entire satellite passband at one time.  This means I can visualize all the frequencies in use on the transponder.

It can be very telling.

Let's go left to right on my HDSDR display:

  1. That's the FO-20 beacon on CW around 435.793.  
  2. There is some strong QRM just above that.  It's terrestrial and I've seen it coming through FO-29 many times.
  3. The next signal is the "center spike" of the dongle itself.  Ignore that.
  4. The long squiggly line is a "swisher" -- someone who's transmitting a CW tone and moving their uplink across the transponder. Some people have a disease and continue to do this sometimes throughout an entire pass.  They need help.
  5. The next three signals are SSB phone.  All within 10 kHz of the center of the transponder's passband.  At least these guys aren't all 2 kHz apart.  
  6. The next signals displayed are some terrestrial FM.  Another common occurrence.
  7. The last and final signal displayed is someone on SSB "testing."

Bear in mind I have this all on recording and I can play it back any time, just as if the same satellite pass and same people were on it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Should you be a part of the AMSAT Community or an AMSAT Organization?

There are plenty of people who operate on the amateur radio satellites who can identify as being part of the AMSAT community.  Many of them are what I'd consider active operators - those heard on passes multiple times in a week or any given month.

The complex question I pose today is "what is the difference between the AMSAT community and the AMSAT organization and why does it matter?"

The AMSAT community of operators isn't launching satellites.  AMSAT organizations with donors and volunteers are launching satellites.

Being active on the birds does not mean you are supporting the AMSAT community.  It means you are active in the community as a whole.  That's great.  People know your callsign, your name, and have you in their log.  That doesn't get new satellites built and launched.  Sending a few emails to the AMSAT-BB or other email lists doesn't exactly count as volunteering to help the AMSAT organization grow, improve, and make launch goals.

I'm not the most active AMSAT volunteer on the planet.  I've been trying to do a few hamfests a year, write some Journal articles, keep my membership current, and make an occasional donation. I tend to think every little bit of support helps - no matter what role you play.  I encourage new operators to join an AMSAT organization with a vision and a proven track record.

AMSAT-NA is one such organization.  They have successfully launched multiple satellites over their many years of existence.    If you are not a member, you should be.  That is the "minimum" you should do as an active member of the AMSAT community.  If you are located in another region with an AMSAT-affiliated organization planning a new satellite, join them and get involved.  Don't sit on your duff and brag about how active you are.

Remember, satellites are an infrastructure-based operating environment like repeaters.  Infrastructure has an associated cost.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 W5PFG/P Roving in Review

In 2014, I operated from 40 unique maidenhead grid squares on satellite.  The majority of these were on work-related trips.  I enjoyed each and every contact.

FN35-FN45 was my first real adventure of the year, operating near Montreal, QC, Canada.

The most "adventurous" operation was from DL88 in Big Bend National Park.

EL28 was the most dangerous.  I thought mosquitoes were going to carry me away.

By far and large, and the place I have operated from the most over the years, my favorite place for satellite work is DM84/85/94/95.  It is 3,600' ASL and flat for 360 degrees to the horizon.  Very easy to work any and all satellites there.

Here are some older QSL's from DM95-area ops:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

FO-29 Pass Recording

It's a good idea to record satellite pass audio.
Most of the time I use it to find out who was on a satellite pass I might have missed.

Occasionally you hear funny things. 
We all have fun, goofing off, and sharing good conversation with friends at times.

Sometimes you just need to blow off a little steam and let everyone know how you really feel.

The best part is at the very end.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I finally broke down and did it... (Satellite WAS)

Finally, I submitted for my OSCAR (Satellite) Worked All States Award from the ARRL.  It arrived back in November.

I have had all 50 states worked for nearly three years.  I had about 45 worked in under a year.  The last pesky ones were HI, NH, and RI.  I had worked RI but didn't get a card for quite a while.  NH was tricky.  Sure, once I got it, then I get more confirmations out of the state in no time.  That's how it works.  

I was able to confirm 45 of the 50 via Logbook of the World. I submitted a hybrid application.  The five remaining paper cards had to be checked by an official ARRL Awards Checker.

Monday, December 22, 2014

W1AW/KH6 on FO-29 - December 22, 2014

Here's a recording I made of several stations working W1AW/KH6 in Hawaii on FO-29.

This was a 7 degree elevation pass for me.  About the time I worked W1AW/KH6, I was beyond TCA and at about 5 degrees.

Besides AA5PK working Hawaii from his Texas QTH at 2 degrees, you also hear WA4NVM working Hawaii from his Tennessee QTH at around 1 or less degrees.  Good job!

At the end of the pass you hear KL7XJ in Alaska.