Amateur Radio News

FM Satellites: Good Operating Practices for Beginning and Experienced Operators

AMSAT news - 6 hours 6 min ago

With the success of AMSAT’s Fox project, more FM satellites are in the sky, and more are on the way. As a result, many radio amateurs are getting interested in working satellites for the first time. If you are new to FM satellite operating, welcome!

While working stations through an FM satellite is fairly easy, there are some operating practices that all operators should follow. Since FM satellites are a shared resource, all operators during a pass need to help keep the passes accessible for as many stations as possible.

Many of these guidelines are based around two simple “Golden Rules” of satellite operating: Don’t transmit if you can’t hear the satellite, and operate using full-duplex capabilities if at all possible, meaning you can transmit and receive at the same time. Some radios offer full-duplex capabilities, or you can use two separate radios to achieve this.

1. Share the Pass

FM satellites are just like a repeater: only one person may transmit at a time. Since a satellite is overhead for 15 minutes at most, each operator will want to make some contacts. Please don’t monopolize a pass; let your other ham colleagues have some time on the pass as well. It takes a lot of self-discipline, but sometimes the best engagement is to make one single QSO and sit back to listen for the remainder of the pass.

2. Let Other QSOs Finish

Please let other stations complete their QSO before you call another station. It’s very frustrating when you are calling a station to complete a QSO and another station starts a call before your QSO is completed. Calling someone who has just called another station is considered rude. It’s the equivalent of being interrupted; nobody likes being interrupted. If you hear a QSO in progress, please let that QSO finish before you make your own call.

3. Minimize Repeat QSOs

There are often times where you will hear stations on a pass that you have already worked several times. If a pass has other callers, please refrain from calling a station you have already made contact with numerous times. If you think about it, there are only so many QSOs that can be made during a given pass. Each QSO that is made between two station that have already contacted each other prevents another QSO from happening, one that might be a new grid square or state for another station, or a station’s first QSO.

4. Don’t Call CQ

Please don’t call “CQ Satellite” on an FM satellite. It’s the same as calling CQ on a repeater; you just don’t do it. Generally, it’s better to pick out a station and call them directly. However If you want to announce your presence an FM satellite pass during a pass with low activity, simply give your call and grid (example: “W1ABC FN32”). If you have given your callsign several times and are not getting calls, there may be a problem with your station. Take a break and examine your station before transmitting again.

5. Use Phonetics

It can be very difficult during a busy pass to hear and understand a callsign correctly. Using standard phonetics will make initial copy of your callsign much easier, which reduces the need for repeated transmissions. This makes each QSO shorter, which make more of the pass available for others. It is not a race. There is no need to give your callsign quickly.

6. Rare/Portable Stations Take Priority

It is common for satellite operators to take their equipment with them to portable locations, to transmit from rare grid squares or other DX countries. Courtesy should be extended to these stations; they are providing a rare location to all satellite operators and will be at that location for a limited time. If you hear a station on from a rare grid or DXCC entity, use good judgement before calling stations in more common grids. If the rarer station is working a lot of people on a pass, it may be best to let that station work as many people as possible. There will always be another pass to work more common stations. Info on how to know when rare stations will be on is at the bottom of this list.

7. Use Only the Minimum Power Required

Generally, 5 watts from an HT and a directional antenna is plenty of power to work an FM satellite from horizon to horizon.

8. Work the New Stations

Satellites are for everybody, and the satellite community LOVES hearing new calls on the FM birds. Regular satellite operators should pay close attention during a pass; if you hear a callsign that’s new to you, take the time to call them. You may be that station’s first satellite QSO; what an honor!

How to Get the Latest News on Satellite Activity

There are several ways satellite operators can stay abreast of operations from rare grids or DXCC entities. AMSAT’s website has an area for Upcoming Satellite Operations; check this regularly for the latest info. If you’re on Facebook, you can also join the AMSAT-NA Facebook group; many operators post their activity news in the group. It’s also a good place to meet other satellite operators and ask questions if you’re new.

Many of the most active satellite operators use Twitter to post their real-time activity. If you’re on Twitter, look for posts that tag @AMSAT or use the hash tag #AMSAT. You will quickly see who the frequent posters are; be sure to follow them for the latest info on where they will be operating from.

If you’re not interested in social media, you can subscribe to the AMSAT email reflector or the AMSAT Weekly News Bulletin, which features an area highlighting upcoming operations.

Lastly, you can always listen to a pass. If a lot of people are calling a specific station, that’s a good indicator they are at a rare location. This is especially important at the beginning or ending of a pass, when the satellite’s footprint is more likely to include DX stations.

We hope that these guidelines provide a way for all satellite users to cooperate and share each pass. We want you to work lots of stations and have fun, but not in a way that prevents others from having a good time on the satellites, too. Be neighborly and a good steward of the satellites, and we can all have fun for a long time.

Categories: Amateur Radio News

Amateur Radio Volunteers Active in Latest Round of California Wildfires

ARRL News - 8 hours 34 min ago

The massive and barely contained Thomas Fire in Southern California has consumed more than 230,500 acres, and the emergency has caused residents in fire-threatened areas to evacuate. Amateur Radio volunteers remain active supporting communication for American Red Cross shelters in Ventura County. More evacuations are likely, although the need for Amateur Radio assistance remains dynamic. Cal Fi...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

January 2018 QST Debuts Fresh, New Design

ARRL News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 17:08

QST -- ARRL's monthly member journal -- is more than a century old, and with the major exception of color printing throughout the magazine starting in December 2000, it’s remained mostly unchanged for the past couple of decades. Starting with the January 2018 issue of QST, now available to members in digital form, several noticeable changes are being made to the journal’s format, design, and si...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

The K7RA Solar Update

ARRL News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:02

Solar activity declined slightly over the past week, another period which saw multiple days (five) with no sunspots. We will see more of these periods over the next 2-3 years as the sun progresses toward solar minimum.

There was a geomagnetic storm peaking on December 5. In Alaska, the College A index reached 55, and peaked around the middle of the UTC day with K index reaching 7 over two 3-hour...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

Arizona Repeater Association Joins Maxim Society with Latest Donation

ARRL News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:59

At the December 2 Superstition Hamfest in Mesa, Arizona, the Arizona Repeater Association (ARA) presented its annual donation of $2,500 to the ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund. This marks the fourth consecutive year that the club has contributed.

“ARRL is deeply appreciative to all the members of the Arizona Repeater Association for their ongoing support to the ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund,” said ARRL D...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

Pearl Harbor Commemorative Special Events on the Air

ARRL News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:26

Special event stations are on the air to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The Azalea Coast Amateur Radio club (NI4BK) is sponsoring a special event to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day from the Battleship North Carolina (BB-45) Memorial in Wilmington, North Carolina. Two stations will be on the air on voice, digital, and CW modes (SSB on or about 14.227 MHz; CW ...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

Report from India: Ham Radio Aids Rescue of Two Fishermen

ARRL News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:56

According to a December 6 report in the Deccan Chronicle newspaper in India, members of the Ham Radio and Emergency Communication Society in Idukki assisted in the rescue of two fishermen, identified only as Maniyan and Anil from Veli. They had been stranded in the Indian Ocean for 2 days as a result of Cyclone Ockhi, when a small boat with a VHF radio, in touch with the group’s wide-range Calv...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

Changing of the International Space Station Guard Set for December 13

ARRL News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 08:31

Three International Space Station crew members are scheduled to end their mission and return to Earth on Thursday, December 14, just days before a new increment of space travelers begins its mission to take their places on station. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik, and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, and Sergey Ryazanskiy will undock the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft from the space statio...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

The Doctor Will See You Now!

ARRL News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 07:01

“Listener Mailbag” is the topic of the new (December 7) episode of the “ARRL The Doctor is In“ podcast. Listen...and learn! More than a half-million downloads since its debut in April 2016 attest to the podcast’s popularity.

Sponsored by DX Engineering, “ARRL The Doctor is In” is an informative discussion of all things technical. Listen on your computer, tablet, or smartphone -- whenever and whe...

Categories: Amateur Radio News

2017-12-06 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Wednesday Dec 6, 2017
Time: 5:55 PM
Duration: 3 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 12°
Approach: 10° above NNW
Departure: 10° above NNE

2017-12-07 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Thursday Dec 7, 2017
Time: 6:40 PM
Duration: less than 1 minute
Maximum Elevation: 11°
Approach: 10° above NNW
Departure: 11° above N

2017-12-08 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Friday Dec 8, 2017
Time: 5:47 PM
Duration: 2 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 11°
Approach: 10° above NNW
Departure: 10° above NNE

2017-12-09 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Saturday Dec 9, 2017
Time: 6:32 PM
Duration: 1 minute
Maximum Elevation: 14°
Approach: 10° above NNW
Departure: 14° above N

2017-12-10 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Sunday Dec 10, 2017
Time: 5:40 PM
Duration: 3 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 12°
Approach: 10° above NNW
Departure: 10° above NE

2017-12-10 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Sunday Dec 10, 2017
Time: 7:15 PM
Duration: less than 1 minute
Maximum Elevation: 12°
Approach: 10° above NW
Departure: 12° above NNW

2017-12-11 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Monday Dec 11, 2017
Time: 6:24 PM
Duration: 2 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 20°
Approach: 11° above NNW
Departure: 20° above NNE

2017-12-12 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Tuesday Dec 12, 2017
Time: 5:32 PM
Duration: 4 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 15°
Approach: 11° above NNW
Departure: 11° above NE

2017-12-12 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Tuesday Dec 12, 2017
Time: 7:07 PM
Duration: 2 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 28°
Approach: 10° above NW
Departure: 28° above NW

2017-12-13 ISS Sighting

SpotTheStation - Sightings for Marysville - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 21:34
Date: Wednesday Dec 13, 2017
Time: 6:15 PM
Duration: 4 minutes
Maximum Elevation: 35°
Approach: 10° above NW
Departure: 24° above ENE

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