AO-91 is a new FM s amateur satellite. It was known as Fox-1B before launch. It motivated myself and several Club members including Jim K4LIX and Bob KK4DIV to give it a try. It had been a while since I had the gear together to do an FM satellite. I started with the Kenwood TH-D72A and programmed the AO-91 frequencies in the rig memories. It had been long enough that I had to rediscover that the programming cable for the D72A is just a USB cable.
Greg N4KGL's photo by Phil N4STC
My first attempt was Saturday at the field behind the Panama City ARC Clubhouse. My antenna was the Elk log periodic. The bird was very crowded. I came up with nothing. I did hear Matt NJ4Y very well. Immediately after AO-91, AO-85 came over, and I got a couple including Bob KE4AL my friend in Dothan, Alabama. So my gear was working. I later emailed Matt, NJ4Y. He said that he was using a bit more than HT power and he recommended that for the busy day passes. He also suggested trying one of those middle of the night passes. I did an AO-91 pass at 2 AM Sunday morning with the Kenwood TH-D72A. It was very different due to fewer hams trying to use the bird. It sounded crystal clear just like a local repeater. I got three contacts.
I planned to met Bob KK4DIV at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida for a Sunday A0-91 day pass. In preparation, I gathered my Yaesu FT 8900 and programmed it. That would give me more power than an HT. I joined Bob and Phil N4STC at the park. The weather was excellent. The A0-91 pass yielded two contacts including Matt NJ4Y at EL98.
Another one of Bob KK4DIV's cool videos. Notice Suzy in the background at the park.
So I have now been checked out on the FM birds again. There will be more opportunities with another bird in the sky thanks to AMSAT. Bob and Phil and I discussed setting up a base satellite station as a club project. None of us have a home station or experience with a satellite tracking antenna. I expect that Chris VA3ECO, another one of my satellite Elmers, can help. He is expected to arrive in Panama City early January. He has a satellite station up in Ontario.
Note the Kenwood TH-D72A and the Yaesu FT 8900 are capable of full duplex on satellites. Bob is using the Yaesu FT 7900. When you hear yourself on the downlink you know you go through. Phil N4STC was using an HT to copy us. The downlink is on two meters so you do not have to worry about Doppler.
I got inspired to create an online Portable Activation Guide for sites nearby Panama City Florida. Click on this link or the image.
This Portable Activation Guide is an aid to local and visiting hams in the Panama City, Florida area. Use it to choose a site and an activation program for your outing. We are blessed with many beautiful sites nearby. Some are on the saltwater gulf or bay which can enhance radio propagation. Our weather allows activations year round.
I am happy to report that the plan, the weather, and the radio propagation came together nicely for the November 4th, 2017 RaDAR Challenge, RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. It originates with Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE in South Africa. I was pleased to have Dennis WA6QKN as a teammate. Our venue was St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL. We operated at four locations within the four hour period. We traveled one kilometer by foot between locations. It was necessary to make five contacts before moving to the next stop.
Location 1 was the parking lot at the Jetties area. I chose to take a gamble and do an FO-29 satellite pass. I felt it was a gamble since I have not been too active on satellites lately. Fortunately, I made nine contacts. Among the contacts were Bob KE4AL in Dothan and Chris VA3ECO in Ontario. They had a heads up I was on satellite. Chris is my Elmer for linear satellites.
Location 2 was one kilometer North at a clearing near the turpentine mill. I chose 40 meters. Dennis and I erected a 40-meter dipole supported by three ten-foot fiberglass poles. The rig was the KX2 running ten watts.The low dipole supports NVIS. We were able to work Tom WD0HBR and Don K1DC my friends in Dothan, Alabama 75 miles away on CW. We got a couple more CW contacts and worked Don KK4DWC in Southport on SSB.
Location 3 was Sandy Point. It is on the Grand Lagoon shore and gives us a wide azimuth over saltwater. I chose the Chameleon whip with transformer and two counterpoise wires for vertical polarization. Verticals on the salt water are always a great performer. We operated 20 SSB. We picked up Jim K4LIX local and four more. Two were in Canada including Chris VA3ECO. We had roughly 45 minutes left in the four hours when we packed up.
Location 4 was the picnic area still near Grand Lagoon. We chose the Chameleon vertical again. I spotted us on DX Summit as WWFF KFF-1917. It created a pile-up which was just what we needed on 20-meter CW. The chasers included two stations from Spain, one from Canada and Joe N2CX who was at a park in New Jersey.
I often make three locations in the four hours and am struggling to make the fourth. This time we made four which is par for the course. I think Dennis made the four locations possible with his help with the gear. We took turns pulling the cart. Maybe RaDAR on foot is a little like golf. We did enjoy four great venues in one outing. The only thing we lacked was a RaDAR to RaDAR contact. Tom G0SBW heard us in the UK but missed working him. There were a number of other RaDAR operators active. You can find their reports on the RaDAR Community on Google+. Welcome back to Lucy M6ECG!
RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. Dennis WA6QKN and I will be teaming up for the Nov 4th RaDAR Challenge. We have chosen to operate at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL from 1400 - 1800 UTC or 9 AM to 1 PM CDT. We will set up portable and make five contacts. Then we will walk at least one kilometer to the next location. As a team, we will combine our contacts so both WA6QKN and N4KGL call signs count. The exchange is RST, name and grid square. If grid square not known QTH will do. See the rules at http://www.n4kgl.info/2017/10/get-ready-for-november-4th-2017-radar.html All chasers welcome and appreciated.
The first stop will be at the parking lot near the Jetties. Pin A on the photo. I will operate the FO-29 Linear satellite pass using N4KGL call. Dennis WA6QKN will be on 146.565 FM Simplex as these simplex contacts count. While we transition we will monitor 145.210 W4RYZ repeater.
The second stop Pin B on photo will be near the boat ramp on Grand Lagoon in the second hour. I will start on 40 meters HF see frequencies below. I will work my way down the list as needed. It is an anyway which way we can situation to make contacts. So bear with us. For local ops 146.565 FM simplex is good at each stop.
The third stop Pin C will be at Sandy Point in the third hour. I will start on 20 meters HF and work up. Additional stops are a maybe. We might even keep going after four hours.
St. Andrews State Park is POTA KFF-1917. Watch for spots on DX Summit. If you are operating portable or chasing give me a heads up. RaDAR to RaDAR is a top priority.
FO-29 will be visible from Panama City, on Saturday, November 4 09:03:16 AM 1403 UTC
Starting in the S (172°)
Ending in the NNW (345°) at 09:19:43 AM
Maximum elevation: 66°
W4RYZ Repeater145.210 - 100 hz tone
146.565 FM Simplex
For the first time, I will do a team effort for the RaDAR Challenge. Dennis WA6QKN and I will use our own calls and combine our contacts. We will make at least five contacts together and move by foot to the next location. We will only take credit for contacting a station once per band per mode. We may run a VHF station and HF station concurrently. This team effort is an experiment and perhaps the rules can be amended in the future to account for RaDAR teams.
Our chosen site is St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL. I have shown three stops A, B & C on the photo below. The distance between them is one kilometer. We will progress through the stops A-B-C-B-A as far as we can in 4 hours. The four hour period will be 1400 - 1800 UTC. We have the option to extend our outing and keep going after the four hours if we like. RaDAR transitions over 24 hours count for the special WWFF-KFF POTA RaDAR Awards. The park is reference KFF-1917.
At the first stop A, I will attempt to work five stations on the FO-29 linear satellite on SSB. This will require my Icom 910H and an Arrow Antenna. the pass info is
FO-29 will be visible from Panama City, on Saturday, November 4 09:03:16 AM Starting in the S (172°) Ending in the NNW (345°) at 09:19:43 AM Maximum elevation: 66°
I will return the sat gear to the van after the pass. The 1st sat contact will count as a bonus.
We will rely on a KX2 at ten watts on HF. The HF antennas will include a low 40-meter dipole with 10-foot poles, an N6BT Bravo 7K vertical and an Alex Loop magnetic loop. I have a beach cart to carry the antennas that will double as a table.
I provide more details to coordinate local and RaDAR to RaDAR contacts as we get closer. Good luck to all participants and chasers. Be Safe!