Sunday, June 23, 2013

ARRL Field Day 2013 - Satellite Fun

The annual Field Day was June 22-23rd this year, and as usual there was a lot of activity on the satellites!!  With so many satellite operators trying to access the limited number of sats at once, it certainly was a challenge to make two-way contacts this weekend.  Below are some observations from a few passes.

The FM satellite SO-50 was near saturation on the 6/22 1827z pass, with only the strongest stations able to get through and capture the transponder.  Stations heard  included K6MMM, W6YX, W6TO, KO6TZ, K6CLX, and K6AGF.  I didn't hear too many stations complete QSO's due to the congestion, but some lucky stations made a few contacts.

Satellite FO-29 was very busy on the 6/22 1831z pass.  I copied stations W7PIG, W6YX, K6MMM, AI6RE, KU6S, W7SU, W7AIN, and N6HN.  Activity across the FO-29 transponder was spaced out pretty well, and a number of stations were able to make two-way contacts.

Satellite AO-07 was hammered pretty hard on the 6/23 0002z pass!  Not many stations were able to get in through the congestion, but I copied WA2DPI, W6YX, W7SAA, W0GQ, K4BFT, KO6TH, K4FEG, W6ARA.  Screenshots from my SDR's view of the transponder downlink are below (you can see what AO-07 normally looks like on an SDR in this earlier post:

The middle four panels show significant distortion across AO-07's passband, notably many parallel zigzaggy lines.  Trying to copy any single station via the analog radio (FT-817ND) was really difficult, as the satellite transponder was probably reacting to the wildly varying input power levels coming up from below

Satellite VO-52 was really congested on the 6/23 0255z pass.  I copied K6MMM, W6ARA, and W6YX, and a few other stations.  Screenshots of the transponder during the pass are below.  (See my earlier post for what VO-52 normally looks like through an SDR).

In the first three frames above you can see some strong stations and some tuner-uppers.  The middle three frames show distortion of the whole passband, probably due to the number of stations trying to get into the transponder at the same time.  The last two frames show how the transponder activity has tapered off as the satellite footprint left the majority of the field day sites, with just a few stations remaining on the satellite.

Overall, it was a lot of fun to listen to the satellites during this Field Day weekend!  Sometimes the satellites are pretty quiet, so it was nice to hear so many operators trying to make contacts and complete QSOs.

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