- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

LEOs: Easy to Use?

Steve Heininger (N9OI) on May 31, 2004
View comments about this article!

Back in March an article was posted concerning the need for more "EasySats". I completely agree with the author on this subject, I have loved working the FM birds. But now I'm going to sound like a whiner.

I began working the FM birds, AO-27 and UO-14 a few years ago and my daughter began working them soon after. Between the two of us we have over 1200 sat contacts. I was really excited to be able to earn a VUCC award using just a couple of watts on an HT and an arrow antenna. After all, that's the way we said it should work. But we gave up the birds when they became the domain of few high-powered stations that literally took them over. Couple high power with a lack of courtesy and we just gave up.

The final straw came about a year ago when my daughter was trying to work a pre-arranged contact with a ham who needed to work a YL or teenager for his AMSAT Elmer award. The two of them were repeated walked over as they attempted to make the contact and when they finally got a hold of each other, half way through the exchange another ham broke into the QSO and began talking to the guy. My daughter threw the arrow and the HT on the ground and has never tried again since then. We sent an e-mail to the offending ham asking for a little more courtesy and got back a response that "if you're going to work our sats with us you need more power". Not even an "I'm sorry", just an arrogant remark about "their" sats.

After reading the last article I decided to dust off the arrow and try again. Unfortunately the situation is no better and maybe worse. In the past three weeks, I've managed 1 contact. One AO-27 pass this past weekend was dominated by three hams the entire pass. Several other stations tried to get in but were simply walked over as the three continued their conversation. I've retired the arrow again, there are more rewarding ways to play ham radio.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KD5NVC on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have to agree, there are other operators out there that simply hit a switch and have a QSO with out allowing others to share in the short time we have during the pass.

I too have been walked on, 36 out of 39 times I have attempted to make a contact via SAT.

Then again I don't have a large array and 500 watts either...


Glenn Breaux
Lafayette, Louisiana...TDY in Bakersfield Ca.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K0RS on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I can't imagine a worse mode for satellite operations than FM. The bloated bandwidth of an FM signal is uniquely ill-suited for satellite communication. Whoever decided to waste precious satellite resources on "easy" FM birds should be horse-whipped.

Complaints like this make the case for more "RS" style sats that support SSB and CW, with plenty of room for everyone in their passband. The RS birds were fun and entertaining, with interference normally only occuring when an operator inadvertantly drifted across someone else's frequency from Doppler shift.

With inputs and outputs on 15 and 10 meters, as well as 2m, some interesting propagation phenomena was often present. A friend of mine worked Europeans when the RS birds were over the continent and the input was on 15m. He actually worked DXCC this way. When 10m was open, I could frequently hear the sat's beacons when they were over the south pole from here in NA. On 2m I could work into (or hear) the birds on a pass from horizon to horizon with just a CushCraft 11 el yagi without even elevation control. Horizontal or vertical polariztion, it didn't matter.

Satellite operation used to be the epitome of courtesy. It's a shame to see FM operators bringing their terrestrial operating habits and holdover CB attitudes to the sats. Unfortunately, FM satellites are just repeaters in the sky. When the RS birds went SK, I lost all interest in satellite operation
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KD5KEI on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
FM Operators terrestrial operating habits? It's nice of you to single out all FM operators. It's not the band an operator uses that makes the amateur, it's the person. Even if a good quanity of your experience with FM operators is bad that doesn't make all FM operators the same. The same holds true for any band or mode, everywhere you go you are going to find undesireable people. The method of singling out entire bands, modes, or license classes is unfair to all other amatuers on those bands or in those license classes. We have the power to affect changes in they way people operate on any band or frequency. Log the callsign, record the conversation, band together and submit a report to the FCC. But if you must drive stakes between modes or bands, please continue.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KA4TUE on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This kinda reminds me of when KI8CA got on one of the LEO's several years ago using 300 watts... a simple email to him and the problem was resolved, he never came back on the Low Birds.
Why not try a simple, but friendly email to these offenders. IT JUST MIGHT WORK !
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N4OZI on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have never really understood the appeal, if any, of the FM birds. First and foremost, you can’t have a conversation with anyone due to the fact that everyone is now packed onto this one frequency that covers the entire country for only 20 minutes twice a day. That kind of format is just asking for frustration on any user.

I guess I’m just old school here, but I got my start on using the “easy sats” from years before. I use to have a great time getting my start in working satellites by working RS-13. It all started when I bought me a 2 meter all mode at a hamfest for $90. I dug around in my garage and found me a 2 meter 5 element beam and pointed it to where my free STSPLUS program said RS-13 was and I could hear the down link.

I then got a 45 degree elbow pipe from Home Depot and stuck it on a TV rotor from Radio Shack. I put my 2 meter beam on it and it worked pretty good! My up link was my HF rig on 15 meters and my 80 meter dipole. I use to work all kind of people with all the bandwidth I could ever need or want. After that I was hook on satellites.

I can’t imagine trying to get started in satellites using an FM bird. To me, the biggest drawback is the lack of bandwidth to be able to talk to someone rather than to just exchange a call and gridsquare.

About the only time the FM birds are somewhat fun is in the early morning. Nobody is up then and you can really talk to someone without feeling like you have to hurry up and get off.

Another problem is that there is just not much up there that is working right now due to the death of AO-40. That tends to make the FM birds more crowded.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W2CZ on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I only wish and hope that you have saved the email from the offending hams. Cut and paste the email reply onto a free website (there are a few)or usenet and let let everyone know who these rude folks are. Thankfully most people can be reminded about courtesy and that's all it takes. Others require a public flogging in order to get the message across.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K2WH on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
No sympathy here. Trying to work the sats with an HT and a handheld antenna, is bare minimum for making any contacts via these birds. Lots of station are using directional antennas, automatic tracking and higher power. When I was on the sats, I used 50 watts into eggbeaters and was only marginally successful.

I would imagine you would like the entire country to wait for your daughter to have and finish her qso, but that aint' gonna happen. Courtesy? When I first got on the birds, I tried but found out real quick, its survival of the fittest or the one with the biggest signal. I was going to get a 160 watt amp to be one of the biggest but soon forgot about that and gave up working the birds for the time being.

I agree with others here that FM usage on these sats is a dumb idea, it is still the most used mode in amateur radio and I'm sure thats what drove the pursuit to an FM bird. Whoever heard of the entire country trying to use a high elevation repeater at the same time? Well basically thats what happens with these FM birds.

RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K0RS on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KD5KEI queries:

"FM Operators terrestrial operating habits?"

Uh, yes. If you have ever operated sats, hopefully you understand there are some significant differences between conventional terrestrial operation and satellite.

"It's nice of you to single out all FM operators."

We were discussing FM sats, no? Not many SSB and CW ops there...

"Even if a good quanity of your experience with FM operators is bad ...blah, blah.."

Well, I guess it's one's perponderance of experience that creates stereotypes.

"singling out entire bands, modes, or license classes is unfair..."

Thanks for the lecture on PC. I'll keep that in mind, I'm sure.

"if you must drive stakes between modes or bands..."

If I was driving stakes, it was between good and poor operating. Are we too PC to acknowledge that unfortunate state of affairs exists?

"please continue"


Were you just lurking, waiting to be offended?
Cry me a river.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N6ORS on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
What do you expect, A single channel satellite is just
like having one frequency on the 20m band and everyone is trying to use it. Remember its not your 'private' satellite, try to be clever and schedule your use for non peak times, like the middle of the work week or early morning. Sooner or later you will make that contact. I would not expect 600,000 other hams to step aside just because i needed one more contact.

Keith N6ORS
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KC0LCS on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I've had fun on the FM birds. But, I think the author's right. Lots of guys use plenty of power, giving us low power guys no chance. And, what if we're low budget? A 13 year old kid like me can't earn $30,000 a year you know. I can't AFFORD 150 watt amps. I can only use what I have. And you should give me a chance to get in. Stop showing off your power; "I'm so powerful, no one can get past me." That's crap. Ham radio is supposed to be fun, not dictatorial or domineering. Let us do sats too, you high power guys. We're out there too, you know.
Thanks for the article.
73, Nathan KCŘLCS
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K0RFD on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with you. It was always bad, but now that we're down to almost no "easy sats" left, it's gotten worse.

I quit working sats as a result.

It's a shame too, even AO-27 as hard-to-hear as it can be sometimes, is quite workable with an HT and a handheld antenna, and a thrill for kids.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W3RAZ on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This is terrible. This is probably the reason Easy Sats may not reappear. One thing most of the posters in this thread have forgotten is the FCC has a RULE that says we use the least amount of power possible to estgablish communications. Using 160 watt amps on a satellite station is OVERKILL. Ham's are supposed to police themselves and be courteous, yet this is not the case here. Sometimes I wish RIley Hollingsworth would read these threads. Walking over a QSO in progress is malicious interference. JUST because you hold a license to USE all of that power doesn't mean you should use it and doesn't give you a divine right to take over the bird because your signal is bigger then mine.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by EHAM_GUEST_001 on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The individuals with the high powered stations need them for their lack of operating skills and can't get their fat lazy lard @sses away from their desks.
Plus, if two stations feel the need or think that they just have to make love and kissy face to eachother for the entire 15 minutes or so...get on the telephone or on Echolink.
Save the bands for the real and the skilled amateur operator. Take a vacation together why don't you?

73 and still post free
de the "Eham Guest"
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W3RAZ on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
15 minute passes? Spoken by someone who has never even HEARD a satellite pass. Your lucky if you get enough time for a contact and a exchange.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N2YTF on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
We should all be frustrated with the behavior of the offensive ham who stepped on the yl. In my experience, there are 2 causes of such behavior.

The FM sat arms race:
First of all, working the FM sats with the arrow and 5 watts used to be overkill in itself.
I was working the FM sats with 5 w and less with just a long rubber duck antenna (Diamond's rh77ca 1/4 wave 2m 1/2 wave 70cm) before they got popular. Now I do use an arrow antenna myself, but in a way, us arrow antenna users are part of the arrow antenna is definately more than you need to work an OPEN fm bird.
There is an arms race going on with access to the FM birds in the balance and this is not in the spirit of ham radio. When I started on UO-14 years ago, there was a small community of regular users who got excited I was joining their ranks. One ham greeted me and passed me arround the group so everyone could work "a new one". Perhaps this is no longer feasible now that the FM birds are congested.

The ignorance of some users:
Secondly, a lot of the FM sat problem is due to hams working the birds HALF duplex. If you are trying to work the birds half duplex, and you key down at the same instant as someone else, you will never know your mistake. Both you and the other ham will trample on each other for the duration of the key down. If one of the hams is long winded (you should never be long winded on an fm bird), this can dramatically worsen the problem. If you can envision say 10 half duplex hams accross the US trying to operate the bird on the same pass without a schedule, you can see how the half duplex user problem really ruins the pass for everyone and raises bloodpressure.
Hams who work the fm sats full duplex will know if they have the bird and if they should continue with their keydown. Also full duplex hams know how to tweak their uplink for best reception, as opposed to half duplex hams who may be noisy/unreadable into the bird and not even know it (at the same time denyiong others clear access to the bird).
Working your local terrestrial FM repeater half duplex is ok because you probably handed the repeater to someone or local custom and a lack of heavy usage do not make probelms.
When you are using a space based FM repeater that all of the continental US may have access to at the same time, where there is no set "go around" and no (for the most part) schedule of contacts that is accepted by everyone, half duplex is NOT appropriate.

Working the birds full duplex is the way to go to increase numbers of hams served by the birds and to lower tempers on the birds and improve operating manners. Working the birds full duplex can be done cheaply with old gear (buy a 10 year old, reliable yaesu ft-530- what I use), or new gear (kenwood makes at least 2 full duplex hts, the th-d7ag and their tri band ht, I forget the model- also I think there are other makes).

Finally, there is much more to ham sats than just FM birds. There are several transponder vhf/uhf birds up and running that allow many hams to have conversations at the same time. I have made contacts on these birds using an arrow antenna, ft-817 (LSB? uplink) and alinco ht scanner djx-2000 (USB? downlink). Behavior on these birds seems a bit better as hams are not crammed against each other....there is plenty of bandwidth for everyone.

73 to all and lets try to be more considerate on the bands and the birds
Tom, N2YTF

P.S. I always thought we had a tough time on the fm birds here in the US, but having operated the fm sats several times from several different european countries, I can tell you that the FM sat users in Europe are worse than the US....I thought it would be less congested there and more polite, but this is not the case.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N2JHZ on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"the FCC has a RULE that says we use the least amount of power possible to establish communications. Using 160 watt amps on a satellite station is OVERKILL...Walking over a QSO in progress is malicious interference."

This makes good legal sense. Interfering with a QSO progress on the grounds that other stations have insufficient power to overcome the more powerful station constitutes wilful and malicious interfererence. Adding the insult that the interfering ham has "no sympathy" for the stations with whom he is interfering displays utter contempt for FCC rules. The ham arguing he has "no sympathy" for the lower power stations he is interfering with should try telling that to the judge.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KQ6EA on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Sad, but true. Field Day is even worse. I tried last year to get on UO-14 for a group of people that were watching, and I couldn't get on even with a 30 element Yagi and 100W. Before you acuse me of being part of the problem, I only did it because the guys with the Arrow antenna and their HT couldn't do it, and wanted to see if the "big" satellite station could make it in. Normally when I work(ed) UO-14 from home, I only used a few Watts to a terrestrial 70cm antenna. Even then it's hard to get in unless it's a late night pass off the coast, and mostly over water with just a slice of footprint over land.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K2WH on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
N2YTF makes a good point about simplex vs duplex. I never thought about it that way. I always assumed hams would listen to themselves coming down from the bird. Thats the first thing I did when I tried UO-14. I couldn't imagine working the birds, blindly calling CQ and not knowing if I was making it in at all or just causing QRM.

When working the birds, if I don't hear myself, I don't transmit. When I hear my signal DFQ, then I call for a contact. Makes sense to me.

RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KD5JFT on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I worked the easy sats (fm) quite a few times. Usually with just a few watts into vertical antennas. I am upgrading my capabilities to allow ssb contacts. As I see it, the easy (fm) sats are great for demonstrations, getting new hams hooked and sparking interest in more difficult and advanced communications modes, and for those who don't have the resources for better more advanced modes. I strongly believe that there should be several FM birds up at any time. Sure they are crowded, but that is because they are easy. I remember the thrill of being able to make contacts on both coasts and the Northern US border (from Oklahoma). That is what got me hooked.

As the above posters have said, Please use courtesy in your use of such resources. Remember that you were once new to the hobby and restricted in your station resources. Try to remember that we are trying to attract new blood into the hobby, not trying to spill the blood of new hams. The FM sats were a great resource for attracting new people, especially young ones. Common courtesy is not so common, but is necessary if we are to continue to grow as a hobby.

As I tell new trainees at work (law enforcement); "There are a lot of stupid and rude people in this world, and in this job you get to meet most of them". PLEASE don't let this be said about ham radio!!!

Just my $0.02 (or less) worth
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N6AJR on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
And the truth be known probably NONE of thos highpower gentlemen on THEIR satalites has given a single penny to the new and up comming bird that need $50k to get sent off, sell your two meter amp and give the $ to the sat program, help some one for a change
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KS5Z on May 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Gee, I don't get it. I've never had much trouble getting in and making Qs with my trusty Yaesu FT-470 handheld and Arrow antenna. Yes, you have to be quick, and yes you need to keep exchanges very short.

EasySats are contest style operating, I haven't found too many people wanting to have a long conversation during Field Day either. Also the stronger signals tend to make more contacts regardless of the band in contest style operating.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by N5ROJ on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I had a lot of fun using what I had to work with back in '98-99'. It consisted of a Yaesu FT-470 dual band handheld, a 3 element Yagi that I built from an article in QST entitled "7 db for $7.00 Bucks". The antenna was fairly resonant on 70cm although it was designed for 2mtrs. I bought a RS splitter for the recieve audio so I could feed a tape recorder and a pair of Sony Walkman headphones, learned real quick about keeping the recieved audio out of the transmit. I found the tape recorder to be a real help in confirming contacts after a pass and on several occasions I even sent wavefiles to contacts so they could hear what their signal sounded like on my end.

Yes it's rough and tumble and you have to be persistant and develope some thick skin. I was amazed at how many calls I could get if I got into the bird early and solid with my call and grid square. I've since acquired a Yaesu FT-847 and am looking forward to SSB and CW when we get some more birds.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KB2SDR on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hello everyone,

I've been thinking about trying the LEO's sats when I go out camping, so I can keep in touch with family. From what I am hearing that might not be the best route to take.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KB2HSH on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
(Well said Nathan)

This article is the summation of frustrations that I (and I'm sure quite a few more of us) have had in some areas of Amateur Radio. This bully, elitist mentality is one that can be heard on 20 or 80 meters at times, during "major" contests, of during scheduled DXPeditions. It's sad that the childish whims of a few can overrule the desires of the good-intented majority.
Certain people just have the tendencies to exhibit the "me first" attitude, and we as hams are no exception. In our daily lives, we may see these tendencies while driving to or from work, when going about our daily lives, or even something as simple as common courtesy while using cell phones (I won't EVEN get onto that subject). This bully tendency must seem shocking to the unfamiliar when listening to ham radio for the first time...and having the demonstrator TRY to explain that amateur radio ISN'T like CB radio.

I guess that's why I gave up on trying the FM-sats as well...and just stick to the CW bands with my >5 watt "peanut whistle".

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by WB8NUT on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Walked Over?" What the heck is that? Does he mean that other hams were interfering with the attempted contact?

I wish people would talk and write in plain English or even "hamspeak" instead of using what I assume is CB gibberish.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by CBER1289 on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Could you hams plz leave cb out of your bickering.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W2LJ on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I used to love operating on RS-10/11 and RS-12/13! It was a blast hearing your own signal coming back to you from the satellite. I wish there were more SW/SSB LEOs up there. They were easily accessible and easy to use.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W8JI on June 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Walker over" or "walked on" is indeed CB jibberish, but why does that matter?

I'm curious about the concept of using FM for satellite communications. I didn't even know they did this. Someone help me with this please. I'm only looking at this from an engineering standpoint.

1.) Why would any organization or group invest money in a FM transponder satellite? FM is a low-efficiency bandwidth wasting mode. Hell, it's as bad or worse than AM.

2.) Why would any system use a single channel input and output in a situation with unlimited access? Do people subscribe and get an access time slot?

3.) Why would anyone expect others waiting in line to stand-by for the weakest uplink signal? Maybe the marginal signal is not readable?

4.) Why would anyone on a marginal uplink assume he is in good without listening to himself on the downlink while attempting access?

There must be a logical reason for all this. I just don't know what it might be. I'm not trying to start a series of smart replys, just to understand the logic behind all this. There might be a good reason. To me, the whole thing sounds like trouble waiting to happen and a waste of money, not rude operating.

73 Tom
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by OMNIPRESSIVE on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Hello everyone,

I've been thinking about trying the LEO's sats when I go out camping, so I can keep in touch with family. From what I am hearing that might not be the best route to take.


Please don't take this the wrong way but wouldn't this be the absolute worst way of keeping in touch with your family? Wouldn't a cell phone be easier?
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W3RAZ on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"1.) Why would any organization or group invest money in a FM transponder satellite? FM is a low-efficiency bandwidth wasting mode. Hell, it's as bad or worse than AM. "

OK here's the thing, FM is a great mode for sats and here's's what most hams already have. Not everyone has a fully stocked station but almost every ham has FM of some sort be it a handheld or a mobile. It's also what most very young hams start out on. So FM is a logical mode for Satellite operation because it's what we got the most of. PLUS, SSB sounds old and crusty compared to a nice clean FM signal. I know I know I know, Satellite FM is full of static....but a FM signal full of static sounds much better then a off frequency SSB signal. We have to think of new and exciting ways to get new hams involved so that they can find out how you can work the world, without a satellite.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W8JI on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
OK, I had a few off-line replies and I see why they picked FM. The goal is to give people a taste of satellite and promote new interest.

Maybe they should suggest limiting the access time while people get their feet wet, like say recommending 50 QSO's, short exchanges, off times, and no repeat contacts? Maybe they do that already?

Having access on FM, even though wasteful and inefficient at times, makes sense from the standpoint of getting people interested, but unlimited access sure is a problem. I would assume there is at least a suggestion people not use it as a calling or working frequency system once they have some experience.

73 Tom
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K1MKF on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Try QRP HF SSB on a contest weekend.

RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KB2SDR on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I do not own a cellphone, and don't think I need one with all that is available using Amateur Radio. If I need to call work when I am stuck in traffic I just use the autopatch. If I am out and about I can use HF to have someone patch me through to the family, using a net. I figured if I go camping I can use psk-31, a Satellite, and maybe even winlink.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by WA4EWV on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Steve and Heather: (and the rest of the forum)

Sorry to hear of Heather's frustration with the FM birds. (What's left of them.) Please encourage her to continue in ham radio - be it satellite or HF or other bands / modes. I have been a ham since 1959, and have "seen and heard it all". I have operated from many countries, and MM, and there is always someone who is the rotten apple - it is not isolated to satelites.

As you may recall, I operated mobile on my motor trip to western Canada and Alaska in 2001, and eastern Canada, including Newfoundland in 2003. The FM birds (27 and 14) were in rare form then, and using a handheld and home brew yagi (and then an Arrow) made just under 2000 contacts, giving out many, many grid squares. I doubt that I could have done this on SSB, so FM was perfect for this type of operation.

Bottom line - every mode has it's nitch in communications.

RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by WB2WIK on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Easy" sats were intended for people to get their feet wet, and hopefully whet their appetites for serious satellite work...and maybe AMSAT membership, financial donations, etc. To rely on them is silly.

I could run 1500W to stacked 5 element beams at 150 feet on 20 meters and not rely on it to provide me with needed communications to anywhere, after a huge investment. The nature of this hobby is that it's also a technical sport, where some win and some lose --and sometimes, everyone loses! That's the challenge, and the fun of it.

If everything were easy, I'd have lost interest long ago and would just pick up the telephone to chat with people.

I actually miss the early days of sats, and made my first sat QSO using OSCAR-VI, which was the first operational satellite that actually had a working 2-way transponder (not FM!), more than 30 years ago. Then, it was a challenge to actually find anyone who was equipped to work it. Now *that* was fun!


RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K2WH on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

"I'm curious about the concept of using FM for satellite communications. I didn't even know they did this. Someone help me with this please. I'm only looking at this from an engineering standpoint."

Tom, I can't believe you didn't know this. For such a worldly ham and an icon of the ham community, you didn't know FM was used on sats?

Maybe you should push your head and shoulders above the clouds every now and then instead playing in the mud down on 160 meters. :>

Anyway, the answers you got were for the most part correct. I played for a while, but then UO-14 died. Oh, in case you weren't aware, thats a defunct satellite Tom. :)

All I need now is for ON4UN say he didn't know either. I'm depressed, someone get me a drink.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KB1CRN on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry to hear that you have had so much trouble getting into the FM birds (more like bird, now that AO27 is down, SO50 is our only option.) The majority of the hams out there are very nice and love it when a new person comes on.
As for working them with a small station, I use nothing but a IC-W32 HT and an Arrow, and I rarely have trouble making contacts. Sure, I sometimes get blown out by a "big gun," but a little patience usually brings results. And power is not an issue - I could easily work AO-27 down below 5 degrees with 5 watts, and anything over 10-15 degrees I would drop power down to 1/2 watt, and I'd still be booming in.
The tricks are making sure that you can hear the sat well, that you can hear yourself getting into the sat, twisting that Arrow to compensate for the polarization, and compensating for Doppler.
One advantage that we have, and that the "big guns" should remember, is that those of us with HTs and Arrows have the option of PORTABILITY - all we have to do is jump in the car and we can activate a grid square (ask Allen N5AFV - he just hooked us up with a special event station on 5/30, and last January he activated some cool grids in the Gulf of Mexico from a cruise ship, with just an HT and an AL800 whip. That was cool.)
And to the big guns out there, cut the smaller guys a little slack. I've proven that the FM birds can be worked with way less than 5 watts, so hows about cuttin' back the power a little bit, and give someone else a shot.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W4CVL on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Why I got into HAM radio:
The gear and to meet other people interested in electronics/communication.

Why I am leaving HAM radio:
The people who act like this have ruined this hobby for me.

You think BPL will kill HAM radio faster than these jerks? Not even sharing the air with a teen age girl. No wonder this hobby is on the way out. I'm done.

W4CVL - 27 years old - 5 years in the hobby. Personally elmered 3 people, I quit.

LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KD7WLM on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Bye W4CVL! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by AJ9K on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
It takes patience to work the LEOs, especially now that we're crowded into just a few sats. When I use the LEOs, my expectations are that I will need to listen and be patient, and time my calls during short pauses in the action. This strategy has netted me many enjoyable (but short) contacts, and tons of rare grids (thanks WA4EWV and N5AFV). If my expectations were to conduct QRM free contacts, I'd be disappointed.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by OMNIPRESSIVE on June 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hey W4CVL, since you "done" can I have your equipment? I can be reached at

Oh, and always remember:

Quitters never win, and winners never quit.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by W0FMS on June 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You should have forwarded that e-mail correspondence to Riley Hollingsworth. It's an admission to breaking a Part 97 rule and should be dealt with as such.

But then again, get your daughter some SSB equipment and go to underused really-easy sats like the Fujis..AO-7 etc.

This is why I'm not as hip on AMSAT-NA anymore, no more technical guts. The term "Easy Sat" is a misnomer. "Newbie sat" maybe..

To me ECHO is robbing money from EAGLE-- no more no less-- almost everything on that bird has been done before, and the cool new stuff will be on UTC Wed only! (Duh we work during the week guys!, DUUUH) FM sats are a poor idea in general and the rude allagator problem is why.

Last year on AO-40 during field day was no better. As sat ops we should start IGNORING the alligators but we don't...

Fred W0FMS
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K0RFD on June 4, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

>Quitters never win, and winners never quit.

And people without licenses never use callsigns.
Study hard, and one day people might actually listen to you.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KE4IOK on June 5, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Names or call signs of the offenders! At least the rest of us can shun them!! I know how you feel; I worked MIR with an HT (one time in 3 months of trying!.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KA8MXN on June 5, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
To the young lady that had become frustrated with inconsiderate operators. DONT GIVE UP not all operators are such.
As for the use of high power on sats most people dont seem to realize that such operating shortens the life of these sats, to bad there could not be such control operators that could shut down the sat when such problems occur.

One final comment is that for those who say why have such a thing (FM SATS). Well what is this hobby about?? Maybe for those who think such things are needed sould leave.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KC8WCW on June 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Quick, somebody remind me why Amateur Radio is supposed to be "recreational". If this is someone's idea of a good time, they obviously don't get out much. Please don't tell me that you spent money on your equipment.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KC0ERG on June 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
So, is the state of the LEO FM birds such that I shouldn't waste my money on an Arrow II antenna? I was getting excited about the prospect of talking into space on my FT-530, but if it's going to be a waste of money I do have other things I can spend it on.

How many birds are still operational right now?

Any thoughts?
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KB1CRN on June 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The only FM bird really up right now is SO-50, AO-27 is down at the moment, but should be up again soon once the batteries recharge, and if all goes according to plan, Echo will launch in a few weeks and should be operational within a few weeks after that.
LEOs: Easy to Use? Yes. And No.  
by NA2AA on June 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
To every problem there is usually a root cause. Listen to the FM satellite passes and what do you hear? It is usually one of two - and only two - things. It is either an exchange of grids rapidly (folks chasing VUCC) or two ALLIGATORS exchanging hellos (in THIS case chasing the omni-stupid W4AMI operating award). In fact, the alligators don't even use callsigns! You'll hear "Hey Randy" "Hi Egon" "Wassup Bruce?" but no callsigns. Last time I checked, these aren't even legal contacts.

I love working the satellites. I have spent ton's of time and ton's of cash configuring various station setups. It is alot of fun. FM with an HT and an Arrow antenna? Awesome challenge and fun (that BS about sharing the bird with 600,000 people is rediculous). Extending the life of amateur radio? Yes, I've done the satellite demos to kids in schools and they LOVE it! It's almost like being a part of the space program to them.

But... We're running out of birds. We're running out of money. And even running out of operators. With notable failures like RS-15, RS-16, and ultimately AO-40 the credibility of doing a more complex bird like EAGLE causes people like me to question whether these projects are even possible anymore. Have we lost so much of the old school satellite resources that we cannot execute these any more? I don't know.

So, climbing down off the soapbox, I would close by stating that just as the WARC bands have started down a slippery slope due to the proliferation of awards, it is the VUCC and W4AMI (talk to the same guys over and over again) awards that cause the FM birds to suck. Kill the awards and the balance of the bad behavior would go with them. IMHO.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use? Yes. And No.  
by KD1SQ on June 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I used to mess about on the RS birds with 2m SSB up, 10m SSB down - had a ball. Used to copy DO-17 telemetry with the old DOS decoding apps - again, had a good time. Did packet with MIR and all that good stuff, too.

I'm not entirely sure about the ongoing increase in sophistication of our amateur-built satellites. (Yes, I *did* make a donation for AO-40!) It's okay for people to build birds like that but they should possibly not be claiming they're building them for the use of the general ham population. They're more like proof of concept machines that a small number of very (technically) sophisticated folks like to play with.

Maybe the problem is really that of bandwidth? Too many people trying to use too few resources? Instead of spending a pretty hefty chunk of change on one bird that does everything - and not a little of it requiring more than your average ham's station normally contains - why not build a constellation of cheap, simple birds that'll provide easy comms for all? We could probably have put up half a dozen or more "easy" FM/SSB LEO birds for the cost of AO-40 and given many, many more people their first hamsat experience with somewhat less crowding.

(Myself, I'd love to see some decent, easy PACSATS for people to play on. Reaquaint a bunch of them with packet radio for one thing and maybe give us a decent global store and forward capability once again.)

Maybe we need to consider whether we want to build birds for general ham service rather than saying to people "Oh, if you can't assemble so-and-so from x surplus hardware then you can't use it!"

Just some thoughts.

Update to preceding message  
by KD1SQ on June 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hm, interesting - AO-40 $4.5M, Echo $0.15M.

Make that *thirty* birds in the air for the cost of that *one*!

Now if AMSAT promised to start doing "Fast, cheap and out of control" I'd become a member in a hreatbeat!

RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by WO8USA on June 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wanted to get into the satellites....but had similar experiences. I've since went back to good ole HF SSB and got into PSK.

I don't believe its survival of the fittest on the satellites when the same people are always hogging the time. It seems more of an ego trip that they are the strongest. Anyway, I do not worry ahout satellite work anymore.

Maybe you can convince your daughter of a bad experience, and get her onto another mode. PSK is great! Just not 40m SSB on a Friday night.

Good luck, 73
Chris WO8USA
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KC0ERG on June 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
So, if these people are violating amateur rules by using way more power than necessary to make the contact, why are they not being reported?

Is it a "rules" violation or a "courtesy" violation or both? If an email doesn't work, perhaps a letter from Riley will.

I don't give a rat's ass WHO you are or who you THINK you are, if you're intentionally interfering with someone else's transmission, that's still illegal, right? If you just skulk away to another band or mode, then you just let the bullies win.
LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by KC0NPF on June 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
is there a website for 'offending hams?' I mean, there is always the FCC, but from what I've seen, they don't get much done in the ham world. If we could get a page on eham or maybe qrz for offending hams, and make it popular... Who knows, but before I'll ever put any money into a sat program, there has to be a control, someone somewhere has to be able to cut off an offending ham's transmission. Wouldn't it make sense? But then again, that requires monitoring the bird on every single pass... That's just not practical. I've had more fun on HF than I've had listening to sat's (because I don't have enough gear to transmit on them yet-single band FM mobile, and a Heathkit HW-101 on HF). Try putting up PSK31 birds, talk about small bandwidth :-). And whatever you do NEVER ever step on a younger ham, you'll drive them away and ham radio itself will DIE with the elmers. I've never been stepped on intentionally, it's great to work around FMer's here, some of them practice better-than-hf operating. Serously I've heard people pick out 2 and 3 callsigns from a repeater double that I could hear only 1, btw I mix sound for the fun of it, my hearing is fine :-). Sharpen your listening skills before you bump up your tx power. You'll notice people like me trying to pull out weak signals because no one else will, I get more enjoyment from working an s-3 station than I get busting a 20 over 9 pileup--though that's fun too, bust a pileup with under 100w (5?).

My two cents worth,

KC0NPF, Byron J.
RE: LEOs: Easy to Use?  
by K7MBL on April 21, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Sat work seemed like so much fun, and a great challenge. Bought a G5500/Labjack, built my ants, got my IC706/FT2500 fired up and gave it a shot. Made over 20 frenzied, nerve-wracking contacts in short order. Man, that was fun!! DM23 seemed to be a new grid for most - I'd never been on the receiving end of a pileup before. I've met several exceptionally helpful fellow Hams to who I am grateful for their guidance. I thought I had found Ham nirvana - I was instantly hooked!

But, alas, "sat mode" suffers the same afflictions as the rest of Ham radio.

Nevertheless, I regard amateur radio as a great hobby despite the incessant bitching and negativity at every turn. I've found my little, insignificant niche and intend to exploit it to its fullest regardless of those who are less considerate.

My advice to new, and potentially new, Hams: Don't let the old wood, malcontents and "exclusive members" discourage you. They are a very small percentage with little better to do. Instead, follow the rules, be respectful, experiment and help a fellow Ham once in a while... THAT's what amateur radio is all about! HAVE FUN!!!
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Recent Articles
Second Ham Fined for Frequency Interference:
Ham Radio Operators Help Rescue Injured Hiker:
Ham Stations to Provide Public Service During Storms:
Scientists Baffled as Sun Spots Disappear During Peak of Solar Activity:
FCC Issues K3VR $11,500 NAL: