I've been a ham well over 40 years, since my childhood. Back then, I
could barely afford the Heathkit transmitter, Halicrafters receiver,
knife switch, and longwire antenna that made up my shack.
My elmer used to let me borrow his copy of QST and I'd dream about all
the great adventures that I'd have "someday" in ham radio. Being a child
of the Space Age, key among them were anything related to the New Frontier.
EME (Moonbounce), Meteor Scatter, and satellites all seemed like the
stuff of science fiction---and I longed to experience them all. But they
were exotic, and required equipment far beyond my reach. I resolved to
accomplish them all someday and added them to a sort of ham radio
"bucket list" that I hoped to accomplish before my ham career was over.
Five years ago, shortly after getting started in weak signal VHF work, I
checked off the first item on that list. Working meteor scatter contacts
with the aid of WSJT software, and during a Perseid shower, even using
SSB. What a thrill to make contacts off the ionized gasses of those tiny
rocks. Thanks Joe Taylor!
Tonight, I managed to check off a second. I worked Art, K4YYL on FO-29,
a Japanese amateur satellite!
My journey to the "birds" started about a month ago when I joined AMSAT,
determined that 2013 was going to be "the year" when I finally got
active on satellites. I purchased a copy of SATPC32 software, because I
knew that it could control my IC-910H--hopefully making it easier to get
After listening to a few passes on both the FM and the SSB/CW birds, I
decided to try my luck on the less-crowded FO-29. A brief CQ was quickly
answered by Art. I adjusted the tuning knob just a bit to correct for
the Doppler effect, and voila! there he was clear as a bell.
We had a brief QSO of perhaps ten minutes or so, and then we signed. I
was quickly called by K4FEG near Memphis in EM55---who just wanted to
welcome me to the birds!
Man, what a thrill! And it wasn't tough at all.
I'm using a 7 element 432 antenna tilted up to 15 degrees (fixed) and a
6 element 2 Meter beam tilted up to about 10 degrees (fixed) both inside
my crowded attic. The SSB Electronics pre-amp helps a ton on 432, and
the 1/2" hardline makes sure that I don't lose too much signal. So far,
I've been able to copy the birds down to about 2 degrees above the
horizon using this setup.
Now to attempt that EME contact! I've got a 12 element Yagi just waiting
to deploy in the driveway once the weather warms a bit. Hoping to use
WSJT to work one of the monster stations on EME. All this in a
deed-restricted HOA neighborhood.
I wasted 35+ years on HF----man, all the fun really is in the World
Above 50 MHz! Thanks for helping to make
a boys dreams come true at age 51!
Les Rayburn, N1LF
121 Mayfair Park
Maylene, AL 35114
6M VUCC #1712
Grid Bandits #222
Southeastern VHF Society
Central States VHF Society Life Member
Six Club #2484
Active on 6 Meters thru 1296, 10GHz & Light