QSL cards are handled about the same as with HF; some operators send them, others do not. It depends on what they're after. (But please, if you do receive one, send one back!)
On the busy FM birds (AO-51, especially), the trick is timing. You need to be able to slip your call sign into a gap in the exchange. If your call is short, phonetics are best, but most of the time the window is short, so just try to say it normally, clearly and quickly. If there is someone specifically you want to contact, say their call sign and then yours. Saying just your call is equivalent to a CQ; saying CQ is not expected on the busy FM birds. Again, timing is key, and be brief. When you venture to the SSB/CW satellites (FO-29, AO-07, VO-52), others need to find you, so stringing out a couple of "CQ Satellite" calls is appropriate. You will be able to hear someone coming back to you, because there's no capture effect; both signals will be heard.
Listen for a few passes to get the feel of it, and then try on one of the late night passes when it's not so congested. I recall a few passes on UO-14 (RIP) around midnight where there were just three of us on, and it was just like a round-table on our local repeater.
I'm just starting to work sats - are QSL cards commonly exchanged? How is the exchange initiated? Also, what is the voice protocol on a busy bird?
Tom Williams KJ4EAW
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