I have been (back) for 5 weeks. With my several recent QSOs on AO16 I have operated on 7 satellites. If you check me out on QRZ.COM you will see that I am a CW operator. I made my first QSO on October 9, 1952. Well what does an old CW man think of FM satellites. It is a lot of fun. Not just the QSOs but in setting up my station with a pair of high gain yagis (14 ele and 30 ele). Installing them on an elevation rotor and a Ham M turning the entire set up. Without the FM birds I would have no way to really test this gear.
I also operate FO 29 and AO 7. As we know AO 7 has been around for 34 years. I even worked it in the 70s. It is a LEO also with 15 minute passes. I get a thrill working Europe on AO 7. Working DX or Grid Squares while fun is not the point. It is the activity. I have CW skills that allow me to carry on a QSO on CW at speeds in the 40 wpm to 55 wpm range. I used to be able to have QRQ QSOz on the low end of forty meters. Unfortunately these skilled CW ops are fast becoming SK and the joys of QRQ CW QSOs are fading.
I do not see the logic from those that harp on the fact that there is no HEO. What do they want ? If they want to sit in their rocking chairs in front of their rigs chewing the rag with somebody overseas they can do that now on 20 meters. I never had the chance to operate an HEO. I got off the birds before AO 40 got launched.
We know that working FM birds is easier than controlling doppler effect on FO 29, VO 52 or AO 7. Besides tracking these birds the doppler issue causes some not to operate SSB/CW satellites. I hear some folks struggle to get doppler under control. I had that same issue but overcame it with the help of other satellite users. Thanks to K9QHO and K9CIS who both helped me. They also live hundreds of miles from me too.
The CW/SSB birds require more investment in gear. I do hope that those that use FM will eventually graduate to CW/SSB satellites where there is plenty of spectrum.
I thought N3TL's recent email put things into perspective for most. Even this 70 year old ham (me) is having fun and also has learned about several technical issues. Having CW FM and SSB contacts on 7 satellites in the past month has been fun. Most have been FM. However some good DX (12 countries so far) have been worked on SSB & CW.
At my age learning and participation is what ham radio is all about. Tomorrow we are having a local lunch with 4 satellite users none of whom I knew a month ago. There may not be an HEO in my short lifetime but I am enjoying what we have and I am thankful for it.
Thanks for all of you who have worked me during the last few weeks. It has been a real hoot. A CW man operating FM who would have thought that possible. I love my signal on AO 7 with its chirpy signal. Reminds me of 1952 . . . . nostagilia
73 Jim W9VNE Cincinnati, Ohio