After I finished up at the office this afternoon, I went to my favorite city park (the park that straddles the DM33xp/DM43ap grid boundary where I do much of my satellite operating) to work an AO-51 pass around 0108 UTC followed by an AO-7 pass around 0207 UTC. I thought about trying the cross-mode repeater on AO-51 to work CW, but decided to stay on the normal FM repeater. I worked 5 different stations from central Mexico to western Canada, and heard a couple of others. The AO-7 pass in the next hour was interesting...
At the start of the pass, I found myself on the transponder and made a few CQ calls in SSB. No responses, but there were a few CW signals - even above the middle of the passband. I did not have a straight key with me, so I did the next best thing to have something that would work as a straight key. I turned off the keyer in my FT-817ND, which turned my small Mini-Paddle into a straight key of sorts. The lever that normally sent dahs did nothing, but the lever for the dits functioned as a straight key. Now I could work Straight Key Night for the first time in the 32+ years since I got my first ham license... and I'm trying it on a 35-year-old satellite, with a paddle-turned-straight key on my portable all-mode satellite station (two FT-817NDs, Elk Antennas handheld 2m/70cm log periodic).
Glenn AA5PK in west Texas found me within a minute of my first CQ call. I was able to tap a quick QSO with him, followed by another QSO with Kerry WC7V in Montana. Sorry if my CW was tough to copy; it's been a while since I worked CW without using a keyer, and sending it left-handed on a vertical straight key while holding my antenna was something I had never tried before. :-) I should have rigged up a camera to either snap some photos or record video while I did this. After my QSO with WC7V, about halfway through the pass, CW signals were spreading out across most of the passband. I heard a couple of SSB signals, and switched back to SSB for the last few minutes of the pass. I worked Larry WA6DIR and Bob W7LRD before AO-7 went away.
This was a fun way to start the new year on the UTC clock, before going home and watching assorted New Year celebrations on the TV. QSOs in FM, SSB, and CW; working through two different satellites. Happy 2010 to all, and 73!
Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK http://www.wd9ewk.net/