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Operating Tips for FM Satellites

From ANS-212 Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, AO-91 Control Operator, and Mark Johns, K0JM:

Recent abuses on AO-91, and continued bedlam on FM satellites generally, have raised a growing number of complaints among operators and control stations. Here are some tips to help everyone enjoy these satellites and avoid being labeled as a bad actor:

  1. LISTEN! These satellites are almost always busy when over populated areas. If you aren’t hearing activity on the downlink, it is unwise to make a “blind” call on the uplink frequency. Getting into the satellite is often easier than hearing it. Make certain you copy the downlink before transmitting.
  2. NO CQs. FM satellites have a single channel and many stations are attempting to use the channel in a limited time. There is no time for calling CQ, or for repeatedly announcing your own call. Instead, listen for stations already active on the pass, and when you have an opportunity, make a call to a specific station you wish to work.
  3. BE COURTEOUS. If Station A calls Station B, give Station B at least a millisecond or two to answer, and let them complete their brief QSO. Avoid interrupting or jumping on top of a contact in progress. Give priority to rovers or other special stations that many are anxious to contact.
  4. BE WELCOMING. Make an effort to make calls to unfamiliar callsigns you’ve not yet worked before. Let newcomers have a chance, rather than shutting them out to say hello to stations you greet everyday.
  5. DON’T BE A LID! Do “testing,” whistling, or “hello” someplace else. Modes other than FM voice have no place on these satellites. If you wish to experiment with FT modes, please feel free to do so on AO-109, but definitely NOT on an FM satellite.

By SM0TGU

Webmaster and member of the AMSAT-SM steering group.

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