“You’re not allowed to join this video call.” was the greeting I found while trying to log into my astronomy class tonight. Thanks to Google and their Hangout app I’ve missed my last night of classes. Fantastic.
I blame Google for this, honestly, but I wonder if they are really the problem. They provide a service that has complex relationships with their other “products” and they provide this all for “free” to anyone that is willing to sign up (and allow them to track your every move). I’m sure they never said the thing would have certain availability (how could they, they are utilizing the Internet as a transport layer) so I have no expectation of this thing working… ever. And this is what happens when, as a society, we continue to embrace proprietary services that are completely out of our control. Even if there was some sort of agreement that this stuff would work all the time I would still be sitting here unable to join my class. Even from my FOSS software-running computer I am at the mercy of our proprietary overlords. It’s sad.
Yesterday I had a broken QSO with K9?H?. We were running CW and between the fading, the Doppler shift, and my poor CW skills I couldn’t quite get the full callsign and exchange. And then, of course, I was also chasing myself all over the transponder. This morning was completely different, however.
The pass of FO-29 was going to be high. Being that I’m still working on my antennas and not knowing what to expect I was just hoping to hear myself. Tuning around the center of the transponder I clearly heard N8HM calling CQ. I was able to find myself on the transponder and tune myself onto Paul’s frequency. To my surprise he heard me and we were able to have a somewhat broken QSO. I’m not hearing the downlink that strongly (clearly an antenna issue) but we were able to swap grid squares and have a short QSO. Turns out Paul is just up the road in DC making this perhaps the closest distance satellite contact I’ve had.
I need to go back through my logs but I think this may be my first FO-29 QSO. It is, at least, my first FO-29 QSO in many years.
I had a good pass of FO-29 this morning so I figured I’d give it a try with my 2m/70cm loop antenna. I wasn’t expecting great things as this is not a gain antenna and I’m not sure how much of the signal is actually radiated up but I figured I’d give it a shot. Turns out it does… okay. I never heard the beacon but I was able to find myself on CW. It’s been years since I operated a satellite much less a transponder satellite so I was having a hard time tracking for Doppler. I’ll have to hook up with my satellite Elmer, again, and make sure I’m tuning the correct side (do I try to stay in the same place on the satellite transponder by adjusting my uplink or do I try to chase my downlink through the transponder?).
Another observation is that the loop doesn’t do very well. I’m definitely getting into the satellite with ~10 watts but I’m not hearing the satellite that well. A preamp might help here but I suspect getting some proper antennas would as well.