Tips for successful QSO on SO-50?

Discussion in 'Satellite and Space Communications' started by KF0AGI, Jul 31, 2020.

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  1. KF0AGI

    KF0AGI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Folks--I'm new here on QRZ, pretty recently licensed Technician, new to sats. (I've tracked and listened to SO-50 maybe 6 or 7 times.)

    Hoping to get some help making successful contacts on SO-50, where it seems as crowded as the bar on a Friday night.

    I use a Yaesu Ft-70DR and an Elk log periodic antenna. Have been able to listen in just fine and once--just once!--I was able to break through the crowd somehow and be heard, as someone heard and repeated my call back to me, but the satellite went over the horizon before I could complete the contact.

    So I think I have settings all dialed for doppler and for tones. I just don't know how to be heard well enough, or often enough, to make some successful contacts.

    Last night, 03:30 Friday UTC, it sounded like there was one guy who was just racking up the contacts during the pass. Every time I tried to sneak in after they'd announced "QSO 73", he just got on the transponder again.

    Do I need more:
    A. Power?
    B. Patience?
    C. Timing, like try midnight passes only?

    Appreciate any help. Thanks!
  2. WK4X

    WK4X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Keep trying, you're on the right track. I'm a newbie myself and I've found the early morning passes are a whole lot quieter and easier to work.
    K0UO likes this.
  3. WE4B

    WE4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you’re hearing SO-50 that is the the first step. Now you need to practice your timing and use quick, phonetic based calls. To increase your chances of a QSO, don’t just state your call sign but call another station that you can hear making contacts. Also, you may find that twisting the antenna to maintain polarity with the satellite can be helpful. The weekend passes are very crowded and late night/early morning passes are less crowded so you may want to stay up late or get up early. I know that you’ll soon have your first QSO and make sure to let us know so that we can congratulate you!
    K0UO, KC3RN and KI5AAI like this.
  4. K3RLD

    K3RLD Ham Member QRZ Page

    For SO-50, you won't need power. I would suggest, especially if you are attempting during busy hours, that you get ahold of a second radio so that you have a full duplex station. That way you'll KNOW you're getting in, and not just adding QRM to the people you can't hear during TX.

    My only other tip is that SO-50 has an ever so slight delay between keying up your transmitter and hearing the downlink (this is very evident on an empty pass). So when you key up, wait about a half second before speaking, to allow the transponder to kick in. I hear lots of calls where the first character of the call is missing or cut because of the delay.
    W5SAT, KI5AAI, WE4B and 1 other person like this.
  5. KI5AAI

    KI5AAI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Timing, timing, timing. Once you get a good feel for when to transmit, you are good. And like K3RLD said: use another radio to see if you can hear yourself. If you cannot, no one else did.
  6. G0KDT

    G0KDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think good advice from all posted here. Personally I think this sat is slightly harder to work of the FM sats as its using 70cms downlink where others tend to be 2m downlink so I've found it harder to get a really good rx signal, thats not to say I can't hear it but it just seems more tricky than a 2m downlink. I use horizontal polarisation but track the sat (az/el), using horizontal only that loses me the ability to flip the ant for polarisation issues that others have flagged. Thought about going X/Y but not got to making an antenna up yet.
  7. KF0AGI

    KF0AGI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, all, for the advice. In the absence of a full-duplex setup or indeed another radio, I’m going to try to listen well and work on my timing, principally. Also might rouse myself for the odd 0300 pass to try my luck under less-crowded conditions.

    Hope to meet you all on the birds soon enough.

    Ben KF0AGI
    KA2CZU and K6LCS like this.

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