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KA7SKY demo on 4 March 2006


I have good news and bad news to report from last Saturday's open house
and ham-radio demonstration at my wife's school (Sonoran Sky Elementary
School in Scottsdale AZ, KA7SKY).  The good news is that the open house
event accomplished what the school wanted - interest from parents who
might enroll their children in this school.  The bad news is that I
didn't accomplish all that I wanted to do with the radio gear at the

I had no opportunity to check out the station before Saturday morning,
so I had the FT-847 owner's manual with me and printed out the
information on the two AO-51 passes I hoped to work.  When I got to the
school, I didn't get the Yagis working, so I was left to use the 2m
eggbeater and 2m/70cm vertical as my satellite antennas.  Then there was
a lot of noise in the 435 MHz range.  Once in a while, the noise would
quiet down a bit, and I would put KA7SKY on the satellite, but I wasn't
able to hear anyone call back to me.

After the first pass (1650-1704 UTC) went by, I hoped that I could
salvage something on the later pass (1830-1840 UTC).  The later pass
was at a lower elevation, so that shouldn't have been a great
disadvantage with the vertical as my receive antenna, but the noise
was still there.  I didn't hear anyone on the later pass.  :-(

I spent much of the 4 hours (1700-2100 UTC) talking with parents and
children about the radio equipment at the school, highlighting the
school's ISS contact in 2004 and having a slideshow my wife prepared
ready to go on my laptop if anyone wanted to see more about that day.
I had one quiet period just after 2000 UTC, so I scanned the HF bands
and made a few 15m SSB QSOs to put some new countries in the school's
log.  I even had a visit from an advisor with the local ham radio
Explorer Post (Post 599, sponsored by a local repeater group), a nice
surprise at the end of the event.  I had some of my own radios
(FT-817ND, IC-W32A, IC-T7H, VX-2R, IC-703) and antennas (Arrow 2m/70cm
Yagi, Outbacker Joey HF/VHF portable antenna, telescoping whips and long
duckies on the HTs), some QSL cards including my cards from R0MIR and
NA1SS and an assortment from my HF activity, and some ham-related books
and magazines.  The radio station is in my wife's classroom, so there
were other non-radio things I also got to talk about.  In particular,
some "critters" - a bearded dragon, a painted turtle, and some small 
frogs - that always attracted interest from the visitors.

I hope to be able to get back to the school and do some troubleshooting
to figure out why I had so much noise and couldn't hear much more than
noise.  The school's FT-847 is a nice radio, and I think it would have
done a nice job if it wasn't for the noise.

As for recording the proceedings, I was not able to do that.  I would
have had to get a release form signed by anyone wandering in the room,
to comply with school rules, so I left the camcorder off.  Oh well...
I talked with more people - mostly parents, and some kids - and all
were impressed with the radio station and what has been done with it.
I can't say the day was a complete disaster.  I had a small voice
recorder hooked up to the FT-847 through a splitter, so - if I had
worked those AO-51 passes - I could have some audio from that.

Thanks to all who were listening on those two passes, hoping to make
a contact with KA7SKY, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to put that call
into your logs.  I hope to put the call on satellites in the next few
weeks before the end of the current school year (late May), either with
the school's equipment or possibly outside on a playground with my
portable gear and the school's call.



Patrick STODDARD                    E-mail: amsat-bb at wd9ewk dot net
Phoenix, Arizona, USA               Web:    http://www.wd9ewk.net/
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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