Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saturday's AAR

Things went pretty well, but we didn't have any where near the number of Scouts show up that were "predicted".

I'd be surprised if we had more than 200, but I think the weather may have had more to do with it than anything else.

It drizzled and rained a bit driving over to the Iowa, but stopped when I was lugging the last of my gear on to her. Mostly it was cloudy, and started to sprinkle a bit as we were loading the trucks back up.

I had originally planned to operate on FO-29, AO-27, AO-7, and possibly the ISS if they were on-the-air.

It turned out the AO-27 is still being recovered from a system crash, and was non-operational; AO-7 had switched to "Mode A" which meant it was on a 10 Meter (28 MHz) downlink, which I didn't bring an antenna for (DOH!) and so was unusable; and the International Space Station hed their radio operating as a packet radio digipeater, so the was out of the picture, too.

That left ONLY FO-29, and only for two passes.

I was only able to use one of the FO-29 passes we had available, but what a pass!

I made 13 contacts in the 16 minutes the satellite was available, and was able to connect with one of my friends who was doing a satellite demonstration at a Hamfest in Northern Arizona. I knew he was doing the demo, but sure didn't expect to work him!

The next pass of that satellite turned into major fail.

The station next to me had positioned his antenna about 10' from mine. Normally, this shouldn't be a problem, as the frequencies I was operating at were about TEN times as high as his, so we shouldn't bother each other.


Murphy showed up, and whenever he keyed up on 20 Meters (14 MHz), my receiver went nuts, and a couple of other things seemed to flake out, but not too badly. We asked him politely to NOT operate on 20 meters, updated, printed, and posted the Operating Instructions for that station, and did some testing with that station on other bands, and all was good, and I went on to make the 13 contacts just fine.

WELL.....90 minutes later when good old FO-29 came back over, this ding-dong decided to operate on 20 again.

About two minutes into the 14 minute pass, he keys up, and everything on my end went bonkers.

My laptop bluescreened, and my trusty Yaesu FT-847 locked up, something I'd not only never seen, but never even heard of happening.

With the laptop pouring gibberish out of the USB port, the rotor controller freaked out, and started the antennas moving all on their own.

I immediately shut down the rotor controller, turned the radio off, and yelled over at the guy to "Get Off Twenty........NOW!" while rebooting the laptop.

He finished the contact he was having, and then went on to make another!

About this time the event coordinator came over, told the guy to shut down NOW, and didn't he READ the printed instructions clearly showing the times the satellite passes were scheduled for? You know, the sheet printed in BOLD, right next to the clock?

By this time the laptop was back up, but the radio was still hosed even after a power-cycle, so I dove into the menu and did a Master Reset to it.

Since the radio is completely under control of the laptop, doing a Master Reset was more an annoyance, as I didn't have any frequencies or other things stored in it, but it took about a minute to find the menu setting, and execute it.

By the time I got everything back online, there was only a few minutes left in the pass, and the only guy I worked was one who I'd worked before, and wondered what had happened when my station quit in the middle of a "CQ FO-29". He said there were people asking where I was, so I explained what had happened, and he said he understood. He then asked me how much weight we tied to the guy before we dumped him overboard.

I don't know how many contacts the other stations made, as I was too busy explaining all kinds of things about satellites to the various Scouts (and their parents) that came by, and doing an interview for a scouting magazine.

Still, for an inaugural event I think we did pretty well. The rain held off until we were finished loading up after the event, and the Scouts had a good time. Multiple Radio Merit Badge classes were offered and were FULL at each sitting, and a whole lot of Scouts will be adding another badge to their sash.

There was also a very large group of young people dressed in BDU/ACU or whatever they're calling it these days, but I didn't get a chance to ask if they were Sea Scouts or the local group of Young Marines who I've seen many times at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro.

The most heartening thing I saw all weekend were the Scouts. Every single one of them was polite, asked good questions, listened attentively, and had excellent attitudes.

Maybe there's hope for us yet......

1 comment:

  1. OH man, there is ALWAYS one asshole... sorry to hear you ended up bearing the brunt of his stupidity!


Keep it civil, please....

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