My Thoughts on the W4AMI Award from AMSAT

AMSAT-NA has offered the W4AMI award for some time.  I am a holder of the award, having made over 1000 contacts on amateur satellites.  There is an endorsement, available in 1000 contact increments, up to 5000 contacts.  That being said, I will never apply for the 5000.  Below, I will attempt to explain my position.

I am not opposed to simple awards that recognize people for achievements such as “making their first contact,” “working all states,” and “working all grid squares.”  Those are accomplishments that take determination and some level of skill.

I am opposed to an award that is based on simply using a PTT to make a volume of contacts, such as the W4AMI award.  I can understand the need for such an award, on a very limited basis, if satellite activity was down or non-existent.  

The reason I am primarily opposed to the W4AMI award is directed at FM satellite usage on birds such as AO-27, AO-51, and SO-50.  These single-channel, single-user satellites are often congested.  At the time of this posting, SO-50 is our only FM satellite.  Anything we do that encourages users to make more than one valid exchange inhibits others from the ability to make a new contact.

It is not uncommon for some stations to “hog” an entire pass of SO-50, looking to make contact with every station, and every fragment of a call sign that is heard.  It’s ridiculous.  I theorize that some of the stations do so at the joys of adding another QSO to their log, regardless if that station is in their log 500 times over.

I’m not saying I’m a perfect operator and only make one contact and disengage entirely from an FM satellite pass.  I also don’t make it a habit to contact each and every station heard on every pass.  That’s a disease.

By allowing FM contacts to qualify for the award, the door is opened for abuse.  I suggest we eliminate FM contacts for valid entries.  There is often plenty of passband for the kind of people that want to fill their log with simple, grid-exchange QSO’s.

If you are interested in petitioning the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors to eliminate FM from a qualifying mode on this award, please contact me.

I’m all for encouraging new operators and the exploration of new modes.  This award does neither.

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