For the past several days, I have observed the following:
– On ascending passes, I can activate the transponder at AOS very easily. Either polarity V or H works.
– Previously, I needed 10-15 degrees at times on ascending passes to activate the transponder. As I approached TCA, the challenge getting in always went away and I could get into the transponder easily.
– Descending passes have never been an issue for me. I could access the transponder at AOS and activate the transponder as low as 0.1 degrees elevation.
– Downlink receive polarity seems to flip almost constantly or be equal at times. I’m running a V or H antenna configuration (not RHCP or LHCP.)
– Suspected reason is the spacecraft’s spin rate has changed with it now in constant sun.
– As a result I’m hearing some newer stations working AO-85 with handheld transceivers. I’ve worked 2 new stations in the last 2 days who emailed me directly after the pass stating they were seeing some success with an HT.