There is Field Day and then there is AMSAT Field Day. Both events occur on the same day with very similar rules with one notable exception: AMSAT Field Day is entirely done via Orbital Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR’s.)
In the past, I have mostly participated in AMSAT Field Day from home but I have also known to be on the road. In 2012, I was traveling with my family to New England and only stopped to listen to a few FM Satellites. That was quite interesting. From Skyline Drive in Northern Virginia, I was able to hear stations trying to use AO-27 before the transponder had even been activated. There was a telemetry period before the transponder would activate. During that telemetry period, I was hearing dozens of stations hollering “CQ Field Day” on the uplink frequency. That was eye-opening.
This year we were heading to Amarillo, Texas on the Saturday of Field Day. I didn’t arrive at camp until late afternoon. However, there was plenty of time to setup my station and work a few passes. I hadn’t planned on really making a strong attempt at FD this year being that we were away. However, it is always fun to work some friends via satellite and listen to some of the FD madness.
As I predicted, SO-50 was total garbage. Too many stations transmitting and few were able to hear. Absolutely pathetic! It is selfish individuals who don’t operate satellites EVER but decide to try once a year that really ruin it for everyone. Some are overconfident jerks who have made a couple of contacts in the past but think they have it all figured out when it comes time for Field Day so they don’t need any practice.
FO-29 was sad this year. Many stations that were running excess power and couldn’t hear. This is evident by all the CQ’ing, HOLA, and 1-2-3 on top of other stations.
It is amazing to me that so many stations overlook the simple fact that you can make satellites contacts (on all current LEO birds) with 5 watts and an Arrow antenna. Why run 100 watts into a giant array? Are you trying to look like a tough guy? Are you compensating for something?
I did a fair job with my short Arrow and 20 watts. I was using my 35ah battery to supply the Icom IC-821. I worked LilacSat-2, XW-2C, XW-2F, and FO-29. Not counting a few extra stations that called and worked me on LilacSat-2, I made 7 unique contacts that count for the AMSAT Field Day score. Not bad for just a handful of passes in a mediocre operating location.