Working Birds w/ Ernie

Today I stopped by the club station (VE3JW) to learn a few things about operating a radio. When I arrived at the station, Ernie (VE3EJJ) was a blur of activity as he turned dials, pushed in buttons, and still had time to jot notes down as he worked. In his usual polite, soft-spoken manner he greeted me and told me of the afternoon’s operating conditions.

I sat down at the HF station as he showed me the ropes on the rig. I never thought tuning in a station would be so complicated, but as it turns out, it can be a bit of an art. Ernie had me practice tuning into various SSB transmissions in progress, working the different filters to block the background noise, etc. Then it was on to CW stations, zeroing in on the carrier each time.

After a short while at the HF station, Ernie fired up the Satellite station to have a look at what “birds” were in the sky. Low and behold AO-51 was cruising along at a cool 7.5 km/sec! Ernie clicked and typed away, commanding the computer to align the 2m and 7cm antenna array in the direction of the satellite. As the rotors did their work, Ernie explained that we would only “see” the satellite for another 7 minutes or so.

With the array aimed, Ernie managed to log a contact with a station in the states who he remembered making contact with a week ago. It was pretty hectic on that satellite with all the people piling up to make contacts. And that was my initiation into what I believe will become one of my preferred modes. “Working the birds”.

We tried a few more satellites as they passed, but didn’t have much luck for whatever reason. It was really nice to hang out with Ernie and learn by watching. I look forward to my next chance to watch a skilled operator at work.

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