[amsat-bb] Re: Why do the amsats get more and more complex?

Tim Tapio k4shf at k4shf.com
Tue Sep 19 11:59:23 PDT 2006

Interesting to note, our local repeater doesn't see the need to continually
push the envelope, yet when we put one on a spacecraft, we seem to need the
latest technology, not always available to the ham that just wants to go out
in the backyard and operate without having to spend umpteen dollars to build
up a station.  Like the guy working HF with a simple transceiver and a
vertical, some of us just want to operate and don't have the
time/interest/money to spend building the station it requires to work some
of the more exotic modes.  I haven't seen any L band radios in my price
range and S band seems to have lost interest (even though I'm told it was
pretty simple to get on to)

My $.02 as a new operator.

73 de Tim, K4SHF  FM04

-----Original Message-----
From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
Behalf Of Jason White
Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 10:49 AM
To: Amsat BB
Subject: [amsat-bb] Why do the amsats get more and more complex?

This is intended to be an honest question that I've wanted to ask, but I 
don't want to spark controversy or long threads that monopolize the 
reflector. I have a feeling this could go either way, so I'm just asking 
politely that the thread not go that way! It's not my intent.

Anyway, I'm just curious why it seems that every new satellite project 
proposed seems to be bigger and more complex than the last? I keep 
hearing about exotic modes and uplink/downlink bands for P3E.. software 
defined transceivers, etc. etc. and what it looks like to me are more 
and more failure points. I understand the need to push the limits of 
technology as a justification for our very existence, but personally I 
feel like the designs are overly complicated and highly priced. I'm not 
ready to switch my earth station to SDRs, for instance.. I'm dubious 
about putting one into orbit.. then again, I'm not skilled enough to 
make those sorts of decisions.

What I'm getting at is that Oscar 7 proved how reliable older technology 
can be..  For the price of one of the  phase 3 birds  it seems like 
several Mode B linear transponder sats could be put up, or a few more FM 
sats. I personally would much rather see a modest mode B sat in AO-40s 
intended orbital pattern than to try to wrangle parts for microwave.

Did it get too easy for people or something?

Wouldn't it be better to separate out some of the more experimental 
stuff from the old standbys? That way a failure of one whole sat would 
still leave something usable for the same money spent.  My vote would be 
to piggyback a completely independent analog satellite onto P3E "just in 

Like I said, please, I'm looking for a real, thought out response.. I 
didn't write the above to be a critque or to troll or anything like 
that, I am just curious because it seems to me, as an outside observer, 
that after the failure of AO-40 the direction was to go bigger and even 
more complicated, which left me cold considering what I had done at my 
station to work AO-40. Even when AO-40 was up I felt it was very odd 
that time and money were spent on components and systems that were never 
used (did the solar panels ever deploy?) Yes, I know the sat was 
damaged, and that explains a good bit of it, but it still felt like some 
things were wasted. Emphasis on "felt".. I couldn't know the real 
process that resulted in the decisions made.

If someone could help me understand why the direction is the way it is 
maybe I could get excited about the bigger sats, but I think you get 
more "bang for the buck" with the smaller less complicated birds. My 
favorite so far is PCSat I. Mostly off the shelf hardware and I had a 
very easy time digipeating APRS through it. One of those in an 
elliptical orbit would be a hoot!


Jason - N1XBP

P.S. - One last plea, this isn't a troll! I'm worried people will think 
it is.

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