[amsat-bb] Re: HEO naivete

n3tl@bellsouth.net n3tl at bellsouth.net
Sat Feb 7 07:39:33 PST 2009

Hey everyone,
I’m reading this thread with great interest.
Thank you, Mr. McBride, for this statement:
“Amateur radio operators are .02 % of the US population. Boy do we have
Further refinement is necessary to get the full grasp of the current landscape.
AMSAT-NA’s membership represents .05 percent of America’s licensed amateur radio population, based on the numbers I heard at the Space Symposium in Atlanta last October.
The full perspective is this:
Two-tenths of one percent of America’s population holds amateur licenses, and AMSAT-NA’s membership represents one-half of one percent of that number.
This thread leaves me believing that there really are two issues serving as the foundation of this discussion:
1 – Lack of the resources necessary to launch additional amateur payloads into any orbit.
2 – Lack of consensus on what AMSAT-NA’s focus should be.
I welcome correction, but these appear to me to be the two major issues this thread includes.
In the most general of terms, I believe issue No. 1 above is most important, and will continue to be. I remain convinced that unless/until AMSAT’s membership grows to represent a much more significant chunk of the existing amateur radio population, we will do little more than continue to  read each other’s opinions – here and elsewhere – on why progress isn’t occurring.
I spent six years handing public relations for Tracker Boats, a sister company to Bass Pro Shops and the largest freshwater boat builder in the world. During my tenure, countless requests for support crossed my desk literally on a daily basis. An angler needed a boat to become a professional fisherman. Bass clubs needed boats as tournament prizes. Non-profits needed boats to raffle as fund-raisers. The list goes on and on. At the root of every request was a need to determine how that financial support would, at the end of the day, help Tracker Boats as much as it helped the people and/or organizations seeking support.
AMSAT, while positioned and active as a tremendous educational resource, can’t claim any clout in the amateur radio community, let alone with the public. To those who disagree, I ask simply that you explain to me how an organization that represents such a tiny fraction of the amateur radio community – let alone this country’s overall population – can honestly claim to have clout.
With that in mind, I challenge every current AMSAT member to recruit one new member between now and Dayton in May. Sign up another ham. If you’re hesitant to donate to AMSAT,  as some have noted in posts here, make a small gesture by buying a ham friend an AMSAT membership. Or, buy a local science teacher an AMSAT membership. Buy a membership for your local public library so the Journal will appear on its periodicals shelves. I am saddened every time I think about this group’s active membership number. Our current dues-paying roster cannot support the development, construction and launch of satellites – regardless of their intended orbits – which means that outside support is crucial. Membership larger and stronger than currently exists is just as crucial to getting potential benefactors to consider AMSAT and its mission with more than passing interest.
I understand most sides of the debate about AMSAT’s focus, although I don’t agree with the suggestion that chaos reigns. If so, then it must at other ham organizations, too, because they certainly have a variety of interests to support within their membership. 
If there is one element of this we all ought to reach consensus on, it’s the fact that each one of us is doing what we do on the satellites for our own very personal reasons. As a result, each one of us has at least a slightly different idea of what AMSAT should be doing to keep amateur radio in space. 
My hope is that whatever flies, moving forward, will enable me to continue refining my skills as they relate to providing emergency communications – the very foundation of the FCC’s authorization of the amateur service in this country. Since making my first-ever satellite contact slightly more than seven months ago, I have assembled a station that can be totally portable and totally battery powered. That station will operate from 160 meters through 70 centimeters in all modes. I can pack it, transport it, set it up and be on the air in less than an hour, excluding drive time to whatever location I need to reach. I have worked seven satellites and the ISS with this station, including full-emergency-power contacts. The station is full-duplex and supports all modes available to licensed amateurs, including on full emergency power. 
Last Wednesday morning, we held that annual tornado siren test here. I was positioned at a siren location, and was able to hit every repeater tested during the operation with near-full-quieting signals using my handheld satellite station. Everything I have done on the satellites to date has application to emergency communications, and I use every pass to have fun by making contacts in orbit and, I the process, refine the skills I’ll need during a real emergency situation.
I hope future satellites are configured to allow me to continue that practice. Please understand – I am NOT saying this is what we all should be doing. I’m saying that this is what I enjoy about working the satellites. 
In conclusion … I really AM saying that what we ALL should be doing is … whatever we can to grow AMSAT’s membership. I have been and will continue to do that. I hope more reading this thread will, too.
 73 to all,

Tim - N3TL
Athens, Ga. - EM84ha
-------------- Original message from "Andrew Glasbrenner" <glasbrenner at mindspring.com>: -------------- 

> Hi Mike, 
> What method did you volunteer by? I ask because we have recently found dead 
> ends on the webpage that need to be taken care of, and also because I'm 
> certain we could find some niche for your particular skills. 
> I agree that there is not a strong sense of direction in the organization 
> right now. One reason is that we are desperately in need of more volunteers 
> that are willing to take on projects, ranging from updating web pages and 
> email lists, to actually building hardware. We are finally starting to get 
> some traction on our biggest issue, ITAR. Nothing dissuades a volunteer more 
> than the looming threat of federal prison or a crushing fine for talking to 
> the wrong foreign national about the wrong widget. We've recently retained 
> some excellent legal help who is making good headway into a workable 
> solution for our situation, and I have faith that we will soon emerge from 
> the woods. 
> If someone has the motivation to volunteer, the best way to do so is a email 
> or preferably a phone call to the AMSAT officer or person responsible for 
> that area or project. Meanwhile I'll continue to try to get the obviously 
> broken web tools taken down, but that is difficult without a webmaster. 
> 73, Drew KO4MA 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Mike and Paula Herr" 
> To: 
> Sent: Saturday, February 07, 2009 9:12 AM 
> Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: HEO naivete 
> > Bob, 
> > You are 100% right! After reading the latest AMSAT Journal, I have 
> > absolutely no idea where AMSAT is going! Frankly, it appears to be 
> > chaos. I have donated and was on the verge of more donations as well as 
> > signing up for Life Member, but I have held back, waiting to see if 
> > AMSAT will even survive. I have volunteered, 3 times, and never have 
> > even gotten a courtesy response. Experience? I worked in the aerospace 
> > industry and have equipment flying on the Shuttle every flight and am 
> > involved with CEV. Frustrated? you bet! 
> > See you on AO-7 and VO-52. 
> > 73 
> > Mike WA6ARA 
> > _______________________________________________ 
> > Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
> > Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program! 
> > Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb 
> _______________________________________________ 
> Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
> Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program! 
> Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb 

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