[amsat-bb] Re: The future of AMSAT is NOW . . .

Michael Heim kd0ar at sbcglobal.net
Sat Feb 7 15:11:54 PST 2009

I agree Alan.

In ham radio, I've noticed a decline in radio experimentation since I've become licensed.  There is a lot of work being done in the software and computer areas of ham radio, and that's great!  I use the computer with ham radio, even going to get one of those little SDR rigs (softrock) when they become available again.  

However, I'm an RF guy.  I've built my own share of ham rigs and the like.  My first rig was homebrew using a 6AQ5 final on 80 and 40.  Had more fun with that rig than I have with any store bought piece....Even my 10 GHz rig was a kit, although not designed myself, I had to build it.  However, I remember in the 90's, there were a BUNCH of QRP articles in the ham mags.  What happened to them?

What I find with satellite operation is... it takes a certain amount of homebrew to put together a station.  It can be done on the cheap or it can be as costly as any other facet of this hobby.  I did it on the cheap, however, I was already on 2 and 70 cm terrestrial, so I already had the rigs.  After I moved and knew I couldnt put up an HF antenna, I decided one day to get on the hamsats, so I built an antenna, put it on a camera tripod and made a contact.  That started it all off.  I havent been on lately because I need to do some antenna work, something got damaged, and with over a foot of snow on the ground and sub zero weather, I just couldnt get any ambition, but that dosent mean this will be a permanent situation.  I still have an extreme desire to get back on.

I did a mod to an MMTS wireless cable converter to get on S band.  I want to get on L band, but dont have the gear, but I did start building from scratch a 1270 MHz transmit converter.  I have to admit, I've stalled with it, but I still want to eventually get on the band.  I do believe that for satellite work, microwaves ARE the way to go, especially on a HEO and ESPECIALLY a GEO bird.  High gain antennas are just not practical on LEO birds because they move too fast to keep a narrow beamwidth antenna pointed at them.

There are ways to get on these bands rather inexpenswively, but it takes a little work.  Having a microwave "repeater" in space would definately entice equipment manufacturers to build kits and gear for the bands that would be in use.  Look at all the stuff that was made and is still advertised for oscar 40 by companies such as SSB Electronics and the like.  Those guys SCRAMBLED to get gear out for the satellite ops when the bird was put up. Again, when I said "Build it and they will come" I think would hold true today.  Today much of our RF experimentation has been on the microwave bands, and there are a lot of very smart people that are involved with this (I'm not in those rankings, but I enjoy experimenting, hi).

I will be doing a talk in the next couple months on amateur satellites at the local ham club.  No doubt a few of the guys have worked a bird in the past.  Perhaps I'll get someone interested.  I did one on microwave last year before I got on the sats.  With the code free licenses, there are a lot of new hams at our local club.  I'm betting they dont even know the satellites even exist.  My talk will be about getting on the LEO's with existing equipment, as most hams today own a dual band HT.  Tim has it right, when he said he uses the satellites to hone his emergency preparedness abilities.  I'm also going to also say that the LEO's can also hone contesting abilities, as sometimes when the satellite is busy, it is almost like a HF pileup and it teaches timing, persistence and speed...all qualities a good contester must learn to master.  This might be a good way to "spread the word" about our hobby... do a satellite presentation at your local ham
 club.  Most clubs would be eager to hear what you have to say.

Michael Heim

----- Original Message ----
From: Alan Sieg WB5RMG <wb5rmg at somenet.net>
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
Sent: Saturday, February 7, 2009 5:00:55 PM
Subject: [amsat-bb] The future of AMSAT is NOW . . .

Topic Was :HEO naivete

Michael said:
> I usually tend to keep quiet during arguements such as this . . .

But - this is not an argument .?.  Hardly even a debate on specific points.

What is happening here is genuine concern for our future, and well founded.
Not only is AMSAT and ham radio facing uncertain times, the entire fabric
of modern culture seems wobbling around like it may ALL come tumbling down.
Stimulus, bailouts, layoffs, foreclosures - everything is connected to most
everything else - always has been, always will be.    So much of all this
churn has been brewing for years, but no one really wanted to acknowlege,
or take the gumption to creatively start solving the problems.

Now we have to. None of us are ready to just lay down and say "I quit".

But - the bright side is that humanity solves its' toughest problems when
times get hardest. That can work to our advantage, not only for AMSAT,
but for everything else that is connected to all this 'other stuff'.

The early hamsats got built and launched because a handful of hams had
a blistering passion, and didn't stop until they had accomplished what
had been previously un-done. At the time I think a popular 2m rig was
the ol 'Benton Harbor LunchBox'.    The biggest thing I see missing today
is this 'blistering passion' - not just in AMSAT, not just ham radio, but
most everything that the masses do. The general public has been so numbed
by 500 channels of nothing on TV, fast food on every corner, convenience
in every WalMard - no one gets excited about 'stuff' anymore. It is easy
(for me at least) to spot those who have some passion. They get stuff done,
they promote worthwhile things, they teach and encourage others, etc, etc...

I recognize many many folks on AMSAT-BB that exhibit passion - Great !!!

I've always felt that the AMSAT community is one of the most passionate
groups I've ever worked with. Unfortunately, victims of our own success,
we now find a lot of folks who have gotten on the satellite bandwagon
because it IS fun, and it HAS ignited some long lost passion - but not
enough of these folks recognize the need to support the effort, not only
with money - but with volunteer talent and recruitment. I really like Tim's
challenge to rapidly ramp-up our membership. Talk it up ! Get em joined-up !
This IS actually rocket-science, and is hardly an arm-chair sport yet.
This IS still a bleeding-edge of technology, and we need a few more folks
willing to take an arrow or two 'for the team' ...

Not that we should have to pay-as-you-go, but I'd suspect that each of us
knows at least one satellite operator that has never paid a red cent, or
contributed anything towards this incredibly fascinating, outrageously
expensive, blatently addicting passion of operating with satellites.
(Well, unless you include the purchase price of some personal radio gear.)
In years past I shelled out plenty of cash, and had sweat equity in big
antenna arrays, and I do miss them. But I'm looking forward to learning
more about S-band, and X-band, and beyond if necessary - by building some
Tx/Rx converters to front-end existing equipment. Just like long ago
when I learned so much by building some Tx/Rx converters to work 2m with
my FT-101... the future is coming - again - still . . .
And these tiny antennas are so much easier to build and aim - wow.

As usual, I had not intended to go off on such a rant, but sometimes my
passion boils over, and quite often it becomes infectious, and someone
else picks up on that passion, and passes it on.    We need more collective
passion - as THAT is what drives these discussions, fleshes out alternatives,
gets through the chaff and cuts into the kernel. By participating in these
discussions, WE are helping drive the future of AMSAT, and in the same
sense - ALL of ham radio.  Who knows - maybe the future of all humanity !

  73 for now, and Thanks for listening  ...  /;^)
  <- Licensed in 1976, WB5RMG = Alan Sieg * AMSAT#20554 ->
  <- http://www.somenet.net * http://wb5rmg.somenet.net ->
  <- http://www.linkedin.com/in/alansieg * My 'Day Job' ->

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