[amsat-bb] Improving satellite reporting

Bruce Robertson ve9qrp at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 06:04:04 PDT 2009

I offer the following idea in order to speed up the reporting of
satellite conditions on amsat.org. The situation is, as I see it,

1. The best source of information is oscar.dcarr.org. It harnesses the
many-eyes that the Internet can provide and summarizes their reports
in a helpful visualization. Users can gain detailed information, like
how FO-29's repair is progressing, or what mode AO-7 is in. In my
experience its uptime is excellent. Moreover, if I understand it
correctly, it does not require manual operation. Its only fault is
that its url is not in amsat.org, and so beginners or those with just
a general interest are unlikely to find it. It might be subject to
spamming or malicious reporting, but I have seen no evidence of this.

2. The official amsat page of information reports conditions on a
roughly week-by-week basis and does not include the detailed
information described above. This is because, if I understand its
operation correctly, it does require manual work by an authorized
individual. This precludes the moment-by-moment reporting that
oscar.dcarr.org offers, but it does mean that the trust factor is

To my mind, an ideal solution is in two steps:

A. Make oscar.dcarr.org an amsat.org page. At very least, this entails
nothing more than the use of the HTML iframe element. It is true that
amsat is thus endorsing an external page, but I think based on past
performance, this is highly warranted. On the other end of the
spectrum, the entire code and server software that drives
oscar.dcarr.org could be moved to amsat.org. In any case, this would
require the permission of Mr. Carr and prominent recognition from the
organization for his (and Bob's) pioneering application of the
Internet to this problem.

B. Perhaps more complicated is to make the current official page
become automatically updated from the dcarr page, or by means of an
operator who is automatically informed from the dcarr page, or some
combination of the two. For instance, a sufficient number of 'not
heard' reports from dcarr.org pertaining to a given bird would change
its status in the official page to be '?' or something like this.

There are further possibilities. For instance, dcarr.org could be
upgraded with a broad-based trust model. The twenty most enthusiastic
reporters could, for instance, be furnished with passwords in a secure
mode and their data could be privileged for the purpose of reporting.

Besides improving the reporting on satellite conditions, this change
would have a further effect. It would communicate to the members that
if they create good resources, their work might eventually become
highlighted by the AMSAT community, in effect, a 'publication' of
AMSAT. 'Volunteering' thus becomes not much more than 'doing cool
stuff that the community likes'.

(Similarly, I hope that William's extraordinary vision in building his
transponder board might, after broad testing and examination, be
validated by it becoming an 'AMSAT' off-the-shelf product. With
William's approval, let's appeal for the bucks to have a team of
people replicate these, test them, and set them up as temporary
terrestrial repeaters around the world. We'd much more easily convince
a cubesat team to include one of these if we could say one was running
uninterrupted in Toronto for a year, or if we could have them do a QSO
through one in a live demo!)

73, Bruce

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