[amsat-bb] Mediocrity vs. minimalist approach

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Jan 29 12:08:47 PST 2012

Hi Frank!

Let's clear the decks on this one.... you posted:

> The preamp that you don't need, unless you want to push the envelope!
> If mediocrity is your ultimate goal, use the minimalist approach, simple,
> cheap, but if you wish to truly enjoy the full limits of satellite
> communications, give yourself the tools to do the job!

Let's correct one glaring error in the statement above...


(yes, I capitalized both words intentionally)

One can go with a minimalist station, and not have something that is
mediocre.  You can push the envelope, without having to build or buy
a fully-equipped station, complete with a satellite-ready transceiver,
computer control, long-boom Yagis, an az/el rotator, and even
preamps.  Also don't forget operator skill.  Without that, the fully-
equipped station could be mediocre.  Until we get an HEO satellite
in orbit, a minimalist satellite station can work just as well as the
fully-automated station.

I've said it many times on this forum.  I enjoy satellite operating.  I
started with portable gear, mainly due to restrictions on antennas
and no safe place to set up my gear at the apartment I lived in for
a few years.  I now live in a nice house, but it comes with antenna
restrictions.  I'm making use of the back yard to work with my
gear (which you could see in the videos I posted last weekend),
and may be able to set up antennas on a tripod that can be put up
only when I'm using it.  Until then, I continue to work with the same
portable gear I have been using for while - the same gear that I used
to work you last night from the DM23/DM24 grid boundary, when I
took a detour on my way home from Palm Springs and pulled off a
state highway in western Arizona.

I have over 11,000 satellite QSOs in my log from the past 6+ years.
Not a record, as there are others who have many more in the same
timeframe, but all but about 10 of the 11,000 were made with portable
gear from almost 200 different locations across the USA and 3 other
countries.  When I looked at those QSOs a little while back, about
10% of those QSOs were in SSB or CW.  I have gear that allows me
to work FM or SSB/CW satellites down to the horizon or the local
surroundings, and I'm not afraid to work signals that are not strong.

Is this mediocre?  I think not.  I already have the tools to do the job
and enjoy it.  Eventually, I will make a QSO with what I will consider
the smallest station I can probably assemble for a non-FM satellite
QSO - a TH-F6A HT sending CW to FO-29, listening to the downlink
on the all-mode receiver in that HT.

As for preamps, there are situations where they may be needed.  For
example, I talked with Bob KO6TZ at the hamfest in Palm Sptings
yesterday morning.  He explained that he has a 125-foot coax run
from his antennas into his shack.  Short of buying very low-loss coax
that is cost-prohibitive (if there is a type of coax for that length), he
uses preamps at his antennas.  That's one example where preamps
are called for.  That's a far cry from those using HTs with antennas
like the Arrow Yagi, Elk log periodic, or similar homebrew designs -
where coax runs are only a few feet at most, not 125 feet.

As for the rest of Frank's post:


Now this I will agree with 100%.  Great job by Wyatt for working
ON4HF yesterday morning!  Later in the day, I worked AC0RA
just after working K4FEG out in the desert on my way home,
adding a new grid to his satellite log.  Wyatt was very busy
yesterday.  :-)



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