[amsat-bb] I want this. I want that. Here comes another FM LEO sat.

Bryce Salmi bstguitarist at gmail.com
Tue Jul 22 16:34:11 UTC 2014

You're missing the point. Do I personally think Fox-1 is pushing the
bleeding edge of technology? No. Buts it's a great step to building a good
foundation. I think your frustration with the lack of digital birds is
overcoming an understanding of where AMSAT currently is and where it's
going. No one disagrees with you on wanting more advanced and possibly
digital modes. I for one am yearning for digital birds.

I got my ticket in high school in 2004. I didn't really use satellites
until a few years later so I missed out on ao40 and others. My
understanding now of amsats history may be skewed but it's the best I can

After ao40 it appears to me many of the original players were getting too
old to keep volunteering and possibly got let down by the events of ao40.
Understandably, some chose to stop. From what I can tell reading through
email archives, eagle caused some problems and some left then too. Past is
past, I'll highlight it. Throw ITAR into the mix and now we are here at
Fox, AMSATS first series of satellites in decades.

AO51 seemed to be a collaboration of AMSAT and space quest, and suitsat and
arissat were fun and neat projects. fox is amsats chance to get a base of
solid engineering to build upon. The main payload is analog. There are
experimental PCB slots. fox-2 will have even more space. I think digital
modes will find their way on there eventually when AMSAT is ready.

Very launch of a fox-1 satellite is building flight heritage on the
designs. I work in the spacecraft and launch industry, every rocket that
flies and spacecraft that safely returns to earth is heritage on our
designs. It's worth it's weight in gold so to speak.

AMSAT has enough volunteers with the right skills to build fox 1
satellites. I personally think all of us, including me, have some to learn
before we attempt crazy ideas. Heck, fox-1 is brilliant in that it allows
AMSAT to fulfill a baseline analog fm and transponder need in the cubesat
form factor while allowing extra space for experiments whether they are
gyros or digital modes. These experiments can succeed or fail and not harm
the base satellite of done right. The only crappy part about a 1U cubesat
is it's super tiny power budget. fox-2 will be the first really power
capable satellite and I'm excited as hell for it.

I wrote this on my iPhone while riding into work. Sorry for any misspelling


On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, Phil Karn <karn at ka9q.net> wrote:

> On 07/22/2014 06:49 AM, Clayton Coleman wrote:
> > Hi Phil,
> >
> > The new era I speak of is AMSAT-NA's foray into CubeSats.
> Well, I guess I could read that as "when all you have is lemons, make
> lemonade". AMSAT used to make spacecraft that, while small by
> commercial/military/scientific standards, dwarfed a cubesat. So I don't
> see cubesats as an advance.
> Although miniaturization of electronics and improvements in solar cell
> efficiency do help us cram everything into the tiny form factor, the
> fact remains that we are now forced to pay far more to launch far less
> than we used to.
> I guess that's a "new era" in the same way that the Arab Oil Embargoes
> of 1973 and 1979 launched a glorious new era in automobile
> transportation...
> Sure, this is a fact of life that we can't do anything about, despite
> the supreme irony of AMSAT pioneering small satellites so well that we
> created a whole new industry with which we must now fiercely compete for
> launches. Economics says that when demand outstrips supply, prices go
> up. So they have. A lot.
> Like it or not, we have to adapt to changing realities. We used to get
> launches for free or at nominal rates, so our main investment in each
> satellite was just the volunteer engineers' time and the cost of those
> components we could not beg, borrow or steal.
> But now that the launch cost dominates the budget of everything we fly,
> it's time to take a very serious look at what we get from each one. Said
> another way, it's time to look at how much MORE we could get from our
> very substantial investment in each launch. Every launch of a FM cubesat
> depletes a very large chunk of AMSAT funds that cannot be spent on
> launching something else.
> In other words, I'm encouraging people to look at the *opportunity cost*
> of every additional analog FM satellite we launch. People don't yet
> realize just how huge it is because they only know 1960s analog
> technology. They simply don't realize how much more could be done with
> 21st century technology. That's what I'm trying to change, so far
> without much success.
> --Phil
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