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Re: Mode A: wanted? -Reply

I may later wish I hadn't joined in this conversation, but I must express my
agreement with Ray!  Reading his missive, I came to the realization that
"YES .. the FUN has gone out of chasing satellites!"  ... and a large part of
the reason is that they have become (are becoming) MUCH too technically
sophisticated for the masses ... suitable only for those who can support
frequencies which NO 'beginner' has access to and in addition, no
'beginner' would DARE attempt to make him/herself a 'flame target' by
wandering onto such a satellite and committing a gigantic error of misuse.

In the past, I have personally contributed thousands of 'spare' hours of
my personal time, as well as several hundreds of dollars to the satellite
effort, only to see AMSAT's offerings go from the 'garage workbench' to
humongous EXPENSIVE communications birds which we cannot afford
and which will do NOTHING to 'grow our ranks' ...  WHY?

Ron   W4FP  (W0PN)


>>> Ray Soifer <71331.1337%compuserve.com@oscsystems.com>
02/04/98 10:39 >>>
Hi Richard,

When evaluating the responses you will be receiving, I believe it would be
well to bear in mind that, to the best of my knowledge at any rate, a
majority of existing Mode A users are not on the Internet, or at least are
not registered with <amsat.org> and hence have no access to

"How do you know this," you may ask.

As you know, I've been having fun for the last couple of years with my
Mode A "micro-station," which consists of a hand-held 2m transmitter
(actually an FM transceiver) and half-wavelength whip antenna for the
uplink, and a pocket-sized Sony ICF-SW100E receiver for the downlink,
generally with a wire antenna thrown out the window for 10m .  When I
work someone on RS-12 (or RS-10, when that was active), I normally
check the <amsat.org> list to see if he is listed; if so, I then send him=

a "Tnx QSO" message informing him about the station he has worked.
=46rom experience, I can tell you that at least two-thirds of the station= s
I have worked on Mode A are not registered with <amsat.org>.

I have no easy way of determining how many of them are actually
members of an AMSAT organisation, but would be willing to wager that
many are not.  Indeed, Mode A operators who are not AMSAT members
have a persuasive argument on their side: to date, AMSAT has done very
little for them.  Except for the Russians, no AMSAT organisation has built
a Mode A satellite since 1978 (AO-8), and even that was funded by
ARRL (and built by AMSAT-NA under contract to them).  In all of history
there has been only one Mode A satellite built and paid for by AMSAT
(again, apart from the Russians),
AO-6 in 1972.  Twenty-six years is a long time to wait!

So, were AMSAT-UK to take the lead in building a new one, I believe that
there would be a significant new base of potential members which may
become available.  To find out how large it is, however, one would have
to ask them, and most of them are not on the Internet.
To try to reach this wider audience, perhaps articles might be written fo=
RadCom, Practical Wireless, etc, describing the proposition and asking
readers to respond.  =

Turning now to my own personal opinions, I have two thoughts on this.

1.  Gerard, F6FAO, makes an excellent point.  The attractiveness of any
analogue bird is very much related to its orbit.  Specifically, much of t= he
attraction of the old Mode A satellites of the 1970s and early 1980s
derived directly from their DX potentialities.  Working DX on AO-6,
RS-6, RS-8 etc was challenging and, therefore, fun, something which
has largely gone out the window with the later Molniya-orbit spacecraft.
But, before something can be fun, it's got to be possible.  To be capable=

of providing serious opportunities for DXers, the orbital altitude should=

be higher than that of RS-12 today -- at least 1500 km (the altitude of
AO-6 and AO-7) and preferably even higher than that.  RS-15, for
example, is in an excellent orbit for DX operation.  Would that it had
enough sola= r power to permit consistent operation at reasonable output

2.  When thinking about a bird with a 10m downlink, we should also =

consider the eventual need to replace RS-12 when it goes to the happy
hunting ground in the sky.  In addition to a Mode A uplink, I would like to
see the new bird have Mode K capability as well.  For the operator who
already owns an HF transceiver, Mode K has the advantage of requiring
him to purchase no new equipment at all.  In fact, due to the extremely
limited Doppler shift, his equipment need not even be =

capable of monitoring his downlink while transmitting.  The only
requirement would be for relatively easy bandswitching between the
transmit and receive frequencies, each of which would be stored in
memory with the added use of RIT.  For the DXer, Mode K provides a
combination of satellite and ionospheric propagation leading to =

fascinating opportunities, e.g., antipodal paths such as G-ZL which are
virtually impossible on AO-10.  Also, as John, GM4IHJ, has so ably
demonstrated, Mode K offers unique opportunities for serious research
into ionospheric phenomena.

I hope these comments prove helpful.

73, Ray w2rs@amsat.org =