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Here are some replies about user experiences....

My own ? The beacon died one night in mid-character as it went from 
daylight to darkness. Sometimes, the beacon is S5 though....
Not many folks use RS-15 these days.  I'm not as active as I used to be
but I have worked more than forty states on the bird in the past two
years.  I use 50 watts out and an M2 14 element crossed yagi on the
uplink.  I would sat that is just about the minimum set up for regular
use.  I (and I think most RS-15 operators) use a turnstile antenna for
anything above about 20 degrees elevation.  I don't have a 10 meter beam
but one would be an advantage at low elevation angles.

Some passes deliver very acceptable downlink signal strength and some
passes are next to useless.   On average, I find that the passes west of
my QTH (Virginia) are the most consistent.

Good luck and hope to CU on RS-15.

73 de Jess
 I have not been active on the birds for a couple of years before I 
decided to get back into it.  The only bird I used was RS-10/11, but, 
this bird is not working now.  I decided to try RS-15.  I can allways 
hear it but I have not yet had a QSO.  I can sometimes get CW to come 
back to me but no phone.  I admit I am no expert, but I get a very good 
signal on the beacons with a dipole and a preamp.  I also can hear hams 
using the bird with armchair (well,almost HI HI) copy.  My trouble must 
be what I am using for a uplink.  I am sending on a Kenwood TR-9130 @ 25 
Watts into a Hy-Gain 5/8 wavelengthvertical.  This setup worked great on 
10/11 though.

  If you have success with this bird please let me know what you are 
doing right ...
  Good Luck ES 73 DE Dana
Well, I can always hear my own signal with the setup I
use on 2 meters:  150 watts and 12 element KLM yagi.
The trouble is, I think I am shutting the thing down
from time to time because my uplink signal is too strong!

The limiting factor seems to be the downlink signal.
Maybe the bird is running real low power? I don't know
but I am using an ICOM 740 and 3 element tri-bander
to receive with and the beacon hardly ever moves the
S-meter. Adding an HF preamp ahead of the IC-740 doesn't
really help much, it brings up the noise level along with
the signals so the signal to noise is not any better.

I have been able to make a few QSO's from time to time,
but not very many.

I realize birds aren't easy to build, but I'd say somethng more needs to 
be done than the admittedly good article in NYT. Something that those of 
us who have priced that old clicher about sats being cheaper than an hf 
station can live with.... mode A!!! 73