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Antennas vs future



I am writing this because I think you can help.

I am trying to understand the proper configuration of antennas to use
these wonderful satellites that are up there now.  But, I also have
an interest in long distance tropo on 2 meters and 70cm.

Here are the issues:

1) Is there agreement on which manufacturer makes the best antenna
with regard to long term durability?  How well it stands up to
the stresses of being exposed to sun, wind, rain, ice, snow etc?

2) Does anyone have experience with the suggestions presented in
the June issue of CQ VHF with regard to mounting cross polorized
antennas in a "x" rather than a "+"?  Any comments with regard
to lightning protection that this affords by using metal vs
fiberglass masts?

3) Would investing in an AZ/EL system merely give access to AO-10 now?
Will you need the amount of gain from a typical AZ/EL configuration to
use the new Phase 3D?  In other words, will spending money now give
over kill capability in the future.

4) Is an AZ/EL a high maintenance configuration?  I realize it
depends on how it was put together in the first place, but would
putting an AZ/EL system on top of a 50 foot tower be crazy?  The
purpose of doing so would be to use these antennas for long distance
tropo as well as satellite use.

5) I have read that using a well installed cross polorized satellite
antenna can and has been used for EME as well.  This depends on working
the other ham who uses a very large antenna system on their end.  What
size of antenna (gain) is needed for this for either/both 2 meters and 
70cm?

6) I have heard that certain antenna manufacturers antennas are harder
to put together than others.  Hard on the hands and fingers etc.
Any experiences?  Suggestions?

7) Knowing that Phase 3D will eventually fly, would a lower tech
omni antenna system be a more sane answer to the question of what
antennas to use for satellite usage?  Do you really need the gain?

8) If gain is required, how much is needed as a minimum to work
AO-10/Phase 3D when it is at the furthest distance from the earth? 

9) Do the antenna manufacturers who supply cross polorized antennas
for satellite use provide the "switcher box" or just the relay
configuration on the antenna for switching between left hand and
right hand polorization?  It is very unclear that one would have
to build a switcher box to control the relays on the antenna.  It
would be nice to know who makes them and are they all the same?  Are
there any software solutions which monitor radio signal polorization
and provide control options?

----

These questions are the result of a couple of months of "looking into"
the whole satellite antenna issue.  I guess I am in need of
experienced input.  I have recently joined AMSAT and have explored
the AMSAT web site.  I also recently purchased a Yaesu FT-847 and
want to make an informed decision on the issues of antennas for
satellite usage.  I want to take advantage of the FT-847's multi
mode capability on the vhf and uhf bands as well as its satellite
capability.

I realize these issues may have been dealt with before, but I think
the actual questions posed here would be of benefit to others as
new users are always coming on board.  My thoughts are beginning
(after 39 years in amateur radio) to conclude that satellite
usage is the future of ham radio.  Or at least a large portion
of it.

I thank you in advance for taking time to answer these questions.
Please reply to the bulletin board so others may learn as well.

Sincerely,

Rees Roberts - K9UUT
Racine, WI






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