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Mode A vs. Mode J-FM [Was: Ok, so what's available in Mode A]



       With all the previous postings about our need to have more and more 
   FM repeater satellites, one would have thought that Mode-A satellites are 
   an ancient technology, a thing-of-the-past and that we should look toward 
   the future...to FM repeater satellites. The more I read postings like yours,
   the more I am skeptical of the thought that Mode-A should be totally 
   abandoned for FM repeater sats.

As a regular on AO-27, i want to emphasize the need to get more birds up
in Mode A.  Mode A has simply had a very bad couple of years.  RS-10 died
and we've had two Mode A birds go up which so far could not be activated
as such (although there's still very vague hope for SEDSAT).  RS-12/13
should eventually go back to Mode KT.  But i'm very thankful it can fill
in, at least part-time, until we get something else to do that job.  There
was a project at the other end of the S.F. Bay to put up another Mode A
bird; but i don't know how far along it is, or even if it's still active.

While clearly on weekends, AO-27 is crowded well beyond capacity, it looks
like we have two Mode J-FM birds manifested in September.  One, ASUSAT-1,
should be easier to hear than AO-27 and not be on a restricted schedule.  
The other, coming out of Stanford, is very small and may be as difficult to
hear as RS-15.  But it'll be a good challenge for us regulars.  (And i bet
one could still work it with an HT and an AO-10/P3D class antenna system).
That'll be good test of equipment and also provide a place to earn activity
points without discouraging newcomers (which, as a regular on AO-27, i see
as a significant problem during weekend passes on AO-27).  And a picosat
or nanosat is sufficiently small that finding launch opportunities ought 
to be much easier.

I feel we really need a next step for people who either have no interest
and/or ability with CW [i'm in the latter category] to progress, that
would permit non-contest style QSOs and, for us in the 'States, to work
other countries besides Canada and occasionally Mexico.  Mode A allows
for that.  But so far, it's mostly done either with HF gear, which is of
little or no use to anyone unable to copy CW by ear.  The newer affordable
6M SSB/CW QRP gear could change that, if someone can come up with suitable
convertors.  Or maybe a Mode A homebrew project specificly for Mode A.  
But, so far, such convertors go to 10M or lower, again, of not much use to 
non-CW folk.

One huge reason for AO-27's popularity is that it doesn't require equipment
easily costing a thousand dollars, and often much more.  And Mode A is also
more accessible in that way, which is probably why the RS series of birds
has used those modes (their countrymen couldn't afford the other modes,
either). I'm interested, and now that we have at least one bird up there
in Mode A for a beginner to try, it may be easier for me to get beyond FM.

			     -- KD6PAG ("Networking Old-Timer, RF newbie")


P.S.  Personal question:  Are there Mode A operators out there willing to
copy CW and respond via SSB?  
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