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Keith,

We've worked a number of times on the analog birds.  In fact, your QSL
card is one of my prized cards.

Just because you are president of Amsat NA, doesn't mean I can't take
you to task, and take you to task I will..

I don't know this for sure, but I think you are mostly a digital
satellite user, and make infrequent appearances on the analog birds.
How do I know this?  Because I am one of those regulars on the analog
birds, and I do a great deal of monitoring.  I can rattle off the calls
of a few dozen regular analog users.

I read your editorial in the most recent Amsat Journal. In this piece,
you say, "... a number of analog satellites, the Fuji OSCARS in
particular, are working just beautifully and yet, by my own observation,
remain only lightly loaded on their North American passes."

I have heard you make similar comments on the FO2x birds.  The last time
I heard you make a comment like this to a fellow in QSO,  I did a head
count of users at that minute.  Besides your QSO, there were 3 others in
progress, with 2 hams calling CQ on phone, and 1 calling CQ on CW.  That
makes 11 operators, not counting myself, or others already out of the
footprint.

I understand the thrust of your editorial, and commend you for trying to
solicit more activity on the birds, but your assertions that the analog
birds are under-utilized, is just not true.  I have witnessed passes on
weekends lately where more than 20 operators were vying for bandwidth on
FO20.  Ops were all over each other.

In your editorial you state you have called CQ on RS-15 on "numerous"
passes and had absolutely no no reply.  I'll agree with you there.  We
have been trying to garner interest in this bird, and have declared a
defacto "watering hole" frequency of 29.380  for a gathering place.
Since then, the bird has seen more use.  In all honesty however, many
ops have all but given up on this bird; it is by far the hardest sat to
work.  One needs a decent uplink signal with switchable polarity sense
to make  any meaningful contacts.

OK, least I sound defensive, or as though I'm protecting my turf, here
is a rundown of the available analog birds available to us today.

        FO-20  a good bird with broad tans ponder, easy to work, changes
polarity often.
        FO-29 another good bird, may loose analog time to digitalker and
digital modes.
        RS-13 in mode KA,  prone to 15 meter QRM and may be crowded,
easy to work.
        RS-15 is probably the hardest sat to work and is in mode A.
        AO-27 is a real zoo with a single channel FM system.
One-at-a-time use.

So, actually, the FO birds carry the brunt of analog usage.  Thanks to
the Japanese for providing these fine birds.  Also, thanks to the
Russians for providing us with 2 more sometimes useful sats.  I would
never want either space agency to think their birds go unused or
unappreciated.  Most users have a deep appreciation for these
resources.  I ask both the Japanese and Russians  to have their own
observers take a "census" of use over North America.  I'm sure they
would come to the same conclusion as me, and  find they are heavily
used.

Granted, P3D may someday fly, and give us more analog time, but all
analog users must now vie for time on the above mentioned birds.  Under
used?  I don't think so. Room for more? Probably.

What happens when FO20 no longer functions?  Analog availability
suddenly is decreased by 1/4, maybe 1/3.  World hams intent on
preserving analog usage in space need to start talking about
replacements for the analog birds.  We need to form alliances with  the
various space agencies and commercial satellite builders and convince
them that it is in their interest to support continued analog
expenditures in space.

I fear that through comments like your's,  more resources will be
allocated to still more digital birds.  After all, if the analog birds
are under used, why build or fly more? This would be unfortunate.

When was the last time an analog sat left the launch pad?  How many
digital sats have been sent aloft in the past year?  Is there some
agenda you're serving Keith, which has not yet been articulated?  I hope
not.  A good president will support the needs and desires of all
members, including digitally challenged operators such as myself.

73, and hope to talk to you on the birds!

Mike, kf4fdj@amsat.org

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