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>      Good morning to the net/BBS. 
>        I know everyone has different ideas as to what's fun. This includes
>      amateur radio operators. But could someone please explain to me the 
>      attraction to digital satellites? 

It's different.  It's challenging.  And those are probably the biggest
reasons anyone would prefer satellite communications over terrestrial
communications, anyway.

A store-and-forward transponder allows a low earth orbiting satellite to
carry messages, pictures, data, software, etc. across the planet, regardless
of the footprint of the satellite.  This is contrary to analog satellites
where if the person you wish to contact is not within the satellite's
footprint, no contact can be made.

Notice how much interest there's been in the Mir SSTV images?  Many digital
satellites carry earth imaging cameras that provide MUCH higher resolution
than the Mir SSTV experiment.

How about the radiation and space dust counters on OSCAR-11?  Do analog
satellites provide similar scientific information about the near-earth

Then there's the FCC which allows the Amateur Radio Service to exist
due to it's:

   (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to
the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly
with respect to providing emergency communications.

Digital satellites have been used to carry emergency communications in
the past, and will probably continue to do so when the need/availability

   (b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to
contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

Digital satellites provide a platform for experimentation in new
technologies and new communication protocols.  Some of the concepts
developed in designing the Pacsat satellites have been adopted by
commercial services.  Amateurs are proving once again that they are
innovators, and therefore have just cause for keeping the spectrum
allocated for amateur radio use.

   (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules
which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical
phases of the art.

Key words: Advancing Skills.  As technology advances, so must our
communication techniques.  Maintaining the status quo does us no
good as a communication service.

   (d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service
of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

Expansion != status quo.

   (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to
enhance international goodwill.

Digital satellites are very popular in many parts of the world -- even
in areas where radio equipment is expensive or difficult to build from
scratch.  However, some amateurs choose to put the resources they could
spend complaining about the advancement of the amateur satellite program
into building their own satellite groundstations from scratch!  We're
talking modems, TNCs, antennas, tracking software -- the works!

Digital satellites are a bit more complicated to use than analog satellites.
But then again, amateur radio is a bit more complicated than CB radio.
If your only interest is chatting with others, perhaps there's really
no difference between the two, and maybe a telephone is the best tool
for the job.  But the truth is that amateur radio is more than just
idle chatter.  It's about growth, advancement, and technical achievement.

Perhaps a better question is, "When can be expect more advanced digital
satellites that can handle digital voice, video, and data from a handheld

We'll never get there if we continue to embrace the status quo, that's
for sure!

73, de John, KD2BD

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- John A. Magliacane, KD2BD -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Internet  : kd2bd@amsat.org          |  Voice : +1.732.224.2948
Satellite : AO-16, LO-19, KO-25      |  Morse : -.-  -..  ..---  -...  -..
Packet    : KD2BD @ KS4HR.NJ.USA.NA  |  WWW   : http://www.njin.net/~magliaco/
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