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The Future?

We've all been bickering back and forth about trivial things such as FM
satellites and it's made me start to think about the future of amateur radio
and space.

What's gonna happen in the next few months when Mir is no longer orbiting
the Earth every 90 minutes? I cut my teeth on Mir after reading several
articles and wondering if it really was possible for somelike myself with a
extremely limited setup to work the Mir PMS. I'll never forget the thrill of
when I connected to the PMS on my first try using only an HT, a ground plane
antenna made of coat hangers and a SO239 chassis mount connector and my
little palmtop computer. I called my poor brother and woke him up in the
middle of the night, I did a screen capture just to prove to myself and
others that I did it. Even thinking of it now, I still feel the thrill. Mir
is something that has been so much fun for me and I have collected cards
from all over the U.S., Mexico and Cube from unproto contacts. It has served
as a learning experience for my children, they don't really know what I'm
doing but they do comprehend that I am somehow bouncing an invisible signal
off of a 'spaceship' the is in space. I have done demonstrations for my
son's second grade class and have gotten the attention of a couple of
deputies who are rarely excited or thrilled by anything. Mir is almost
always active 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. Although it may be the easiest
satellite to work, it never ceases to thrill me to work it.

This may seem silly to some of you that have massive stations, but for
someone like myself that works two jobs and doesn't have a lot of money to
spend on 'toys' it really has been a thrill for me. I know that there are
others like me, those who don't have the financial resources to build
'killer' stations, but one thing I have that some of the big stations don't
have is portability. I can literally run off batteries for hours on end, in
locations that look like they were taken from the film 'Deliverance'.

Now that Mir is scheduled to be deserted, what is available for someone such
as myself? Is the ISS going to have a simple AX.25 packet station available?
Will P3D have anything to offer a user such as myself and others similar to

On the subject of AO-27, once again using my beloved little FT-50, I'm able
to communicate from here in Central Alabama with stations in Canada, Mexico
and as far west as California. Yes, it can be chaotic, but it sure is
amazing to hear voices literally being beamed down from space and the cool
thing about the voices is that sometimes they answer my simple little 5 watt
callsign! It's quite a thrill indeed.

So, with these simple, but amazing things in mind, I sincerely hope that the
future of amateur space communications provides an outlet for me and those
like me. I'm a somewhat simple person and sometime just a simple answer to a
unproto CQ makes my day. Oh yeah, everyone keeps saying the future of our
hobby depends on getting youths interested in the hobby, please bear in mind
that many of these kids will only be able to acquire an HT as a radio when
they enter the hobby. Many of these kids will already have a home computer
available to them. Let's make it easy for these kids to be able to interface
their HT to the PC and communicate with us via amateur satellites and then
be able to take that same HT outside and have a voice QSO with it via
satellite. I am almost ready to take my 13wpm CW test and achieve a General
class license (I'm currently a Tech+), but many of these kids will not go
the CW route but *will* want to further the technical aspect of the hobby
and hopefully the satellite aspect. Let's make it easy for them to do this
by being able to almost immediately being able to communicate via satellites
as soon as they get their callsign and ticket.

73 de Jeff
           ---- Jeff Johns W4JEF - Reserve Patrol Captain ----
           ---    Jefferson County Sheriff's Department    ---
           ---           Birmingham, Alabama USA           ---
           --- HP200LX & BayPac.. QRP Packet At It's Best! ---
           ---- Finger jeffj@scott.net for my PGP RSA Key ----

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