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Apartment Dwellers

Laura Haliday wrote:

>Barriers to entry aren't just financial. Consider an
>apartment dweller who couldn't possibly put up a Mode-B
>steered array, but who would be delighted to C-clamp a
>Texas Potato Masher (or a small dish once P3D is doing
>its thing) to the balcony.

This is a subject dear to my heart--especially now that I find myself itching
to get involved in digital modes and what Laura delightfully refers to as "being
seduced by centimeter waves". It's likely to be at least a little while until
I'm able to afford a roof I can put antennas on.

Standing in the parking lot dowsing for signal with my Arrow is getting a little
tedious...my neighbors, who are already convinced that the sex-change case down
the hall (me) is bonkers, will be *sure* of it now that there's a nighttime bird
out there. 
I mean the satellite. <grin>

I'm currently living in an apartment one floor above ground level on that side.
A balcony extends from our living room out on to the north side of the building,
which extends upwards for another four stories (and four ferroconcrete
balconies), overlooking a driveway. Across the driveway, a stand of leafy trees
(taller than the building) are the major obstructions to the northern horizon.
(To their credit, they provide a place to fling a random-length magnet wire so I
can do HF stuff...and maybe some of the silliness that goes on on 10m isn't an
eye-opener for *this* still relatively new ham) 

I've occasionally wondered how well a potato-masher or eggbeater would serve in
that environment. The balcony has grown a number of excrescence that we're
hoping do not attract the landlord's attention, like my partner's carefully
camouflaged copper-pipe dual-band J-pole, and the occasional appearance of my
Arrow on a photo tripod to connect with the local packet BBS (mercifully located
to our north).

So, a few questions...

Have I any chance at all of receiving from anything when it's in sky blocked by
the apartment building? 

Has anybody translated those mocked-up P3D keps to the NORAD TLEs? I thought I
saw them out here once, but can't find them. There's a utility program around to
do that, right? I tried doing it by hand but couldn't get the checksums right.

Anyone have suggestions for what the next easiest thing to tackle might be in
this situation might be after Mode JA on an HT? We have an ICOM 751 HF
transceiver, two Yaesu VX-5s, and a 2m/70cm FM mobile transceiver set up as a
base--but I think my partner (it's hers) would be not thrilled to have monkied
with to tap in to the IF for SSB or FSK.         

I think I may have an outside chance of getting tweaked up to pass the Extra if
I can locate a VE session locally on April 15. It would be a real kick to show
up as a 2-month Tech-plus, present CSECs to become a General, then sit down and
take the Extra written...and only be a General for maybe half an hour or so. :-) 

-ICQ 7161096-/ __     _) Margaret Stephanie Leber <maggie@voicenet.com>/
-AOPA 925383/(, /|  /|    http://www.voicenet.com/~maggie/maggie.html /
AMSAT 32844/   / | / |  _   _   _    `  "The art of progress consists/
ARRL 39280/ ) /  |/  |_(_(_(_/_(_/__(__(/_ of preserving order amid /
EAA 600137 (_/   '        .-/ .-/    change and change amid order."/
-KB3DXS-/________________(_/ (_/__________________A.N.Whitehead___/
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