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RE: BEST satellite radio?



> Opinions please: What is the best satellite radio? 

You might as well expect to get dozens of answers as there probably is
no one single radio that everyone would agree is "best".

In my opinion, the Yaesu FT-847 seems to fill the bill for most amateur
operators. Kenwood has announced a new radio that could challenge it,
but at this point it's not on the market. 

Back in the days before the 847, satellite operators who weren't born
with a silver spoon in their mouth, had few options. I remember really
agonizing over the decision to purchase the FT-736R. It was the cream of
the crop, so to speak, but it was also $1800 and it didn't do HF. While
I wasn't much of an HF operator, I did want the capability which meant I
had $1800 in the "Sat Rig" and a similar amount in the HF rig. Add to
that an AZ/EL rotor, dual antennas, tower, hardline, mast mounted
preamps, TNC and modem for 9600 baud operation and the computer that ran
it all, and it was a wonder I didn't end up either divorced or broke!

The 847 is a nice selection for most since it provides real "Sat Rig"
functionality plus HF to boot. From my own observation, the HF "side" of
the 847 is nothing to brag about, but it holds it's own for a radio in
the $1500 price class. I haven't heard much about the "front-end" problem 
you mentioned but I can tell you the receiver is superior to my older
FT-736R. 

Having full-duplex with tracking VFOs makes operation a breeze and
having used it, I'd never want to go back to dual radio operation. (I've
always thought there should be an award for any Sat Op who manually runs
the rotors and adjusts for Doppler on two radios while working FO-20!).

As for the various modes, I'm guessing Mode "B" will initially be the
most popular just because most folks are ready for it. But I'd wager
that very soon after it becomes available, lots of folks will rush to
Mode "S" and they will very likely get there by using converters so I
don't put much added value in a radio just because it offers 1.2 or
2.4Ghz operation. In the case of the older FT-736 you could buy a 1.2Ghz
module for about $700 additional,,, or you could buy a converter for
$249. It wasn't a difficult choice for most! :-)

As for uplink power, I wouldn't purchase an amplifier until after you've
worked P3D and decide you need it. Because of the very high orbit
(47,000km at apogee) it will require more signal than any of the
LEOs you may be used to working, however, P3D has a unique design
quality that will *penalize* a signal that is too strong so I'd be in no
hurry to buy an amplifier until you try it. A higher gain antenna,
lower-loss feedline, and good mast-mounted receive preamps are a much
better investment.

Sorry for such a long reply but I am just thrilled to finally see some
P3D chatter on the list! Keep in mind that the value of this advice is 
equal to what you paid for it! :-)

Can't wait to see you ALL on P3-D.

Vy 73,

-- 
Jeff, N9AVG
AMSAT #28350

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