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Open Source (was Oscar 0)



Dan Schultz wrote:

>  Most of
> the people who built Phase 3D have let it be known that this will be
> their last satellite, but most of the technical knowledge behind P3D is
> locked away in secret file cabinets. I don't know where the next
> generation of satellite and transponder builders is going to learn these
> arcane skills. 

Sorry Dan, but you are *totally* wrong here!

First of all, the people which I know did not said that P3-D will 
be their last satellite, but they don't want to do the same 
thing again and again until you they get bored..  They are looking for 
new ideas and challenges, for example a mission to Mars.. this is the truth.

All the technical information of P3-D, i.e. schematics, are "open source".
Every group or individual who build something for P3-D had to agree
to provide all the technical details. We only had very little exceptions,
but in general all the technical docs were made available.
All these schematics and other drawings were included in our so-called 
"Red Book". We have similar books with all the schematics for P3A, OSCAR-10,
OSCAR-13, OSCAR-21 and indeed P3-D. 
This is also for our own protection, so that during the whole design
and building phase we can assure that all modules follow some sort of
basic safety rules not to damage any other subsystem or the bus.
We would not have accepted to place a module into the s/c bus without
knowing what's inside!!

In fact, the red book for P3-D is now green and we have two
separate books, one for the electronics and another one for the
mechanical design.  Each book is about 5 cm thick and many pages
are printed both sides.

> The crew that built Stensat made a good effort in a very
> short time but they did not have the benefit of any prior experience in
> building a satellite..

I was very saddened to see most of these satellites dying before they
finished their first orbit. But in all cases which I'm aware of, they
simply refused any help from AMSAT or they wanted a free service 
which we could not offer due to our own limited resources.. In some
cases they even did not know that AMSAT has experience with satellites
for over 30 years now!! 

While all the technical information of P3-D is freely available, we
do not provide such a service like "Hey, gimme a book, I want to see it".
Individuals need to demonstrate to us a certain valid interest and
knowledge and both sides must benefit. Remember that we all are volunteers
and providing such help costs a lot of time and money, which we don't
want to waste. 

It was always's AMSAT-DL's rule that everything must be open source and 
I do not know any other satellite project which does it as consequently as 
we. Look at Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC's tracking software for satellites in 
elliptical orbits, which he published before the launch of OSCAR-10. 
To my knowledge, it was the first such program which was made available 
to the public and it's source code became the basis for many other
much improved programs which are still in use today. The program was 
written in basic for these little Sharp calculators, but it was well 
documented and easy to port..
The documentation about the previous RUDAK hardware which was flown
on OSCAR-13 and OSCAR-21 was also made available to the new RUDAK team
so that they could probably learn and improve skills.
There are many more examples..

In case of the P3 satellites, open source is not the problem.
Finding people who have the right motivation and skills is the real
problem.  Remember how long it took until someone finally agreed
to build the 2m transmitter for P3-D.

Perhaps we all waste to much time on the internet in virtual discussions
rather than building some real hardware...


73s Peter DB2OS

(The contents of this message represent the personal opinion of the
author and are not representative of AMSAT-DL unless otherwise stated.)


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