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Re: Thoughts on future "FM birds"

Jon Ogden, NA9D wrote:

> Yet, in the ham community everyone building satellites (except P3D) is 
> focusing on FM only. It's sad because we are wasting resources and money
> on a mode that is NOT appropriate for widespread use! I bet as many hams
> that get into satellites leave due to what they hear and see on the FM birds. 
> More won't help. 

Actually, I am not aware of *any* AMSAT organization building *any* FM
satellite. Universities and other organizations may be doing it.
This is as it should be. The world wide amateur satellite community
would welcome any satellite that we can make use of, especially when it
costs us nothing. :-)

When we lost AO-13 back in 1996 the expectation was that P3D would
already be in orbit. That hasn't happened for numerous reasons and it
left the Sat community with very few usable resources in space. My
recollections of the early 1990s are that very few people were
interested in FM LEO. I have stacks of QSL cards from FO-20, AO-10 and of
course AO-13. I have one QSL card from an AO-27 contact with
N7SFI in 1995.

Losing AO-13 left us without a reliable long-haul DX bird.

The hobby shifted gears and people started playing with what few
resources were available. For good or for bad (only time will tell) many
articles started springing up all over the place extolling the virtues
of the "EZ-Sats". You couldn't open a QST, CQ or 73 Magazine without
reading about how easy satellite communication had become.

We've attracted an entire "generation" of new satellite operators who
have never experienced anything more than 1 minute QSOs with a handie-talkie.

It is exciting to hear the birds fly over and listen to the activity. Truth
be told, a single channel FM satellite in LEO is a faulty concept for 
communication but for a variety of reasons it remains popular.

I think the present problem of overcrowding on the FM sats will go 
away once P3D is operational. Operators with multimode equipment 
and directional antennas will spend their time on P3D freeing up the single 
channel flying repeaters for handheld users.

And for what its worth, there are proposals for additional satellites 
carrying analog linear transponders in high elliptical orbits after P3D 
(come to the Symposium in October to hear about them!).

The FM satellites provide enjoyment for many people. While they don't
interest me, I'm glad so many others get a kick out of them!

jeff davis, n9avg
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