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A Newbie's Perspective form a Newbie

I've been only following the Newbie thread lightly as I have been
gleaning 2.4Ghz info from the list...

I've been an AMSAT member for about five years. In the late 90's I was
very active on AO-27 portable from my car. I had the privilege of
having Doug KA2UPW show me his small homebrew station for AO-27 in the
parking lot of ARRL, and I just ran with it. I mounted 2m and 440
beams on a camera tripod, and went outside to the parking lot at
lunchtime at work, almost every day. At last count I had 35 states,
and 3 or 4 EU countries (gotta love those 5 degree easterly passes in
New England) before the bird got way too popular and I lost interest.
I was an apartment dweller, so setting up for some of the other birds
would have been difficult --  I fell back on my interest in QRP and

With the turn-on of AO-40, I got the spark again. I've never worked
anything higher that 440, but from my QRP interests my building skills
are very good. I have spent the last month using the AMSAT-BB as a
spring board. I've watched what the rest of you have done, what you
have posted, and what you have documented. If I read something, or saw
a reference to a product I had never heard of I jumped on a search
engine and went after it. I have 40+ links to personal and company
pages, and a green hanging file 1.5" thick with info gleaned from this
list -- dishes, feeds, helixes, preamps, down converters,
polarization, DEM, SSB, cavity filters, interdigital filters, Toko,
Drake, NF, gain, barbeque grills, phase center, G3RUH, W1GHZ, K5OE.
Leila...  everything I might possibly need.

I have a 5-turn LHCP helix feed I made out of copper pipe based on
G3RUH's article. I have a DSS dish I got cheap off of ebay, and I used
W1GHZ's articles to find the phase center. I just finished building A
DEM ULNA pre-amp. I have a DEM RX down converter ready to build. I
have the NF spreadsheet. I had ordered a DEM helix, but cancelled
based on some of the early reports from those using single helixes.
I'd like to throw all this, plus a 440 beam and a Yaesu 290/790 pair
into the Subaru and work the bird at lunch or in the evening from my
backyard when the passes will allow. I also remember the Mexican cab
drivers and the endless CQ'ers on AO-27, and I have sat in a few cabs
in Taiwan and seen _multiple_ 2m rigs under the dash.

My take after a month?

1. Going the all turnkey, commercial route, in my opinion, is
2. Using some or all homebrew is definitely manageable.
3. The "quest" (as some of you have coined) or making it a challenge
to get on the bird is fine, I don't mind the challenge. It's actually
been quite the education. But right now I would say it is more of a
scavenger hunt for information rather than following a map. With time
to evaluate and publish, I'm sure the "map" will get better defined,
but for right now, information is located on islands, scattered
throughout the ocean.

I've thought about putting all this to paper, if I can ever get the
time. Doesn't mean anything I guess until I hear a viable downlink.

Anyways, for those of you wondering about how the newbies are doing
with all this, just ask us... we're running around on the floor
picking up the scraps of info :-)


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