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Thoughts on getting the satellite antennas back on line. . .



HI Folks:

	I've been on a detour for the past several years.  One of the nice things 
about ham radio is that it leads you up so many interesting paths that it 
is difficult to know which to explore next or how far to wander up any one 
path before backtracking and trying something else.   Many of you know me, 
or knew me when I used to be WA0PTV and was relatively active on AO-13, 
AO-10, UO-14, UO-22, and the Kitsats.   I know I've not been around on 
these birds in the past few years as I've been taking a detour exploring 
embedded microcontrollers and changing my career (yeah, I'll bet you've 
heard that before).

	Anyway, this weekend I finally got my satellite antenna system solidly 
back up in the air and on line.  It will perhaps reveal my age if I tell 
you this consists of a KLM 22c, 40cx, and Yaesu 5400 (yes, 5400) rotor on a 
south river tripod.    Well, anyway, it's back in the air and seems to be 
working as well as ever.  What concerns me is what I'm hearing (or rather, 
not hearing) with this system.  Now, I've not been so out of touch that I 
expected that AO-13 would still be in orbit!  I've been carefully reviewing 
the docs on the AMSAT website,  and now I'm a bit concerned that the 
satellites that match my interests are either few and far between or no 
longer exist.  Bearing in mind that I really don't have any interest in FM 
satellites or voice-based LEO's, what is left these days?   Unless I'm 
reading the AMSAT webpage incorrectly, the only 9600 baud digital 
satellites left that are operational are UO-22 and perhaps MO-46.  Can this 
be correct?  I can remember when UO-22 was basically reserved for BBS 
message forwarding.  Now that BBS's are pretty much dead, has this 
satellite reverted to general amateur use?  I tried listening to MO-46 
tonight, but did not detect any signal.  Is there a community of folks 
still using 9600 baud store and forward or has the Internet largely 
displaced this as well?  If such a group exists, on what satellites will 
they be found these days?

	I'm not hearing anything out of AO-10 tonight, either.   This may be 
because it is in eclipse (which it seems to be), or is it dead as well (or 
perhaps I have an equipment problem?)?   Yes, I know AO-40 is up there, but 
as nearly as I can determine, the only downlink band they've been able to 
get working thus far is 2.4 gigs.  While I have one of the Drake 2880's and 
a preamp, the antenna situation worries me a bit.   I own a Bob Myer's 
bar-b-que grill dish, which I've been using for years on 802.11 (the old 3 
Mbps version), but I can't see how my current antenna setup is going to 
accommodate such a large, unbalanced antenna as this.  Has anyone had any 
luck using a long loop yagi or other antenna that can be mounted on a 
crossboom in a fashion that is balanced and doesn't twist the crossboom?

	This all leaves me a bit puzzled.  When the highest OSCAR number was 25, 
there were at least 3 9600 baud digital satellites available, either 3 or 4 
PSK satellites available, and AO-10 and AO-13 for DX work.  In a relatively 
short period of time we've made it up to OSCAR 46, but what are all these 
satellites doing?   I conclude from this that I must be mis-reading the 
material on the AMSAT webpage and have just failed to find the relevant new 
birds.   Any suggestions on where to proceed from here would be appreciated.

John Hansen, W2FS


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