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A dish and environment question

Hello All,

I'd like to put some gear together for AO-40 but I'm not sure if the results 
will be worth the cost. Each two-way contact on the LEO satellites has cost 
me about $300 each and listening to one's own voice is not a lot of fun. I'm 
really concerned that the received signal will be just too weak to be useful.

I'm located in a valley with the closest wall being about 3 km away and the 
distance to the furthest wall of hills is probably 20 km. The more distant 
range is, no doubt, not a problem however to clear the range to my north, the 
satellite would need an elevation of around 15 degrees to be visible.

I'm also surrounded by tall spotted gum trees (native eucalypts) and this is 
my real concern. To be clear of the trees the satellite would need to be 
elevated by around 45 degrees and up to 60 degrees in some directions.
12 GHz satellite TV works well here despite the trees but that's probably not 
a very good indicator.

The dish that I've been offered is a 1.8 metre diameter prime focus petal type 
(ex Sky TV, I think). I don't know if it's of solid or mesh construction. I 
wonder if my KR 400 rotator (no break) is up to the task, even if the dish is 
a mesh type? I don't think that AO-40 is always available in the same general 
direction, otherwise I could use a wife rotator to make small periodic 

So, what's the verdict, is it all likely to be worth the effort despite the 
hills, trees and the light-weight rotator?


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