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Thoughts on S vs V, U, C, X, K from a newcomer



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I will confess. I am new to most of the stuff being discussed on this list,
and am not even really familiar with "Eagle" and "Echo". I know that Echo is
E, that's pretty much it when it comes to that. :) And pardon me if I get the
bands wrong once or twice - I am trying to learn, but sometimes it takes a
little while.

As it is right now, I am looking into assembling a satellite station that
will get me AO-40 first and foremost, and of course other birds will be a
nice addition. I am looking at mode U/S because of a few concerns: usablity
at poor squint angles (I hear that the L-band uplink is worse than U-band in
this regard, and I am at almost 60°N), available equipment (I already have an
all-mode transceiver that will go up to 70 cm, and used equipment for
anything up to U-band is easy to come by), and the practicality of high-gain
antennas for both the uplink as well as the downlink.

Since I am basically building from scratch, not just the station but also my
knowledge, it may very well be that someone more knowledgable in the field
would do things differently. So be it - that's a major part of amateur radio,
the way I see it: experimenting, trying things out, failing and trying again.
I have, unfortunately, run into a few people who prefer to say "don't do it,
it'll never work" than discuss ways to make "it" work, really. (Remember that
it wasn't more than a hundred years ago the "experts" told us that any
frequency above 1.5 MHz was useless.) Fortunately, those people are in
minority - the vast majority of the hams I have talked to have been very
helpful. Also, don't get this wrong: I don't consider myself to be very
"technologically challenged", but also know where my shortcomings are.
Before getting my amateur license I was mostly playing around with DC and
low-frequency AC electronics, and that's about my real experience in the
_electronics_ field. I definitely wouldn't venture very far into the UHF/SHF
range without having a very good elmer at my side.

I am in a pretty unusual situation, I think. There are no CC&Rs or anything
like that which limit my ability to put up antennas, but still to please the
rest of the family they have to be "aestetically pleasing", and preferably as
small as possible. So, I somehow need to hide the satellite antennas from the
casual observer. As my primary objective, at least in the short term, is to
get on AO-40, which has a quite usable U/S setup, U/S seemed like a good
start. A high-gain helical antenna for the U-band uplink, and a dish (maybe
even a wire mesh dish) for the S-band downlink.

As I am building things from scratch as far as antennas go, I really couldn't
care much less if the uplink (or downlink) is U-band, S-band, C-band, X-band,
K-band, or whatever really. The higher frequencies would have the obvious
advantage that I would get more gain with antennas of the same physical size,
but that isn't the only consideration unfortunately. But if I could choose
freely, I would use the highest band that I could count on working from my
QTH, and really couldn't care much less what frequency that is. U, S, C, X,
K, it's really all the same to me - I need to get some new bits and pieces up
in either case.

While accomodating "newcomers" is indeed important, I think it is also
important to not loose sight of what the considerations of those people are.
I am not claiming to be any authority on the subject, but one thing I have
noticed is that very few beginning amateurs today (meaning newcomers who are
`limited' to VHF and up, at least here in SM) get gear that has sideband
and/or CW capabilities. They usually settle for FM-only transceivers, which
means that they won't be able to read the QSOs on the satellite anyway, even
if it is transmitting on a band they can receive without any additional
equipment or work.

Are hams today getting lazy, or are they simply afraid to try new things? One
amateur I know is even too lazy to use the VFO on his base V/U transceiver -
a fairly new Icom. His setup is good at V-band, workable at U-band but most
likely terrible at L-band - and he has come to me several times to tell me
that L-band "works so bad". I think it's rather his station - low power
output, high feedline losses and inadequate antennas - but for reasons well
beyond the subject of this list, I won't tell him that.

Working satellites, and especially HEO amsats, is not as easy as plugging in
an omnidirectional antenna and pressing the PTT. That might work for
terrestrial, local FM repeaters, but it's not the way things work with
satellites. It takes a certain amount of determination to get on the birds -
if you're not willing to devote the time and, unfortunately, some money it
takes, there are other parts of amateur radio that might be more appealing.
Especially as it looks like the CW requirement for HF privileges will be
dropped, meaning a lot of people who are currently on VHF and up only
licenses (myself included) will most likely get access to the HF bands.

Just my two cents on the issue.


Michael Kjörling

- -- 
Michael Kjörling :: michael@kjorling.com :: SMØYBY JO89  ^..^
PGP: 3723 9372 c245 d6a8 18a6  36ac 758f 8749 bde9 ada6   \/
Also 95f1 074d 336d f8f0 f297  6a5b 2aa3 7bfd 8a70 e33e (old)
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