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Re: On leaving AMSAT

Ok, as long as we're all reminising.  I remember downloading a program (I
think it was PCSat) about 7 or 8 years ago and watching all the satellites
encircle the globe.  I remember logging onto the Mir PBBS (although I never
was able to do anything else ;-( ).

I also remember, when I first got my license 10 years ago, that HF was DEAD!
The only contacts to make were a very limited number on 10, 15, and 20, and
the 3905 Century Club at night.  Remember the sunspot cycle.  I wonder if
the lack of AMSAT membership has anything to do with the improving HF
conditions over the past several years?  I wonder, as we head into the
downward slope of the current cycle, if we'll see more hams become involved
in amateur satellites for DX.  Someone mentioned the lack of CW for HF
priveleges.  It doesn't mean anything if you can't hear another operator.
Granted, CW is weak-signal work, but, as stated previously, these folks will
be getting on HF without a knowledge of CW and won't be able to talk across
the state (mild exaggeration...) on SSB.

I recently operated my satellite station at our club FD site.  The big
attraction was *my* antenna array.  It prompted a lot of questions.  Lots of
folks stopped by and stayed longer at the satellite station than any other
station.  I recently got my home station put back in the air.  Got to talk
to a couple of folks I haven't heard from in almost a year except on the
BB - thanks John, K6YK, et al.  The GEE WHIZ is still there, it's just
finding what made it GEE WHIZ for you.

Do I think we need another FM LEO?  I don't know.  I enjoyed UO22 and KO25
when they were operational.  Heck, I've got the Symek 9k6/38k4 modem for use
with UO36 - just to download pictures.  I can't wait for SSTV to start up
from ISS - if and when it does.  There's plenty of GEE WHIZ left for me.  I
get GEE WHIZed everytime a jaw drops after I tell folks I'm talking through
an *amateur* satellite.


Joel B. Black, W4JBB

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Sanford" <wb4gcs@AMSAT.Org>
To: "Jeff Davis" <jeff@ke9v.com>
Cc: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2003 7:54 AM
Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] On leaving AMSAT

> Jeff and John:
> I'm saddened to read your comments.  I DO understand where you're coming
> from, but believe there is still some sizzle in this business.  I can
> share in all of the neat things Jeff wrote.  I remember going to sea for
> 6 weeks to come home and fine my fully automated PACSAT station still
> working, and lots of informative messages to read.  (My XYL, KC4WTT
> monitored the station and knew how to shut it down if anything untoward
> happened, which never did.)  I remember the sizzle of seeing 6 or 7
> stations in the queue that were all in this local area, including our
> local exhibit at the Virginia Air & Space Museum (which is still
> operating.)  etc. etc.
> I still find challenges today.  I remember building an s-band helix that
> couldn't hear the bird at all, even though I THOUGHT I'd followed the
> design to the letter, including the shunt stub matching network.  I've
> enjoyed thoroughly all the research, development, and enhancement going
> on with helix designs and patch antennas.
> I'm heartsick that C and X don't work on AO-40, but still working on the
> hardware to use with future birds.  This is the kind of challenge that
> got me into AMSAT in the first place, and it is still there.  How about
> the work Phil Karn et al are doing with coding on the telemetry?
> Jeff, I agree with all that you say about how things that were "really
> cool" just a few years ago have become common place.
> However, I believe that there are still interesting challenges within
> the amateur satellite service.  My only problem is that I don't have the
> time to go after all the things I'd like to, so I'm doing it one at a
> time.  So, I would ask you, who obviously have done much and still have
> much to contribute, to look around and see if there isn't yet something
> that you'd enjoy.
> Very 73,
> Jim
> wb4gcs@amsat.org
> Jeff Davis wrote:
> > * John Hansen <john@hansen.net> [2003-07-06 23:08]:
> >
> >>To be honest, the thing about AMSAT (and most other ham organizations
> >>I join) that attracts me is the "Gee-Whiz" factor.  I like to be
> >>in things that are new, capture my imagination, and allow hands on
> >>participation in things that have a flavor of new technology about them.
> >>OK, I'm a technology junkie, and I view ham radio as an opportunity to
> >>continue my self-education.   I loved AO-10 and 13 because it was a
> >>significant challenge to get on them.  I learned a lot about power
> >>feedline loss, polarization, preamps, and a lot of other things I'd
> >>before thought about.   I think my interest in AMSAT peaked during the
> >>period of the Microsats and especially the UoSat and KitSat digital
> >>satellites.  There was a very interested community of people who were on
> >>those satellites, many of whom were also developing ground station
> >>at the same time.  We all used to go to the AMSAT meetings, hang out in
> >>bars together and talk about what to do next with these satellites.
> >>of the people who did this were actually involved in the design or
> >>of the satellites; we were just its heaviest users.   When someone
> >>developed some interesting new software, it would be uploaded to the
> >>satellites and we'd all have it running within hours or days.  Now in
> >>current Internet environment this may not seem all that impressive, but
> >>then it was, and it created a sense of camaraderie that was truly
> >>remarkable at the time.  Frankly, I've never been much interested in
> >>operating the FM satellites, the ARISS "telephone-assisted" operations,
> >>even LEO SSB transponders.  It's not that there is anything wrong with
> >>these satellites, they just don't have a big enough "Gee-Whiz" factor to
> >>interest me.
> >
> >
> > John,
> >
> > Your message echoed my own sentiments so well that it was difficult to
> > SNIP anything as not relevant. I'm fairly certain that you operated a
> > SatGate back in the early 90s and appeared in that satellite video
> > produced by CQ? I guess that must be a decade old or more by now...
> >
> > <nostalgia>
> > Remember when they used to wheel a television into your school room to
> > watch the launch of a rocket into space? Now THAT was fun.
> >
> > Remember that fellow who was setup to do some work in Antarctica and he
> > relayed messages and pictures via KO-25 (or was it KO-23?) during his
> > stay? Now THAT was fun and held my interest.
> >
> > Remember when we all (well, most of us) moved from PB/PG to WiSP and
> > drove Roy Welch nuts with too many questions about how to make it work
> > (OK maybe that was just me)? Now THAT was fun.
> >
> > Remember how cool it was to see your callsign in the queue on KO-25
> > while you wondered how on earth all this "stuff" works? Now THAT was
> > fun.
> >
> > Remember when James Miller would post a technical dissertation on
> > some particularly difficult to grasp concept and after a few beers we'd
> > experience an epiphany and say "OH, SO THATS HOW IT WORKS"?
> >
> > Now THAT was fun.
> >
> > I remember one time not long after I automated my station for PacSat ops
> > I was mowing the lawn and suddenly saw my antennas on the az-el rotor
> > begin tracking and I knew that while I was outside working, my station
> > was inside downloading messages from KO-25. Now THAT was fun.
> > </nostalgia>
> >
> > Perhaps we are just getting older but I tend to think that this
> > technology-laden world in which we live has simply jaded us to the
> > things we used to be amazed by.
> >
> > I'm writing this message on my laptop with an SSH connection to my Linux
> > box in the next room via a wireless network. When I send this message it
> > will be read a few minutes later by some chap in VK-land. That is pretty
> > tough to beat.
> >
> > With the near ubiquity of the Internet, the digital communications that
> > we used to be amazed by is really obsolete. And that isn't a bad thing.
> > I WANT to be connected to the world when I carry my laptop into
> > Starbucks, but it makes it a bit tougher to get that "Gee-Whiz" feeling
> > with PacSat technology.
> >
> > Lots of things happened in the last decade that brought us to this
> > point. While technology was rapidly changing the satellite world was
> > firmly into the "lost decade" of P3D. Everyone was so focused on raising
> > funds, building the spacecraft, and obtaining a launch that we missed
> > many opportunities and now we must play "catch-up" with the
> > world. Perhaps the cost of P3D was far more than just the money and time
> > spent?
> >
> > But this much we know--the digital PacSats (as we know them now) can't
> > really "compete" with the Internet, and with VoIP growing daily,
> > the LEO FM Sats aren't nearly the draw they used to be. A UO-14
> > demonstration is easily upstaged by an IRLP contact that has become
> > commonplace.
> >
> > The SIZZLE is missing and without it, this facet of the hobby is tough
> > to sell.
> >
> > It's good to know that you are still alive and well John!
> >
> > 73,
> ----
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