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Re: 38k4 Operation and equipment modification sense


To me, it's a matter of "what makes ham radio fun."    For others, its DXCC, WAS, etc.  For me, it's been the challenge of automating a digital radio station, and growing with the changes--which in the digital world apparently means "faster and faster, at higher and higher frequencies."  I've moved from 1200 baud PSK right after the AO-16/17/18/19 launch, to 38k4@2.4GHz!  It took about 15 years, but hey--I'm a patient guy ;)

It really isn't going to be attractive to the "average" ham, or maybe even the "average" satellite operator.  But to somebody with an otherwise complete home station (multiband/computer controlled rig, computer controlled high gain array, etc.) it's not THAT big of a stretch.  It's a matter of what you enjoy!

One of the "old" satellite rigs--like IC-820/821, FT-736, TS-790--would be a great rig to mod for high speed packet.  They can be found for about $400-700, which isn't cheap--but it's a good bit cheaper (and maybe less scary!!) than a new TS-2000X! hi   The IFD board isn't cheap, but it's not something I could easily design or build.  And a used, suitable TNC can be had for about $200 if you keep a good eye open.  A month or so ago I bought an old Paccomm Sprint-2 on eBay and had Paccomm convert it to a 38k4 satellite unit with current firmware (i.e., a SPIRIT-2, satellite model).  I have less than $200 in the whole thing, including all the shipping costs.

The (fairly) recent "deaths" of the bread and butter 9600 baud birds has been sad.  And, the 38k4 birds dying off has been disappointing, too.  That said, I'm glad to see AO-51 up and functional (yea ECHO Team!), and the other birds under development and planning are something I very much look forward to using--if I do nothing more than help to capture telemetry, as I did a fair bit of with AO-40.

It is good to have so many different facets of one hobby!

Hope to work you on a digital bird soon :)


Mark N8MH

At 04:43 PM 1/24/2005 -0600, you wrote:
>This has been a very good discussion and I appreciate all the thoughts and
>What I really would like to know is what kind of discussion goes into the
>decision making. In other words, why are we putting these functions in a
>satellite when it requires heart surgery on a very expensive piece of
>equipment and almost another $1,000 in additional equipment (IFD board, TNC
>etc.). Yes, I certainly support and actively engage in experimental
>approaches but where does this leave the "average" satellite ham operator?
>Are we pushing this hobby to the limit, probably? Are we excluding more and
>more active amateurs, probably? But maybe that's why it is called
>experimenting and the 38K4 is only running once in a while.
>I don't know, maybe I am off the wall, but certainly appreciate any
>Thanks again for a great online discussion and sharing of experience. 
>Stefan, KC8NSA/VE4

Mark L. Hammond  [N8MH]
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