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Ideas about beacons

When I decided to dip into satellite operations, I never imagined how much
fun it would put back into *listening* to the radio. To paraphrase what
Emily once wrote, there's something wonderous about hearing a satellite
appear where it should, when it should. I'm also firmly convinced that
decoding telemetry is a quid pro quod which we can offer groups which might
be otherwise not be interested lifting amateur transponders.

On these topics I want to offer the following ideas for comment:

1. A CW beacon is incredibly more useful than an always-on carrier. I
noticed this when VO-52 switched to the Dutch transponder. Sure, with a
well-established set-up it's possible to find the carrier, identified by
the doppler shift. But when you're struggling with some unknown variables
and setting things up, a CW signal can be instantly recognized when tuning
past. Though I'm an avid CW'er, I suspect this is true even for folks who
don't know their code: it sounds like human intelligence. Honestly, I could
never find the carrier on VO-52 when the Indian xponder was on. Now, it's a
piece of cake.

2. William's point that the CW beacon should indicate mode is a very good
one. AO-51's already great usefulness would be augmented if we could tune
into a 435 MHz beacon and occasionally read 'MODE V/S' or 'MODE V USB / U'
or what have you.

3. Projects which hope to collect data from amateurs should make it a
design goal for any related software that it operate on as many OSes as
possible. I'm having a heck of a time installing all the .NET components to
get the XI-V CW translator to work. If only that were written in Java, or,
better yet, as server-side code on the web, I would have already submitted
my data. In fact, the server-side approach would mean that the XI-V team
could peek at what people are decoding and even add a 'submit this data'
button so the user could hand the data over with no effort. 

4. Finally, thank-you to all ops who have called 'CQ' over and over on the
same frequency to no avail. I can't count how many preamp tune-ups, A-B
antenna tests, software dry-runs, etc. I've conducted while someone is
muttering to him or herself that there's just nobody to talk to on the
bird. Sometimes the best beacon is a lonely op.

73, Bruce 
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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