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Re: The Whole GEO Package



At 04:29 AM 12/20/2007, Bruce Robertson wrote:

>In this spirit, might I ask this list to imagine what needs to be done to
>make the emcomm/geo package a reality? The following is my rather long
>analysis of the situation.
>
>I believe the proponents of the Intelsat agreement have done us a great
>service by identifying a real and persisting need which AMSAT can uniquely
>fulfill. By doing so, they not only greatly increase our chances of funding
>otherwise prohibitively expensive launches, they give our branch of the
>hobby a greater reason to do what we do.
>
>However, I also think the EMCOMM branch of our hobby has different needs
>than the usual satellite station operator. If we are to really and honestly
>make the world a safer place and save lives, I think we will need to
>provide a GEO EMCOMM package that will require us as a organization to
>branch into some new and exciting efforts. Let me explain what I mean.
>
>Traditionally, a satellite station has been developed through one person's
>expertise gradually growing regarding a number of interrelated aspects: low
>signal VHF and UHF operation; the mechanics of an az-el antenna array;
>computer control; and doppler correction. Certain satellites or operating
>habits allow one to omit one or more of these, but in general it's, even by
>ham standards, a challenging array of new skills and understanding. I'd say
>the members of AMSAT are self-selected as those who enjoy this challenge
>and seek to learn as many aspects of the field as possible.
>
>However, for an EMCOMM system to be effective, it cannot rely on a broad
>array of such specialized knowledge: it is unreasonable to expect that the
>first ham on the scene of a disaster will be one of the AMSAT 'us', a
>person who has acquired this specialized knowledge. It is only reasonable
>to assume that it will be an amateur radio operator, familiar with the
>general principles of radio theory and operation. In fact, in my region the
>EMCOMM specialists and the technical specialists (if I might put it that
>way) are often not the same people.
>
>So our challenge is more extensive than the challenge that faced AMSAT with
>any previous launch: we need to make communication through this bird
>possible for any ham shmoe who is opening up a box of equipment after, say
>an afternoon of instruction half a year ago.   Please note, this is not a
>matter of dumbing-down the bird or making it uninteresting. In fact, for
>the old-hands and the technically adept around here this will be very
>interesting and a great outlet for our skills. In this application, if not
>on all birds, we should take it as a sign of success when people
>effortlessly get connected, because it would mean that, in a true emergency
>there would be a greater likelihood of useful service.
>
>If this analysis is accurate, we need to imagine, broadly, three things: a)
>the services (or modes) this ham will offer to support EMCOMM; b) the box
>of stuff that this ham opens up; c) the afternoon's training she undertook
>to know how to use it. These are interrelated, of course. The training is
>apropos the box of stuff, and the box of stuff allows the services. They
>should also, I think, be *standardized* to an extent that has not been the
>case before with satellite work. Recently I heard the argument on Amateur
>Radio Newsline that ham EMCOMM services should be more interchangeable
>across the continent; the same will surely be the case regarding this work.
>Ideally the 'stuff' and the training is the same everywhere so that the
>shmoe has a chance of recollecting her training and is required to factor
>out/in as few local variables as possible.
>
>The advantage we have is that it isn't unreasonable to expect the box of
>stuff to be perhaps more pricey than individual hams would like such things
>to be.
>
>A large part of a) and b) will be determined by the ACP team, whose goal
>even with Eagle was to provide ground-station hardware alongside the bird's
>hardware. (The wisdom of this new approach should be applauded; I'm sure it
>has made re-purposing Eagle hardware for P4/EMCOMM much easier to imagine.)
>As I've argued before, I think one of the most important mode we can offer
>is simple Internet connectivity, allowing the emergency services folks to
>use the communication tools like email with which they are most familiar. I
>hope this will be part of the mix. As for the second half of b) and c), I
>think it will focus around designing and teaching the use of software.
>Perhaps the box of stuff will include a laptop that operates well with a
>specialized linux distribution-on-a-disk, including all the software tools
>needed to assess link quality, perform simple communication, etc.  If I'm
>right, this is fortunate because we seem to have quite a number of adept
>software developers in our midst.
>
>Finally, the course. Can we provide standard lesson-plans, ppt slides and
>the like? I think this would significantly lower the bar on each of us
>teaching a session on P4 to our local club or EMCOMM group.
>
>I think we should spread the load on these tasks as early as possible,
>making many of us participants in the final goal of increasing the safety
>of our communities and nations. I'm excited to hear what others think about
>the broader implications of the P4 initiative and how we can deliver on the
>whole GEO package.
>
>73, Bruce
>VE9QRP

Bruce,

This is an excellent topic to bring to the -bb.

Off course until the design of P4 has progressed, this is mostly speculation.

The EMCOMM radio package will most certainly drive the satellite 
requirements, as well.

The ground package needs to be:
1- compact (portable)
2- standardized (so diverse groups can assemble a package)
3- well documented (both for assembly and use)
4- versatile to power (anywhere in the world)
5- robust (to endure rough handling; harsh environments)
6- easy to interface (with computing hdwr; telco; other ham equipment)
7- simple to assemble and aim
8- affordable
9- kit or ready to use (within reason considering the technology)

This should probably be close to the same package that the apartment 
user will have.  This would expand the volume of units made.  design 
be made available to commercial sector to provide units (fitting the spec).

Hope this gives a starting point.


73,
Ed - KL7UW
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