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Re: Observations From Norway.

On Jan 15, 2008, at 3:25 AM, John Hackett wrote:
> 14 January 2008
> An experiment,
> As many of us are aware, the average age of Hams is creeping up and  
> satellite
> operators are no exception - we're heading faster toward  
> 'extinction' as opposed
> to distinction.

My own opinions on this matter fall somewhere between rosy optimism  
and dire
pessimism.  Amateur radio is certainly changing, but it would be a  
sad, sad thing
if it were not.   We should be concerned about the greying of our  
population, but
we shouldn't panic about it.   If we were really concerned about  
numbers, we'd
remove licensing requirements entirely and find manufacturers to package
radios to look like cell phones.   That would help swell our numbers,  
but it wouldn't
really be amateur radio any more.\

> The much debated 'no code' exam - (to encourage more younger  
> amateurs) - has,
> IMHO - had the complete opposite effect. With MSN and SMS why bother  
> with
> Amateur Radio? ... the answer would be ... to do something you  
> *CAN'T* do on
> your pet computer.

Morse code should have been dropped long ago.  While a fun mode (for  
at least), it occupied a special niche in the regulations which far  
exceeded any
practical reason for its retention.  On the other hand, the idea that  
Morse kept
large numbers of young people _differentially_ from becoming hands is,  
I admit,
rather absurd.

> So what can be done to turn around the negative trend of this sad  
> state of
> affairs?. I don't pretend to have all the answers ... however ...
> One possible solution is to attract more of the 'FM only' amateurs  
> onto linear
> satellites, to explore other means of communication so that they're  
> not 'stuck'
> with the boring 'single user' solution.

I must admit that I'm a little dismayed by the constant barrage of  
negative comments
that people seem to heap on the FM sats in this forum.  I've been  
having a blast
operating QRP style with a Kenwood TH-D7A and my trusty Arrow.  From my
QTH in CM87, I've worked Hawaii, Socorros Island, Fairbanks, Manitoba,  
Carolina: it's been a blast.  Yes, they are single user satellites,  
and they can
be crowded, but I've also had to call CQ on AO-51 a couple of times in  
the past
month (before it crashed, sigh) because nobody was on the bird.

> The usual fly in the ointment excuse, here is ...  "but I haven't  
> got any gear
> capable of for example CW" ... which is of course an excuse that is  
> as weak as
> 'hiss' with a capital P.
> It is perfectly feasible to modulate an FM signal by switching on  
> and off the
> carrier ... some people have used the PTT button to achieve this  
> but  a more
> elegant solution is to feed a controlled CW signal directly into the  
> microphone
> input of an FM  ... A.K.A.  MCW modulation.
> Ahh! ... anti-social behaviour you say, sending 'FM' on a linear  
> satellite - due
> to the power budget, since FM is a 100% duty cycle mode ...
> BUT !!! ... if one were to QRP by 25% as well as increase the aerial  
> efficiency
> by 25% - (or any permutation giving the same results) - one would  
> *NOT* be
> 'hogging' any more of the available transponder power than one  
> normally would on
> a linear satellite.

I must admit, that's a novel suggestion that I had not heard of  
before.  But doesn't
this idea hog more of the available *bandwidth* on the transponder?   
I'd think that
would be considered rather anti-social as well.   Is this kind of  
operation considered

> Remember, the difference between a satellite signal at the horizon  
> and at TCA  (
> time of closest approach) - is quite dramatic ... (not that many  
> people bother
> to regulate their power for ... "enough to do the job" ... or, as  
> Bill used to
> say ... "Tis' vain to do with more, that which can be done with less".
> ("Bill" = William of Occam 1347).
> Regular users of AO-7 will be aware that while activity has  
> increased this last
> 12 months in the afternoon and evening passes, the morning passes  
> are still for
> all intents and purposes devoid of any signal at all.
> The increased use of AO-7 is most likely due to a lack of other  
> 'linear'
> satellites,

Well, and the rather interesting "cool" factor of working on a 30+  
year old satellite.

> VO-52's apparent lack of activity is most probably due to the low
> orbit which results in an increased Doppler rate and smaller  
> footprint. AO-7
> does provide for 6500km footprints on a daily basis.

Which is another reason that it's pretty neat to work.

> Due to above "waffling" ... I intend to conduct a few QRP FM  
> experiments on the
> mode-B morning passes. If you happen to hear an AO-7 'woodpecker'  
> you might like
> to try switching to FM for a moment to see if you can hear some CW.

I'll have a listen.

> As long as you keep your power low ... (LIMA - OSCAR - WHISKEY  
> folks) ... QRP
> PLEASE ... you signal won't be any more detrimental than a CW or SSB  
> one. Of
> course, you *WILL* have to take the bananas out of your ears and use  
> them as
> they were intended ... to listen !!!!!.

I'm curious though: you began this message with a cry that we need to  
get more young
people involved in amateur radio, and this was apparently your  
suggestion.  In what
way do you think this suggestion accomplishes your goals?  Yes, it  
allows people to
work a different mode on a satellite that they may not be familiar  
with, but it isn't exactly
the friendliest or even the most useful path to satellites, and I  
don't see how it
addresses anything specifically of interest to young people.  Did I  
miss something?


> 73 John.   <la2qaa@amsat.org>
> _______________________________________________
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