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Is amsat-bb fun for anyone?



Honestly, I'm completely disgusted with amsat-bb.  Is anyone having  
any fun at all out there?  You people seem resolutely determined to  
complain about the current state of amateur satellites, without  
provocation, and with no idea of how fix anything.  Or even any idea  
how to have fun using what few satellites we do have.  If someone were  
interested in getting into satellite operation on VO-52 or even AO-51,  
I'd actively _discourage_ them from joining this cesspool of negativity.

And less the AMSAT-NA think I'm giving them a pass, what the hell is  
up with you people?  The store, down for months.  Consistently out of  
date info on the website.  Promises that updates will be made via the  
Amsat Journal or at conferences.  EARTH TO AMSAT BOARD: THIS IS THE  
AGE OF THE INTERNET.  It isn't good enough to publish summary  
information on paper a couple of times a year.  People are frustrated  
because to all appearances, you aren't being honest with them, and you  
certainly aren't being timely.

I even tried joining the namaste-dev list to combat the lack of any  
serious, technically relevant development going on, to see if a  
skilled programmer like myself could reasonably contribute anything to  
the ongoing efforts.   I lurked for a month or two, and what I  
observed did not thrill me with confidence.  I see a group mired in  
requirements negotiation, bickering, and in the last few weeks,  
completely imploding.

Bleh.

Okay, that's enough complaining.  Here is some food for thought:

1. It seems to me that the groundstation development is completely  
turned on its head.  The goal is to create a ground station design  
which is both a) reasonably inexpensive and b) reproducible enough to  
be constructed by large numbers of hams.  So, begin there by actually  
(and this will seem really radical) DESIGNING AND BUILDING SOME  
HARDWARE.  It seems to me that the majority of the design is actually  
software.  Software is difficult to design, but has a number of other  
offsetting qualities. It's easy to modify and cheap to redistribute,  
so it makes some sense to pursue it later.    Additionally, it allows  
the hardware design to be picked up and extended by others with  
parallel interest, gaining momentum from them.  Perhaps the TAPR  
software defined radio platform with suitable up/down converters is a  
good place to start.  Or GNU radio.   So, let's get those into the  
hands of several hundred hams, and start working.  Volunteers don't  
work well in the abstract in my experience, so let's make the  
development process as concrete as possible to get them involved.   
Let's work to get costs down.  Let's get basic software freely  
available under open source.   Leverage work from VHF, microwave and  
packet groups.   If we can't do everything, then let's at least do  
something.

2. Milestones.  We need tangible milestones.  It's far easier to find  
the status of Kiwisat (very cool, incidently) than it is for Eagle.   
In part this is because the kiwisat team seems to take their  
contributors seriously, and likes to keep them informed to keep morale  
high and to show progress.  What milestones have been passed in the  
Eagle design and construction?  Can anyone find that out without  
knowing somebody personally?

3. We've received notice from AMSAT-DL that they don't have enough  
money to launch P3E.  Well, how much do they need?  How much are they  
short?  If they are off by 20%, or even 50%, then I suspect  
fundraising could conceivably close that gap.  If they are off by 80%,  
then I think we have to honestly admit that until competition makes  
boosts to HEO more economical, we've been priced out of the game for  
now.   That'd be a tough thing to swallow, but pretending that we are  
going to have launch opportunities which do not exist isn't improving  
anyone's morale, especially as years go by and nothing gets done.

4. AMSAT needs to find some good volunteers, and importantly, it needs  
to reject some bad volunteers.  Not everyone who offers to help is  
helping.  On the other hand, not all criticism is complaining.

Okay, I'm late for my day job.  I haven't been licensed for 40 years,  
so I still have one.

	Mark KF6KYI





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