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A Summary:

I was only able to hear the MIR once it was 5 degrees above the horizon
because the Alaska mountain range (or Denali range) was about 15 miles south
of me, and they are typically from 10 to 20 thousand feet in elevation.  So at
every opportunity I would camp and hike to over 5 thousand feet.  This was the
only way to get my signal to the MIR, and also explains the elevation
I was only able to bounce UI frames when it was greater than 6 degrees above
the horizon.   The maximum elevation of the satellite was 9 degrees.  I had
approximately 90 seconds on excellent passes.  Twice I was able to get into
the PMS and start composing a message to N6CO (actually it wouldn't let me- so
I composed to R0MIR).  I got one or two lines of my message in, and would then
loose the satellite.  I wonder if the 2 minute timeout feature enabled people
to see the PMS trying to reconnect with me as it went over the US?

On one pass I caught a UI packet from N6GPS.  According to the callsign
database, he is in San Martin
California, but I am unable to find his phone number or email address.  I will
have to write him a letter to find out if he is really in CA.  If I saw his
packet, how come I didn't see any other UI packets?  It would seem like I
could catch Washington and Oregon packets too.  I know of 3 people in
Washington state who were listening.  I saw his UI packet as the MIR was just
going over the horizon, so it could be that he is down south somewhere....

The beam I made for the AO-27 did not have enough gain.  I could barely tell
the satellite was there, let alone trying to work it.  The bright side is now
I have a really cool dual band RDF antenna (made of a ski pole) that is far
more durable than the previous PVC types I've made in the past.  It will be a
real asset for bunny hunts.  I brought a scanner too, and i found becons used
on animals in the park, my RDF antenna made animal tracking an interesting
passtime :)

Thanks to everyone who was listening for me, in August I'll be in the Rocky
Mountains using the same setup, if the MIR is still on the air, I shouldn't
have any problem since it will be directly above me.  However I will be in a
valley, so my artificial horizon may be as high as 20 percent.  Although this
will shorten my AOS time, I will still have the full footprint (should cover a
good number of states)  And on that trip I'm going for 5 days.... Should be
enough time to have some fun.

Just one more thing, I got a great tour (free) of the NOAA satellite telemetry
station.  They use a separate site for programming and downloading the
information to satellites.  It was really neat.  If you are ever in Fairbanks
I would strongly suggest driving north 15 minutes and seeing this.  The guys
were really friendly and told me anything I wanted to know.  You can actually
go into the control rooms and radio rooms to, and they take you right up to
the 100-foot diameter, 200-ton dish antennas.  I got to look over a few
people's shoulders and they ran a few passes.  A MUST SEE.  I'll put the
photos on my website in a few weeks from both the trip and NOAA.
David M. Ritzenthaler        http://www.eecs.wsu.edu/~ritz
Systems and Programming Professional     ritz@eecs.wsu.edu
Washington State University                  (509)335-7301
School of Elect. Engr & Comp Sci. - Pullman, WA 99164-2752
PGPfreeware 5.0i Key: http://www.eecs.wsu.edu/~ritz/pgp.key
Eye halve a spelling chequer It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh My chequer tolled me sew.
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