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Re: PMS usage suggestions?



Hi all,

Not surprisingly, we are divided on how we think this "precious 
asset" (the PMS) should be used... and by whom.  I will honor 
Frank's request not to use the PMS, but I respectfully disagree with 
that viewpoint (leaving it on, but unused).

I think it is unreasonable to try to notify the entire world that the 
PMS is not to be used.  Not everyone reads the journals, not 
everyone subscribes to the reflectors, and no one appreciates a 
"radio cop" blasting them on-the-air.  (It might be different if people 
could use a little tact.)  Probably the best thing would be a beacon 
from the ISS itself telling people not to connect... but they would 
still do it anyway.  Such are human beings.  If its not to be used, 
then I'd say, "TURN IT OFF!"

It wasn't that long ago that it was REQUIRED to connect to the 
PMS and leave a message (even a blank message) to be eligible 
for a QSL card for the Mir.  I am glad that the "new rules" are less 
strict... and we can get a card for simply digipeating through the 
ISS.  That surely makes it easier for all levels of packet users to get 
a QSL... and hopefully that eases the desires of some people to 
connect.

But it is still a CHALLENGE to connect to the PMS on the ISS... 
just as it was for the Mir.  It is a challenge to get a message left on 
the PMS when competing with all the keyboarders out there using 
the digipeater.  Apparently some of you also think it is a challenge 
to carry on a keyboard QSO while someone is accessing the PMS.

But its a shared resource, right?  If the plan is to leave messages 
for the crew (and I believe that indeed is, or was, the plan)... then 
I'd say, "Get used to the idea!"  Get used to using the digipeater 
around those who are connecting.  They are, after all, only one-
user-at-a-time... and all the traffic that I have been monitoring still 
shows that plenty of keyboard activity is taking place in spite of all 
the "overhead" of one person using a connected state.  

There is a built-in one-minute timeout (see 
http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2001/06/27/4/) that should 
minimize the one-at-a-time connected user's ability to "lock up" the 
system for an entire pass.  If they can't hold the PMS, it will kick 
them off.  If they can hold the PMS... then they are effectively 
USING the system.  And why does everyone care so much HOW 
someone else chooses to USE it?  Who cares if they LIST the 
messages?  Who cares if they do a JHEARD?  Just kick back and 
read the traffic... and have a good time!

The 1MB buffer is an asset to us... and I think that asset outweights 
its liability because it takes a long time to LIST the messages.  But 
in lieu of having the crew take care of housekeeping... I wholly 
support the idea of ground-based SYSOPS maintaining the PMS. 
Good maintenance will keep the LIST of messages short.  But I'd 
say there isn't anything wrong with the SYSOPS sending bulletins 
addressed to ALL either... give us something to read!!!  KEPS are 
on-topic, even if there are numerous other sources for them.  Short 
status reports would be welcome, in my opinion.  Yes, you would 
see them over-and-over again if you monitor a lot... but you would 
likely see different people reading them... giving different people 
the opportunity to connect and have something USEFUL to do with 
the PMS.

I don't yet see any need for "new rules"... let it be a free-for-all out 
there (with a SYSOP moderating the PMS usage).  Each has their 
own challenges of operating... and challenges are a big part of what 
has made SAREX/ARISS communications (and ham radio itself) 
enjoyable for me.  Having people USE the PMS will also serve to 
test the system... see if there are any REAL shortcomings in its 
operations.  Better to discover problems now than to have a 
frustrated crew later!!!

The day will come (I HOPE!) that we will all be trying to connect... 
to leave our own personal message for the crew... and maybe even 
hoping for a reply.  I was lucky enough to get a reply from the Mir 
18 crew, and VERY LUCKY to be able to get connected again a 
few days later to read it.  Don't we all hope for such a contact, via 
packet, with the ISS crew?  Yes, the crew is all very busy... but they 
have free time too, and those who enjoy packet and amateur radio 
will be the ones who will give us that satisfaction someday (if all our 
complaining doesn't end up getting the whole project shut down).

I don't liken our situation to the INDY 500, where they are all 
professionals and still have crashes all the time.  I would rather 
think of it more like a Federal Interstate... where we can all get on 
together and share the road, good drivers and bad drivers alike.  
And where all of our tax dollars are helping to keep that road 
paved.  (An American point-of-view, meaning no offense to the 
other nations who also help with the cost of the ISS.)  My old pickup 
truck may not keep up with the Corvettes out there, but it still gets 
me to work every day.  

(Minimum speed=45mph, Maximum speed=17,500mph, 
Stan's speed=somewhere in between)    ;-)

73 to all de Stan/W4SV

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