[amsat-bb] Re: AO-40 Replacement

Daniel Schultz n8fgv at usa.net
Wed Sep 4 22:36:03 PDT 2013

I know how much the FM satellites are loved by certain segments of the AMSAT
community, and FOX-1 will serve that community beginning late next year. In
addition, many universities are building 2 meter FM satellites as part of
their aerospace engineering curriculum.

The problem with the FM satellites is that only one station at a time can
access them, during field day I listened to several passes and I did not hear
one complete field day exchange during any of them. They are just too limited
to serve as a pathway for growth for AMSAT. 

I have also read many recent posts regarding the late, great AO-40 and how
much the long distance DX that it provided is missed. The S-band downlink for
AO-40 performed well and was quite inexpensive for hams to acquire. It is
simply a myth that microwave equipment and antennas represents a difficult
entry path to amateur radio.

In the event that AMSAT should find an opportunity to place a Cubesat into
HEO, it will not be able to replace the performance of AO-40, but it could
provide the long distance DX opportunities for those stations that are willing
to make a modest investment in equipment. I am sorry that we cannot provide a
HEO DX satellite that anybody can work with an HT and an Arrow antenna, but we
are limited by the laws of physics, the size of the solar arrays, the antenna
gain and the link budget from HEO. We can only fit so much stuff into the tiny
little satellites that will be available to us in the future. 

If we build a small HEO satellite some people will be excluded from using it.
We are not trying to exclude anybody but those are the facts of life as I see
them. If you want a HEO DX satellite it is going to cost you some money to
equip yourself to work the satellite with its limited power output and link
budget. This is not because we want to exclude anybody, this is doing what we
can with the launches that are going to be available to us in the future. I
don't see the value of bringing new hams into the satellite hobby if they make
a few QSO's and then grow tired of the limited capability of the LEO FM
satellites. To attract and keep these hams we must provide something more
challenging and more useful for communications. That doesn't make us elitist,
but until somebody writes a $10 million dollar check to AMSAT, that is what we
can do and it is better than disbanding the organization and giving up because
we can't do magic on our shoestring budget. 

Dan Schultz N8FGV

------------------------ Original Message ------------------------

>What should a ham satellite program offer to the amateur community?
>If bringing new hams into this aspect of the hobby is important, 
>then we need another AO-51 - which was probably the greatest marketing 
>tool ever seen in the amateur satellite community. Its ease of use 
>was the cause of scores of media alerts and publicity for amateur radio.
>And most importantly, it got more people looking skyward and thinking 
>they could work amateur satellites than any other project. 

>Then there was the marvelous marketing surrounding ARISSat-1 ...

>What else should an amateur satellite program offer? Many here want 
>satellites that are only accessible with an investment of many hundreds 
>of dollars' worth of antenna systems and equipment. (Some would actually
>love it if Technicians weren't allowed - that's how extreme thinking is 
>on this topic.) Is THAT what will move the hobby forward for the masses?

>IS there a "middle ground?" Sure is a polarized topic (pun intended). Some 
>want the hobby and sat use to grow ... others want to exclude as many fellow

>hams as possible. 

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