[amsat-bb] Financial arguments about full duplex

Michael Mat_62 at charter.net
Tue Jun 28 23:18:48 UTC 2016

I know full well what it's like to be on a budget and not have a lot of 
disposable income to spend on radio. I'm not a wealthy person by any 
stretch of the imagination. I've known a few hams in my lifetime who 
could spend what they wanted when they wanted to on radio. 
Unfortunately, most of us are not that lucky.
  When I first got into satellite operation I had inherited a good deal 
of HF radio equipment from my late Father, the original holder of the 
callsign W4HIJ.  It was more stuff than I could use and I managed to 
sell it off slowly and generate enough funds to buy myself a Kenwood 
TS-2000X. Since it covered "DC to daylight" I figured that might be the 
last radio I would ever buy. I had an HF antenna to hook up to it but 
the problem was that since I had blown my whole wad of cash on the rig, 
I had no money left for a satellite antenna system. So I began scrimping 
and saving every dime I could and began doing lots of research on the 
internet. Eventually I was able to build a couple of WA5VJB cheap yagis 
with PVC booms and aluminum elements taken from an old damaged 11 
element 2 meter beam. I found a circuit on the internet that used a 
BASIC STAMP to interface with the shack PC and control a couple of old 
Gemini OR-360 TV antenna rotators which I found a source for online. I 
had to buy everything like the rotators and circuit components almost 
one piece at a time as money permitted but I eventually had a full 
fledged sat station with a  PC controlled rig and homebrew Az/El antenna 
control. This was during the heyday of A0-51 and I even managed to get 
my hands on some S band stuff although I never could get it to work.
  Unfortunately that thing called life reared it's head and I had no 
choice but to sell my rig to pay for a major repair on one of the family 
cars. Family always comes first. I left my antenna system up because it 
was also controlling the Azimuth pointing of an HF mini beam that I used 
with an old boat anchor HF rig that I had kept as a spare. Eventually 
the PVC booms on the homebrew sat antennas began to weaken and crack due 
to constant UV exposure. I had painted them but it didn't help so I took 
them down. It was also about the same time that something went west in 
the homebrew rotator control and took out the power transformer, BASIC 
STAMP and a couple of relays and I had no money to fix it and replace 
the bad components.
  I had a couple of 2 meter and 70cm HT's so I built a dual band version 
of the cheap yagi and devised a mount to put it on an old camera tripod 
I already had to work full duplex on some of the FM sats. However, I 
quickly discovered that standing outside on the deck in the heat or cold 
to work FM sats just wasn't my cup of tea. More power to those of you 
who enjoy it but I'm just not happy without the comfort of a base 
station located in the indoor shack.
  I was off the satellites for awhile and acquired a Flex 1500 which I 
enjoyed immensely but again had to sell to help with some family 
financial issues.
  Fast forward to the very recent past. We actually got a pretty good 
tax refund this year and after taking care of various bills and such 
there was enough left over that my beautiful XYL let me combine it with 
money I had been saving to purchase a Yaesu FT-991 and a Funcube Pro + 
SDR dongle. I also thought that I was going to be able to get the Yaesu  
AZ/EL rotator system that I've coveted for years but again that fell 
through because of family financial issues. My plan was and still is to 
have a new full duplex satellite base station but right now I have 
nothing to rotate antennas even if only in the azimuth plane and 
foregoing elevation control. Things have gotten extremely tight again 
financially and I'm having a hard time saving even for a basic TV rotator.
  My point in relating this whole story is to point out and explain that 
I'm not trying to be some elitist snob when I'm insisting that folks 
need to be working full duplex. I'm actually probably worse off than a 
lot of you when it comes to finances and disposable income for hobbies. 
Maybe the word "mandatory" is a little much but it was originally 
Clint's word and not mine. I just picked it up out of his PDF and maybe 
used it a little stronger than I should have.
  Full duplex should be a "best practice"  and if someone is not using 
it for whatever reason it should be something they aspire to and 
implement in whatever type sat setup they have as swiftly as possible. 
If you have never used it before you will be amazed at how much simpler 
and efficient it makes things not only for you but for the entire group 
of sat operators who are on the bird at any given time.
Michael W4HIJ

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list