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Calibration time

Good Morning from Western Michigan:

It's time to calibrate!!   I need to compare what I'm getting with what I 
should reasonably expect  from AO40, that is.   I get along with all the 
birds very well,  they are where I expect them to be, we talk to each other 
and/or they talk for me, etc.  But NOT AO40.  SO:

Would someone, please help me out with some numbers.  I live in Holland MI, 
42.7686 degrees North, 86.1326 degrees West, 200 meters elevation.  My 
software, LogSat, WxTrack and Wisp agree close enough for me not to suspect 
a software or setup problem.  BUT ??

At 0000z, 12/19/02 (tonight) what should my software packages be telling me 
for AO40 position, Altitude, elevation, squint, phase, range, etc??

What sort of signal could I expect with the following?

I have a 3 foot off-center fed dish, a 5 1/2 turn helix feed directly 
(through 3 N elbow connectors) to a Conifer preamp and a Cal Amp 31881 
downconverter (123 mhz out), 50 feet of cable to an FT847.  The noise floor 
is about one s-unit.   This summer the noise floor was only slightly 
higher.  At times I can hardly read AO40, other times never above S-3.   At 
one time I heard AO 40 at S7.  BUT LATELY ZILCH!!  The dish appears to be 
very sharp,  the main lobe less than 10 degrees wide, maybe even 5 
degrees.  I coax from the downconverter goes to a high quality switch , 
then to the FT847.  When I switch the AO40 setup into the circuit the 
backgound noise really goes up at 123 mhz, from no S meter indication to 1 

With a bar-b-q "dish", this preamp/downconverter setup consistently gave me 
S4 to S5 signals with a noise floor never less than S2.  But that was this 
past summer.

I have a small signal source I picked up at the AMSAT booth at Dayton and 
am planning to do some testing with the dish and the "old" grill.  But it 
is WINTER in the Tulip City and the trek up and down the stairs / in and 
out of the house is hard on these old arthritic bones.  So, I thought I had 
better get my number ducks in order and better know what to expect before I 
start tearing anything apart.   And, besides, with all the discussion about 
alligators on the reflector lately, it would be wise to heed the advice to 
have my ears working as well as possible.  I realize that there are a 
multitude of scenarios, here. so I'm looking for "barnyard" expectations.

Thanks, folks, so much for any help you could send my way.

Jim Jipping,  W8MRR
AMSAT 5512
Via the amsat-bb mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
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