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Re: Secrets...

Prior discussion has raised a few points ...
> kevin wrote:
> I have asked before for detailed info on AO40 and have found that
> that some systems are proprietary, and there are no component level
> schematics available for the general viewing...

Peter replied:
> > All the information of AO-40 is in the so-called "Green Book".
> > The mechanical and electrical books together are about 9 cm thick,
> > about 1000 pages, printed on both sides.
> > ... There is no secret or proprietary information, other than peoples
> > intellectuality ... we (at AMSAT-DL) have a policy that everything
> > which goes into the satellite (hardware and software) must be
> > fully documented and everything (schematics, source code, etc.)
> > must be available to the project team for review.

One thing I've learned in my long years in the telecomm biz is that the
schematics and source code are but only a portion of the overall process
that brought the product into the world.  In fact, while these are the most
tangible results of the design effort, they are also at the lower levels,
the final steps of the building process.

Perhaps what many amateurs interested in spacecraft architecture may find
suitable in their quest for knowledge are a set of open standards upon which
the individual spacecraft designs are based?

Standards seem to be rife in other segments of the industry.  Broadcast
channels for TV and radio are based on standards.  SS7 (among a few thousand
other standards) formed one of the backbones of the national telephony
network.  Cell phones from a dozen different manufacturers can all make
calls on the same network.  3GPP is tying cell networks around the world
together.  The FEC on AO-40's MB is a part of many standards.  One wisecrack
among engineers affected by standards is, "The best part of standards is
that there are so many to choose from!" ;-)

For example, Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola meet the cellular standards but
they don't publish their individual designs.  You'll likely get a better
understanding of the cellular architecture upon examination of the
appropriate standards documents.  You'll understand more about television
via the NTSC or PAL standards than you would by reverse engineering your
television set at home.

Amateur satellite builders have achieved much of what we have to date by an
individual's genius, hopes, and hard work.  Most of the birds have been
quite literally designed on a napkin and assembled in ham's garages or on
their kitchen tables.  And, this has been appropriate for a hobby activity,
albeit a rather advanced hobby at that.  But, as soon as we plan to hook up
one of our homegrown birds to a launch vehicle there are volumes of
standards that must be met, am I correct?

There are generations of amateur satellite knowledge in our previous
designs.  Rather than reveal source code or component level designs, what if
this school of knowledge forms the first generation of amateur satellite
standards?  Individual hams cannot realistically accomplish this but we have
a global network of AMSAT bodies.  Precedent for standards bodies exists in
entities such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and even

Even if the first generation of amateur satellite standards was somewhat
ad-hoc we would have the basis upon which to improve the process.  The
second generation would hopefully grow to a process that provides
"repeatable" process to build more satellites.  The third generation would
give us an even better documented process because we now know we can repeat
the steps.  A fourth generation could give a process that we can measure and
use that data to further improve the process.

Can amateurs do this alone?  Perhaps yes, perhaps not.  You can earn an
entire master's degree in working with a capability maturity model
(improving processes).  So why not have the national AMSAT bodies work with
the universities and their master's degree students to create and evolve
these standards?  We've wondered here on the -BB what our common tie to
university satellite programs might be besides competition for frequencies.
This might a proverbial foot in the door for us.

Perhaps someday we'll be able to find open standards for amateur satellites
on the web as you can find SS7, 3GPP, and thousands of others now.

73 de JoAnne WB9JEJ

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