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Profile of a satellite newcomer

In a recent thread entitled 'One Working LEO', members of this list have
theorized about the role of LEO satellites in enticing hams to operating
via the birds and joining Amsat. While I can't claim to be representative
of any larger group, I can describe my growing interest in satellite
operation and the critical role LEO FM satellites play in it. 

Although I've been a HF-only op in the past, I recently bought a dual-band
handheld in order to a) explore APRS, b) assist in local emergeny planning
and c) get a taste of satellite operation through the LEO FM satellites.
Despite my long-standing interest in satellite ops, a rig with multimode
VHF/UHF abilities, much less one that can operate duplex, was completely
out of the question financially and would have been too single-purposed to
broaden my horizons in those three different ways.

Initially I was disappointed to discover that UO-14 and AO-27 were, in
fact, off the air, but the last two months of receiving PCSat, ISS and
building a 70cm hand-held beam to catch AO-27 have been as fun and
educational as anything I've done as a ham. I can't wait to build the
diplexer and 2m side of my beam so that I can transmit!

The furtive QSOs on AO-27 are, to me, a benefit of the LEO medium, not a
problem. In this phase of my life, 6 min. of intense hamming a day is about
right. I can bring the children outside with me to 'wiggle the antenna
around the sky', listen to the pass, then go inside for cocoa. A fellow
HF-op  ham from the town has asked me to let him know when he can drop by
with his daughter to listen in. Judging by the activity I've heard so far,
people conduct themselves according to the highest standards while
conversing on the birds.

All of this leads me to hope for greater things. I forgot to bid on the
440-28Mhz downconverter that someone put on Ebay to help fund Echo, but the
final price was certainly in my range, and with it I could read CW and SSB
off of FO-29 and AO-7. I'm sure this would be a thrill, too.

In short, in my case, FM LEOs indeed provide a necessary gateway into the
world of satellite operations, and I would not be setting aside part of
next paycheque for Amsat membership and a Echo donation if those birds were
not flying. Based in my experience, I would recommend that even the most
enthusiastic HEO operator (cynically or honestly, as the case may be) view
Echo as an opportunity to increase enthusiasm for satellite ops, thus
membership in Amsat and funding for Eagle. 

Finally, I should add that the acrimonious tone of discussion on this list
has *not* deterred me in light of the well-conducted operations on the
birds. I recognize that these are trying times for Amsat's members,
especially for those who have invested heavily in 2.4 GHz, and that email
lists are just like that. 

Prof. Bruce Robertson, VE9QRP
Dept. of Classics, Mount Allison University
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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