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Re: alternatives

After 47 years of HF DXing I migrated to the AO-40 in the summer of
2003. My main reason for this was the increase in man made noise on the
HF bands, which in recent years reached a level of making weak signal
reception on HF nearly impossible.

I live in a densely populated area (Switzerland is the most densely
populated country in Europe).

The reason for the increase in the local noise level stems from the
proliferation of unclean consumer electronics or as I like to call it,
"High Tech Junk" i.e. modern TV sets with unfiltered switching power
supplies, light dimmers, semiconductor transformers for lighting,
computer monitors, modems etc. There is a plethora of that stuff out on
the market already and new additions crop up almost daily.

For several years I kept my neighborhood clean, by advising people on
what to buy or not to buy or by filtering their noise generators. But I
have to give up now. Whenever I clean up one device, two more crop up.
We have here at least 3 different products for private BPL networks.
(over here called PLC for Power Line Communication). You simply plug
them into your wall outlets and away you go networking your computers
printers and all that jazz and radiate it into the environment.

Once a DXer, always a DXer. I wanted to be able to work DX into all 6
continents and the AO-40 provided that wonderfully.

I was always limited in space for my HF antennas, a simple multiband
vertical and a 27m sloper was the most I could instal. I cannot put up a
tower or a beam.

So on the AO-40 I finally could own a high performance antenna. I got
myself a 85cm dish and a W0LMD L/S dualpatch. This worked just great
on the IC-910H, even running only barefoot 10W on the L-band. (I heard
my signal from the transponder with only 5 L-band-Watts into the
antenna, when the bird was 40'000km out.

I could work U/S as well, but a VHF-longyagi would already be too large
and I really prefer L-band, requiring just one compact well performing

So as a DXer I am looking for basic amateur communication satellites, 
HEOs, without gadgets and gimmicks, preferably more than one up at a 
time and by all means allowing L/S mode in a way as the late AO-40 did
it so well.
I make a difference between these basic communication satellites, which
provide just that and always are HEOs, as opposed to the experimental
satellites, which carry the gadgets and gimmicks not needed for
worldwide communication.

I am an engineer myself and my experience is that one mark of a good
design team is that whenever they finish a job, they come up with
several ideas on how to improve their design. But in a commercial
environment there must be a kind of a stopping organization, which tells
the designers that it is time to go into production and earn some money
(in order that they again could do what they like to do so much:
designing new stuff)

So my question is: Why keep designing new satellites for a basic service
such as worldwide communication? Why not use a proven design and build
many equal communication satellites, which e.g. have such a great 
transponder as the AO-40 has(had)? 
It must be less expensive and faster to build and launch many of the
same kind then many different ones.

The noise situation I mentioned above is not unique to my area and if
the U.S. FCC does not send a very good signal soon to the rest of the
world regarding BPL, then we will all suffer. It's the private BPL
networks in your neighborhood that kill you, not the big ones, where
there is only one addressee to file complaints.

So I predict that in the not too distant future more and more HF
DXers will migrate to satellites for an alternative, thus we need more
than one communication satellite, in order to be able to handle
uninterrupted service.

All this costs money! How can we (the AMSAT) get the necessary revenues?

Here is my way (to justify to myself donations of a certain size):

I am very thankful to those who invest their time and energy to build,
launch and keep operational such complex infrastructures as amateur
communication satellites and I would feel like a parasite, taking
advantage of others, without any contribution on my part.

I have broadband internet access with 600kbits/s download and 100kbits/s
upload, unlimited download, unlimited upload, unlimited connectime,
spam- and virusfiltering by the provider. This infrastructure costs me
380 Euros a year. I use it every day.

I was able to use the AO-40 (and hopefully soon its successor)
theoretically only every second day, thus I figure 200 Euros would be
fair and before I posted this message on the AMSAT-BB I donated that
amount to AMSAT-DL for the P3E. Over the internet, with my credit card
that is simple and creates minimal service charges.

So if you too have internet access and most of us do these days, then
how about donating half of what ist costs you per year to AMSAT.
(I heard in the U.S. many enjoy free internet access, I don't know how 
that figures in the long run, but anyway, you folks will have to find 
another way to figure your donations)

Come on guys, we pay for our licenses. On HF the use of the ionosphere,
that great "natural infrastructure" is free, it is just there for us to
use. But satellites have to be placed where they are and they cost a lot
to build launch and maintain. It is only fair that we pay for that.
Who in their right mind wants to be a parasite?

There is no such thing as a free lunch!

In the future I could imagine, that the use of the communication
satellites is monitored and checked against the membership list. 
Nonmembers would after some "initial free time" be "kindly but strongly"
invited directly by mail, to become a member or contribute otherwise.

Perhaps the use of HEO satellites needs a bit of marketing also among
our national amateur associations. Every national association has its
group of DXers many of which do or will use the HEOs eventually. 
National associations should, if they do not already, contribute to 
AMSAT in a similar way as they do to the IARU.

Werner, HB9US
AMSAT-DL #302508

Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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