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Re: W9VNE input on transceiver question

Wow.  I wish I had asked this question on the AMSAT BB when I started back
in April!  Great observations, Jim.  I am still a newbie, so this stuff
helps me immensely.  And as we discussed 1/1 via email, my two FT817 and
Arrow are going to be a challenge on the non-FM birds for me, but it would
be boring if it were easy!

What birds did you use to work Europe?

Mark Lunday

-----Original Message-----
From: amsat-bb-bounces@amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces@amsat.org] On
Behalf Of Jim Danehy
Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 3:56 AM
To: amsat-bb@amsat.org
Subject: [amsat-bb] W9VNE input on transceiver question

I was in a similar situation several months ago. I had a pair of M Square
antennas along with the elevation rotor and a Ham M to turn the antennas.
What to do for a rig. Well I bought a brand new Icom 910H. A great rig. I
use SatPC32 software which interfaces to the Icom via Icom's interface
accessory (plug and play). You forget about your doppler shift once set up.
I still control antennas manually with both rotors. The Icom 910H is a top
of the line satellite transceiver. The only thing I would improve on it
would be the RIT control. It only offers a 1 khz range but that is no big

 It sounds like you are going to setup for the SSB satellites. They can
become very lonely. AO7 is  used but by a handful of USA stations (you will
not work Europe from CO. It suffers from some stations using excessive power
and generating trash up and down the band too. FO 29 and VO 52  (both
SSB/CW) also have a handful of operators.  No hashy trash because they are
newer birds. AO7 is 34 years old and easy to trash it with hash if you use
excessive power. 

If you live on the East Coast of the USA you could work Europe. QRZ.COM
shows your location is in Colorado. Forget about working Europe. The FM
satellites are very popular with AO 51 being the most popular. It suffers
too from some poor operating at times. Most of the time it is OK. That early
evening pass can be bedlam. SO 50 is useful but not used very often enough.
It works well in my opinion. AO 16 is interesting but will be off the air
very soon. 

The reason I mention all of the above  is because it impacts your selection
of a rig. If you want to work a lot of grid squares which many of us do, the
FM satellites are where the action is located. You do not need an Icom 910H
and the money it represents to work the FM satellites well. You can do that
with a HT (hand held). There are other dual band 440/144 FM rigs available
for a fraction of the cost of an Icom 910H. The Kenwood TS2000 is a good rig
but it has a birdie on SO 50's downlink making it impossible to use that FM

There is a big difference, in my opinion between the FM and SSB/CW
satellites. FM being used to its capacity on AO 51 and the SSB/CW birds
suffering from inactivity. Just a fact of life. Some may disagree with these
observations. I was on the satellites back in the 1970s and  came back in
August 2008. I have made QSOs with 15 countries and 200 Grids and 45 states
in that time. I think my intense 3 months of operating provides me with
enough observations to make these statements.

 I am often asked why not more activity on non-FM satellites. My answer has
always been : 1) Doppler shift and 2) equipment. Unless you have software to
manage the doppler shift on 435 mhz  your signal will travel quickly across
the band. Some experienced ops can do it manually but they are pros.
Equipment for SSB/CW is relatively (emphasis) scarce compared to FM only
rigs. You do not need software to control Doppler shift on FM. . . . you can
control it in other ways. 

To choose a transceiver depends on how you want to spend your time. If you
are preparing for the HEO (German venture) then go with the Icom 910H type
rig. If you just want to get on the satellites for the satellite experience
you may find an FM only rig is more suited for you. Of course since you are
not currently on the satellites ( my inference ) you would not have the
benefit of personal knowledge. I hope my observations are helpful.

Selection of the gear depends on how you are going to use it. If you do not
know that there are really two different roads to currently travel you could
be wasting your money. 

Just my 2 cents and probably not worth even that amount of money. 
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Sent via AMSAT-BB@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb