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Author Topic: So where does the satellite hobby stand now?  (Read 18171 times)
ONAIR
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 08:30:09 PM »

The government flies thousands of drone missions every year using our taxpayer funds.  Do you think we could get them to put some drones up for us with repeaters on board?
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2013, 12:11:51 AM »

The government flies thousands of drone missions every year using our taxpayer funds.  Do you think we could get them to put some drones up for us with repeaters on board?
We could probably get them to station it anywhere we need if we can get enough guys to put on beards, white sheets, and look subversive!

BTW:  I'm a Fox-1 supporter!

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AE5QB
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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2013, 03:40:42 AM »

IMO, I am sad to say that I think the satellite hobby is in trouble.  Really there isn't much of a reason for new hams to buy the equipment necessary to do it well because it cost too much and there isn't much up there to talk through. The cost and time to get new birds in the sky is huge and the "water testers" who might want to dip their toes into the hobby to see what it is like don't have many reliable options right now.  If there were 3 or 4 reliable FM birds up there that hams could work 2 or 3 passes a day, you would see more people getting into this aspect of the hobby.  But right now, there just isn't a lot to attract people to satellites. I am all for fox 1 but my goodness, it has been a long time coming and there is no certainty as to when it will be available for use. Some of us old folks may not live long enough to see it fully functional. The cube sat telemetry birds are OK and a lot of fun for the colleges that are designing them, but the real thrill of satellites is for the average ham to easily talk to others through them as they speed overhead. 

Granted, I don't know about all of the operational issues, but why can't they keep the repeater on the ISS turned on?  That is a relative easy comm satellite that isn't difficult to service.  Put a generic radio with crossband capabilities on it and turn it on.  If it dies, send up another one.  And if they would build a little time into the astronauts schedules to operate on a daily basis that would be awesome.  A reliable one or two pass per day window when one would know the astronauts will be working would really inspire others.  I know they are busy and ARISS is a secondary function, but by golly our tax money is funding these little excursions so the PR would do them good. For schools to make contacts without having to go through the ARISS proposal and set up two world class satellite systems would create a lot of interest and more contacts. Currently there are 6 people on board, you can't tell me they can't find a couple of hours a day for one or two of them to operate.  A published schedule of operating hours for each continent would be awesome and would attract a lot of kids and hams to this aspect of the hobby.

Just my opinion
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K7ZSA
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2013, 06:26:46 AM »

For newbies like me to this facet of Hamming this is a great thread.  I started out with a nice list of satellites and it has been honed down to a very short list.....but it hasn't been easy to pare it down what with AMSAT crippled and a plethora of outdated material on the internet and in print.  So far I've been able to receive VUSat-Oscar 52 during it's passes using only my 5/8 vertical, and I am constructing a U/V yagi array.  I hope it's worth the effort.
What is the deal with the ISS FM repeater?  Do they ever turn it on?  How will I know when/if they do?  I suppose I should condense my questions down to one basic question:  Where does one turn nowadays to find the most current information on satellite status, transponder modes and schedules?

Jeff
K7ZSA
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It all started with a spark!
WD9EWK
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2013, 12:19:01 PM »

IMO, I am sad to say that I think the satellite hobby is in trouble.  Really there isn't much of a reason for new hams to buy the equipment necessary to do it well because it cost too much and there isn't much up there to talk through. The cost and time to get new birds in the sky is huge and the "water testers" who might want to dip their toes into the hobby to see what it is like don't have many reliable options right now.  If there were 3 or 4 reliable FM birds up there that hams could work 2 or 3 passes a day, you would see more people getting into this aspect of the hobby.  But right now, there just isn't a lot to attract people to satellites. I am all for fox 1 but my goodness, it has been a long time coming and there is no certainty as to when it will be available for use. Some of us old folks may not live long enough to see it fully functional. The cube sat telemetry birds are OK and a lot of fun for the colleges that are designing them, but the real thrill of satellites is for the average ham to easily talk to others through them as they speed overhead. 

The satellite part of ham radio is in a state of change.  We no longer get lots of opportunities for free or very cheap launches, as we did in the past.  Either hams pay for launches, or someone else pays for the available space on launches.  NASA awarded AMSAT a launch opportunity, for a small CubeSat satellite that will go into a lower orbit, so we are taking advantage of one of the few remaining "free rides" left for satellites.  The AMSAT-DL group has a larger high-orbit satellite basically ready to go, if someone can spare US$ 10 million or so for the launch.  Other groups are still building launches, using different approaches to get their launches - including simply paying for launches. 

SO-50 will pass over your location more than a couple of times a day.  It's not as easy to work as other FM satellites were.  AO-51 failed in late 2011, and AO-27 is in the process of being recovered by its ground station, but SO-50 is there.  As for those who "might want to dip their toes into the hobby" (related to satellite operating), that is easier than it has ever been.  Take an inexpensive 2m/70cm FM HT and a homebrew Yagi or log periodic antenna, and there you are.  You can spend more if you want, but that's the starting point.  Maybe even cheaper than a 100W HF radio and a dipole to get on HF.

Quote
Granted, I don't know about all of the operational issues, but why can't they keep the repeater on the ISS turned on?  That is a relative easy comm satellite that isn't difficult to service.  Put a generic radio with crossband capabilities on it and turn it on.  If it dies, send up another one.  And if they would build a little time into the astronauts schedules to operate on a daily basis that would be awesome.

The ISS "repeater" is actually the cross-band repeat function in essentially a "generic radio with crossband capabilities on it" - a Kenwood TM-D700 2m/70cm FM mobile transceiver.  The issue is that the TM-D700 is not designed for extended use as a crossband repeater.  Ham gear is not intended for extended periods of transmission.  For a radio that could work as a repeater, it would probably need to be modified extensively - or a repeater would have to be built from scratch, one that could fit in a very small space on the station.  Then it would have to pass testing by the space agencies.  Then a flight up to the ISS. 

Sending equipment up to the ISS requires lots of planning and coordination with whoever is providing the launches (Russians, Europeans, and now NASA via SpaceX).  Keep in mind that it is not cheap to send equipment up there.  When Richard Garriott flew up there in 2008, anything he took with him had to go on a scale.  He was limited in how much he could carry on the Soyuz craft.  Similar limits are in play for using the other launches to the ISS, even with the larger capacity of a Russian Progress vessel, the SpaceX Dragon craft, and the vessels launched by the Europeans. 

With the costs of maintaining a manned station in orbit, I seriously doubt the space agencies are interested in paying crews to make contacts with hams - no matter what PR value there could be from that.  The space agencies already pay crews for the scheduled contacts with schools and other events.  Otherwise, crewmembers decide if they wish to operate the radio.  They are never forced to use the radio in their spare time to talk with hams on the ground.  In the past, on the Mir station, more crewmembers made use of the ham equipment than now on the ISS.  Crews have more options for their limited free time on the ISS - books, movies, e-mail, phone calls to friends and family on the ground, etc.  We can hope for the time where there are crews that have an interest in talking to hams like us.  That's all we can ask for.

73!
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Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
W7AIT
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2013, 04:00:35 PM »

I agree with AE5QB exactly.  And I been chasing ham satellites since 1969.  AMSAT is in trouble, all the old guys are SK now.  To get a launch isn't free any more.  Same with getting parts.  And expensive testing to ensure that the payload won't ruin the mission is expensive.  The current AMSAT guys are probably doing their best but things have changed drastically and a lot is beyond their control.

I haven't been on a satellite for over a year now, their just aren't any useful birds up long enough to make it worth while.

Maybe hams should go back to the telemetry only modes and collect useful data. 

Times have changed, especially Americans just aren't interested in space right now.  Nothing motivating the nation to the extent it was back in the 1950's. 



 
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ONAIR
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2013, 05:15:58 PM »

Too bad Bill Gates or one of the other Silicon Valley superstars wasn't a ham. Maybe we could get them to put up a few ham satellites in stationary orbit, that we could use all the time!  Smiley
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W5PFG
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« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2013, 06:07:47 PM »

2013 stands to be a decent year for satellite operators worldwide.  With the expected launches of FUNCube-1, UKube-1, and potentially FOX, we stand to gain several new transponders for two-way QSO.  The days of free launches to MEO/HEO might be behind us but there is plenty of fun to be had and things to learn for a new generation.   Amateur radio satellite operation is not as "dead" as some might have you to believe. 
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AF5C
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« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2013, 07:28:13 PM »

Is VO52 still up and going strong? That is a great linear sat, but unfortunately it seems that most NA satellite hams don't take advantage of it.  AO7 can still be a lot of fun, though.

John AF5CC
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2013, 09:34:15 PM »

Yep, VO-52 is alive and well. Along with good old AO-7 and FO-29, all great sats with linear transponders that sadly go vacant many times.

73, Jim
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W5PFG
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« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2013, 08:51:31 AM »

Is VO52 still up and going strong? That is a great linear sat, but unfortunately it seems that most NA satellite hams don't take advantage of it.  AO7 can still be a lot of fun, though.

John AF5CC

Hi John,

I love VO-52's strong signal.  It's not as high as FO-29 or AO-7 but it does a fine job.  My only complaint is with some of the weenies who call CQ on CW repeatedly and drift across the pass band.  By the time they are done calling CQ, they've moved 15k down from where they started.  

VO-52 is also very easy to work mobile.  Both it and FO-29 are my favorite birds to work mobile.  

73
Clayton
W5PFG
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KB2HSH
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« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2013, 11:34:21 AM »

I think what's worse is the utter INFLUX of satellites that have been launched by the various universities around the world that are NOTHING more than beacons.  Sure, SEEDS was fun, as was the last one launched by hand from the ISS...but the telemetry sats, I feel, just add to the rising frustration level in many.  My old friend Dave Guimont has stated several times that hamsats are NOTHING like they used to be...and he's right.
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W5PFG
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« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2013, 04:26:36 PM »

I think what's worse is the utter INFLUX of satellites that have been launched by the various universities around the world that are NOTHING more than beacons.  Sure, SEEDS was fun, as was the last one launched by hand from the ISS...but the telemetry sats, I feel, just add to the rising frustration level in many. 

I've heard this time and time again... "Why are the beep-beeps using our ham frequencies?"

The answer?

Because we're not. 

Ever scan around the satellite sub-bands of UHF and VHF?  You probably won't hear much.  The beep-beeps aren't "taking over."

Am I a big fan of organizations slapping a call sign on their bird and calling it a ham radio satellite?  No.

However, many do qualify to use amateur radio on their down links under the amateur service rules.  Many hams enjoy tracking and decoding telemetry from them.  So, you could say that it has benefits all around...Just maybe not to *some* hams.

I wish we had more transponders, yes... But I'm not going to join the crowd continually griping about beep-beeps.  They're here to stay, for now.
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W4HIJ
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« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2013, 04:29:04 PM »

I know it's beating a dead horse but getting P3-E into orbit (with no lingering issues like AO-40 had) would be a HUGE shot in the arm to the satellite hobby. You want  new satellite rigs? Getting a working HEO in the air would bring them about as quick as the manufacturers could design them and get them type accepted. And all the other smaller projects like the flying FM repeaters everyone seems to be so fond of would get a huge boost too. I know I know, HEO launches aren't free.....but I still don't understand why FOX 1 is not a t least an LEO linear bird.
Michael, W4HIJ
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KO4MA
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« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2013, 04:50:31 PM »

2013 stands to be a decent year for satellite operators worldwide.  With the expected launches of FUNCube-1, UKube-1, and potentially FOX, we stand to gain several new transponders for two-way QSO.  The days of free launches to MEO/HEO might be behind us but there is plenty of fun to be had and things to learn for a new generation.   Amateur radio satellite operation is not as "dead" as some might have you to believe. 

You forgot Turksat-3u and Delfi-n3xt, both university sats with TRANSPONDERS.
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