Spring 2007 Issue

SATELLITES

Opportunities for the New Ham
and Imagination in Space Education

By Keith Pugh, W5IU
 

Kid’s Connection simulated ARISS contact. The author and Kid’s Connection Director Cindy Wooten work with the students to simulate or reenact an ARISS contact. The Kid’s Connection is an after-school program operated by Hemphill Presbyterian Fellowship for Elementary School children from Daggett Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas. A presentation about the International Space Station, the astronauts on board, and the school that made the real contact preceded the reenactment. A long Q&A session followed
the reenactment, and the kids continued to express an interest in the subject several weeks after the reenactment.

Since my last column, the amateur radio bands have been restructured and Morse code has been eliminated as a requirement for amateur radio licensing. None of these changes have directly affected the Amateur Radio Satellite Service, but the influx of new and upgraded licensees could and should affect our service. Educating these new folks and educating our school children calls for “Imagination in Education.”

Amateur Radio Satellites for the New Ham

On December 15, 2006, restructuring of the amateur radio bands took effect. This restructuring did not directly affect any of the amateur radio satellite allocations, but it did widen the phone allocations on many of the HF bands and set the stage for the next step—elimination of the Morse code requirement for amateur radio licensing.

This huge step came on February 23, 2007, and we are already seeing many new and upgraded licensees showing up on the bands—particularly HF. The Amateur Radio Satellite Service should receive its share of these new folks as well. Many of them have been out there waiting for years to get into amateur radio, but didn’t want to bother or couldn’t learn the code. Many are technically inclined and are naturals for operating via the satellites. Some, too, are apartment dwellers, naturals for the small and portable antennas that can be used to work the amateur satellites.
The Amateur Satellite Service is unique in its ability to provide local and long-distance communications with simple radios and small antennas, while providing challenges for the technically inclined by introducing new modes, new techniques, and new equipment combinations into our hobby. For example, we are introducing the exciting new Software Defined Transponder (SDX) into several new satellites—SuitSat 2, Phase III E, and Eagle. This SDX technology will increase the efficiency, reliability, and versatility of the satellites, while maintaining simple, proven user interfaces. To the old mode “B” users it will look just like AO-10 and AO-13, and the same ground stations will still be useful. We will also be introducing new text messaging and advanced digital techniques into the amateur satellite world with Project Eagle.

Let’s take advantage of this new influx of amateur radio operators and steer them into the Amateur Radio Satellite facet of our hobby. We have space on the satellites now, and we could certainly use some “new blood.”

Imagination in Space Education

Years ago I was challenged by a first-grade teacher, Dr. Debbie Coonrod, at Riverside Applied Learning Center in Fort Worth, Texas asked me to help her establish a contact for her students with the cosmonauts/astronauts on board the MIR Space Station during a Space Day at her school. Then, like now, it was impossible to guarantee such a contact with a short lead time and on a specific date/time.

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