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Attracting New Hams with Bright, Shiny Objects

As you may have read on this site, SPARC is setting up a display at the St. Pete Science Festival. This is the first year I have been in town to attend so I thought it would be a “cool” display to go “whole-hog” with the satellite demonstrations. One of the things that first drew me to amateur satellites was, believe it or not, the rotor turning automatically. I visited a ham in Salt Lake City and he had two beams (2m and 440) on a common boom and they were not only moving in the horizontal plane, but also vertical. Being a software person but also a ham, I always loved whenever software controlled hardware. I always thought it was a great integration of computers and radios to automatically track the antenna. Some of you know at Field Days past, we have used my single 2m/440 beam with a simple azimuth rotor to track the satellites. Well, this year at the science festival, we are going a bit bolder.

The setup will be a Yaesu G5500 Azimuth/elevation rotor so the antennas will move in both planes. I have also separated the antennas so we will have one circularly-polarized (CP) 2m beam and one CP 440 beam. This should make for a very cool display with the antenna tracking things throughout the day. I will make sure there is always a satellite we are tracking. When we do have a pass, we will be making attempts to contact other hams on a satellite.

If you are interested in satellites, I highly recommend you come out and help. This should be a great experience to introduce others to the joy we all have received through amateur radio. I owe what some would call a very successful career to my early interest in amateur radio. If you have young teenagers or grandchildren of the same age, you cannot go wrong introducing them to the technical side of our hobby.

I should also mention that AMSAT had a successful launch today of their Fox1A satellite. If all goes well with the initial checkout, there will be an FM satellite available again. I have made many contacts on the old AO-51 and AO-27 from my dual-band radio while mobile. You really do not need much to work them particularly on the higher elevation passes (like right over your head). More information on working these “easysats” is available here.

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