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Communications NASA Space Science

NASA Seeks Ham Operators' Help To Test NanoSail-D 146

Posted by timothy
from the testing-testing-one-two-three dept.
SEWilco writes "Despite our older headline, NanoSail-D was not 'Lost in space.' It was stuck in its canister. The solar sail nano-satellite finally ejected on Wednesday. The three-day countdown to sail deployment began then, so we'll have to see what happens next." And clm1970 adds "In another conventional use for an arguably unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011, NASA is requesting the help of Amateur Radio or 'ham operators' to help listen to a beacon signal of the nano-satellite. Many say the hobby is dying, but for every 'death knell,' it seems another application brings it back to life to prove its usefulness."
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NASA Seeks Ham Operators' Help To Test NanoSail-D

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  • by jra (5600) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:39PM (#34946542)

    Usenet.

    Which, by the way, *still* isn't dead, thank-you-very-much smb and tomt.

    The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

      Nah, I see plenty of tards from Google groups. It hasn't ended.

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

      You've never been to 4chan, I take it?

    • Which NGs are you in? From where I sit, it is still September.
    • > The Eternal September, BTW, finally ended.

      Seriously? Um, HOW?

      And I won't accept "AOL went bankrupt" as an answer.

      If usenet is, somehow, incomprehensibly "back", I'll have to go dig out a copy of nn6.4, get myself a feed, and fire up my old uncancel bots!

    • Ok, it's mostly crowded with spam and pr0n\\\\binaries, and ISPs have mostly stopped providing news service as a standard feature of an account, and I haven't had a decent NNTP reader in a decade or more, but yeah, Usenet's still around. I stopped being able to read all of it (printed on paper, 4-up double-sided) some time in the 80s, stopped being able to read more than a couple of newsgroups later in the 90s, but Google Groups still provides access if I need to look for things, and the last time I checke

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      When I was a teenager Built a ham radio reciever and studied for the license, but I never could learn Morse code. I never was any good at memorization. I understand that they've done away with the Morse requirement, I may just see about that license and build a new radio.

      Listening to a NASA experiment would be really cool.

      • You are correct, the code portion has been removed from the Technician class exam. The question pool is public knowledge and there are a number of freebie practice test sites. It is, IMHO, worth doing even if just for the preparedness aspects.

        -eag

  • by 3vi1 (544505) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:42PM (#34946576) Homepage Journal

    >> was not 'ost in space'.

    However, the 'L' from the original submission was.

    • In space, nobody can hear your Original SoundTrack.

    • by msauve (701917)
      Oh noes! What the "L?"
    • Without entering in the argument of "Ham radio is dying (or is it not)", I have a doubt.

      I mean, I am pretty sure should have way better antennas than most of ham radio users. If so, what is the need for the ham operators? It is just a way to remind everyone that they have a cool thing in space? As if your neighbour (who usually has no trouble with those things) asks you to put a nail in his living room wall, to hang in it "that pretty Picasso that I have just bought".

      • by Muad'Dave (255648)

        I mean, I am pretty sure should have way better antennas than most of ham radio users. If so, what is the need for the ham operators?

        The quality of one's antenna does not play into this - the satellite is in a very low orbit so signal strength is high.

        What hams offer that NASA does not have is a globally-distributed receiver network. Because the sat is in such a low orbit its radio footprint is pretty small. NASA may have enormous antennas at a few spots around the globe, but there are millions of hams all

    • But we already had No-L four weeks ago...

  • I'm surprised that it survived that long without power. It must be a very simple payload (i.e. no batteries, just solar cells and a transmitter)
    • by SEWilco (27983)
      I would like one of your batteryless transmitters. Actually, I'd like about 10 megawatts' worth of them.
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:56PM (#34946728)
    When shit hits the fan, ham radio is there to keep basic communications open.
    It is possible to connect ham radio to a phone line and get someone in the disaster area
    connected to a phone line to a president or similar, regardless of how bad the infrastructure is hit,
    It will work. All these guys with ham gear are crucial, more than we can imagine.
    For the billions we waste on crap we never use, like flying humvee prototypes, we could afford to
    subsidize these guys a bit. Even a $500 homeland security rebate would keep (in the us) ham
    radio alive and kicking for years.
    • by assemblerex (1275164) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:59PM (#34946776)
      I hate to reply my own topic but the link didn't post for some reason.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqaKzIkyBug [youtube.com] ham radio from Haiti earthquake
      after the disaster.
    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:02PM (#34946788) Homepage
      The infrastructure is getting more and more robust though in terms of (unintentional) redundancy. Phone lines, wireless, fiber optic, cable, satellite; not to mention military and emergency services own communications systems.
      • by FudRucker (866063)
        all that infrastructure will become useless during a power failure, thats when HF/VHF/UHF radio all running on battery packs come in handy. (and solar & wind powered battery chargers is a good idea too) and even an old fashioned dynamo hand crank wont hurt either.
        • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:01PM (#34947260)
          all that infrastructure will become useless during a power failure, thats when HF/VHF/UHF radio all running on battery packs come in handy.

          Bingo.

          For example, my county and our neighbor are busy designing a trunked 700MHz system to cover all the government users within the two counties. This system will require more than a dozen repeater sites to get anything close to the coverage they need, PLUS a handful of old VHF systems to fill in a few of the important empty spots. All of this is linked through a network connection to a city 40 miles away in another county.

          Cut through the fiber running next to the interstate -- POOF, all repeaters revert to standalone mode. No links. You wanna talk from the hinterlands back to the city? Good luck. Ditto if someone just accidentally pulls the plug on the controller in that distant city. (They probably do have someone who vacuums the rugs on a regular basis...)

          In an earthquake, the towers fall over, or the antennas fall down. Those are on mountain tops. How fast do you think the commercial radio service people will get to all of them? OTOH, if the road is open I can drive to the top of the local mountain and repair whatever is up there myself. Or half a dozen people in this county can do it. Legally.

          In a couple of years "safe haven" rules kick in. That means that all of those repeaters the two counties put up will have strict, reduced power limits and thus limited coverage. My repeaters have no such limits, and the main one on the mountain top is not even close to full power right now. I can fix one repeater and have coverage over the entire county -- unlike even the existing LMR VHF system in use.

          What the OP is probably missing is that ham radio is picking up a lot of the "emergency services own communications systems" business, and a lot of government agencies are betting the retirement fund on hams being there.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            Sorry, meant to say "safe harbor". Same rule, different name. And that repeater I run on top of the mountain? Covers both counties plus some, at current power levels.
          • by adolf (21054)

            I don't know where you're from, but I do a bit of work related to the Ohio MARCS system. It is a state-wide network of stuff currently residing in the 800MHz band, and will eventually expand into the recently-vacated 700MHz spectrum. It seems like the system you speak of has similar goals, and is very similar in terms of infrastructure.

            In your part of the world, it sounds like it's a bit more mountainous, but this part of Ohio is about as flat as a pancake: Around here, we generally get by with one tower

            • by Obfuscant (592200)
              Yes, our part of the country is pretty hilly. If you aren't on top of the mountain, you get spotty coverage over everything but the cities that tend to be built in the flat areas. Unfortunately, the criminals and heart attacks and lost people also operate in the hilly bits and radio coverage needs to extend there.

              If you are on the mountain top, then you get hit by the safe harbor rules and your power levels are cut drastically. I think our highest mountain has a power limit of something like five watts. Fo

              • by adolf (21054)

                I got the joke just fine.

                Replace "vacuum" with "operate a big hammer drill and an air compressor," though, and what I said still holds true. ;)

        • by DarthBart (640519) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:01PM (#34947262)

          And it also works when every cell site and PSTN trunk is tied up because Bob is calling Alice to make sure that they're okay after the hurricane/explosion/terrorist act/peanut butter sandwich incident.

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Cell phones will still work, businesses generally have emergency backup power, as do hospitals, firehouses, police departments, and the military. Even a majority of adult Americans have access to a gas-powered generator in the form of their cars.
          • Cell phones will still work

            If you can get a free line because everyone is calling everybody else. And if the tower's UPS system works. And if the backhaul is still up. And if the techs are around. And. And. And. Cell phones tend to be the least robust communications device in the event of a major, prolonged problem.

            businesses generally have emergency backup power, as do hospitals, firehouses, police departments,

            Which might keep the lights on at Acme, Inc, but doesn't help comm links a whole lot. Hospitals and firehouses likewise.

            and the military.

            | Not everyone has a military base anywhere near by.

            Even a majority of adult Americans have access to a gas-powered generator in the form of their cars.

            So they can power their iPods? What are t

            • by nomadic (141991)
              So we're to rely on electric-powered ham radios instead, across a finite number of channels? Ham radios can provide a useful service, but the messianic complex some of their proponents adopt is obnoxious.
              • by Achra (846023)

                So we're to rely on electric-powered ham radios instead, across a finite number of channels? Ham radios can provide a useful service, but the messianic complex some of their proponents adopt is obnoxious.

                Firstly, amateur radio does not use "Channels". It is not a channelized service.
                The bottom line is that amateur radio is still the only worldwide communications method that does not require any infrastructure whatsoever. This is an inherently useful thing in the event of infrastructure failure.

                • by FudRucker (866063)
                  yup, i am sitting in south east Oklahoma, just about 40 miles north of the Red River and not far from Lake Texoma and with a HF/Shortwave receiver i can listen to ham radio operators talking on SSB all over the USA mexico & Canada, and the Caribbean islands, and i can listen to radio broadcasts from the EU and Australia, (Radio Australia on 9580 KHZ (31 meter band) comes in with an S9 to S20 db every morning)
              • I hope you'll take this in the spirit in which it's meant (i.e. - not ad hominem). Given your uninformed technical opinion, you need to study more on the subject of Amateur Radio. If you do, then you'll realize just how fallacious your assertion is. Regarding the messianic complex - that's a separate issue.
          • by dfreed (40276)

            Um. No your cell phone will not work.

            I was *on* my cell phone when a minor 4.X earthquake hit the Los Angeles area a couple years back. It worked fine while I was on it.

            Less than two minutes later as everyone called everyone else to ask "Did you feel that?" The entire system was down. Not just for me, but for the 200+ nerds we had standing around in the parking lot (our building hosted a bunch of ISP's). People tried voice calls, and they tried getting on the internet via the phones... no dice.

            SMS worked fo

          • by Jawnn (445279)
            No, they won't. Not with any degree of reliability.
            First of all, "cell" phones depend on a network of fixed terrestrial stations, all tied together with, you guessed it, phone lines. If those are damaged, that part of the wireless network goes down. Next, all the Joe Bob and Jolene Beerbellies will be calling Mama back in Tulsa, a lot, after the twister tears up their trailer park, thus burying the wireless network's capacity. This is a known vulnerability and the reason that the phones belonging to certai
        • by Strider- (39683)

          Company I work for builds portable satcoms sytems. I can pull up in my VW Jetta, pull the cases holding the terminal out of my trunk, and get you 4mbps of connectivity inside of 10 minutes, from anywhere. As a bonus, if I was powering it off of the inverter, I'd get about 72 hours of run-time.

          I'm an amateur radio operator myself, but to claim it's useful for Emcom in the modern era is laughable. It's a great hobby, lots of really fascinating experimentation now that we're getting computer litterate amate

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Company I work for builds portable satcoms sytems. I can pull up in my VW Jetta, pull the cases holding the terminal out of my trunk, and get you 4mbps of connectivity inside of 10 minutes, from anywhere. As a bonus, if I was powering it off of the inverter, I'd get about 72 hours of run-time.

            I'm an amateur radio operator myself, but to claim it's useful for Emcom in the modern era is laughable. It's a great hobby, lots of really fascinating experimentation now that we're getting computer litterate amateurs out there. (WSPR, WJST, Olivia, other digital modes come to mind

            That's great and all, but overlooks one important fact; there are not nearly enough satcomm units and they don't have nearly the penetration amongst the general population that amateur radio does. If amateur radio is so outdated and useless, then why does it still play such prominent life-saving roles in disasters like Katrina and the recent Haiti earthquake? What if the disaster somehow affects the satellites and/or ground stations?

            As I recall, it was nearly a week after Katrina before any useful satcomm l

        • by boxwood (1742976)

          Funny, my phone (both landline and cell phone) still seems to work fine in a power outage. Where the hell do you live where your phone stops working in a power outage?

    • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:07PM (#34946846) Homepage

      The whole problem is that the ARRL and to a lesser extent the RSGB are pushing the whole emcomm thing above all else - so you end up with idiots in high-vis jackets getting in the way of the emergency services as they wave their obsolete ex-PMR radios around trying to look important. These twats haven't got a clue how any of their radios work, or how to build an aerial, or what's actually inside an ATU. They just buy shiny boxes from suppliers and sit and talk into them. There's no self-training, there's no experimenting, there's no development - and woe betide anyone who happens to want to use the same 1MHz chunk of band as them, when they fire up one of their "exercises".

      Be part of the chemo that is curing amateur radio. Friends don't let friends do emcomm. Get involved with projects like this satellite, and any time you see someone with a high-vis jacket who isn't digging a hole in the road slap them about the head with a Tait Orca reprogrammed for Raynet frequencies.

      73s de MM0YEQ

      • The whole problem is that the ARRL and to a lesser extent the RSGB are pushing the whole emcomm thing above all else - so you end up with idiots in high-vis jackets getting in the way of the emergency services as they wave their obsolete ex-PMR radios around trying to look important.

        Ahhh, PMR. I didn't know that hams in Great Britain commonly modify what we would call FRS radios over here in the states. (Interesting fact: PMR446 radios operate in the US ham bands. You can't use them here unless you are a

        • If this is a problem in GB, then it is the fault of the government agency for not demanding proper training before making it a resource. Ok, if this is a problem anywhere, ditto.

          Well, not really. The FCC's main job is to make sure that the bands are actually used to some extent and to ensure that the amateur band users don't mess up anybody else. So they're not necessarily concerned that your typical new ham doesn't know resistor color codes (or morse code for that matter), just that they have enough brains to plug a system in and not operate out of band or transmit something inappropriate.

          MMOYEQ's comment does resonate to a degree and it's a bit scary to see just how basic the

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            Well, not really. The FCC's main job

            Who said anything about the FCC? When I said "government agency" I was referring to the emergency services agencies that are allowing those yellow-vested know-nothings into their EOCs and field operations without any training on ICS or whatever it was MM0YEQ was complaining about. It's THEM who decide who gets in the door, and if they let any yahoo with a ham license in they are the ones at fault, not the hams or the FCC.

            MMOYEQ's comment does resonate to a degree and

            • Who said anything about the FCC? When I said "government agency" I was referring to the emergency services agencies that are allowing those yellow-vested know-nothings into their EOCs and field operations without any training on ICS or whatever it was MM0YEQ was complaining about.

              Sorry. Wrong government agency. Too many of the damned things anyway. I've not encountered those issues out here in the hinterlands but I can well imagine something along those lines going on in the real world. Must be fun.

              'CQ' is not ARRL's magazine. You're thinking of QST.

              Ah yes. Brain fart.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          As for knowing what's in an "ATU", I'm stumped. I'm looking up that acronym and trying to find some British and ham relevant result.

          "Antenna Tuning Unit". It's the same on your side of the pond, but not a VHF thing, more for HF ;-)

          As for the Taits, I've found them to be pretty good. Disclaimer - I work for a Motorola dealer but operate two very large MPT1327 networks, which are all Tait radios, repeaters and SCUs. The Motorola stuff can't touch it. I think the best example is comparing the power draw of

      • by Achra (846023)
        Parts of this are very insightful.. As a new ham (and a real one, I should add... My first HF rig was a Swan 500 that was broken when it was given to me... It does 400w on 40m now, enough to blow the doors off those riceboxes).. I've really noticed that there are two camps in ham radio. The "hams" and the "operators". There seem to be a great many "operators" that want to know nothing about experimenting, aren't interested in opening their radio up to tinker with it (It's so expensive, I don't want to break
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          And those are the same guys at hamfests selling those riceboxes with all the cardboard box and manuals and baggies... Selling their 1989 Yaesu radio for $20.00 less than what I can get the current model for new.

          Hey HAMS your old gear is NOT worth what you are asking. 50% price from what you paid, not what the new one is selling for. your FT-767 is NOT worth $800.00 to anyone. Stop bringing your stuff to a hamfest that you dont want to sell and display it with unrealistic price tags...

          It's so bad I just d

        • by nblender (741424)
          yeah; sure. I'm an 'operator'. Probably even less because I don't know any 'emcomm' protocols or how to participate in an emergency situation. I use my radio to communicate with the rest of my offroad club. We do trail stewardship projects and 2M is a huge improvement over CB. To us, amateur radio is just a tool we use in our hobby. It is not a hobby in and of itself (though I played briefly with APRS)... We all support the local repeater society with our membership dollars and we have a standing offe
          • by Achra (846023)
            Nah, you're an offroad truck enthusiast that likes to use a radio and has a nasty chip on his shoulder.
            And yes, of course I know how to completely disassemble and rebuild and re-engineer a truck.
            • by nblender (741424)
              My point being that you put down a group of people for not being as passionate about your hobby as you are. Re-read your message and then try to tell me who has the chip on their shoulder. I challenged the test, got high 90's (Industry Canada exam), have my license, and use my 'ricebox mobile and handhelds' in the field, to, like, you know, actually talk to people. So I don't spend my evenings and weekends in my basement exchanging QSL cards with the guy in Paraguay... If that's what turns you on, knock
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        These twats haven't got a clue how any of their radios work, or how to build an aerial, or what's actually inside an ATU.

        Have things changed that much since the 1960s? Back then, getting a license meant passing a test that showed competence with electronics; you had to understand Ohm's law among many other laws and formulas, understand all the electronic parts and what they did, you had to know how to read a schematic, etc.

        That's no longer necessary?

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          IT's necessary, but you can buy the test question pool to study from. All you need to remember is A,B,C,D and not actually understand the questions.

        • I get beat up (metaphorically speaking) whenever I express my opinion on this subject. There is a continual erosion of the "difficulty" in the tests. The technical aspects are being de-emphasized. The Morse requirement is gone and the knowledge of electronics is going.

          Too many people complained that they couldn't pass even a 5WPM Morse test. Putting aside for a moment arguments over relevance, 5WPM is not hard. It required maybe 20 minutes of exercise a night for a month. But that was too much. I

          • by Gordonjcp (186804)

            I can kind of see both sides of the argument, though. If you set the initial barrier to entry too high, then fewer and fewer people will bother at all. It's quite a subtle and difficult balancing act, and I'm not sure the RSGB has it right. I'm damn sure the ARRL hasn't...

    • by meerling (1487879)
      The way homeland security operates, I really doubt they like the idea of somebody other than themselves having access to another communications/data method. Especially when they have so little control over its contents.
  • by Gazoogleheimer (1466831) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @07:59PM (#34946764) Homepage
    As an amateur radio operator (biased, I know, and not just my plate voltage)....I know it's usually regarded as an 'old' hobby that is 'dying'. The humor in this, of course, is that it's a gadget-obsessed hobby with increasingly high-tech equipment and significant quantities of programming and research regarding digital transmission modes and DSP, not to mention software-defined radio and other sorts of things. It's a geeky hobby, yes, but this is Slashdot. "arguably unconventional hobby given the technology of 2011" seems both uninformed and, admittedly, a bit silly regarding where it's being said.
    • I'm sure it's fun, but the requirement to get a license (and to take an exam to get one, meaning studying a lot of things) and the price of the equipment can put people off. Unlike, say, computers, where you can get a PC for cheap (not a very powerful one, but still) and can learn on your own by trying.

      • The equipment cost is on-par with most computers Slashdotters probably use, and the cost of the exam is trivial ($14). The exams aren't particularly difficult, either, and most people teach themselves. Not trying to be snide, but I would like to point out that it's not really all that difficult to get into.
        • by Obfuscant (592200)
          The equipment cost is on-par with most computers Slashdotters probably use, and the cost of the exam is trivial ($14)

          A simple handheld VHF radio costs about $100 new. If you go to the Dayton Hamvention the test is free. Anyone who operates under the Laurel VE system (http://larcmd.org/vec) doesn't charge, and they have tests in a number of places. If you test at Dayton on Friday (and pass) you will be in the FCC computer by Saturday and have a callsign and operating privileges. (I VEd for them one year an

          • Capacitors and resistors are not difficult. What is diffucult (for me) is memorizing stuff, for example, "Which CEPT document has the requirements for the license? CEPT recommendation T/R 61-01; CEPT recommendation T/R 61-02, CEPT recommendation T/R 61-03" Now, this would be very easy to forget, and if I needed the document, I would just look at all 3 of them and see which one is relevant. These are the hard parts.

            • by Obfuscant (592200)
              Capacitors and resistors are not difficult.

              For people who have never dealt with them, they are. For people who will probably never deal with them up close and personal, they are irrelevant. There are simply too many things to do in ham radio that don't include designing or fixing radios for it to be considered a gateway skill.

              What is diffucult (for me) is memorizing stuff, for example, "Which CEPT document has the requirements for the license?

              I'm assuming this is information that European country lice

              • Yes, that question was for a license in Lithuania, since I live there.

                Capacitors and resistors are 10th grade physics, so if someone wasn't asleep in school he should be able, in theory, to, say, calculate the total resistance of two resistors in parallel. Of course someone who has no interest in electronics will forget it soon after the test in school.

        • $14 for the exam? Wow, I'm going for an Australian standard licence on Jan 29th and it's $210 for the exams ($70 each for theory, regulations and practical). Even the foundation licence is $70, or $35 if you're under 18. Next you'll probably tell me that a Yaesu FT-857D costs $1000...
    • by DarthBart (640519)

      It's not just the outsiders saying the hobby is dying. Go to any ham club and you can find the group (usually aged 60+) who think all this new fangled internet shit is killing the hobby and how echolink isn't really "ham radio". Then you'll find the other group who embrace change and want to put up echolink/IRLP/packet/D-Star nodes.

      Then you have the smaller group that hates anything above 28Mhz and you're not cool unless you have antennas that have to be stretched between trees.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        It's not just the outsiders saying the hobby is dying. Go to any ham club and you can find the group (usually aged 60+) who think all this new fangled internet shit is killing the hobby and how echolink isn't really "ham radio".

        Sorry, I'm not 60+ but I also think Echolink isn't ham radio. Sitting at a computer and talking through someone else's ham radio isn't radio, it's VOIP. IRLP at least is supposed to be limited to linking of repeaters, which requires some radio use by all participants to start with.

        • by msauve (701917)
          "It's hard to understand the hatred these CW-only freaks have for the no-code techs"

          CW was there as a least-common-denominator. It uses absolutely the simplest equipment, consumes the least bandwidth, and has just about the best performance in the face of noise. So, if a real SHTF happens, CW can work when nothing else can (spark gap transmitters, crystal receivers).

          For many, though, the problem with no-code is that it removed a hurdle to HF. 2M, is, sorry to say, not all that different than CB, minus lan
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          IF you're' not using a straight key then you are not a HAM.....
          No tubes? Pshaw...

          That has been and always will be luddite purists in the Ham hobby. When I got into packet radio in the 80's I was told I was wasting my time, nobody would use that "packet radio screech garbage"

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            IF you're' not using a straight key then you are not a HAM.....

            At the point I qualified for QCWA, I joined up. One of the last magazines from them I got had a remarkably spiteful article or editorial about all those no-code people. I thought it must be an April fool joke, but a quick exchange of email with the author proved me wrong.

            I have no time for such crap. I know too many smart people who work hard and are valuable assets to ham radio that have no code licenses, and I say that as someone who did ha

    • by Pezbian (1641885) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @09:20PM (#34947416)

      It wouldn't be a dying hobby if people stuck with it. It seems all I met, aside from guys my own age, were the kind of seasoned veteran ham (more like outdated men using outdated technology to solve outdated problems whilst nursing among them the collective delusion that they're somehow elite) who answer you like this:

      Q: "I'm looking to get into radio and I want a good dual-band handheld. What would you recommend?"
      A: "HTs won't get you far. You should get a Heathkit tube-driven HF screamer you have to crank-start and take an oscilloscope to and resurrect every week. Ah, memories..."

      Q: "I want to put an antenna on my roof. A good 2M omni. What would you recommend?"
      A: "Can't talk to Burkina Faso on 2M. What you need is a 100ft Rohn tower in your yard and a few hundred feet of eyesore wire strung between the tower in your yard and the towers you install in two neighbors' yards. Ah, memories..."

      Q: "I want a solid VHF/UHF mobile rig for my offroad truck. What would you recommend?"
      A: "Military all the way... like back in the war. (flashback omitted) Get yourself a Chevy Pedovan *young Ham is heard choking, a guffaw of laughter and a gasp of shock having become lodged in his windpipe*, twenty foot vertical whip, screaming tube amp, four more alternators to power it. Ah, memories..."
      Q: "Why not just a good IC-706MkII and one of those active antenna tuners and maybe a deep cycle battery like the only other 20-something guy in the club?"
      A: "Damn kids don't listen! It's kids like you who got the morse code requirement taken away! It was a punkass kid filter, dammit! Is nothing sacred?!" he shrieked, swollen catheter bag swaying rhythmically--perfectly acceptable as he blends right in.

      Q: "Wow! It's amazing how much power solid state amplifiers can crank out for their small size and efficiency. Less prone to earthquake damage than tubes, wouldn't you say?"
      A: "Transistor heresy won't survive a nuclear blast! You're one EMP from that newfangled toy being a useless brick! Who'll be laughing then, eh? They called us fools! We will have our vindication!"
      Q: "Nuclear? It's been over 60 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Cold War ended forever ago. Why make your gear revolve around something so unlikely?"
      A: "Because I don't want all my work to be for nothing and want to finally shriek 'I told you so!' to the cockroaches who survive! *presses mysterious red button, sixy miles away a city is vaporized... and then the hallucination ends as the creepy ham has had yet another heart attack and the paramedics alerted via young Ham's cellphone are saving his life... again*

      Traded my radio for a TV and took up video gaming. Women who are close friends synchronize their menstrual cycles. I felt my blood pressure and tin-foil-hat-ness synchronizing with those of my Ham peers after just one meeting.

      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        The best advice I ever got was "don't listen to us old guys, do whatever the hell works". My interactions with other hams are only over the air, all CW (Morse code) because you can reach anyone through anything and you get people who genuinely want to communicate, not just rave about this antenna or that transceiver.

        I got into ham radio about two years ago and have experienced most of what you said. In fact, I stopped going to the local meetings because the people there were a little too "hardcore" in the

      • Well said, well said.

        I'm lucky. The old timers I know think Echolink is cool, and run solid state rigs, while talking about how cool their old boat anchors were.

        Morse code is an art, not a requirement, Tubes are for fun, and having echolink on my Android is cool. So far I haven't ran into any of those cranky old bastards you describe, except online at QRZ.com

        I've been a ham since I was 29, and got into it after bugging myself for a few years to do it, especially since the code requirement was dropped

  • just for posterity (Score:5, Informative)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:07PM (#34946842)
    Q: whats the frequency kenneth?

    A: The NanoSail-D beacon signal can be found at 437.270 MHz.
  • Nobody knew it was in the container. So it WAS lost.

    (Although I suppose you could argue that it was really just hiding.)

  • by Jon_Hanson (779123) <jon@the-hansons-az.net> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:19PM (#34946970)
    According to this: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats/nanosaild.html [nasa.gov] the beacons they asked amateur radio operators to listen for have been received and the satellite appears to be operating normally.
  • "Blades on a ceiling fan" do not open. So, if the satellite is trying to open "like" that, no wonder there's problems.

    HTH. HAND.

  • Ralphie: [Reading it after decoding Morse Code message] Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!
  • Is about to go HAM?

  • "Many say the hobby is dying"

    They've been saying the same thing about Apple for years...

  • I can't find any info anywhere about the flight path the object. Anyone find it? They say they want people to look and listen - but yet provide no details??

    When they released SuitSat a number of years ago - we had specifics on when and where to look and listen. This time - nothing..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Slyder (30950)

      http://nanosaild.engr.scu.edu/dashboard.htm has the current position and flight path.

  • The number of US amateur radio operators has been growing consistently since 2007. In fact, except for a period of a few years at the start of the web era, it's grown consistently since its inception.

    A lot of nerdy people got into ham radio in the early 1990's because they wanted to do packet radio, which came from Aloha Net, the same project in the 1960's that begat packet networks and eventually TCP/IP and friends. When those folks moved over to the wired internet, and let their ham licenses lapse, the

    • by LodCrappo (705968)

      I just got my ticket last year, wish I hadn't waited so long. There is a lot more to the hobby than I think most people realize, certainly more than enough interesting applications that are using cutting edge technology to keep a person interested and learning for a long, long time.

      I would imagine hams will be exploring new ways to do things with the radio spectrum for as long as the radio spectrum continues to exist.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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