Gerry raises a good point, which I would like to amplify with this lengthy
analogy, to which most hams will relate. (For the rest of you, please
pardon the jargon.)
When I first got involved with amateur moonbounce communications (EME)
almost 30 years ago (Wow! As I write this, I can't believe it's been that
long!) I had a memorable almost-contact. My neighbor Mike Staal K6MYC was
on the moon with a 160-element Cush-Craft collinear array on 2 meters, a
BIG GUN, and he was my mentor. I had built the Plumber's Delight
transmitter from the ARRL Handbook (a pair of 4CX250's in push-pull) driven
by an Ameco 6'n'2 transmitter on CW. I got 700 watts output, through
RG-17, to four Oliver Swan 12-element yagis on 12-foot booms, spaced two
wavelengths vertically and horizontally on a jury-rigged H-frame. My
azimuth rotor was a Ham-M, and my elevation rotor was taken off an old
clothes drier. The counterweight was a piston from my old 1956 Chevy. The
receiver was an early solid-state preamp (2 dB NF) and a W2AZL converter to
an RME receiver on 10 meters. All pretty crude stuff by today's standards.
But was I ever excited!
So much for the station. I had just lashed the mess together, pointed
toward the moon, and immediately started hearing weak CW on 144.010 MHz. I
fell into 2-minute sequences, listened and called, listened and called, and
after nearly an hour had pieced together all the elements necessary to
constitute a contact.
Not able to contain my excitement, I called up my mentor, and blurted out,
"Guess what, Mickey, I just made my first EME contact!"
"Congratulations," Staal replied. "Who'd you work?"
"WA2DFO," I replied excitedly.
"Congratulations," my neighbor repeated to my puzzlement, then added, "you
just *almost* made your first EME QSO -- with VE2DFO. Learn the callsigns
of the guys on the band. It gives you a 3 dB advantage."
So Gerry is right. When receiving the Pioneer beacon, The SETI Institute
has a 3 dB advantage.
(Above anecdote copyright 1999 by H. Paul Shuch, and pending publication in
H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D. Executive Director, The SETI League, Inc.
433 Liberty Street, PO Box 555, Little Ferry NJ 07643 USA
voice (201) 641-1770; fax (201) 641-1771; URL http://www.setileague.org/
email work: firstname.lastname@example.org; home: email@example.com
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