Re: SETI Satellite dishes & Seti League

Dr. H. Paul Shuch (
Sat, 24 Jul 1999 09:34:48 -0400

At 08:57 AM 7/23/99 +0100, David Woolley wrote:

>Quite a common request on freeware support groups is for step by step
>instructions on doing things (which often ignore the fact that every
>case is different).

But we are not a freeware support group, David. We are a membership
organization (i.e., "club".) We will provide personal support (including
hand-holding as necessary) to our members, but cannot afford to do so for
the general public.

>However, when I first read your site, I did experience the problem that
>you made assumptions that people understood radio astronomy technology -

Yes, and you (and others) contributed glossary material which now appears
on the website. Such information has to come from our members -- there is
no staff on payroll to do the job for us.

>(things like noise figures are
>counter-intuitive to most people - they expect gain to be the figure
>of merit).

True. I used to teach a whole 1-semester course on the subject, to
engineering majors with significant prerequisites, so it's probably not
practical for someone lacking the background to expect to learn it all from
a glossary. When I say "everybody can do SETI" I don't mean everyone can
understand all the engineering background, any more than digital satellite
TV users do. Our task is to make systems available which are packaged so
our users don't ahve to understand noise figure.

BTW, you may have noticed that we posted a link to Chuck McCleur's
excellent noise figure tutorial. The problem is not that the definitions
aren't out there, it's that everybody's needs are different, so there's no
one right order in which to read the material on the web. (That's why it's
constructed as a 'web'.)

I am not unsympathetic to this fellow's dilemma. OTOH, I don't have the
time to develop a personalized curriculum for everybody out there. The
information people seek usualy IS on our website, somewhere. Usually, the
alphabetical index will lead them right to it. I get a dozen requests a
day (sometimes more) for information. Most folks want just to be pointed
in the right direction, and I do so, as best I can. A few are more
beligerant: 'why didn't you put anything useful on your website?' Those
I'm frankly tired of answering, because they take me away from my primary
responsibility, helping out our dues-paying members to do SETI. And then
there are the many questions which have nothing whatever to do with SETI:
"how can I receive satellite TV for free?" or "will your cheap LNA work

It's also interesting that many of the beligerent ones never join The SETI
League, but still expect "SETI" (that monolithic, well-funded Government
project which they perceive us to be) to give them personal service.

So a serious question to our members: do you want to subsidize
non-members, by paying my salary while I take the time to educate them?

H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, FBIS
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
Project Argus station FN11LH

"We Know We're Not Alone!"

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