Thursday, August 11, 2011
Mark Austin, KB1GVR
KB1GVR, KB1GVR, KB1GVR~
Nothing heard 73
The amateur radio space communications community has lost an avid operator, Mark Austin, KB1GVR, of Franklin, Maine. He became a silent key on August 8.
Mark was very prolific in space communications. His photo on QRZ.COM shows him posing at Kennedy Space Center. In 2002, he told me that he was listening to his scanner, I think in 1997, and heard Russian voices coming over the speaker about every hour and 36 minutes. He discovered the voices were from cosmonauts on board the Mir Space Station. He then started recording their SSTV broadcasts and later went out and bought his first computer so he could see the pictures he had previously recorded from the Soviet slow scan TV transmissions. That inspired him to earn his ham ticket so he could talk to the cosmonauts. And talk, he did. Since then, Mark has become well known aboard the space shuttles and International Space Station by many astronauts and cosmonauts.
Not only has Mark talked to them on voice mode, but became extremely proficient at using the space station and satellites to communicate digitally. He even discovered a new way of using one particular satellite to extend communication capability.
Mark had the opportunity to meet some of the spacemen he had befriended on-the-air when he made visits to Mission Control in Houston and to Kennedy Space Center, where he also was thrilled to watch a shuttle launch.
His enthusiasm with space communications inspired many hams to give it a try, including myself. His advice was spot on so that I twice successfully made voice contacts to the space station. I also had fun with Oscar-14 with Mark's tips. If you operated an APRS station in Maine, you would recognize the KB1GVR call sign, as Mark was also an avid APRS fan.
Mark's other pastimes included racing and flying with his brother in his plane where his same determination brought him lots of success, rewards, and joy. The walls of Mark's home were decorated with the many ham radio and racing certificates and awards he had earned. His vast collection of space communications QSL cards is amazing.
Mark was only 50 years old, but in his too-short life, he accomplished a lot. As N1DP said on last night's Washington County ARES Net, Godspeed Mark. We will miss you.
73, Phil Duggan, N1EP
HOW TO READ PROPAGATION NUMBERS
The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 1 to 6 is BEST
- 7 to 9 is OK
- 11 or more is BAD
Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.
A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]
- 70 NOT GOOD
- 80 GOOD
- 90 BETTER
- 100+ BEST
The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.
Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
K index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 0 or 1 is BEST
- 2 is OK
- 3 or more is BAD
- 5 is VERY VERY BAD
The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.
A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
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