Introduction

Dave Mullenix (djmullen@facstaff.wisc.edu)
Sat, 02 Dec 1995 22:18:47 -0600

    Please send a short introduction about yourself and 
    your interest in satellite observing to the list     
(seesat-l@iris01.plasma.mpe-garching.mpg.de).

Happy to do so!  My name is Dave Mullenix, my amateur radio call sign is
N9LTD and I live in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.  (43N lat., 90W long.)

I'm a long time electronic technician and I've been a computer operator/
help desk person for the University Hospital at the University of Wisconsin
for the last four years.

The first satellite I ever saw was "Echo", the giant aluminized mylar
balloon launched back in the fifties or early sixties.  The second 
satellite I saw (and knew what it was) was the Apollo/Soyuz mission in
the early seventies.  We had a perfect evening pass, just after sunset,
and I was astonished at how bright they were and how fast they were moving.

After that, I saw many satellites crossing the sky, but never had the
faintest idea of what I was seeing.  About ten years ago I found a
satellite tracking program ("ORBIT") for the Amiga, but never got it to
do anything but lock up.  Then, five or six years ago, I chanced onto Dave 
Ransom's RPV BBS and Paul Traufler's TRAKSAT.  After a month of frustration 
with out of date orbital elements and tiny satellites 1000 km high, a
friend and I stood on the runway of a small grass airport south of town
and saw one of the Landsat birds go over, at exactly the predicted time
and on the predicted course.  We were literally laughing and clapping and
slapping each other on the back with joy!

Now I like to lead groups to watch meteor showers and satellites go by.
Two years ago we reserved the top of a hill in a state park 30 miles from
town and had about 150 people on blankets and lawn chairs.  It was so 
dark that parking lights from late arrivals were unbearably bright.  We
had all ages and sexes, from babes in arms to grand parents.  The Perseids
put on a spectacular display with lots of fireballs, trails and breakups.  
We also saw seventy five satellites.  People still tell me what a wonderful 
night that was for them.

Right now, I'm looking for a "cookbook" tracking program, in some version
of BASIC if possible, that I can modify to produce tables of pass times
for ham satellites.  I currently use TRAKSTAR and several ugly QuickBASIC 
routines to produce tables for Ham satellites that can be heard with an
ordinary 2 meter FM radio.  These tables are distributed via Ham packet
radio throughout the US.  I'd like to simplify this into one single
program.

I also have a small 4" Meade telescope and I'd love to build a computer
controlled mount for it to allow spotting fainter satellites and perhaps
to see some shape to Mir and the Shuttle.

My other interests are in playing with the BASIC Stamp single chip 
computers, handy little devices that are programmed in a dialect of
BASIC and which can often replace several cards of TTL components.

I hope this hasn't been too prolix,
Dave Mullenix, N9LTD