A mini interview with the author of gpredict

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 2014

Alexandru Csete, also known as OZ9AEC is a physicist from the University of Aarhus, and works as in the European space industry, and a holder of a CEPT Cat. 1 amateur radio certificate since 1991. He is also the author of gpredict which I have mention in my Beginner’s Guide to HAM Radio (Debian Program List) on this blog.

His primary interests today are satellite comms, building and modifying equipment and developing free software for Unix-like operating systems. Between Jan 2008 and Mar 2009 He was also involved in the Google Lunar X PRIZE by contributing to Team FREDNET.

His website www.oz9aec.net is dedicated to technological endeavors within the areas of ham radio, free software and space technology – all free and open source. I approached Alexandru via jabber for a mini-interview for the purpose of posting to this blog, and here it is.

Wolfe: How long have you been interested in HAM Radio’s and Satellites?

Alexandru: I got interested in ham radio when I was 14 and got my license at the age of 16 in 1991. It was mainly shortwaves in the beginning and satellites came a few years later.

Wolfe: What kind of set up do you have?

Alexandru: Antennas: Butternut HF2V for 160, 80, 40 and 30 meter bands and some yagis and parabolic dishes for VHF, UHF and microwaves. Radios: IC-765, FT-817, Elecraft K1, some home built kits, and some experimental hardware for playing with software defined radios.

Wolfe: How far can a HAM radio broadcast? What about line of sight?

Alexandru: On shortwaves around the world (depending on the cyclic solar activity, which is currently very bad). On VHF and up only line of sight, continental when using satellites in low earth orbit, “half globe” when using satellites in high earth orbit.

Wolfe: Your the author of gpredict, what is that program used for, and why did you create it?

Alexandru: The program is used for real time satellite tracking and orbit prediction. It is necessary for satellite communication in order to know when a satellites comes by, where to point the antennas and how much Doppler correction is necessary. I wrote it because there were no such application with nice GUI for the Linux operating system.

Wolfe: Have you ever been involved in emergency broadcasts with HAM Radio, and if so what happened?

Alexandru: No, I haven’t.

Wolfe: How would someone get started with HAM Radio, with the intention of having a backup communication system in the event of an emergency?

Alexandru: I would suggest to get in touch with local clubs and regional/national societies. They should be able to provide guidance in getting started according to regional laws and regulations.

Wolfe: What would be your dream communication set up? Why?

Wolfe: How many different types of antennas are there , and what are they used for?

Alexandru: Hmm… my imagination has no limits… I think the biggest obstacles for me are lack of proper location with room for antennas and time (and of course money)

Alexandru: There would be antennas and other equipment for covering the relevant parts of the whole spectrum 100kHz to 50GHz.

Wolfe: What kind of power supply would you need for such a set up?

Alexandru: Good question… I’m not sure, but I like green power so it would have a lots of solar arrays and windmills (Denmark is a very windy country).

Wolfe: Is broadcasting on Short Wave, MURS, or Microwave the same thing as HAM radio?

Alexandru: No, those are commercial or national services. Ham radio is a hobby.

Wolfe: If the world was going to have a major disaster tomorrow that wiped out our modern society, what radio equipment would you suggest to buy today?

Alexandru: Shortwave would be good to have long comm range.

Wolfe: Your in Denmark, is knowledge about Morse code still a requirement to get your operators license?

Alexandru: I believe it has been removed now.

Wolfe: Do you think that even thou North Americans do not need to learn Morse code to get their two meter band license, they should learn it anyway? Why?

Alexandru: No, except if they are interested in it. I use morse code because it’s fun but I wouldn’t impose it on anybody.

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