Sounds from the First Satellites
May 20, 2003 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Screw Major Tom! "Oscar 1 was battery powered. Its signals lasted for about two weeks. The batteries were not rechargeable". Awww..... Here are the actual sounds of the first satellites. In fact, I may just become a MeFi musician just to sample them. So there.
posted by Carlos Quevedo (8 comments total)
More on OSCAR here.
posted by monkey closet at 8:13 AM on May 20, 2003

AWESOME. Otakuish sites like this and this are why I fell in love with the Web in the first place.

Screw all the elaboration that's come since: the content *is* the experience. Thanks!
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:04 AM on May 20, 2003

Great. I'm not going to get any work done today now... Especially since my Freeplay radio just came in the mail. Sheesh.
posted by greengrl at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2003

I'd just like to point out that they are talking about OSCAR-1, there are about 40 OSCAR's that are or have been in orbit so far. The OSCAR (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amatuer Radio) satellites are designed and built by amateurs, carrying various communications payloads (ssb and cw transponders, fm repeaters, digital, fast and slow scan tv, etc) to be used by the amateur radio community. It's a lot of fun. Nothing quite compares to using a satellite directly.

For more info about all the OSCAR sats, check out the main AMSAT (Amateur Satellite) site:

Those who think ham radio is dead just don't have a clue how not dead it is... :)
posted by cvoid at 10:51 AM on May 20, 2003

Great - these are all getting filed right next to the dot matrix printer music thread. And thanks for the numbers link, adamgreenfield.
posted by carter at 11:30 AM on May 20, 2003

Now I'm going to be in a nostalgic mood all day. It sure doesn't seem like over 40 years since I last heard those sounds on my own radios.

It was the kind of experience that turned kids on to science, electronics and communications in the same way that the internet must be affecting kids today.

And yes, cvoid, per capita, there are more hams than ever, and we are using digital modes, satellites, moonbounce as well as good old morse code to chat around the world.
posted by Geo at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2003

Absolutely, Geo! It's the greatest hobby in the world, one in which you can spend a thousand lifetimes exploring all of it's many facets.
posted by cvoid at 1:27 PM on May 20, 2003

When I was very little - maybe 7 or 8 years old - my family took me to the Franklin Science Museum in Philadelphia. Way up on the top floor, there was a working ham rig. In the center of it was a computer - a Commodore 64, just like the one we had at home - and the operator inside was using it to talk to people in other cities, other states, maybe even other countries... At that moment, I knew my calling.

I began taking night courses (driven there by my mother) to get my license. I learned Morse Code, basic electronics, some physics, most of which I've forgotten, but I clearly remember the hall in Pasadena where I sat to train myself to a ham... Eventually, I got the two lowest of the five rankings of license (Novice and Technician, right?)

I gave up on ham radio shortly afterward after discovering that the used transceiver I'd had given to me (by an old ham who wanted to give his aging vacuum-tube-based equipment to someone who could use it) could only receive. Nobody was listening to my desperate pleas for attention because nobody could hear them... I never gave up on the dream, though, and eventually I discovered that I could talk to people over the computer just fine using something called a "modem" and "CompuServe" (our family was one of the first subscribers - member number 70027 something). Later moved on to QLink. (I claim dibs on making a Club Caribe post at some point) And here I am now, years later, posting the story on MetaFilter while chatting in another window with friends.

Two-way communication has always been where it's at, and hams have known this for decades. I know exactly what one-way communication feels like - to hear and not be able to respond in turn... I, formerly KC6BNT and then N6UOF (licenses which have probably long since expired), salute all of you.

(PS - I went back to that same museum a little while ago only to find their radio station completely gutted. It still had photographs on the wall, though, of what it used to look like... Depressing, but it offered a sort of closure.)
posted by wanderingmind at 9:10 PM on May 20, 2003

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