Recent History

This page explains some of the current evolution of this web site, as we brought the club back to life in 2010.
It is called recent history, as the club had not been restarted when most of this was written.
All of the posts that indicate 2007 or 2008 were originally on the ‘old web site‘ that was built for WA4NZD at that time.
Those were applied to this (new) site in August 2009, so anything posted after Sept.1 2009 is current.

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I have built this new site as we are now again in the process of attempting to restart the MSFC Amateur Radio Club (MARC). To an outside observer this may not sound too difficult, but remember that NASA IS a government agency and a certain level of complexity comes with that. Fortunately the concept of MARC still exists deep in some file drawers, so it is not like starting from scratch.

So what brings me to want to try this again.?.

I see myself as an instigator, an agitator, a motivator, however you’d like to characterize it – when it comes to getting people together for a common goal. This is an important and worthwhile goal, and not just for me…

When it comes to ham radio, I’ve enjoyed several decades of radio-sport and gratefully appreciate the guidance and encouragement I’ve received over the years from fellow ham operators. Amateur radio has played as important a role in my career development as any formal training I’ve received. My first paying job was fixing car-radios and small black and white TVs at a home-town Mom&Pop repair shop in 1969. The shop owner happened to be a ham radio operator and he also taught me the basics of RTTY which in modern terms translates to ’60 word per minute data communication via direct frequency shift keying of a shortwave radio transmitter’ more commonly known as ‘radio-teletype’… So here I am 40+ years later helping to engineer a ‘300 million bit per second’ data communication path for the telemetry that comes down from the International Space Station. WOW… I’ve even helped build amateur satellites that are still in orbit today. I was exchanging email by satellite with other hams around the world in 1990 before many of us even had email at work… I was in the right places at the right times, and had the right skills.

Electronic communication has been a part of practically every job I’ve ever had. I owe a great deal to the dozens of mentors over the years that have pushed me even so slightly, to follow this adventure. How do I pay them back ? How do I acknowledge their contribution and carry this mission forward ?

To me, one of the most important aspects of ham radio is the self-promotion, cultivation and preservation of the ham radio culture and spirit. I have a high level of personal and professional satisfaction in what I do, and hope to in turn provide motivation and encouragement to younger engineers. Not everyone likes antennas, or speech-compression, or remote-control – but all of these disciplines are connected by the desire to experiment and innovate. The ‘scientific method‘ gave me fits in the 8th grade, but taught me principles that have taken me where-ever I wanted to go. Not everyone has the good fortune to have a large workshop, or a community of like-minded technologists to bounce ideas between. Historically ham radio clubs have offered this sort of environment, while also giving individuals a sense of belonging – participating in a common effort. And it can be great FUN .!.

This group effort also defines a primary justification of the allocation by the FCC, of a wide range of frequencies for exclusive use by hams. Amateur Radio can provide a public service not only in the form of emergency communications during disaster, but a means for the common people to connect with things like the space program… Nearly every astronaut now carries a ham license when they go to the ISS, and in their free time they often make voice contacts with hams on the ground. The ARISS program schedules contacts with schools all around the world to introduce kids to the concepts of space travel and communications. Even in years past, the MSFC ham radio station would conduct ‘special-event’ operations making hundreds of contacts with hams around the world in commemoration of such historic missions as SKYLAB, and the first shuttle flights. Huntsville’s own Dr. Owen GarriottW5LFL recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his historic ‘First Ham Radio in Space‘, and talked via radio with his son Richard who just happened to be onboard the ISS. Richard Garriott made contact with hundreds of fellow amateur radio operators and students around the world during his 14 days on orbit. Aside from the preservation of the old club’s history, we need to take an active role in helping to commemorate some of the approaching events like the launch of the new ARES-1X, and future missions.

There are many many things I could describe or explain, and even that is one of my goals with this project – to share by teaching some of the wonderful things about electronic communications I have learned over the years. There is just too much good stuff – to keep it all inside my head. However, it will take more than my bold wishes to re-activate the MSFC Amateur Radio Club. We need a few NASA Civil Servants to sign up to be a Club Officer, and get the paperwork submitted. We will need to build a membership roster and collect some minimal dues – and hopefully some commitment from yall to participate in having a club….. I can’t do it alone. We can’t leave it idle as it has been, it would drift further and further away until it is gone completely.

If this is your first visit to this site, please take the time to read the ‘Welcome To MARS‘ page and the ‘About‘ page – as well as some of the historical references from the previous web site (Check the Archives for August 2009).

This has become way too long, but I hope you will add comments or replies to the posts on here, and show your support. This web site is a valuable tool for us to collect supporting statements by potential members. The more folks that express an interest and add their comments, the more others will be encouraged and enticed to join in as well. You do not need to be a NASA Civil Servant to be a member, but a MSFC or RSA issued ID and vehicle pass makes it easy. Please tell your friends about this site, and even if you or they don’t have a license – we can help remedy that..!.. There is no longer a requirement for Morse Code to have a ham license; and basic radio theory, well * it ain’t rocket science * . . .

Thanks for your time and attention;
You can contact me via wa4nzd(at)somenet(dot)net
# Alan Sieg – WB5RMG /;^)
# Network Systems Analyst @ NASA/MSFC/HOSC/Colsa

============== again, the preceeding was written before the club became active again in 2010 =================