Tag Archives: community outreach

2013 NASA Picnic & June VHF Contest

Posted by Gary WA2JQZ with Rob KB5EZ.

We are catching up with interesting stories that we didn’t have the chance to write earlier. This story is now also posted in our Activites menu.

[You can click on images to see them larger.]

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Marshall Amateur Radio Club tent set up in the NASA Family Picnic area. We had the portable mast with a rotatable VHF antenna. Rob’s G5RV Jr wire antenna was strung to the trees.

On a sunny Saturday June 8, 2013, the Marshall Amateur Radio Club took part in the annual NASA Family Picnic at MSFC. We set up under a tent, surrounded by child-friendly activities and other clubs.  But also the band stage was located not far away. We had access to power. And, a water cooler was conveniently located right next to us.

Don N4MSN set up a portable antenna mast close by, from which we deployed a VHF antenna. Rob KB5EZ set up a G5RV jr wire antenna in the trees for HF. We operated with the Yaesu FT-950 for HF and 6 meters, and the FT-897 for VHF/UHF.

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Portable mast with VHF antenna

The weather for the day was beautiful. Many people of all ages stopped by to visit us. Members of the club took turns talking with folks and operating the radios, and enjoying the day. The center director and his wife dropped by the tent at the beginning of the event. We made a lot of folks aware of the club as well as ham radio in general.

 

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Alan WB5RMG discussed ham radio by the Marshall Amateur Radio Club tent.

N4CNY

John N4CNY

We made a few HF contacts, mostly digital modes due to the QRM (loud sounds) from the band on the nearby stage. Yet that weekend also was the ARRL June VHF Contest, and we succeeded in making a few local phone contacts on 2 meters as well.

Matt KA0S and Rob KB5EZ

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Rob KB5EZ.

Several young boys and girls, with their families, spent time with us. Some were delighted to have us teach them Morse Code and help them practice. According to their interests and curiosity, we showed educational brochures, engaged them with some deeper understanding and fun, and talked about next steps they could try.

Ghee

Ghee WL7C with a young visitor. The ARRL pamphlet says, “Dreams begin here ….”

Ghee

Studying Morse Code sheet while Ghee WL7C took a radio break.

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Jenny M

Matt KA0S (ex-KI4EUR) and Jenny M. operating.

After the picnic concluded some members returned our equipment to the shack, and continued to operate for the ARRL VHF Contest into the evening. Some members returned to the shack on Sunday too, and again continued to operate for the VHF Contest.

During the picnic, propagation at 50 MHz and above was poor. But back at the shack, 6 meters sometimes opened to the U.S. southwest. And then we had 6 meters “magic”.

Below are some of the eQSLs we received from our VHF Contest contacts. Some QSLs are from north Alabama where we are located. And some come from the openings to Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

 

AK4QR 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc K4TD 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW EM64 AL_50pc NM5S 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW DM75 NM_50pc W0RIC 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB DM79 CO_50pc W4YZJ 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc WA4DXP 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF EM64 Huntsville AL_50pc W4ENN 20130608 WA4NZD 6m CW June VHF EM64 AL_50pc KJ4UGO 20130608 WA4NZD 2m SSB June VHF EM64 AL_50pc W0FRC 20130609 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF DM78 CO_50pc NQ7R 20130608 WA4NZD 6m SSB June VHF DM42 AZ_50pc

 

And that’s how the story almost ended. We had a beautiful day, and we enjoyed it. We shared our hobby and interests with out visitors, and in turn stretched their horizons and interests. We enjoyed working together. We enjoyed operating on the radios and talking with folks near and far. And we got to participate in the VHF Contest too, especially with some nice propagation openings…

But the following year, we received a surprise in the mail:

June 2013 VHF 2

We had been awarded First Place within the Limited Multi-Operator category, for the Alabama Section, for the June 2013 VHF Contest!

Probably not many other folks in Alabama operated in this category. But nonetheless, that was sweet!