Tag Archives: history

Museum Ship Weekend (June 7 & 8, 2014)

During the Alabama QSO Party ops on Saturday June 7th, Stephen KK4IBB and I WA2JQZ also contacted several historical ships.  We were aware that weekend was Museum Ships Weekend.  And although the museum ships weren’t our first priority, they caught our interest.

The Museum Ships Weekend is an annual event.  This year 104 museum ships and maritime museums participated.  They all seem to have ham radio clubs dedicated to those ships and museums, or they seem to have local clubs who support them and operate their special events.

During our Saturday June 7th ops, Stephen KK4IBB found and contacted 6 of those ships (while I logged).  Their station operators told us something about the ships and histories.  We learned at least some were operating from their radio rooms.  As I tried to visualize that, I realized also we were contacting different kinds of ships, with a diversity of histories. Now they were settled as museums in many places around the country and around the world.  Visualizing all that made the experience richer.

I decided to return to the club station on Sunday afternoon, to see if I could contact some more.  These are the ships we contacted that weekend, in the order we found them:

We also contacted these museums, each on CW:

  • Watson Museum (K1USN), the site of the Fore River Ship and Engine Company, which built ships during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, now the Watson Library & Research Center in Braintree, MA.
  • National Museum of the Pacific War (N5P), a dedicated museum to the Pacific and Asiatic theaters of World War II, in Fredericksburg, TX. Begun by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

We heard other ships too, but didn’t succeed in contacting them.  I heard the Swedish submarine Nordkaperen on CW, but the signal was faint, and I didn’t believe I could get through other stations working it.  We heard the USS Nautilus in Groton, CT, the first nuclear powered submarine.  They had long pileups, and they stopped operating before I could get in.  (I visited that ship museum years ago, and didn’t feel a loss.)  It therefore made sense to try the less popular ships, which nonetheless also gave us more diversity and a larger maritime story.

I noticed the CW operations tended to be more relaxed, perhaps because fewer hams tried contacting the museums that way.  When I contacted the Red Oak Victory and The National Museum of the Pacific War, their operators took time to tell me about their museums and to chat with me.  The Red Oak Victory operator said good-bye with some nice nautical sayings (“with a following wind…”).

Many of the voice contacts, though, were also thoughtful.  I didn’t feel I was on a Disney ride.  Instead I felt I was speaking with real people, who could tell me something they knew about.

If we try the Museum Ships Weekend next year, we should give it more time.  As we found this year, the bands were already crowded with many other activities.  Some of the large and famous ships attracted pileups.  But with 104 museum stations operating, there is enough to go around, and the less-well-known can be interesting, and they may have more time to talk with you.

73, Gary WA2JQZ

NR4DL 20140607 WA4NZD 20m USB Ships Museums FL

The eQSL we received from the USCGC Ingham ARC. To date this is the only eQSL we received from the Museum Ships Weekend ops.


Your N4A QSLs are on the way…

N4MSN and N4CNY replying to QSL cards for our N4A event.

N4MSN and N4CNY replying to QSL cards for our N4A Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Special Event.

We received over 200 QSL cards for our Apollo 11 45th anniversary special event station N4A, that we operated in July. This afternoon we met after work to respond to them, with our special event cards.

During the past week Matt KA0S and Don N4MSN set up a database for our contacts who mailed us, and Stephen KK4IBB printed individualized signal reports for them. Rob KB5EZ also set up a complete checklist from our log. Today we systematically responded to almost all of the cards we received. We read to each other messages that were included. Many interesting individualized cards were sent to us, including some nice stamps.

Just a few cards are not matching our log record, and we suspect some may be intended for the W4A Apollo anniversary station that was set up by the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club at the US Space & Rocket Center. Whatever the case, we’ll investigate each outlier.

We sent our mail out this evening.

KB5EZ placing QSL cards in envelopes for sending.

KB5EZ placing N4A QSL cards in envelopes for our contacts.

Our QSL card team members this evening were John N4CNY, Don N4MSN, Rob KB5EZ, Gary WA2JQZ, Tina WA8U, and Stephen KK4IBB.

We anticipate we may continue to receive more QSL cards for the Apollo event, especially from overseas.  We will respond to those, once they come.  This evening’s work gave us a chance to look together at the whole group of cards, and talk about them.

Our N4A special event QSL card.

Our N4A special event QSL card.

“Keep those cards and letters coming …”

Thanks to our many Apollo 11 anniversary contacts… Two weeks after the Apollo special event (July 17-22, 2014), we have received about 200 QSLs in the mail. We logged over 1200 contacts and we anticipate more will come.

On ARRL Logbook of the World, we have so far matched about 500 QSLs.  On eQSL, we have over 340 QSLs

Last week the club met, to work through our details for replying to the QSL cards.  We plan to mail out our QSLs by mid to late August, 2014.

Below are photos of some of what we’ve received to date.  … Thanks to Don for keeping up with all our mail! Thanks to our club members for verifying and responding to the mail! And thank you for contacting us and writing us!


Two stacks of Apollo 11 anniversary event QSLs  that arrived on Don's desk.

Two stacks of Apollo 11 anniversary event QSLs that arrived on Don’s desk.

Assortment of Apollo 11 anniversary QSLs that arrived, with variety of stamps.

Assortment of Apollo 11 anniversary QSLs that arrived, with variety of stamps.





Stamps commemorating (L-R) Apollo 11 and Apollo 8


An Apollo 7 telecast from Earth orbit, "Keep those cards and letters coming in folks."  (A joke from space.) Apollo 7 was the first manned flight of the Apollo Program, and was the first mission to use TV cameras from space. [NASA]

An Apollo 7 telecast from Earth orbit, “Keep those cards and letters coming in folks.” (A joke from space.) Apollo 7 was the first manned flight of the Apollo Program, and was the first mission to use TV cameras from space. [NASA]

[Photos: N4MSN, NASA]

STS-135 concludes

The pre-dawn landing of the Atlantis orbiter marked the end of the US Space Shuttle Program. New developments and technologies will continue to evolve our world, but only if we push the limits of our imagination – and encourage this upcoming generation of scientists and engineers to continue in our footsteps. We will need more than Prime-Time TV and unlimited downloads to actually motivate our offspring to seek answers to the world’s questions. Show them the wonders of the world in such a way as to generate questions. Don’t just give them the easy answers. They will in time derive solutions much better than ours.

I always like to think that ham radio plays an important role in fostering exploration and discovery, that surely was the case for me. Speaking for the handful of ham operators that performed this special event here for the last two weeks; we certainly had our share of challenges and constraints, but we feel our mission was accomplished. We pulled together our limited resources, pooled our talents, and shared our enthusiasm for the space program with hundreds of fellow operators that nearly always thanked us and congratulated us on the success of NASA. We greatly appreciated your enthusiasm and interest.

WA4NZD Mission Patch for STS135

WA4NZD Mission Patch for STS135

Nine of our club members have collectively logged contact with Continue reading

STS-135 launch

STS135 Mission Patch

STS135 Mission Patch

WA4NZD will operate from NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center‘s club station after the launch of Atlantis to celebrate and commemorate STS-135, the final flight of the space shuttle program. The launch is currently scheduled for Friday morning, July 8th, 2011. This station Continue reading

Don’t look now, but summer is here !

I don’t see how time can pass so quickly – I thought it was constrained by the speed of light, or something like that. There are some significant operating opportunities on the radio horizon, and I intend to participate one way or another. For this month (June), the VHF contest will be starting the 18th and the annual Field Day exercise will start the 25th… We had a really great time on 50 MHz last June VHF – but we need to work a little harder on Field Day this year.

Admittedly last month we were pre-empted by the tornadoes and resulting multi-day power outage that kept the base closed, and I was on a NASA trip to White Sands the month before that – but I have not been pushing as hard to keep things rolling as I coulda/shoulda been… I have so many ideas and project irons in the fire – it is scary sometimes. I’m seriously wanting/needing to find more participation and assistance with some of these projects. I know time is precious these days, and summer also brings vacations – BUT – this summer we have AC !

Tomorrow (Thr) will be the 1st Thr of the month again already – so it is meeting time. I’ll be over there no later than 4pm, and will hang around until at least 6pm, so please come by 4622 if you can. (Quick Maps here). We have a few things to discuss, one is an approaching Special Event opportunity.
In years past, this club has operated many special events – one in specific was to commemorate the launch of STS-1. WA4NZD made over 2000 contacts with over 30 different countries in a 2 day period. Here is the certificate :

copy of STS-1 certificate

MSFC Certificate for STS-1 Commemorative

There is discussion of a NASA Special Event operation to commemorate the launch of the final flight of the space shuttle, now that a date has been selected (early July). It would not be very smart of our club to commit to participating in this event, if we don’t have the support and participation of enough operators to actually do this.  Lets figure it out. We know better to jump in un-prepared.

Again, the meeting for June is tomorrow, June 2nd at 4pm, Bldg 4622.
We’ll be listening on the 147.100 repeater in case someone needs directions.
Come early, come late – just try to make it even if only for a few minutes.

Thanks  /;^)

STS133 – Discovery Launches !

Discovery is finally away, and has now met up with the ISS for a visit.

Launch of STS133

STS133 leaves Florida, heading for ISS. (Photo by NASA)

It seems like a long time ago that we ran the Special Event Continue reading