Tag Archives: nasa

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!

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Field Day 2014 is here .!.

Has it really been a whole year since Field Day ?
(updated 20140629)
The club has had a lot of activity getting ready for the summer contest season, and this weekend will be a focal point. I wanted to start a new post, and let everyone know that WA4NZD will be active in the “1F” category, as our facility at NASA/MSFC is an informal auxiliary EOC that exercises to support both the Marshall and the Redstone communities. We will run one transmitter, which covers 160m thru 6m. We will also have an active VHF station to cover VO-52 satellite, 50MHz, 144MHz, 432MHz.
Surely you can find us somewhere. Work us everywhere you can.

Oh, and to find us, if you already have access to the base – please drop by to see whats a goin on. https://wa4nzd.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/quick-maps/

We hope to come back and update this post thru the weekend, so check back.

UPDATE: 20140629 – back for more . . .

The log indicates that KA0S was here until 03:45 local, and I was back at 08:15 after leaving at 01:00 CDT. WA2JQZ got here at 09:30, with fresh muffins and coffee. N4CNY just arrived as well, and is going to listen on 6m. Only one contact on 6 this morning, from Texas, and 2 meters has only been a little noisy.

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N4MSN, W4VM, KK4RPQ, KK4TJP, N4CNY, WA2JQZ, WB8ELK, N5AYD, WB5RMG

We had a pretty good crowd at times last nite, several distinguished guests.

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CW contact with W3CWC, via VO-52

Field Day dramatically increases the challenges, even for CW via satellite. WB8ELK finally pulls one out on our second VO-52 pass just before it goes LOS over the Pacific Ocean. WB5RMG makes sure it logged. Thanks to W3CWC for that contact, worth 102 points for us (including the satellite bonus) .!.

Another update to come later…
Thanks /;^)

Meeting with Kotrous

On May 3rd, 2012 we had a very productive meeting with Brian Kotrous, an Emergency Manager from NASA Protective Services. With 10 MARC members in attendance, we discussed our role in Emergency Preparedness at MSFC.

photo by WL7C

Kotrous from the Marshall EOC visits the MARC station

Here is a brief summary presented for inclusion into the Center Notes :

NASA’s Emergency Communication Service recommendations (Draft Rev.13) suggests that in addition to official staffing, volunteer support from the Amateur Radio Service can be enlisted. This prompted Brian Kotrous, an Emergency Manager from NASA Protective Services, to attend a meeting of the Marshall Amateur Radio Club (MARC) on May 3, 2012. After describing his mission objectives and some brief discussion, Kotrous invited the membership to participate in future MSFC emergency preparedness exercises. Several MARC members are planning to participate in the upcoming Severe Weather exercise planned for June 14, 2012.

A distinct benefit of utilizing ham radio volunteers, is that many are already connected to and familiar with local and regional agencies such as the Huntsville-Madison County EMA, and the National Weather Service. In addition to providing alternate path communication services, the MARC membership also provides a pool of experienced radio operators that can augment the Center’s capabilities in an emergency.

An example of this type of  service the MARC can provide, was actualized on May 23, 2012 – when KHA945 (MSFC-EOC) was able to check into a regional shortwave radio “net” using equipment at the MARC radio station in Bldg. 4622. This is a weekly radio coordination test conducted by the National Communications System (NCS), for Shared Resources (SHARES). The MSFC EOC has been recently relocated and their HF (shortwave radio) system antenna is not available currently. The MARC will gladly continue to help facilitate this routine testing of operational readiness.

The Marshall Amateur Radio Club is looking forward to becoming more involved in the Center’s Emergency Preparedness activities, and is well positioned to provide additional communication support. More information can be found on the club’s blog https://wa4nzd.wordpress.com .

Now we have 2012

Time to start another year .!.

Sometimes it seems like we didn’t do much as a club, but just look back on this last year in the blog, and you will find NanoSail-D, VHF contests, Field Day, the Final Shuttle Launch Special Event, and points in between. We have come a long way in bringing the MARC back to life, and can be proud of that. We logged over 250 HF contacts during the STS-135 commemorative, and have sent certificates to all stations who sent us a SASE. The eQSL logs for this last year’s events will be uploaded before long, so please be patient.  /;^)

Sure we have a ways to go – but we already have plans in place to replace the HF beam rotor, and get our satellite tracking hardware back into operation. We need to focus our attention and get our Continue reading

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

Gallery

Field Day 2011

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Time rushes by so quickly anymore. Seems that Field Day was only a few days ago, but here and gone . . . We’ll try to get the logs uploaded to eQSL and submitted to ARRL quickly. We had a … Continue reading