Monthly Archives: May 2015

Radio Amateur Sworn In as New NASA Deputy Administrator

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Dava Newman, KB1HIK, has been sworn in as the deputy administrator of NASA. President Barack Obama appointed Newman last October, and the US Senate confirmed her appointment on April 27. The swearing-in took place on May 15 in her MIT office in Cambridge. Newman is Apollo Professor of Astronautics and Engineering Systems and the director of the Technology and Policy Program at MIT. She started her official duties as NASA’s new deputy administrator on May 18 at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Dava Newman Begins Work as NASA’s Deputy Administrator NASA Deputy Administrator Dr. Dava Newman walks to a meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, on Monday, May 18, her first day on the job at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls


Portable operations around MSFC in February

I’ve been doing portable HF operations for several years now.  I’ve mostly done contesting with the station setup in the back of my SUV with a mobile-mounted hamstick or end fed antenna in a tree.  But I’ve also done a SOTA activation ( and a QRP to the Field (   Like fishing, all of these are an excuse to get out into the outdoors and do something relaxing.  You may not catch much in either activity but with portable HF you’ll at least enjoy dipping the hook in the ionosphere while admiring the scenery.  I have to admit that I don’t always go QRP (sorry, NM4T) especially in the contests but do occasionally operate that way.  You can always setup on your patio and look for a ragchew partner but it is nice to have a goal or framework for your operations.  Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR has been gaining popularity as such a goal while doing portable HF ops and that is what we did around MSFC on a beautiful, mild, winter day in early February.  Craig/NM4T did a really nice writeup in the April QRP Quarterly ( but Gary asked if I would provide a summary for the club blogsite so here it is.

The idea behind RaDAR is to setup, make some contacts, and move to do it all again.  The details are at the RaDAR website.  We decided to try at least 3 locations around MSFC, mostly with photogenic, rocket-themed backgrounds.  Craig and I began the day with a portable station outside the club station (not so photogenic).  I was running JT65 on a modified Ten Tec Rebel Open Source QRP rig to my new AlexLoop.  Craig was running SSB on his Elecraft KX3 and 2 different End-Fedz antennas he quickly erected on nice tripod-mounted, guyed, extension poles.  I tried his tri-band End-Fedz and it worked great.  A remarkable fact is that we had the rigs on the same tiny portable table and they didn’t interfere a bit.  I knew the KX3 had a fantastic receiver but the humble little Rebel did great too.  A max of 5 – 10w out helped in this respect.  I powered the Rebel from a used UPS battery and Craig was using a very cool Goal Zero Yeti-400 power pack with solar panels.  With the nice sunshine that day he had plenty of power supply capacity.  We were joined by Mike/KG4OZK and Malcolm/K4MLP.  Both got some mic time on the sweet KX3 and participated the rest of the day making contacts and answering questions from a few passers-by.  Mike hung his J-pole and got on the air with 2m FM.

We then moved our operation to the MSFC rocket park.  Rather than string antennas on the Saturn I we decided to use our AlexLoops which deploy really fast and work amazingly well.  After a few QSOs there we moved to the “rocket engine park” in front of the Propulsion Research Center and went with Rebel, KX3, and 2 AlexLoops once again.

The practical use of this kind of operation is that you demonstrate that your “go kit” is complete and your equipment is working in case you are called on to provide emergency communications.  After trying various antennas and power supplies you get a good feel for the balance of what works best and what is easiest to deploy.  With the modern radios and portable computers digital modes with their communications efficiencies are a great way to make some Qs with low power and compromise antennas.  All this operating fun while enjoying the great outdoors, nice weather, and good fellowship make an unbeatable combination.


NM4T and his 10-20-40m EndFedz support

KB5EZ's JT65 station

KG4OZK ready for some VHF action on a J-pole

K4MLP and NM4T with the KX3 and AlexLoop

NM4T working JT65 surrounded by a Saturn V engine and Shuttle solid rocket booster

Summer Ham Camp at Saint John Paul II Catholic High School, Huntsville, AL

John Morgan N4CNY will be hosting a Summer Amateur Radio Camp at Saint John Paul II  Catholic High  School, here in Huntsville.  The school is located on Old Madison Pike west of Bridge Street. Unfortunately, Old  Madison Pike is closed just beyond JPII, so the only entrance to the school is from the Bridge Street side, though there are a couple of side streets that feed into Old Madison Pike and give access to the school.

The dates are June 22 – 26, 2015, 9 AM – 3 PM.

The application can be accessed at Clicking on the hot button marked Amateur Radio Camp will give a little more information. Though really aimed at high school students, John will accept anyone that is interested in amateur radio, and could pass the Technician exam. Applications are accepted from exceptional 4th graders to Adult. We are passing on this information in case you may know anyone that may be  interested in getting their license.

Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary Special Event


Thank you for commemorating with us the Hubble Space Telescope 25th anniversary. We operated a special event station with our NN4SA callsign from April 24 to 29, 2015. Our dates followed the original STS-31 Space Shuttle Discovery mission, which deployed the telescope into Low Earth Orbit in 1990. The telescope has since been serving as a premier astronomical observatory above the Earth’s atmosphere, enabling science work that had never been possible before. Its outstanding high resolution pictures also serve to bring the Universe and the science work to all of humanity.

During our special event we logged 1032 QSOs with hams from across the entire Continental United States and Puerto Rico, and from 39 countries. Given our schedule and the band conditions, we decided to operate primarily on 20 meters SSB. During some days we also operated SSB on 10, 15, and 17 meters. And during some evenings we operated 40 meters SSB. When band conditions were especially poor, or when we needed to give our voices a break, we operated JT-65 across the HF bands from 10 to 80 meters. And we operated 40 meters RTTY. We self spotted on the DX cluster. We thank our contacts and other hams who also spotted us.

If you contacted us and would like a paper QSL, please send a business sized self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to this address. We are not government funded. Please include your QSL card, if you have one.

Marshall Amateur Radio Club, NN4SA
NASA MSFC, C/O Don Hediger, ES35
Huntsville, AL 35812

We also QSL through ARRL Logbook of the World and eQSL.

Our special event web page carries some additional information, plus NASA links related to the Hubble Space Telescope and the anniversary: .

Our operators were N4MSN, KB5EZ, WA2JQZ, KK4IKR, and KA0S. The beautiful QSL card was designed by KA0S.

Thank you for your participation in our Hubble Space Telescope special event!