Kennedy Space Center Amateur Radio Club - N1KSC
Kennedy Space Center Amateur Radio Club - N1KSC

Latest News

Tower & Beam PM's

Posted Aug 8, 2020 (Website Editor)

Since the tower was already down & stowed for Tropical Storm Isaias, we took advantage this weekend (Aug 8th) of the easy access to the beam antennas for doing some preventive maintenance; specifically, installing new plastic end-caps on all of the tri-bander & dual-bander element coils.  In addition, the two thrust bearings on the tower-tilt ACME screw mechanism were removed for cleaning & relubrication.  The tower was re-erected to vertical, and available for nominal use.  Thank Yous go to Mike Williamson KF4PGQ, Dennis Veselka KI4KNC, and Scott Vangen WB0QMZ for their help.

Hurricane 'Isaias' Safing (Tower Stow & Secure)

Posted Aug 1, 2020 (Website Editor)

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias is currently forecasted to track along the east coast of Florida, arriving the Cape area Sunday afternoon/evening.  On Friday July 31st, club members lowered the club tower and secured per our hurricane plan procedures, along with securing with the 40-10m end-fed "fish pole" antenna.  Note that impact to club operations is negligible since KSC is still under a Covid-19 "stay-at-home" mandate for non-essential personnel.

N1KSC Shack New Furniture Installation

Posted July 25, 2020 (website Editor)

The club is fortunate to have recently obtained some high-end German manufactured laboratory grade furniture.  The existing two 6 ft desks (test bench & guest ops desk) have now been replaced with the modular lab furniture.  This new setup provides a more modern high-tech work area and additional storage shelves for the test bench and guest ops areas; in addition to providing space for admin functions such as QSL card work.

 

Interesting history on this lab furniture; it was first purchase/used for the German-built SPAS (Shuttle Pallet Satellite) free-flyer science payload flown on multiple Space Shuttle missions (6 flights total).  It was the first payload with on-orbit operations controlled from the KSC located SPOC (SPAS Payload Operations Center), operated by the German payload & science team.

 

We would like to thank Mike Haddad KE4GOQ, and Scott Vangen WB0QMZ for helping with the installation.

N1KSC Shack Elecraft K3s Station Installation

Posted July 24, 2020 (website Editor)

The club is fortunate to have recently obtained a complete Elecraft K3s HF/6m Station; consisting of the K3s 100w Transceiver, P3 PanAdaptor, KPA500 500w Linear Amplifier, KTA500 500w Antenna Tuner, and P-Pod Remote Control Pad.  This equipment was installed into Bays 1 & 2 of the KARC Ops Console, replacing the Motorola 70cm Transceiver in Bay 1 (moved to top of console), and the Yaesu FT-450D Transceiver originally located in Bay 2 (now dedicated for mobile/field operations).

 

This Elecraft station setup is a top of the line radio gear, featuring the K3s Tranceiver's hybrid architecture which out-performs both pure (direct sampling) SDR's and legacy Superhets.  The addition of an integrated PanAdaptor provides real-time band-wide view of the operating spectrum.  The 500w linear amplifier, along with the matching antenna tuner, provides the club with the extra punch desired for operating during less than ideal propagation conditions by increasing transmission power if required.  As with any new equipment, familiarity training is required prior to utilization by club members.

 

We would like to thank John McCardle KN4OBL, Scott Vangen WB0QMZ, and Kevin Zari KK4YEL for helping with the installation.

N1KSC Repeater Phone-Patch Auto CW ID Installation

Posted July 24, 2020 (website Editor)

A RACOM "Automatic Morse Code Station Identifier" unit, donated by Chris Durso AA4CD, was installed Friday July 24th into the club's UHF repeater rack located in the VAB Penthouse.  This piece of equipment will augment our phone-patch capability by providing automated "DE N1KSC" CW identification every ~8 minutes when supporting NASA/KSC PAO (Public Affairs Office) launch operations commentary on future NASA missions; the first use being the Mars 2020 launch planned for July 30th. 

 

We would like to thank Chris Durso AA4CD for the kind donation, along with John McCardle KN4OBL and Scott Vangen WB0QMZ for helping with the installation.

SpaceX Demo-2 Mission

N1KSC UHF Repeater Support of NASA PAO Live Audio Events 

Posted May 20, 2020 (website Editor)

The KARC N1KSC 70cm UHF repeater will be supporting NASA/KSC PAO (Public Affairs Office) launch operations commentary for the upcoming SpaceX Commercial Crew Demo-2 mission, with a planned liftoff for Wednesday May 27th at 4:33pm EDT (scrubbed); now rescheduled for Saturday May 30th at 3:22pm EDT).

 

Several special event transmissions are planned featuring live audio feed from NASA's public affairs office, starting today Wed May 20th with the crew arrival to KSC and running through launch day Wed May 27th.  A full schedule of the live audio events that KARC will support transmission can be found here (updated as required).  

 

Anyone with a 70cm FM compatible radio and within range of the repeater coverage can enjoy the retransmissions.  Repeater Rx freq = 444.925 MHz (no PL tone required to monitor).  Please note that during the support of the live audio coverage, the repeater will be not open to regular use (emergency traffic can take priority if required).  

 

Note: This is a similar community service that LISATS provides on their 2m repeater (146.940 MHz) located in Merritt Island, FL.

N1KSC Repeater Phone-Patch Installation

Posted May 1, 2020 (website Editor)

During this extenuating time (COVID-19 "stay-at-home" state-wide mandate), the club still has been busy with enhancing our capabilities; specifically, the addition of a phone-patch for the N1KSC UHF repeater.  The primary reason for this new repeater hardware is for supporting NASA/KSC PAO (Public Affairs Office) launch operations commentary for upcoming NASA missions; the first of which being the Space-X Commercial Crew Demo-2 mission planned for May 27th.

 

The GAI-Tronics MRTI-2000 phone-patch was installed Friday May 1st into the club's UHF repeater rack located in the VAB Penthouse.  The phone line interface into the Motorola Quantar repeater provides the desired audio feed path from NASA PAO.  Current plans are for enabling launch commentary on our 70cm repeater (444.925 MHz) during specific NASA launch operations as a KARC service to the spacecoast community.  We would like to thank John McCardle KN4OBL, Michael Seay WA4ECT, Scott Vangen WB0QMZ, and Kevin Zari KK4YEL for helping with the installation.

 

Note: This is a similar community service that LISATS provides on their 2m repeater (146.940 MHz) located in Merritt Island, FL.

Ham Radio - 'Social Distancing' for over 100 Years!

A message from the N1KSC President (Kevin Z. KK4YEL)

Posted Mar 26, 2020

During this time (COVID-19 "stay-at-home" state-wide mandate), the club officers are communicating over collaboration tools, and discussing how the state of the Center and associated lands, current suggestions, and even laws impact club activities and social gatherings. 

 

I’d like to remind you that the club still offers things for us to enjoy our hobby, safely from the comfort of our homes or vehicles. One of those being our repeater, N1KSC, on top of the VAB. We have the weekly Thursday evening net run on our repeater at 7:30 PM. (It’s been great hearing the individuality and talent of our net controls. Thanks to them).

 

The repeater is available for general use anytime by members and non-members alike. If you are experiencing any challenges or want more information, feel free to contact me. We stand by willing to help in the event that the Brevard County RACES/ARES folks need our help / use of the repeater. 

 

We are also investigating the option for operating the FL QSO party from our homes, as individuals, but collecting up club members individual points and rolling up the total for a club submit.  More info to come on that from the Activities Officer.  Is it safe to say everyone has some form of computer at home that if we offered a virtual build over a Teams meeting, you could all join in?

 

Please take care of yourselves and each other.  We will get through this.  Stay Safe.

New ARRL General Class License Manuals Available

Posted Feb 28, 2020 (Website Editor)

The club's library now has two copies of the updated ARRL General Class License Manual (9th Edition) available for membership checkout/use.  In addition, we also have an updated copy of the ARRL General Q&A (6th Edition).  These books are valid from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023.  Now is a great time for some of our Tech's to upgrade to the extensive HF privileges that a General Class license ticket offers.  Once you do, the entire range of operating modes and the majority of the amateur spectrum below 30 MHz becomes available to you!

 

And to quote an overworked & tired CPA during the crunch of tax season: "For the love of god, please get your General Class license and not become a CPA!"

KARC Systems & Operations Handbook Available

Posted Feb 12, 2020 (Website Editor)

The baseline release of the "KARC Systems & Operations Handbook" is now available. Copies are provided in the Shack (one on the Ops Console, and one in the library available for checkout).  The 200+ page handbook is an attempt to capture the technical details essential to understanding the operations and sustaining aspects of running the club's various systems and assets.  The club upon formation was in an exteremely rapid state of growth, both in membership and acquiring assets and operating capabilities.  As such, limited technical documentation was captured and cataloged real-time during these formative years while building up the various club's equipment, systems, and capabilities.  It is with this handbook that we hope to make good on providing the desired documentation going forward.

 

Handbook Sections:

1) Introduction

2) General Systems Overview

3) Club Shack (Shack): Operating Console

4) Club Shack (Shack): Antennas

5) Club Shack (Shack): Additional Workstations & Radio Gear

6) Club Shack (Shack): Ancillary Systems & Equipment

7) Tower & Tilt-Assembly

8) UHF Repeater

9) Logistics

10) KARC & KSC Procedures

Appendixes (Doc Change Log, Sys Officer Roles & Resp., Antenna SWR Graphs, Quantar RSS Parameters)

 

Note: this is not an "Operating" handbook for the individual radio systems.  The details for operating any particular radio equipment can best be found in the manufacturers provided manual which are available for all of the club's assets.

 

2020 KARC Officers Installed

Jan 2020 - The following officers were installed:
  • President: Kevin Zari (KK4YEL)
  • Vice President: Michael Seay (WA4ECT)
  • General Secretary: Jim Hale (KA3DHV)
  • Treasurer: Mike Williamson (KF4PGQ)
  • Systems Officer: John McCardle (KN4OBL)
  • Activities Officer: Arjumand Alvi (KI5BYW)

2019

Yaesu FT-450D Repair

Posted Dec 18, 2019 (Website Editor)

The club's main HF operating transceiver, the Yaesu FT-450D, had been indicating less than full power (e.g. <20w vs 100w) on some of the bands.  After some troubleshooting; using a dummy load and comparison FT-450D rig, we concluded the most likely fault was with one of the two output driver transistors.  The suspect part was ordered Dec 9th and installed on Dec 18th; a Mitsubushi RD100HHF1 MOSFET Transistor (100W, 30 MHz, 12.5v) .  Initial testing post-repair into a dummy load confirms full power on all HF bands, and an on-air contact verified clean SSB modulation.  Note: when the suspect transistor was removed it was noticed that there appeared to be little/no thermal compound against the heatsink (see picture).  It is possible this explains the root cause of the failure - thermal stress over time.  The FT-450D second driver transistor was not replaced since it appears to be operating fine (however, we do have a second replacement transistor now on-hand if required).

KARC Group Picture

Posted Sept 27, 2019 (Website Editor)

A group photo of KARC members was taken on top of OSB II on Friday Sept 27.  Multiple shots were taken by a member of the KSC Photography Club, using the iconic VAB as the perfect backdrop.  Although attendance was limited due to work constaints and badge access to KSC, it was nice to capture out first official membership snapshot.  A future photo opportunity will be planned off-site for capturing the larger membership.  Thanks to all whom could attend!

Hurricane 'Dorian' Safing Restorations

Posted Sept 10, 2019 (Website Editor)

Dorian became a Category 5 hurricane, and did significant damage to the Bahamas.  Fortunately Dorian kept well off the east coast of Florida as a Cat 2, and did not seriously impact the Cape.  No damage to KARC equipment identified.  On Tue Sept 10, club members reinstalled the previously stowed antennas, and also raised the tower back into the operating position. 

Hurricane 'Dorian' Safing Preparations

Posted Aug 29, 2019 (Website Editor)

In readiness of hurricane Dorian (projected Cat 4/5), the club performed necessary safing operations on our various antennas at EML.  All rooftop mounted antennas (except the Discone) were removed and secured within the EML building.  The tower was lowered, and safely stowed & secured.  Work was also performed on the addition of an extra securing bracket tie-down support for the top mast.  The tri-bander & dual-bander beam elements were removed and also stowed inside the EML building to provide additional protection from potential high wind damage.  Thanks to all who helped with their time to get this critical task accomplished for the club.

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