Saturday, May 16, 2009

MCAS Beaufort Airshow

Had a great time at the Beaufort Airshow today. Lorie, Jackson, Lorie's sister Cyndi, and I got to the air station at about noon today. Lorie and Cyndi went their own way and I made my way over to meet up with Ryan-AJ4MY and his family. Jackson had one of our FRS radios so we could stay in touch. I "opened up" the VX-7R a few weeks back so I could transmit on that band instead of having to carry an FRS. Ryan and I had been in touch on simplex as we were on our way in. Spent and few minutes with him and his family before they left then I made my way around to check out all of the static display aircraft. I broke out the Pro-96 scanner and the VX-7R to see if I could hear any comms on the frequencies that I got from the Monitoring Times Airshow Guide. Really didn't hear anything. Tried to scan around and find the "Air Boss" frequency but no luck again. So I began to search for the Air Boss station. Found it but it was inside the gated area. Dang. I had hoped to ask one of them what freqs they were using like Dan and I did at the Vidalia Air Show a few weeks back. Couldn't get close enough to ask anyone. Bummer. So I just grabbed a bite to eat and enjoyed the show until 3:00pm when the Blue Angels show began. As I was getting the radios ready, another HAM spotted me and came over to chat. It was Wally Calhoun-KI4NXV from Rincon. We had never met before but of course we know alot of the same people. Wally is in in the Georgia Air Guard and works with the 165th in Savannah. So I tuned the scanner to the Blue Angel frequencies and was able to listen to the whole show! I listened the the main formation on the Pro-96 and the Solo aircraft on the VX-7R. Wow, it really adds alot to the show to be able to hear the pilots communicate. The were using Military band UHF for both freqs. After the show I put out a call to Jackson on the FRS channel and we hooked back up for the walk back to the truck. We spent the next 1.5 hours trying to get off the base with thousands of others. I put out a call on the local Beaufort repeater to find out if anyone had an idea why it might be taking so long. Billy-KE4CEV came back and said there had been a vehicle rollover that was causing a delay. So I chatted with him for a while during the wait. I was also monitoring the Beaufort County trunking system on the Pro-96.
We finally made it off the base and it was smooth sailing back to Savannah. Talked to David-WD4FIH and Mac-KF4LMT on the way back. It was a good day.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Session #1 of the General Class

Well, we kicked off a new General Class Operator course tonight over at the hospital. I taught the first session and Kevin-WD0GFG and I will alternate over the next three sessions. We are using the ARRL created lesson plan so things are pretty well laid out for us. Just a little tweeking here and there. We had four students tonight and should pickup up a couple more next week.
Tonight we covered:
- Intro to General Class License
- HF Procedures and Practices
- Rules and Regulations
- Math Review.....YUK!
But the bottom line is there is a lot of math in electronics!

Technician Class Operators in attendance tonight were:
Matthew- KG4NKE

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 11 Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch

Had a great roadtrip with my good friend Mac-KF4LMT down to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-125. This is the last visit by a Shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Mac and I left Savannah at 0700 for the drive down to Titusville. We arrived at 1100 and grabbed some lunch before heading over to the Max Brewer Memorial Parkway to find a good spot to view from. We parked the truck and set up to view alongside a fellow Ham, Doug-K4GKJ, who had made the trip over from Tallahassee. We had a clear view across the river to the launch pads about 12 miles away. We were in place by noon and began listening on the variety of radios and scanners that we brought along. I had my Yaesu VX-7R, Yaesu VX-2, and my Radio Shack Pro-96 Digital Scanner. Mac had his Uniden BC-396, Alinco DJ-X10T, Yaesu VX-7R, and Icom 91AD. Yes, we got some funny looks but we also met some nice people that were happy they could hear some of the stuff that we were monitoring. Over the weekend Mac and I both spent some time programming our respective scanners to monitor a variety of things in and around the Kennedy Space Center. Mac has done a great job of documenting this on his blog at

We were able to monitor the standard NASA feed via one of the local 2 meter repeaters on Merritt Island which was great. Probably my favorite monitoring of the day was the Weather Recon aircraft which was a NASA Gulfstream flown by Astronaut Steve Lindsey. We were able to both watch and hear him as he flew in and around the launch site providing real time info regarding local weather. Cool stuff.
And then of course the highlight was to be able to hear the air to ground comm from the shuttle as they blasted off and made thier standard assent checklist exchanges with flight control.
The launch was spectacular and my second. I'm looking forward to going back again to view at least one or two more before the Shuttle Program ends in 2010. The launch was greatly enhanced by being able to listen to all of the "behind the scenes" communications. Great stuff.
On the way back we met up in Brunswick for dinner with Kevin, WD0GFG who was supposed to have viewed the launch from a very interesting vantage point.....airborne in a private plane! However, bad weather in Savannah and along the Georgia Coast forced his pilot friend to scrub the flight. So Kevin jumped in his truck and headed south. He made it as far south as Daytona and was able to see the launch from there. Back in Savannah by 2030.