Here’s The Chawed Rag for September 2023. We’ve got a (very) brief history of the origin of Collins Radio in Richardson, National Preparedness Month tips, our Sept POTA event, N4NZ Activating a historic park in Las Vegas, secret morse code in music, a W1AW tour, the usual upcoming events and news and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
Well it’s finally cooling off a little and I hope you have been able to get in some fun radio activities. I’m starting to attack my backlog of roof antenna projects now that I won’t melt instantly.
Our October RWK Meeting addresses a topic that most hams run across soon after upgrading to General Class – Logging and QSLing. You’ll get to
suffer hear me talk about the history of logging and confirming contacts before we had computers and the internet, and how having those has changed logging and QSLing for current hams. We’ll see current ways to log your contacts, send and obtain QSLs, and track awards. We’ll also see that the old ways aren’t completely dead, and why you might want to send and receive physical QSLs. QSL Cards are a lost art and one of the things that has made ham radio special, and we’re in danger of losing it.
And Bob W5RLP would want me to remind you about our annual Show&Tell meeting in November. This is your chance to spend 5 or so minutes showing off something that you’ve done or built over the past year. It’s always interesting to see what people have been up to, and there are usually some good ideas shown. Please reserve your time slot here: https://forms.gle/Q9q5UaB3k2gTBSji9
Our September POTA event was fun and it was good to get back out. The weather cooperated and we had 13 members out to Spring Creek, and we got at least one new ham on the HF bands, along with several K-4423 activations. We will have another one soon.
I’d like to thank everyone that kicked in towards out FT-DX10 Campaign for North Texas Giving Day. I’m happy to report that our goal was met and exceeded by a bit and I look forward to showing off our shiny new FT-DX10 at a future club meeting soon, and then at our next POTA event and Winter Field Day in January.
Thanks for being a RWK Member! – 73 de KD4C (feedback: email@example.com)
Please share any interesting ham-related stuff you’ve seen or have been doing. Doesn’t matter how raw or badly written, we’ll make you look good and help you show off what you’ve been doing – see the right column for details. With over 300 members, if everyone in the klub sent just one contribution to the Chawed Rag each year, we would have plenty of content for each issue.
This Month’s Chawed Rag Features
A (Very) Brief History of Collins Radio’s Early History In Richardson
By Chip Coker KD4C
I ran across an old photo the other day that sent me down a serious rat hole. Here’s the photo:
Based on where I saw the pic, I thought that it was located in Richardson, but I wasn’t sure and had no idea where it might have been. Luckily for me – and possibly you – I found the answer.
After WWII, Collins Radio (at that time just in Cedar Rapids IA) needed to expand, but was encouraged to geographically diversify by the Defense Dept for security reasons. They chose to expand to the DFW area, mainly because of the climate and the easy access to the local aerospace market. In 1951, they began operations in Dallas on Hi-Line Drive close to where I-35E is now. But they had won some serious contracts to support the Space Race and needed some land for an antenna facility, as well as further expansion. So they went looking for land, and in 1956 purchased 200 acres in present day Richardson, just east of where US-75 was planned and approaching from the south.
One of the first facilities that was built was Bldg. 403. I bet you’ve seen the building but had no idea of the origin. Here’s a pic of the current Bldg 403. It’s buried in the middle of an expansive industrial park.
I’ve driven by this building probably 50 times while foxhunting in the area and always wondered what was the purpose of the strange second floor round observation rooms on each end of the building. I finally found an original picture of Bldg 403.
This antenna facility was built to prove some early communications tests for NASA for Project Mercury, and later to support the Unified S-band (USB) Carrier System that was used for Project Apollo. This photo shows the large S-band dish for USB tests.
There is some significant history associated with the smaller of the two dishes. In August 1960, Collins accomplished the first ever 2-way voice space communications via an artificial satellite, between Richardson and Cedar Rapids, as part of the Echo 1 mission. Voice signals were reflected off a 100 ft. diameter passive Mylar balloon at 1000 miles altitude.
Al Richmond, a project engineer at Richardson, spoke into a microphone: “This is KK2XIC in Richardson calling KA2XDV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Do you read me, Cedar Rapids?” The answer came from Cliff Beamer, Cedar Rapids research engineer. “This is KA2XDV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa calling KK2XIC in Richardson, Texas. We receive you loud and clear.”
This was followed a week later by a transmission of a picture of President Dwight Eisenhower through that same mechanism. Several other experiments were made and repeated to prove various communications for the early space program.
During this time, Collins was also constructing their main buildings for engineering and production on other parts of the same 200 acre campus. Here is a wide shot of the first three buildings.
Collins eventually sold the entire 200 acre campus and moved to their Renner Rd. facility as part of several mergers and downsizing efforts. The larger original buildings are now part of the Digital Realty facility at Alma and Collins Blvd. Bldg 403 on International Blvd. still lives as part of a health care training company. Sadly, the dish antennas themselves have been removed to make way for a Restaurant Supply warehouse. The City of Richardson has plans to install a historical marker at the site of the first space communications later this fall.
Most of us hams associate Collins Radio with their HF and VHF communications – High Power transmitters and airborne equipment – as well as their legacy in ham radio gear. But there is a considerable history right here in Richardson with Collins efforts in the space program. And it’s right under our nose. Who knew that foxhunting could be so educational?
[Ed Note: If anyone that was around at that time would like to add to this history, please let me know]
September is National Preparedness Month
The Richardson Office of Emergency Management encourages you to take action to get more prepared for the fall weather season. They recommend the following apps on your smartphone (and to set up each app to allow location sharing and enable notifications):
WeatherBug: Provides temperature, wind speed, dewpoint, humidity, and UV ratings. The 7 City of Richardson WeatherBug stations are:
- Centennial Water Tower
- Eastside Pump Station
- Point North Park
- RFD Station #4
- RFD Station #6
- Fire Training and Emergency Operations Center
AccuWeather: Provides live weather forecasts and local weather, including alerts, temperature, precipitation, and allergy outlooks. Their “Wintercast” system can provide advanced notice of snowfall probabilities and “RealFeel” temperature indication for the shaded and sunny air temperature.
You can also receive Richardson weather and emergency information via text, email, and phone by going to www.cor.net/alerts and then clicking on – Register Online. Activate weather alerts when setting up your profile.
For more guidelines: National Preparedness Month
Nationwide Emergency Alert Test on October 4th
The alert will activate on all consumer cell phones as well as all radio and television broadcasters and providers..
Explaining the rationale behind the decision to trigger an alert on every single mobile device in the nation, FEMA said “The purpose of the Oct. 4 test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level.” The alarm will begin to sound on each device at 2:20pm ET, and will last for approximately one minute. The message attached to the alert shall read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The full FEMA Press Release can be found at:
POTA – Activating Las Vegas K-4443
By Josh Barfield N4NZ
Last month I attended a conference in Las Vegas, which gave me the opportunity to activate POTA park K-4443. The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Park is about 3.16 acres and sits roughly 3 miles North of the Las Vegas strip. The Fort is one of the first structures in the area and has a rich history. It is also home to one of the natural streams that fed the meadows after which Las Vegas was named.
September RWK POTA Event
By Chip Coker KD4C
RWK POTA events have been fairly popular, and it’s been far too long – given the multiple months of 100+ days – since we’ve had one. We had 3-4 stations on the air at various points and several people had enough QSOs for an “activation”! We had 13 RWK Members that operated or observed, and a brand new technician (who was tested by the RWK VE Team), made his HF first contact ever at the park!
Thanks to everyone that brought equipment as well as the members that participated! We will be having another POTA event soon.
The Best of the Best
By Ben Plunk KI5ZVU
There are lots of good organizations and, ham clubs being organizations, there are lots of good ones. Swapping the adjective from good to great thins the field greatly (ham club or not). But, what makes an organization great as opposed to simply good? There are many factors like financial resources, facilities access, leadership engagement with the general membership, general membership participation in leadership…and the list goes on.
Bridgespan.org published an ARTICLE on five key areas that make (or break) an organization. They are:
- Decision making and structure
- Work processes and systems
All true. However, I believe they miss the proportionality of influence of each step. In practice, I think the five factors should be:
- Leadership, decision making and structure, work processes, culture, and people.
When I attend functions in person or via zoom, I get truly excited about The Richardson Wireless Klub. Our people are the best. Organizations across every ideology, faith, trade, education, business are in decline because they lack the influence of younger people. Churches are shutting their doors because they don’t seek out and involve young people. The trades are short 15% to 65% of the people needed because my generation didn’t recruit and grow the next and the next and the next. Corporate leadership is increasingly more irrelevant because the stodgy old grumps in the board rooms ignored the fresh ideas and the energy that young, adventurous people bring.
Within RWK, we celebrate our younger people, their ideas, their energy, their fearlessness. And because of it, the RWK is strong and growing stronger. As an old guy myself, my powder can be a little on the damp side and it takes an extra spark to get my brain chambers to fire. I find that extra spark in the faces and activities of our younger folks.
To them, I say, “You are appreciated, you are needed, you are important, you are the future, you are the best of the best”.
[Ed note: Thanks, Ben!]
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
Belton Hamfest – October 7
Don’t miss it! https://tarc.org/hamexpo-schedule/
Parker County Hamfest – October 13
See w5pc.org for info
CQ WW DX SSB Contest – Oct 28-29
Biggest SSB Worldwide DX contest, enjoy the sideband DX in Cycle 25 conditions. Full Info: https://www.cqww.com/
ARRL Sweepstakes CW – Nov 4-5
Train your CW skill toward this contest, easy to work U.S. and Canada. Great satisfactory when you complete all sections. Full Info: http://www.arrl.org/sweepstakes
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
A few Examples of Secret Morse Code in Music
There’s some nerdy overlap between musicians and morse code, and here are some examples. There are probably a few that you know about (Rush) and I’m betting a few you don’t, such as when Katy Perry hijacked the Capital Records building spire.
Now for your final parting gift: The bass line for the original Mission Impossible theme, contains “M I” in morse. You will never hear it the same way again!
Maxim Memorial Station W1AW Tour
Saturday, September 2, marks the 85th anniversary of the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW. For some hams, making a trip to Newington CT is like a trip to Mecca. Luckily, if you’ve ever wanted to see the inside of W1AW, here’s your chance. For more information, visit arrl.org/inside-w1aw
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had Al Ward W5LUA from the North Texas Microwave Society (NTMS) presenting on EME Adventures on the Microwave Bands. For you new hams, EME stands for “Earth Moon Earth”. Yes, that means communicating using the Moon as a big reflector! In the old days, you would need a huge yard and massive antennas and power amplifiers to have an EME QSO. Now you can do it with modest sized antennas that can fit in a neighborhood backyard (and of course a bit of skill!). Al will show us how to get hooked on this rare mode!
If you missed last month’s (or any previous) RWK General Meeting, you can always watch the video available from the RWK website.
You can always view the RWK Calendar to see our monthly events.
RWK New Members
We have several new members for the month, including some new hams that our VE Team tested recently. If you see them at RWK events or hear them on our repeaters, please say hello.
Akram Haque KJ5CKL
James Lacoste KI5ZUA
David Long AI5MQ and son Jonathan
Richard Brannen KA3JCA and YL Sally KA4JCA
Jacob Moffitt KJ5AMZ
John Halliburton KJ5COJ
Alan Hemmi KJ5COR (father of Daniel KJ5BMY)
Marc Lavergne KI5SPU
Reese Asher KJ5COP
Alex Cornetta KK7OLO
Brian Rowe KJ5CRV
Ian Wilson K4IMW
RWK Membership – 346 Active Members
To check your renewal date and Renew your RWK Membership, go to https://www.hamclubonline.com/ and select Pay Club Dues from the menu.
RWK Hats Are Back!
We have a new supply of the popular RWK Hats. They are available at any Hungry Hams lunch or you can order from the website and we will mail it to you!
The Klub has a few ham assets available for sale to Klub members at a deep discount. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. Have something to sell? Send a short description, photo, and offer price to us.
RWK holds at least one foxhunt every weekend and many weekends there are two foxes available to hunt. A monthly prize drawing is held for klub members that successfully find the fox.
You can always “watch” the hunt in real time by viewing the foxhunt logs:
To read more about foxhunts and learn some hunting tips, see our foxhunt page: https://www.k5rwk.org/foxhunt/
We always have a good group for our weekly Hungry Hams Lunches every Weds at noon at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ on Campbell at UTD. Why not join us?
Don’t forget about the Hungry Hams Monthly Breakfast every third Saturday at 8am at Southern Recipes Kitchen on Plano Parkway.
Share Your Activities In The Chawed Rag
The RWK is always looking for content to publish in The Chawed Rag. If you have an article, technical subject, project or fun story you would like to contribute, please submit it to the editor at email@example.com.
To submit an article to the Editor for consideration, please put your article into a single Word Document, or if that is not possible, collect all of your article’s components into a folder and create a zip archive of all of it. Then simply email the Word Doc or zip file to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need to Renew Your ARRL Membership?
If you are joining the ARRL for the first time, the RWK is entitled to $15 of your ARRL dues, and if you renew your ARRL membership, the RWK is entitled to $5.
You now can just apply directly on the ARRL website (instead of filling on a paper form). When you apply (or renew), there will be a place on the application form for you to designate the Richardson Wireless Klub as your primary club. If you do that, then RWK gets the money that we are entitled to. (this change is effective June 1 2022) Web renewals with club is still in work at ARRL
Here’s the link to join/renew your ARRL Membership: https://home.arrl.org/action/Membership/Join-ARRL
Interested in Helping the Klub?
The Klub needs YOU! We are looking for members that want to help with the following:
- Website content updates
- Ham Activities (Field Day and Public Service events)
- New Ham Coordinator
- Foxhunt Data Administrator
Contact KD4C for more information.
Support RWK by Buying Stuff!
We also are members of Kroger Community Rewards, so if you shop at Kroger, we can get $! Here is information on how to sign up.
The Chawed Rag
A monthly publication of the Richardson Wireless Klub, PO Box 830232, Richardson TX 75083. The Club Callsign is K5RWK.
Original content from this newsletter is Copyright 2023 by the Richardson Wireless Club and the bylined author(s). Content may be reused by other Amateur Radio organizations with appropriate credit, notification (to the Editor), and source linkage.
Contributions are welcome – please send material to email@example.com
President – Chip Coker KD4C
Vice-President – Bob Perkins W5RLP
Secretary – Josh Barfield N4NZ
Treasurer – Michael Masterson WT9V
Trustee – Andrew Koenig KE5GDB
Activities – Bob Hill KG5WRY
Public Service – Don Klick KG5CK
Education – Shawn Prestridge KI5PXG
Youth – Joe Hammond N1JOE
Quartermaster – Jon Suehiro NN5T
Past President – Mark Beebe W5YF
Meetings of the Board of Directors are held monthly on the first Thursday of the month and are open to any member in good standing of the club. Please contact any club officer if you would like to attend.