From Tommy Gober (N5DUX) via email…
This morning’s ARISS contact went well. We didn’t get through all of the questions on the 2nd go-round, but at least every student got to ask at least one question. I told them our desire was to get through Round 1 of questions, and that Round 2 was the “bonus round”.
I started “NA1SS this is WE5PT calling…” about 3 minutes early (so I’m told, perhaps my computer clock was off – not sure), so there was a very tense 3 minutes (for me at least) where I was double checking everything to ensure all the connections were right and that I had everything on. (Sweating bullets?) Jennifer (wife) told me she was trying to get my attention that I was early, but I was too focused.
Once we heard Astronaut Mike Fossum, after a very brief hello exchange, we delved right into the students asking their questions due to time constraints. Mike said we were a little weak at first, but that was because he was about 1° or 2° off the horizon and signal strengths picked up from there.
I think the final questions asked count was about 20 questions give or take.
The school’s IT department had a video stream from NASA.gov from aboard the ISS, which was a great visual to accompany my ISS tracking map on the other screen.
Local TV news was on hand to help capture the video, and I can send the online video if that makes it to their website. Local school personnel were on hand to help record the event as well, more on that later too.
Giant hats off to the ARRL TI-2 program for the rotator equipment and software necessary for this.
A resounding thank you to Ken Ransom, Keith Pugh and Rosalie White (and unknown/unmentioned others) for helping see our ARISS request from application to reality. Thank you for your patience, diligence and commitment to this program.
I’d say this really did make my day, but it’s bigger than that and means more to the students. So thank you. (I even had one kid in the audience ask “Is this signal analog or digital? Are you using VHF or UHF?” – in 5th grade! Uncoached. Talk about a future ham!!!)
Tommy Gober, N5DUX for WE5PT Pine Tree ISD