Dade County Hams Contact International Space Station

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Members of the Dade County ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) group were at Cloudland Canyon State Park Saturday and Sunday, participating in ARRL Field Day.  During the event about 200 people came, visited and learned about Amateur Radio, including the press and local elected officials.

During the 24 hours of event "Ham Radio Works” was more than just words as the  D.C.ARES hams proved they can send messages in many forms to terrestrial and extraterrestrial stations, without any other infrastructure in a crisis, before the next disaster strikes.

A special station was setup to allow unlicensed people to “Get-On-The-Air” under the guidance of a licensed operator. This GOTA station was busy all 24 hours. Seven-year-old McKayla Beldyk made two contacts, one on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. McKayla stated, “She wasn’t going home until she made a second contact.”  McKayla has caught the bug; she is now studying to take the Amateur Radio Technician exam this summer.

Contacts were made with other stations around the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and outer space in Morse code and by voice communications.

At 11:01 p.m. the ISS, International Space Station, rose from the West –North-West and crossed towards the West-South-West. For two quick minutes, the station was visible. After making some quick changes to the radio frequencies, changing cables and to a handheld directional antenna WK4DS, David Saylors pointed the antenna at the fast moving bright light in the dark sky. AJ4VX, Richard Beldyk, called the ISS. After a few attempts, NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg on the ISS responded just before the ISS disappearing into the Earth’s shadow and could not be tracked. 

A roar of excitement erupted and was heard echoing the canyon by all present after the contact was made. 

“As a kid in the 60’s the astronauts were my idols, I could name every astronaut from Alan Shepard on the Mercury-Redstone 3 through those in the Apollo 17,” said Mr. Beldyk. “Ever since I got my amateur radio license, I have wanted to make contact. I have listen and watched as they passed overhead but have never been able to make contact. Being able to use a battery power transmitter with a handheld directional antenna to make contact was very exciting.”

The FCC issued a special event call sign of K4D to the group for use during their first field day.   

This Dade ARES group is for amateur radio operators that would like to take part in emergency and special event communications in the Dade County.   They have a weekly net at 7 p.m. on Thursdays on 146.595 MHz simplex.  They will also meet on the last Friday of the month, at 7 p.m. at the sheriff's office in Trenton. Hams and non-Hams are welcome to attend the meetings. For more information on Amateur Radio, contact the Public Information Officer by email at pio(at)

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