The W5RRR Shack

Station Overview

Today’s W5RRR Operating Positions:

  • Station 1: HF (6m-160m)  Flex 6400M, Elecraft KPA1500
  • Station 2: HF (6m-160m) Flex 6400M, Elecraft KPA1500
  • Station 3: HF (6m-160m) Yaesu FTDX 101D, Yaesu FL-7000
  • Station 4: UHF/VHF (6m, 2m, 70cm, 23cm) Kenwood TS-2000x, Icom IC-475H
  • Station 5: EOC HF (freq not disclosed) TenTec Paragon, Icom IC-781, Tentec Hercules II
  • Station 6: Remote (2m, 10-40m) Yaesu FT-991A, RemoteTx (SW)

The W5RRR station is located at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Building 208, at the east end of the north parking lot of the Gilruth Center (JSC employee’s recreation center).   We share the building with the Gilruth facility which also houses spaces for the grounds-maintenance garage, the umpire/referee room, a concession stand, storage, and restrooms. The W5RRR allocated facility has about 500 square feet of floor space.

The club station has a 5 primary operational positions: 3 High Frequency Stations, 1 Satellite/VHF/UHF Station, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Station, and a Remote Access Station. All 5 stations are outfitted on modular furniture acquired during MCC renovations.  Within the facility, a cipher locked access door provides entry/exit for JSCARC members only.  Air Conditioning and Heating are provided within the facility.  The shack’s flooring was previously carpeted, however, after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, water flooding penetrated the seals and it was decided to tile the floor instead. All cable runs are made in an industrial cable tray around the perimeter of the room about 18″ below the ceiling, and a common elevated copper ground buss, on ceramic insulators, extends across each room wall.

For general and contest logging, all stations have N3FJP’s Amateur Radio Software, running on Windows 10 using Intel NUC mini PCs (4″x4″). The logs are centralized and backed up via a NAS server.

The room has access to the Internet via a Verizon JetPack 8000 series hotspot, used primarily to support ARISS operations.

Station 1:  HF (6m-160m)  Flex 6400M, Elecraft KPA1500

Station 2:  HF (6m-160m) Flex 6400M, Elecraft KPA1500

Both of these stations (Flex Alpha, and Flex Beta) are largely duplicates of each other, with exception of the customizable profiles that users configure for their personal convenience on SSB, CW, and Digital Modes.  Each Flex Software Defined Radio, drives an automatically linked 1500W Elecraft KPA1500 amplifier.  These radios are largely the most widely used HF radios in the shack; from casual QSOs to contesting.  SmartSDR is installed in each Intel NUC to allow for large screen rendering of realtime Spectrum Waterfall displays on the external monitors.  Flex Beta, has a Daiwa CN-901, and Bencher BY-2 paddle installed in its operating station.

Station 3:  HF (6m-160m) Yaesu FTDX 101D, Yaesu FL-7000

A Yaesu FTDX 101D is our 3rd HF radio operating position.  This radio is a serious High-End contest capable radio known for SDR Technology and Large Touch Panel precision Color Displays.  It drives a 500W Yaesu FL-7000 amplifier and daiwa CN-901 SWR Bridge.

Station 4:  UHF/VHF (6m, 2m, 70cm, 23cm) Kenwood TS-2000x, Icom IC-475H VHF/UHF Satellite Station.

The Kenwood TS-2000 is an all band HF/VHF/UHF transceiver with exceptional features and versatility. Wide band Main HF reception includes: 30 kHz-60 MHz. On VHF/UHF you get: 142-152 and 420-450 MHz. 1240-1300 MHz is featured in this TS-2000X model. Sub band (AM/FM modes only) reception includes: 118-174, 220-512 MHz. Output is 100 watts on HF, 6 meters and 2 meters. 50 watts for 440 MHz. A built-in TCXO ensures excellent stabililty

The IC-475H transceiver is a 440 MHz all-mode transceiver with 75 watts output supporting USB, LSB, FM and CW. It is very similar in features to the Icom IC-275A which resides in the shack backroom for backup/contingency capability.

Because of our past involvement with Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) and today’s Amateur Radio onboard International Space Station (ARISS), the VHF/UHF satellite console is designed for robustness and reliability. The station houses three transceivers, a couple of power supplies, VHF/UHF amplifiers, TNC’s, the AZ/EL rotator controller, etc.

Station 5:  EOC HF (freq not disclosed) TenTec Paragon, Icom IC-781, Tentec Hercules II

The JSCARC is chartered to provide support as an Emergency Operations Center capability.  A special Department of Homeland Security radio callsign was issued for our use of frequencies outside of the Amateur Radio allocations.  Because these special operational frequencies are in the HF band, we have exploited the use of our Amateur Radio antennas to also conduct EOC radio traffic when the EOC operations is active. 

The HF EOC station is part of the SHared RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) program, which provides a means for national security and emergency preparedness information to be communicated when landline and cellular communications are unavailable.  Fortunately, to date, the system has only been used for on-the-air radio checks with other NASA Centers and government agencies, and with amateur radio operators around the Houston/Galveston area and around the country. 

The console consists of the HF station: Ten-Tec Paragon II HF Transceiver, an Icom IC-781 Transceiver, a Ten-Tec Hercules II HF Linear Amplifier (500 Watts output), an Ameritron ATR-30 Tuner, Signalink TNCs, and a Luke S-100 12VDC, 120-Amp power supply.  The VHF/UHF station consists of: Two Kenwood TM-733A 2m/70cm FM Transceivers, a 2m/70cm Vertical antenna, a Kantronics TNC (2400/9600baud) and associated power supplies.

Station 6:  Remote (2m, 10-40m) Yaesu FT-991A, RemoteTx (SW)

We have a dedicated remotely accessible radio (Yaesu FT-991a) and use to access the radio.  It can connect to either a Cushcraft R-7 vertical or the tri-band beam via antenna switch (controlled via remotetx).  Also, the tri-band beam’s rotor is capable of remote control access also via the remotetx. The configuration of this setup is here


An 80′ Rohm 45-G tower supports a Hy-Gain TH-7DX (7-element, tri-band 10/15/20m) beam at the top of the mast and a Cushcraft D40 (rotatable 40m dipole) underneath. The tower has a parallel shunt fed wire along the outer rails and a LC Tuner inside a sealed enclosure at the base of the tower for 160m operation (currently out of commission). The tower also has an 80m sloping dipoe wire antenna which runs approximately 130 feet from the near the top of the 80′ tower to a tied off spot 30′ up a tree due North West.  .

The beams are turned by a Ham-IV rotator. The rotor controller is located at HF Station #2.

The second tower (temporarily down) used to hold our Cushcraft A3S, a 3-element triband beam for 10-15-20m, an A3S+30m , a 3-element duoband beam for 12-17m with optional 30m add-on 8′ above it, and a dual-band VHF/UHF vertical antenna.  It was a 50′ ex-military tower we received a number of years ago from the Ellington Field MARS (Military Amateur Radio Service) group.

However, it suffered a fracture in one of the tower section legs. Because of the hazard and the potential for other fractures appearing, the tower was removed. A 60′ replacement tower has been acquired and is stored at the outside cage beside the shack, but is awaiting a new pad installation.  Stay tuned.

The third tower is one straight section and one pointy-top section of Rohn 45G. This is our satellite antenna tower. The rotator is a Kenpro. The 2m antenna is a 2MCP14, 24-element, cross-polarized, beam antenna. The 70cm antenna is a 36-element, cross-polarized, beam antenna. A Directive Systems DSEH23-12 1.2 GHz Circular Polarized Antenna housed in a black finish radome serves to add the additional 14.5 dBic gain for the upper frequencies satellites uplinks. An interface from our Intel NUC computer with the existing Yaesu rotator antenna controller provides automatic tracking of the satellites and ISS.

A 6m Halo antenna is mounted part way below the 2m/70cm cross-polarized antennas.  The TS-2000x also excites this halo antenna.  

Adjacent to the Satellite tower, is a Cushcraft R7 10-80m vertical. It’s mounted alongside a metal fence with no radials except the meta

Station Awards, Pictures, Posters

Arrayed around the walls of the station are numerous awards/citations, as well as astronaut mementos of pictures and posters. The awards reflect our efforts during contest operations.  The astronaut crew pictures were designed by the crews as mementos and tokens of thanks to those organizations and folks who supported them in their flights. Some of the posters are those which were used during public events such as space-related and ham-related conventions, in which the SAREX (and now ARISS) project was presented.