Smithsonian Institution’s NN3SI Returning to the Air

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N4NPG, Mar 20, 2019.

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  1. N4NPG

    N4NPG Ham Member QRZ Page

    The historic NN3SI call sign is being reactivated under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution Amateur Radio Group. “We do not have a physical station location, and we are not open for guest operation as in the past, but this this is the start to Amateur Radio slowly coming back at the Smithsonian,” the group’s president, John Weise, N4NPG, told ARRL. “We expect to begin operating holiday style starting in April.”

    NN3SI will operate mobile and portable from several District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland locations on most bands and modes. NN3SI hopes to be on the air for most contests this year including Rookie Roundup, the ARRL June VHF Contest, and ARRL Field Day, Weise added. As he recounts, NN3SI was initially a temporary “special” call sign granted to the Smithsonian during the US bicentennial in 1976, and the station remained active until 2008 when building renovations left NN3SI without a permanent location. “The call sign lapsed, but was renewed this year,” Weise said, “and the new Smithsonian Institution Amateur Radio Group has been organized as a club for Smithsonian staff members, and to provide important emergency management and STEM educational resources to the Smithsonian Institution.” — Thanks to John Weise, N4NPG
    KD9FEK, W9JAS, K4AGO and 15 others like this.
  2. KW0U

    KW0U Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is great to see it coming back. Hopefully some space will be found in the Institution so the public can see operations as well.
    K5VZD and W3OJ like this.
  3. WW5RM

    WW5RM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thank you for your service!

    de WW5RM
    K5VZD likes this.
  4. N3DF

    N3DF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The NN3SI call sign was issued for the "Nation of Nations" exhibit at the National Museum of American History, which ran from 1976 to 1991. It had a regular corps of operators, of which I was one. On my shack wall, I have a certificate of appreciation signed by and handed to me by ARRL President Vic Clark at a celebratory luncheon. The station was on display to the public. It had two full operating positions with room for visiting ops. As I recall, the principal HF antennas were a large log periodic and a yagi. Rigs included a Collins KWM-2, a Ten Tec 544 and a Kenwood 520S. We also had an early HAL "glass teletype" that I particularly liked to demonstrate. One of Ronald Reagan's (first term) inaugural balls was held at the museum. I operated the station that evening in my tuxedo. The Secret Service had checked over the station that afternoon. A good number of slightly inebriated and puzzled ball attendees came over to watch our operations and chat with us. I remember the President and Mrs. Reagan walzing by, looking very happy. Operating station NN3SI was one of the highlights of my 50+ year amateur career. - N3DF
    KU4GW, KT4ZE, KB3UYT and 16 others like this.
  5. KG3I

    KG3I Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well done!!! Maybe there is hope for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia!!
    W3KKO, K3SSB, VE3EEI and 1 other person like this.
  6. KW0U

    KW0U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hope so. I got my novice there in '76. It was a nice station.
    W3KKO likes this.
  7. AF8A

    AF8A Ham Member QRZ Page

    What a coincidence....I saw this post while typing up my paper logs from December, 1977, when I worked NN3SI on 40m SSB (my call at the time was WD8MGP). Dick, W3OJQ, was the operator. Correct on the log periodic - In my memory, I can still see it from the Mall, glinting in the sunlight. It was like a beacon to a 15-year old, freshly minted ham!

    Four months later, while in Washington DC to take my Advanced test, I had the pleasure of being an NN3SI guest op, under the watchful eye of Joe, W3IK. (And yes, I did pass the test at the FCC headquarters, becoming WD8MGP/WN in the process.)

    Looking forward to working, and maybe even visiting, NN3SI again someday. Nice work!
    KK6QMS, AC7DD and N2NH like this.
  8. N4NPG

    N4NPG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for your reply. We hope to digitize all of our old NN3SI logs and load them into LOTW from 1976 to 2008. I haven't found an easy way to do that yet.
    K9ASE likes this.
  9. KQ4P

    KQ4P Ham Member QRZ Page

    KQ4P & KA3RGY
    I put up all the antennas for the original NN3SI and attended the gala opening of the Nation of Nations exhibit.
    Running the cables from the roof of the building to the location of the station was quite a challenge.
    It was always fun to make an appointment to operate this station and tell them what your original ham gear was and when you arrived to operate, they had the equipment you requested set up and ready to operate.
    It is a little known fact that the institute has one of the best collections of vintage ham gear ever seen.
    Norm Jeweler now KQ4P ex K3LYW and W3NRS
    United States Tower Services
    N0CTL, KD2GMB, AD7LL and 3 others like this.
  10. N3DF

    N3DF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Norm - I remember you from the Montgomery Amateur Radio Club and Chaverim in the 1970s. Are you still flying? Neil Friedman, N3DF

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