Amateur Station at Smithsonian Going QRT after 32 Years
After more than 30 years on the air from the nation's capital, the Amateur Radio station at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, NN3SI, will become silent on Thursday, July 31. Originally located in the Nations of Nations exhibit, the station first went on-the-air in 1976 in celebration of the US Bicentennial. The FCC caught the patriotic spirit, giving the station a temporary call sign -- NN3SI -- standing for Nation of Nations, Smithsonian Institution. The Commission later made the call sign allocation permanent.
According to NN3SI volunteer Carl Lagoda, W3CL, a Special Event operation is planned for today and tomorrow, and certificates will be available to those who contact NN3SI. "We have only one station," Lagoda said, "but we may be found on one of the following frequencies, depending on conditions: 3.840 MHz, 7.240 MHz, 14.240 MHz, 21.340 MHz and 28.440 MHz, as well as 14.240+ PSK. We might do some CW operations on Thursday, probably on 20 meters. Due to circumstances, hours of operation will be uncertain, but we probably will start at about 1130 UTC on Wednesday and Thursday." QSL information can be found here.
NN3SI has been situated in several different exhibitions in the Museum; it was most recently housed in the former Information Age exhibit. This exhibit chronicled the birth and growth of the electronic information age -- from Samuel Morse's invention of a practical telegraph in the 1830s through the development of the telephone, radio, television and computer. The Museum has been closed since 2006 while undergoing a major renovation and is scheduled to reopen to the public this fall.
The station participated in many special events throughout its history. During the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, station operators made many contacts and taught children visiting the Museum how to spell their names in Morse code. Over the years, operators at NN3SI -- who hailed from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (and the occasional guest operators from various parts of the globe) -- have logged contacts with amateurs in all parts of the world and with astronauts and cosmonauts in orbit. By operating the station, NN3SI ops promoted Amateur Radio as a national resource for emergency communications, trained operators, technicians and engineers -- as well as an outstanding hobby -- to the more than 4 million people who visit the Museum each year.