Left Border Content - RF Cafe
Copyright: 1996 - 2024
BSEE - KB3UON
RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling
2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed
formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit
design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at
the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps
while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got
Mail" when a new message arrived...
All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images
and text used on the RF Cafe website are hereby acknowledged.
My Hobby Website:
Sub-Header - RF Cafe
"That's One Small Step for Man..."
"That's One Small Step for Man..."
1969. It was the
summer that Hurricane Camille nearly wiped Biloxi, Mississippi off the map
(I found myself there ten years later in
USAF Tech School).
The NY Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts (yes, Baltimore)
Bowl III. Nixon was sworn in as America's the 37th president. The
gave their last public performance.
Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel. Ted
Kennedy had his infamous
incident. I turned 11 years old. The first permanent
(precursor to the Internet) connection was
established. Sam Walton incorporated
The Brady Bunch premiered
on TV. Boris Karloff
died. The first Vietnam war draftees were selected. The
was held in upstate New York.
Charles Manson and his cult murdered Sharon Tate. The first
ATM was installed in Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, NY.
Oh, and the United States of American landed the first humans on
All the media are filled with stories celebrating the 40th anniversary
of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
It was on July 20, 1969, at 4:18 pm EDT, that lunar lander commander Neil Armstrong
radioed those second-most-famous of his words from the moon, "Houston, Tranquility
Base here. The Eagle has landed." Thirty seconds of fuel remained; a miscalculation
of distance in the planning caused pilot "Buzz" Aldrin to have to fly beyond a crater,
pushing the craft to the very edge of its capability
(remember the early
Lander video games that were quite difficult to master?).
belief "...that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this
decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth,"
had been fulfilled.
Due to a lack of atmospheric dispersion, objects look closer than they
really are both in real life and in photographs, hence the erroneous measurement
based on reconnaissance craft. Subsequent landing crews trained ahead of time to
judge distances based on shadow lengths of known objects, like their own heights.
Even tasks as simple as collecting lunar samples were noticeably affected.
A mere 6½ hours later, Armstrong's
words were spoken upon descending the Eagle's ladder, "That's one small step
for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
NASA just recently found and restored
some of the videos that had been missing for decades.
Like most school kids of the day, I
eagerly followed the space program, and was very involved in model rocketry. I vividly
remember the first time I ever saw a television set in my school - it was on Wednesday,
July 16, 1969. The entire student population of
Mayo Elementary School
gathered in the lunch room / auditorium to watch
Apollo 11 liftoff from Cape
Kennedy (aka Cape Canaveral) at 9:32 am EDT. Notice how slowly the pre-Shuttle era
rockets accelerated. The shuttle goes up like a bottle rocket
(I had the great pleasure of watching the launch of
STS-76 from the
causeway at Cape Kennedy in March of 1996).
Thursday, July 24, 1969 at 9:15 am EDT, was the second time we ever had a television
set on in the school. Do you remember watching the cameras from aboard the recovery
ship USS Hornet bouncing all over the place waiting to get the first shot of the
Apollo module beneath its three parachutes? The Columbia module splashed down
13 miles from
the USS Hornet, which is not far by car but is far by aircraft carrier. All three
astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr., were
put into a detoxification chamber before being exposed to the Earth's environment
lest an unknown Moon virus be upon them. An anxious world cheered their emergence
from the chamber.
Estes model rocket company
was of course also closely following and promoting the space program. They had a
deal whereby if you launched any model rocket on the same day as the Apollo 11 liftoff
(or was it the moon landing?) and sent in a
letter testifying to the launch, they would send you a certificate stating that
you had supported America's moon landing effort. I, of course, dutifully launch
a model rocket on that day (probably an
and received a certificate; . Unfortunately, like everything else from my childhood
(my own fault), it was lost. Back in those
days, model rocketry and model airplane hobbies were very much concentrated on not
only flying but on design, building, and flying. Newsletters and technical bulletins
were published to foster youngsters' interest in space flight and aviation. I learned
about thrust and drag, recovery systems, the phases of rocket flight, specific impulse,
center of gravity, stabilization, model building, and much more from those publications.
Nowadays, most model rockets come pre-built or largely prefabricated. Same thing
goes for model airplanes. Oh well, somebody else's loss, I suppose.
Did you see the video clip I posted of the 1/10th scale Saturn V
launch? On April 25, 2009, the 36-foot-tall, 1600-lb "model," powered by 9 rocket
motors producing 8000 lbs of thrust, experienced an absolutely flawless launch and
recovery. Incredibly, the gigantic 1st stage landed standing up! More often than
not, large projects like this fail to execute - usually due to a recovery system
With all the passion I have had for airplanes, rockets, helicopters,
parachutes, and basically anything that leaves the Earth and returns in relatively
good condition, one might think I would have ended up spending my life pursuing
it/them professionally, but alas, it did not turn out that way. I have managed to
fly in a few helicopters and airplanes (even began
but did not complete a pilot's license), but have never parachuted or blasted
off in a rocket (OK, not many people have).
Once, though, I did manage to do something very few people have done - I sat inside
an actual Gemini space capsule that had orbited the Earth. Read about it here in,
Astronaut Days of Yore." Mostly, though, my airborne endeavors have had to settle
for the less time-consuming and less expensive option of modeling; that is not a
bad second choice. My other passion is electricity and electronics, so at
least I have gotten to engage for a lifetime in something I enjoy; not everyone
is so fortunate.
December 17, 1972,
Apollo 17 astronauts were the last humans to step foot on the
moon. They were also the last humans outside low Earth orbit. Succeeding missions
concentrated on space laboratories, including
and the International Space Station. One of the primary purposes for the
space station experience is to gather information on and gain experience in extended
stays in zero gravity environments, with the ultimate goal of launching a manned
mission to Mars. As with the Moon program, there are those who object to spending
money on a Mars program. Perhaps the unfortunate good news for them is that it might
be a country other than the United States - China - that will be able to claim rights
to our nearest superior planet. The first human Mars visitors might well be
Many benefits have resulted from the space programs of all nations, so opposing
the investment based on cost alone is rather foolish. If not for the technologies
developed in transportation, materials, food production and preservation, medicine,
survival techniques, power generation and storage, computers and software, electronics,
optics, mechanics, chemistry, biology, physical fitness, and so much more, we would
not have the ability to assist the world's needy with the efficiency that we do
now. Do a search on the spinoff technology resulting from space program research;
they go well beyond the digital watch and metalized survival blankets. It
would be impossible to motivate the great multitudes of engineers and scientists
who engage in commercial enterprise to innovate with such passion if the only
incentive was to tend to the less fortunate. Maybe that is a sad statement, but
it is true. Utopian, socialist societies have always failed because of human nature.
Ultimately, each person must be allowed to follow his dream in order for happiness
to drive creativity.
I am glad that NASA has chosen to make a big deal of
the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, both because it is a good way to reinvigorate
the public's enthusiasm for space exploration, and because by the time the 50th
anniversary rolls around in 2019, I will be 60 years old and might have already
assumed room temperature.
Are you old enough to have witnessed the Apollo
11 mission's progress? Were you one of the lucky few who people who watched the
launch from Cape Kennedy?
Footer - RF Cafe
Right Border Content - RF Cafe