Sunday, June 19, 2011

Raised by an engineer #1 - Sputnik

This occurred before my time, it's a good example of my father's engineer/geek nature.
While many believe that Sputnik was a surprise, it was not.  My dad worked for an avionics company, and was truly fascinated with anything that flew, so when he learned about the impending Russian satellite, he set out to track it.  He was an amateur radio enthusiast, and so used that platform to develop his satellite tracking system.  He wrote up his plans and circulated them throughout his place of employment, but didn't hear anything back.  Not really caring, he planned a neighborhood 'satellite tracking' party.

The day before launch, the owner of the company Dad worked for asked his executives what their plans were for tracking the Russian satellite.  They didn't have any, but one executive had seen Dad's memo, and mentioned it.

So much for the neighborhood party!  Dad's equipment was requisitioned and taken to a place Dad called the 'antenna farm'.  Everything seemed fine, but the antenna he had planned to use was at home.  He ended up jury rigging something and taping it onto the handle of a shovel, which was driven into the ground just outside the facility.  It wasn't fancy, but it worked.

That pretty much sums up Dad's style - visually unimpressive, but effective.

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