Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging Results – 2nd Update & HI Drift Scan using 9-ft Dish at Russel Observatory September 2019

This autumn Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. The course taught how to take the data sets from multiple large interferometer antenna systems and produce images and science statistics.. This post presents the slides from the DSES Science Meeting on November 25, 2019. This is an update from Dr. Russel’s posts on the topic from October 19 and 31.

Dr. Russel also presents his September 2019 results of Hydrogen 21 cm (HI) drift scan measurements at his newly installed 9-foot dish antenna at his home in Colorado Springs.

Please click the link to view the illustrated pdf file:

http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/DSES-Science-Meeting-11-25-19-Imaging-Results.pdf

Work trip at the Plishner antenna site, Saturday November 16, 2019

Text and photos by Gary Agranat.

As we do each third weekend of the month, we had a scheduled work day at our DSES Plishner radio astronomy antenna site in Haswell, Colorado. Our members who participated on this weekend were Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Ray Uberecken, and Gary Agranat. Work objectives were:

  • Completion of installing the antennas and cables on the new 50 foot ham radio antenna tower.
  • Servicing the 60-foot dish antenna feed.
We typically meet first at the Ellicott firehouse for carpooling, before heading to the Plishner site.

I will save discussion of the 60-foot antenna feed for the Engineering Meeting minutes. That work was done by Steve Plock and Ray Uberecken. In this post I will describe the work we completed for the 50 foot tower.

The 60-foot dish antenna was rotated to the service tower, to enable Steve to work at the feed point.

For our 50-foot tower work, we installed a second vertical antenna for normal contacts on the 2-meter VHF band. This gives us a second 2-meter band capability, independent of our already existing 2-meter band talk-in radio. We then installed coax cables for both of the 2 meter band antennas on the tower.

We also serviced the 80 and 160 meter band dipole antennas that the tower supports: 1) We replaced some of the nylon rope that lifts the dipole antennas to their deployed positions. Previously we had connected shorter pieces of rope and knotted those together. But the knots stuck in the pulleys, and we therefore replaced those with longer sections of rope without knots. 2) We neatened the arrangement of the wire antennas supported by the tower.

Captions to the photos provide more detials of the work.

Ed and Gary lowered the 50-foot ham radio tower. A second VHF 2-meter band vertical antenna was added to the side of the tower, in addition to the VHF talk-in radio antenna placed last month at the top of the tower. And coax cables were added that feed both VHF antennas.
The second VHF 2-meter band antenna was added here, at this upper location along the side of the tower. Two stand-off support arms were bolted to the tower. Then the antenna was connected to its mast, which fits from below as a sleeve fitting. And the mast was connected to the supports. The mast serves both for structural support and as a counterpoise.
The tower raised up again.
The tower supports these ham radio antennas.
The tower supports the 160 meter band and 80 meter band dipole antennas by rope and pulley systems. The 160 meter antenna is oriented east-west, and the 80 meter antenna is oriented perpendicularly north-south.
Ed’s work truck on site.

After we serviced the ham and radio astronomy antennas, Steve made us lunch by smoking beef sausage in the grill. That was served with coleslaw and potato salad. Gary also brewed coffee.

After the tower was raise back up, Gary operated on phone and FT8, using the tri-band Yagi on 15 and 20 meters, and using the 80 and 160 meter dipoles. (10 meters was tried also but with no results, likely due to the poor propagation conditions.) The operating was in part for fun, and in part to verify that the antennas we put back up functioned properly. They all functioned well.

After lunch I did some ham radio operating using the tri-band Yagi, and also the using the 80 and 160 meter dipoles.  With the tri-bander, I first made a phone contact to Hawaii on 15 meters, before the bands got busy with the ARRL sweepstakes.  Then I operated FT8: on 15 meters I mostly contacted South American stations (lots of Brazil), plus some US stations when they were there (including North Carolina and Montana).  On 20 meters the band opened across the Pacific.  We had many calls to us from Japan. Perhaps they saw our profile on QRZ, or perhaps they noticed our rare grid square.  Also across the Pacific, we made two contacts with South Korea, one with mainland China, one with Indonesia, and one with Australia.  The band became weaker for US and Canadian contacts, but we did have some of those too.  I alternated going to 80 meters, and had a few more domestic contacts there. These were with our K0PRT station callsign. Later I also used my callsign, on 20, 80, and 160 meters. 160 meters had noise at the FT8 frequencies. But I went to the upper portion of that section of the band, which was just slightly better. I managed 4 contacts on 160 meters, to as far away as Kentucky. I would say our antennas were working well.

Within a few days we received a number of e QSL confirmation cards.

The site at the end of the day.

Ray left after lunch. Ed and Steve left before sunset. Steve tested the range of the new talk in radio antenna on the tower as he and Ed drove home away from the site. We had good contact to as far away as Sugar City. At JRs in Ordway, we could hear each other, but Steve needed to turn off his squelch. And at that point there were some slight dropouts. But we could still communicate. That is a great improvement for our talk-in system. Gary stayed and operated the ham station until a little after dark, and then closed up and departed too.

2020 DSES Annual Membership Dues

November 20, 2019

To all Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) Current and Former Members:

November marks the start of our 2020 membership dues drive.   Our organization relies on annual membership dues to fund most all of the DSES projects at our Paul Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center near Haswell, CO.   Annual dues for voting members, continues to be $50.00.  For those who wish to be involved as non-voting members the price is $20.00.  Annual elections of board members/officers will be in February.  You must be current on your dues to vote in these elections. 

You can pay your dues on the DSES web site (DSES.science) by credit card or PayPal to email:  dsestm(at)gmail.com.  You can also mail dues to the following addresses:  DSES, 4164 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Box 562, Colorado Springs, CO  80916-0562. Your canceled check, Paypal receipt or credit receipt will be your acknowledgement of your dues paid.  If you want a separate receipt signifying payment, please note that with your payment and I will mail you a receipt.  PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR CURRENT MAILING ADDRESS, EMAIL ADDRESS AND CONTACT PHONE NUMBER. Let me know if you DO NOT want this info to be released to the general membership.  I would like to pass this membership information containing email addresses and phone numbers out to all members.  ” And don’t forget to review all the latest reports, work trips and science studies on the DSES.Science website to see all that the organization has accomplished with the help of your dues.”

If you have any questions concerning your membership status, please feel free to email, text, or call me.

Thank You;  

Myron F. Babcock DSES Treasurer ,

myron48(at)gmail.com

dest(at)gmail.com

Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging Results – Updated & HI Drift Scan using 9-ft Dish at Russel Observatory September 2019

Recently Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. The course taught how to take the data sets from multiple large interferometer antenna systems and produce images and science statistics.. This post is an update from Dr. Russel’s post on this topic on October 19.

In this post, Dr. Russel also presents initial results of Hydrogen 21 cm (HI) drift scan measurements at his newly installed 9-foot dish antenna at his home in Colorado Springs.

Please click the link to view the illustrated post:

http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/VLA-Imaging-Results-Master.pdf

DSES at the 2019 Haswell Bazaar

By Gary Agranat. Participating were Bill Miller and Gary Agranat.

Bill Miller at the DSES table at the Haswell Bazaar.

Bill Miller and Gary Agranat represented the Deep Space Exploration Society at the 2019 Haswell Bazaar last Saturday, October 26th. The bazaar is held at the town’s community center, which is their former elementary school. At the bazaar are crafts, foods, and specialized products sold by local residents. Our antenna site is located just a few miles from the community center. The fair is also an opportunity for the local residents to socialize. And for us in DSES, it is a chance for us to socialize with them too.

Bill Miller created two new display panels for the event. These present an illustrated overview of our work and accomplishments to date. The panels are organized into four topics: infrastructure work, our radio astronomy science, ham radio, and outreach.

Gary brought a laptop which presented a running slide show of about 180 photos of our activities from the past year.

The Haswell Bazaar featured local art & crafts and foods, cosmetics and health items, and Fuller Brush items. The Kiowa County Library had a table next to us as well.
Michelle Nelson, the Mayor of the town, cooked the lunch for the bazaar. The main entre was a choice of home cooked chili or soup. Several of her children assisted. Various cakes were served for desert.

The Haswell Bazaar was held at the town’s community center, which is their former elementary school.
The community center in Haswell.

The bazaar concluded by 3 PM. The bazaar was a good opportunity for us to participate in the community activities, to show to the community what we do, and to continue to foster our good relationships with each other.

* * *

During the past year, the local railroad line that runs east-west through town had restoration work begun. The line had been abandoned several decades ago. We learned that the original Haswell railroad depot building is still in town. We were told where it is, and we went to look. We were told that if passenger rail service was restored, there was interest to restore this depot, and bring it back to the rail line and utilize it again. It is the only surviving railroad depot building from the original Missouri Pacific Railroad.

* * *

After the bazaar was finished, we stopped at our Plishner antenna site. There we looked at the progress of the ham radio tower. And Gary retrieved the ham radio log data from the most recent contacts. Steve Plock made our first contacts with the Yagi antenna on the new tower last Friday. He contacted AG5Z in Mississippi on the 20 meter band, and 9Y4D in Trinidad on the 15 meter band.

Our new 50-foot ham radio tower at the Plishner radio astronomy site. At the top of the tower is a 3-element triband HF Yagi antenna mounted on a rotator and shaft. Above the Yagi is a VHF vertical antenna for the site’s local talk-in radio system.
In addition to the HF Yagi and VHF vertical antennas at the top, the tower supports our dipole wire antennas for HF 80 and 160 meter ham radio bands, and a delta loop wire antenna for the 6 meter band.
The tower is securely supported by guy cables.
On Friday Ed Corn and Steve Plock added the installation of this messenger cable, to keep the coax feed cables above ground and organized.

Antenna Work Site Trip – October 25, 2019 – Ed Corn and Steve Plock

By Ed Corn. Photos by Steve Plock.

Steve and I went to the project. We had perfect weather.

We got the messenger cable between the tower and dog house up, and we got the coax cables strapped to the cable. We dressed the cables in the bunker with the cable end for the Tribander at the radios. Steve turned the radios and made a contact with one of the islands (a 9Y, Trinidad and Tobago) on 15 meters. He also made a 20 meter contact with Mississippi. The Tribander is working well.

I put the batteries in the new CO detector and left it on the desk with the fire alarms. I will complete the install on the next trip down.

Steve has pictures of the messenger cable and the used gas grill he picked up. I fixed the grill’s electric igniter.

The messenger cable, added today, runs between the tower and the dog house. It keeps the coax cables for the antennas off the ground, and neatens the arrangement.
The grill brought by Steve, with fixing up by Steve and Ed.


73’s
Ed KC0TBE

Antenna Raising

Plishner Antenna Site Work Trip Report. By Gary Agranat. Photos by Steve Plock.

Ed Corn, Steve Plock, and Gary Agranat traveled to the Plishner antenna site in Haswell this past Saturday, October 19, 2019. The team completed erecting the 50-foot ham radio tower.

Completing the tower erection involved several tasks:

  • Installing the 3-band/3-element Yagi HF ham antenna,
  • Installing the 2-meter band vertical antenna on top of that mast. This will be our new antenna for our VHF talk-in radio system.
  • Installing two stand-off bracketed supports near the top of the tower on the sides, to raise and hold the 80 meter band and 160 meter band dipole wire antennas. This arrangement replaces the long pole that previously centrally supported those wire antennas. These bracket supports each have a pulley and rope, to raise and lower the wire antennas. The tower also supports a 6-meter band delta-loop antenna, which is simply tied from height.
  • Securing the coax cables for the Yagi and vertical antennas along the side of the tower.
  • Properly arranging the system of wires, coaxes, and support cables.
  • Raising the 50-foot tower, which involves turning the winch system that rotates the tower up from its pivot plate at its base. The 50-foot tower is raised from a pulley system on a second smaller adjacent tower.
  • Once the 50-foot tower is raised, securing 3 guy cables.
Steve took this photo of Ed and Gary at the completion of the tower raising.

Steve tested the SWR of the 3-band Yagi antenna with an analyzer. The antenna elements had been measured and assembled on a previous trip, to be optimized for the middle of each of the operating bands, of the 10, 15 and 20 meter bands. Steve measured an SWR ratio of 1:1 (perfect) at 28.51 MHz for the 10 meter band, and 1:1 at 21.19 MHz for the 15 meter band. The 20 meter band resonated with an SWR of 1:1.35 at 14.16 MHz. This is excellent, and as expected.

For lunch, Steve treated us with smoked ribs from Broken Bones BBQ in Monument, with sauces, potato salad, and coleslaw. Gary brewed coffee. Also, the team met first at the firehouse in Ellicott. Gary baked orange-cranberry muffins. We ate our muffins at the firehouse, and shared the rest with the fire department crews there.

The team left the Plishner site by 4:30 pm.

The tower work began about a year ago. The work involved support and efforts by a number of team members. See our past posts from October 19-21, 2018 http://dses.science/plishner-site-report-for-the-weekend-of-october-19-21-2018, August 24, 2019 http://dses.science/plishner-work-trip-report-august-24-2019, and September 28, 2019 http://dses.science/work-site-trip-report-at-the-haswell-plishner-radio-telescope-site-september-28-2019.

The tower should significantly improve our capability to communicate long distances on the 10, 15, and 20 meter bands with the Yagi. The 2 meter band vertical should enable us to communicate on our talk-in VHF radio system to much further out.

Work Site Trip Report, at the Haswell Plishner Radio Telescope Site, September 28, 2019

by Gary Agranat

DSES Participants: Gary Agranat, Ed Corn, Bob Haggard, Bill Miller, Steve Plock.

Ed, Gary, and Bill met first at the Ellicott Fire Department, while Steve and Bob each traveled ahead solo. Ed encountered a problem with his truck and had to return home, but he passed the tower antenna mast and connector supplies to Bill. Steve and Bob arrived at the site by 9 AM, and Bill and Gary arrived by 10 AM.

We encountered light drizzling rain and low clouds on the route to the site, but the rain let up once we were on Highway 96 past Ordway. Steve called Ed to let us know the weather was good at the site. The weather completely cleared later, while the temperature remained comfortable.

Steve coordinated by phone with Skip Crilly and commenced a 48-hour long SETI drift scan at -7.5 degrees declination, run simultaneously with Skip’s antenna in New Hampshire. The 48 hour run will scan the -7.5 degree declination band twice, and therefore acquire a repeat set of data that can be compared with the first set.

Bob worked at the Communications Trailer, doing carpentry and painting work. He built a wood frame seal around one of the air conditioners, fabricated and painted a seal for the solar-powered fan, and painted the third work table he had added previously. Bob told me the trailer back door hadn’t been sealing — until recently — because it actually had not been closed properly. He closed the door properly and it is now sealed, without requiring further work.

Bob at work.

Bill, Steve, and Gary worked on preparing the 50-foot ham radio antenna tower.

Bill spliced the controller feed cable and wires for the antenna rotator, and verified proper operation, with some assistance from Gary. Bill used Steve’s crimping tools. The three of us then fed the controller cable through the dog house to the tower.

Bill first checked online for the correct color code standards for the control cable wiring. Then he matched the correct colored wires from the cable to the wires on the rotator. After the wiring was completed, the rotator and controller were tested for correct operation and correct meter calibration.

At the tower outside, the rotator was attached to its base plate, and that assembly was then attached to the tower.

When we tried to fit the mast in the holding tube at the top of the tower, we found that top opening was slightly damaged, and the mast wouldn’t fit in. We then took turns filing and grinding out the hole until the mast did fit properly. Steve applied a lubricating grease, to mitigate against the mast binding stuck when rotating. Eventually we successfully installed the mast to the rotator itself. We also retrieved a guy wire cable left at the communications trailer and attached it as the third guy wire connection for the top of the tower.

Bill with Steve, filing out the top opening for the mast. You can see two of the three guy cables already attached to the top of the tower.
Steve
Gary
Bill and Steve fitting the mast at the tower top. The mast was then securely fastened to the rotator.
The 60 foot antenna positions at 39.5 degrees elevation for the 48-hour SETI run, in progress.

Before we left for the day, we had two visitors from Eads come to look at the site. We all spent a little while talking about the site and the work.

Addendum

By Gary Agranat

Bob was the first to leave, then Steve. Steve said he would check on Ed on the way home. Bill and I (Gary) convoyed out last.

While Bill and I were driving back to Colorado Springs, about an hour and a half into the trip back, an auto accident happened right in front of us, with a vehicle overturning.

The accident happened while we were driving westbound on Colorado Highway 94. It was early evening by then, about 5:30 pm, and the sun appeared above in the western sky. Bill and I had been talking on the VHF ham radio during our 2 1/2 hour drive back from the site. Bill was driving ahead of me.

A couple of miles before Rush, I saw three vehicles approaching from a long distance behind, moving faster than Bill and me, while we were going at about the speed limit. I mentioned the vehicles to Bill, and we stopped talking, anticipating they would choose to pass us soon. They did soon pass us, all three staying close to each other. We could see they were some sort of laborers, with equipment filling their vehicles and with ladders on top. The third vehicle passed us as we were going up a hill, with the solid yellow line on our side. Bill commented that car was taking risks, although they all were driving in a risky manner. There was no visibility over that hill. And furthermore we were driving into the sun. A couple of miles later we reached the town of Rush, where the speed limit lowers from 65 to 50 mph. As those three vehicles ahead approached the town, I suddenly saw the last one veer to the left side of the road, and then roll over, with its front turned facing the opposite direction. Bill and I both stopped, as did a driver heading in the oncoming direction who almost got hit. And several more cars stopped briefly. We saw one occupant lie in the grass, but he eventually got up.

Bill had a better view of the accident ahead of me. It looked to him like one of the three vehicles ahead suddenly slowed as he reached the town with the lower speed limit. The sun was right above and ahead of us, which created a greater visibility challenge. The sudden slowing apparently caught the last driver off guard, as he swerved to the right to avoid the vehicle ahead of him. But that put his right side of his car in the grass there, which caused a tire blowout and a swerve then to the left. And he overturned.

The volunteer fire department nearby responded relatively quickly. But we waited about 2 hours for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive, and then another hour for a State Patrol officer to arrive. The State Patrol was who we had to give our witness statements to. We didn’t finish with that until 8:30 pm, and I didn’t get home until 9:30.

The driver of the overturned vehicle eventually got up, but he refused medical help, although we wondered if he nonetheless might have been hurt.

Meanwhile the communities there are small, and everyone there knows everyone else. The other driver who stayed was a local woman school teacher. We chatted with her and also the volunteer firefighters, and with some of the neighbors who stopped to see if everyone was OK.

The State Patrol officer later explained to us that there were 6 accidents in the region called in within a period of 5 minutes, when our accident happened. One happened just about 9 miles further west from us on Highway 94, in the town of Yoder. That accident had injuries, and some of the firefighters who were with us then had to leave to respond to the other accident.

At a minimum, this is a reminder to take care to drive safely, especially with limiting conditions like the sun setting ahead.

First Light of DSES 9-Foot Dish Antenna at Rich Russel’s Home

by Dr. Rich Russel, DSES Science Lead

Part 1 – September 2, 2019

Ray Uberecken came over today with another LNA, which we put in series with the first LNA. This did the trick and overcame our cable loss problem. I conducted a small drift scan across the galactic center at -32 Declination. Here is a quick result.

I will spend the next couple of days fine tuning the azimuth pointing and weatherizing the LNAs.

I will forward information to allow certain members teamviewer access if they want.

Thanks Ray and Steve Plock for their technical support!!

Part 2 – September 4, 2019

The 9 ft dish at Dr. Russel’s house is operational!
It is set up to collect neutral hydrogen frequencies at 1420.406MHz.
Today the dish azimuth was aligned using the Sun and a level.

The receiver is a Spectracyber 1 from Radio Astronomy Supplies. 
Below is the measurement of the hydrogen spectrum near the galactic center.
RA 17hr 58min DEC -32 degrees

Training on the use of the system will be conducted at the science meetings.

Dr. Russel