Three-telescope synchronized narrowband pulse observations

This is a presentation about our the latest SETI observation results. The DSES 60-foot dish antenna in Haswell and the 40-foot dish antenna at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia have been making simultaneous observations for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) since November 2017. Now a third antenna in New Hampshire has been added. Simultaneous observing by sites distant from each other helps filter out local radio frequency interference (RFI). Signals observed at each site can then more confidently be identified as non-Earth in origin. This presentation briefly summarizes the results with the addition of the third New Hampshire antenna in December 2019. The presentation is written by Skip Crilly.

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Please click the link to read the presentation in PDF format: Three-telescope synchronized narrowband pulse observations – Green Bank, Haswell, and New Hampshire radio telescopes, Observations: December 2019 Preliminary Report by Skip Crilly, Education and Public Outreach Volunteer Science Ambassador, Green Bank Observatory, 1/22/2020

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

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 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.

Very Large Array (VLA) Image Reduction Results

Recently Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. This course taught how to take the data sets from the VLA archive and produce images. The following is the first set of images reduced from the VLA archive by Dr. Russel.

Images were made of these astronomical objects:

  • 3C75 Binary Black Hole System
  • 3C391 Supernova Remnant
  • Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) Star IRC+10216
  • MG0414+0534 Gravitational Lens HI Absorption Line

Each image takes about 1 day to produce from the raw observation.

http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/VLA-Imaging-Results-1.pdf

DSES September 2019 Engineering and Operations Meeting Minutes

Minutes by Bill Miller

Attendance: Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Myron Babcock, Phil Gage, Rich Russel, Bob Haggard, Dave Molter, Lewis Putnam, Jonathan Ares. Online via TeamViewer: Tony Bigbee.

Next work Trip in 21st of Sept.  Gary and Ed may also use the 28th for to work on the tower.

  • Pointing System 1 HW/SW status and completeness: Phil Gage, Dave Molter,  Johnathan Ares
    • 3 weeks ago. Fixed the bad bit by jumpering to another channel and changed the SW to match.  Tested and Ed verified last weekend.
    • Dish mount stiction and inertia make continuous control too erratic so need to do a step and drift control.
    • The team took data on the command voltage verses speed and found both axes to be pretty linear.  See the graph.
    • Glenn added a computer supported manual control that tells the operator what commands to give the system to track manually. A little labor intensive but works.
    • With elevation axes is now stable and we should do a calibration using astronomical objects.
    • Should also mark the feed horn mountings to reduce the RF pointing error when changing or reinstalling the feed antenna.
    • Make a table of offsets for each feed and do a calibration for each feed.
    • Bill gave system 1 team the control relay circuitry used in System 2.
  • Pointing System 2 HW/SW status and completeness:  Bill Miller
    • The PID control system that Ed Johnson implemented in the SW has been tested and can drive the dish mount to within one or two bits on the encoders.
    • The system worked fairly well on the last test in July except that the system would hang up and continue to drive the mount when it should have stopped.  This sometimes caused an overshoot or required manual shut down. 
    • Bill is building a physical simulator to make it easier to trouble shoot the system 2 without the Plishner Dish.  In this way Ed can work on the SW at home and work out these last bugs.
    • It would be nice to have a second spare encoder to work this but the lowest cost one found on eBay was over $500.
  • Synchro pointing system status and completeness:  Bill Miller
    • The Azimuth Synchro system worked when installed last year.  Bill installed the Elevation Synchro in the early June Trip but when testing there was a problem in the system with a fault to ground.  This is 120VAC supply current flowing where it shouldn’t and must be fixed to be safe. 
    • Several of the old terminal boxes were used in the hookup.  Bill suspects that one of those is causing the leakage.  We will have to trace down and correct this before the synchro can be used as a backup pointing system. 
    • Members are asked not to plug the synchro panel into AC power until this is resolved.
  • Dish Feed system status and changes
    • There was apparently a lightning strike on the dish this summer that took out the feed electronics and the power supply in the trailer.
    • Steve worked on the feed and found a bad amplifier. Steve rebuilt the amplifier pack and still found another bad amplifier.  Skip sent Steve a set of amplifiers that he will install on the next trip.
    • Steve has the noise source to test the RF through the amplifier chain.
    • The power supply was also bad, and Skip shipped a new one that works.
  • Preparation for Stratospheric and Moon Bounce (EME) radio operation.
    • Ray and Steve terminated the hardline on the 3rd deck and will attach to extensions down to the tower base. One hard line is complete.
    • Need to be careful to get the feed mounted exactly as we had it.
    • Hope to be able to do Stratospheric long distance communication and Moon bounce (or EME) in the autumn or near future.
  • Status of Hydrogen Detector at Rich’s House
    • Rich has taken 4 declinations in a daily drift scan and is generating a composite color image of the HI emission.
    • Ray added a second LNA in the system that works much better than the first.
    • Drift scan HI is working well and anyone in the core group can get the data from Rich’s computer.  Send him an email.
  • Pulsar Detector Status
    • Have the Cavity filter and Low Noise Amplifier for pulsar has just been received and we have the SDR made for this calibrated and ready to go from Steve and Joe Martin in New Mexico.
    • Will try for the strongest Pulsars with the long Yagi in Rich’s back yard.
    • A dish with tracking or a Yagi array would be better.
  • SETI observation plans and schedule
    • Steve has a time crunch to fix the feed, power supply and amplifiers and make it work by the end of  September for a 3 day run.
  • Plans to do Tropospheric Radio Communication
    • Want to do Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming
  • Plans for Moon Bounce Radio Communication
    • Tentatively considering upcoming ARRL contest weekends. Two weekends in October 19th and 20th and November 16th and 17th.
  • Ham Radio Station and Antenna Status
    • Ed and Gary built the 50-foot tower and are ready to mount the tribander beam antenna for 10, 15 and 20 Meters on the rotor.
    • Will also mount a 2 meter antenna on the side of the tower for the talk in radio.
    • Ed reworked the buckled pipe section of the vertical antenna with some clamps and bradding to make a splint to repair.
    • Gary rechecked the vertical antenna SWR with an antenna analyzer. He reports antenna is working as well or better. He posted a table of SWR values for each band behind the station operating desk.
    • Repaired the broken radios.
    • Gary operated three QSO parties: for Hawaii, Ohio, and Kansas, and made CW and SSB contacts on all three.
    • In the open house we had a special event station and had a number of members get on the air.
    • When using the Ham radio Equipment make sure to unplug the Antennas from the radios when you leave.
    • The tower is a tip down design.  The winch will tip down the tower to be able to lower the antenna and work on the antenna.
  • Infrastructure items
    • Ed has the Electrical system built out.  A couple of stubs for add ons are all that is left.
    • Construction
      • Need a 32-inch steel clad pre-hung door for the top of the spiral staircase.
      • Need cement board to skirt the trailer.  Dave may have some.
      • Installed the mid hallway door and it needs the blocking panel at the top
      • In the future would like to slit the tool room into two compartments.
    • Plumbing
      • After he amateur tower is finished Ed will install the hot water heater.
      • Will also install a European type shower.
      • Ed wants to have a dump station with a grinder pump and pump out the sewer line.
      • Ed uses a deveining rod method to locate the pipes and wires.
      • He says the sewer line runs to the SE corner of the lot were there is a square vault and then a pipe leaves that and goes across the road.
  • Outreach
    • Open House.  Bill owes the group a report.
      • Need the Attendance list from Myron which was let in the Comm. Trailer
      • Need any additional photos that you took. Paul Berge may have more.
      • October Haswell Bazar.  This will be in late October. Bill and Gary plan to support a table.
  • Myron’s Treasures Report
    • 2067.75 Checking
    • 5740.11 savings
    • At Monument Mega Fest made $356 selling surplus equipment.
    • United way Philadelphia $30
    • Collected $260 in dues and a $50 donation, $88 in food donations for the open house
    • Expense for electric account is $128 for July and will be between $70 and $125 monthly.
    • Telephone is $38.25/month for only 911 and the local exchange
    • 55 members 35 voting 25 not voting
    • 18 have not renewed
    • $90 charge for Eads newspaper ads for open house
  • General Discussion
    • May approach Dalton Eichenberg on spraying or getting a brush hog on the site.
    • CHIMES program in Canada. Canadian Hydrogen Mapping Long term project. They need infrastructure, power and fiber. 150 by 150 ft. footprint.
    • The block wall has made a big difference in the mud flow.
      The bulker hasn’t had a lot of water since the pump was replaced. 
      Batteries in the battery box in the battery room are dead and Ed will hook in the RR batteries for the Inverter power.

Hydrogen Drift Scan using the new 9-foot Dish

By Dr. Richard Russel

The DSES 9-foot dish is operational at Dr. Russel’s house in Colorado Springs. It is outfitted with a 1420 MHz feed with 2 low-noise amplifiers with over 40 dBi of gain and a noise figure of 0.35. The receiving system is a Spectracyber 1.

The output of the Spectracyber shows the relative peaks of hydrogen with a corresponding Doppler measurement.

Dr. Russel performed a drift scan of the visible sky and plotted the relative peak hydrogen signals.

The hydrogen maps very well to the visible Milky Way. The plot below converts the Celestial Coordinates into Galactic Coordinates. Note that the peak hydrogen is concentrated near the 0 Galactic Latitude.

Special Thanks to Ray Uberecken and Steve Plock for helping to set up the system.

For more information:

Dr. Richard Russel: DrRichRussel(at)netscape.net

Deep Space Exploration Society: www.DSES.science