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

Plishner Work Trip Report – August 24, 2019

By Gary Agranat

Participants: Ed Corn, Steve Plock, Gary Agranat.

Ed, Steve, and I traveled to our radio telescope site, leaving from the Ellicott Fire Department a little after 7:30 am. We encountered just a little fog on the way.

Steve worked primarily on troubleshooting the amplifier failure on the 60-foot antenna fiber optic feed. Steve found a power supply no longer functioned. He wrote me later, “Damaged parts have been ordered and will be replaced at the earliest convenience.”

The 60-foot antenna dish was rotated so that Steve could access the feed from the service tower.

Ed Corn and I worked on assembling the 3-element tri-band Yagi antenna from Myron Babcock, and then the ham radio tower by the bunker, on which the Yagi antenna will go.  We measured and reassembled the three Yagi antenna elements and the boom support for them.  We’ll wait to combine those until we are ready to attach the antenna to a mast and on to the tower.  The antenna will operate on the ham 10, 15, and 20 meter bands. We decided to set the lengths so that the antenna tunes best in the center portions of the bands.

Assembly of the three elements of the tri-band Yagi antenna and its supporting boom.

We assembled the tower components out to a length of 50 feet, including the top that will hold the rotor. The tower is now designed and built to rotate from a pivot point next to the existing tower that had been started earlier.  Ed climbed that original tower to install the pulley; the pulley leverages and pulls up the 50-foot tower by rotation at the pivot.  We tested lifting the 50 foot tower with the hand crank winch that I think came from Steve.  The design works.  We eventually will need to take down the mast that supports the 80 and 160 meter dipole antennas, to complete the tower build-out.  We plan to re-attaching those antennas to the tower itself, when we are ready to complete the tower.  Ed has already fabricated two standoffs that will attach to the sides of the tower, and centrally support the dipole antennas.

Ed from time to time went to help Steve. And Steve once in a while came to help with the tower assembly.

The base of the new antenna tower pivots next to the already existing support tower. The rotating winch on the support tower will pull the antenna tower and lift it up or down.
On each of the three connecting tubes, on each of the tower elements, a set of two screws each were bolted to fasten the connections.
Ed Corn attached a pulley (fabricated before) to the support tower.
Three of the 10-foot antenna tower sections connected, and connected with the base pivot. The cable from the winch has been threaded through the pulley on the support tower above, and connected to about the 20-foot point on the antenna tower. The pipe mast visible in the photo is the center support for the existing 80 and 160 meter dipole antennas. The new antenna tower, besides supporting the directional antennas at top, will replace that mast and support those dipoles.
We tested rotating up the antenna tower with three 10-foot sections assembled. After Ed verified that the placement of the pulley was good, he securely fastened it.
The winch with cable installed, used to lift and lower the antenna tower for service. The handle crank is geared. The lock pin enables free movement, movement in one direction, and locking.
The top section of the tower, ready to be attached.
Steve helped Ed and I complete the final assembly of the tower.

We had a lunch break together in the bunker. I brought a small coffee maker and brewed coffee for Ed and me.

The weather was good, considering the heat we’ve been having lately.  High cirrostratus and mid level clouds from storms in the distance covered us for the afternoon, and kept the heat and sunshine comfortable.  We saw rain showers in the far distance, but those never came close enough to bother us. The bunker thermometer read 75 F, and outdoors was probably just a little warmer.

The Radio Jove phased dipole antenna array.
Bob Haggard’s steps provide much easier access to the Communications Trailer.
Sunflowers were blooming everywhere.
The bunker antennas in their configuration right now.

During a break I got on the air at the bunker station, and made 12 contacts for QSO parties that were running: 1 to Hawaii, 5 to Ohio, and 6 to Kansas, on CW and SSB, on 20 and 40 meters. I submitted our logs to those QSO parties later.

The 5 band vertical ham radio antenna, still in good working condition after the repair from the May storm. Photo taken in the late morning soon after we arrived. We used this to make our 12 ham radio contacts on the 20 and 40 meter bands.

For the team, Gary Agranat.

Radio Telescope Site Report, System 1 Team, August 17, 2019, by Glenn Davis

Here is a quick site trip report on the work the System 1 team (Phil Gage, Lewis Putnam, Dave Molter and Glenn Davis) completed at the Haswell Site yesterday (8/17/2019):

  1. We installed Version 4.0 of the System 1 software. This version includes a major new capability that supports manual tracking of astronomical objects. I would like to demonstrate this capability at the next Science or Engineering meeting.
  2. Version 4 included a software update to fix the Elevation Axis Bounce Issue (Erroneous Elevation Axis Status) that was identified earlier this summer and has been investigated for several years. The problem was related to the Elevation Axis Integrity Instruments 232M200 I/O module. Due to a board related hardware problem, the I/O board was always reporting bit 2 of the encoder position data as “stuck” on (1) which would create erroneous Elevation encoder data. The fix required both a hardware and software modification. The hardware modification included moving the bit 2 pin to an unused position on the connector to the I/O module (see #3) then provide a software fix that would read data from this new bit position and re-incorporate the bit data back into the Elevation encoder position data – bypassing the bad bit. This hardware/software solution has fixed the problem. The Elevation Axis is now providing the correct encoder positions through it’s range of motion and the “bouncing” has been eliminated.
  3. Dave Molter moved and soldered the “bad” Elevation Axis hardware pin to support the software modification that fixes the Elevation Axis Bounce issue.
  4. Collected Voltage to Rate information for both axis – data below:
Voltage (V) Azimuth Rates (Degs/Sec) Notes
0.00 0.00 Minimum Potentiometer Setting
0.20 0.04
0.39 0.08
0.50 0.11 Normal Potentiometer Setting
0.75 0.17
1.50 0.33
Voltage (V) Elevation Rates (Degs/Sec) Notes
0.05 0.06 Minimum Potentiometer Setting
0.17 0.07
0.35 0.08
0.75 0.11
1.52 0.15 Normal Potentiometer Setting
3.72 0.30
4.24 0.34
5.00 0.42

Please note: We were unable to produce zero rates on the elevation axis – even with the potentiometer turn all the way down.

Additionally, though we believe we returned the potentiometers back to their normal positions, whoever returns to the site for the next data collection, please ensure the potentiometers are at their normal positions before use.

Glenn Davis

Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI is fun ! – August 2019 SARA Presentation by Skip Crilly

This is Skip Crilly‘s updated paper/presentation, Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI is fun ! Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System, updated July 2019. Skip presented it at the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers conference at Greenbank, WV on August 4, 2019. The link will open as a pdf file.

Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI is fun ! Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System

These two wave files are part of the presentation:  Figure 9 Simultaneous Tones Slow wave file and Figure 9 Simultaneous SETI Tones wave file.

4th Annual Deep Space Exploration Society Open House – Public Invited

4th Annual Deep Space Exploration Society Open House – Public Invited

Saturday August 10, 2019, starting at 10 AM, at the Plishner Radio Telescope Site, located on Kiowa County Road 20, 5 miles south of Haswell, CO.

  • Tours and educational programs will be offered during the afternoon. Radio Astronomy projects will be demonstrated, including galactic spectral Hydrogen Line and Pulsar detection with our 60-foot antenna dish, and Jupiter-Io radio astronomy (Radio Jove), Meteor detection, and the IBT (Itty Bitty Radio Telescope). Optical Astronomy and Ham Radio operating will be demonstrated.
  • Solar Optical Telescopes will be available to view the sun and its sunspots. Other optical telescopes will be available during the evening hours. The annual Perseid meteor shower starts on the Aug. 10th weekend. Meteors may be seen at night, sky conditions permitting. 
  • Food will be served for lunch and dinner. Ice water and lemonade will be available for all throughout the day.  
  • Overnight RV and tent camping will be permitted. Please let DSES know what type of RV/trailer you will come in. A limited number of 20 amp electrical hook ups should be available. A $10/night donation will be asked for electrical connections. Hotel rooms may be available at the Cobblestone Inn & Suites in Eads, CO, about a half hour drive away.

For more information, please contact us at our email address: information (a)dses(dot)science or destm(a)gmail(dot)com.

Plishner Antenna Site Work Trip Reports for July 10 & 20, 2019

By Ed Corn

Trip Report for July 10

My wife and I spent the day at the site cleaning up the last of the electric basic infrastructure build out. That portion is complete with the following items completed.

  • Basic plug ins complete including a GFI plug near the sink and one in the bathroom for portable heater.
  • A pre wire and extra switch in bathroom for future ex-host fan and an electric water heater for shower and kitchen sink.
  • Box and wiring for sewer pump when that project starts.
  • Wall switch and permanent light in sleeping area.
  • The tunnel lights now have a control switch at both ends.
  • 240 volt plugins for amplifiers at the Amateur operating position.
  • The sub main electric panel in the battery room is complete and the main panel has the trim cover installed.

There will be extra plugs and services  that will be needed in the future but basic build out is complete.

* *

Scheduled Maintenance Trip Report for July 20

Steve and I went down Friday the 19th. We met Paul Berge at the house in Haswell. Paul and his wife came down Thursday and stayed over Thursday and Friday nights. Steve and I stayed in the bunker Friday night.

Paul worked on finishing installing the control wiring in the pedestal in the conduit for mechanical protection, and he installed heavy duty override switches in the override panel in the comm trailer. He also gathered information for some updates on the control wiring. He will be working on the updates at his home computer.

Steve worked on the fiber link from the feed point to the comm trailer. The wind came up Saturday so Steve will complete work later as the wind was a safety issue trying to work up at the feed point. Steve did say the az/el readout worked after cycling power.

I have the two 30 amp plug-in circuits at the old generator building completed to give us 2 more RV parking spots with heavy enough power to run 1 air conditioner in each RV. Just for information to turn lights on in the generator building you will have to turn the circuit breakers on in the distribution panel in the middle  of the North wall.

Plishner Site Work Trip Report for June 14-15, 2019

DSES Plishner Site Trip Report 6-14-2019
By: Bill Miller, Bob Haggart. Photos by Bob Haggart.

Location: Plishner Radio and Space Science Center, Haswell, Co.
Attendance: Steve Plock, Rich Russel, Jonathon Ayers, Floyd Glick, Bob Haggart, Bill Miller

Accuracy: This is only a summary of my work on Friday and Bob Haggart trip from his report for Saturday and you should add your own and correct anything I missed. WKM.

Bill Miller’s Work Trip Report, Friday, June 14th
Bill was the first to arrive at the site about 10:15 on Friday 6/14 and started by opening the trailer and removing the exhaust fan cover. He lubricated and reattaching the fan wires, started the air conditioners, swept the Comm. trailer floor and removed the mud left from the last visit.
Steve came in shortly after and he and Bill went to the top of the tower to inspect the Liquid-tight conduit that Steve had previously installed for the elevation position synchro wiring.

Jonathon Ayers came in and assisted Bill to hook up the wiring to the synchros on the elevation axis in the top deck.

Bill then got some assistance from Floyd Glick while hooking up the wiring in the control deck of the dish pedestal. Thank you to Jonathon and Floyd.
The goal was to attach the Elevation position synchro encoders to the synchro panel in the Comm. trailer. This would match to connections of the Azimuth synchros previously installed. It would complete the synchro dish position indicator system which is an accurate minimal tech backup dish positioning system that needs no computer.

Bill was under a tight schedule as Rich had a pulsar observation planned to start at 3:30. Bill tested the system and it worked initially but then started tripping the ground fault interrupter on the synchro panel within a few minutes indicating that the insulation or electrical clearance of the elevation connections was breaking down somewhere in the path. Because this circuit is 120VAC, the ground fault interrupter is critical to safe the system with the many intermediate connections and it did its job. (Caution) Bill unplugged the synchro panel from AC and it should be left unplugged until we have a chance to trace down the fault in the elevation wiring. It is most likely in the old terminal box in the control deck, moisture in the system or hasty wiring in the elevation axis Encoder box. I also believe that the synchros in the elevation axis box are either bad or incompatible and should be changed out and matched to those in the trailer synchro panel. Ed Johnson has a box of synchros from the bunker.

Bill had to leave about 4:00PM while Rich, Floyd and Steve stayed to make their Pulsar observation. This seemed to be going well but the large storm was brewing in the area and I suspect they had to abandon the site that evening.

From Bob Haggard’s Work Trip Report. Saturday, June 15th
Arrived at the DSES site 8:35am. Opened gate, opened the bunker to retrieve keys. Noticed the dish was setting at about 45 degrees. Opened the Ops trailer and the battery box for 110V AC power. Mounted the solar powered, dusk to dawn, LED porch light. Removed the camera and the broken rear trailer window. Installed the clear window and camera right side up. (there you go Rich) The molding to hold the window in was rotten, have to make 4 new ones. The putty was too old to be used, will need more on next trip.

Removed two folding chairs from battery box and stored them in the OPs trailer under the table next to the filing cabinet. Stored the donated table saw and stand in the battery box. Picked up all unused unwanted lumber (there you go Steve)

Secured the battery box and the Ops trailer. Returned the keys to the desk and secured the bunker and gate. Secured the main gate and departed at 2:45.

No one else showed up for this work day.

The weather was perfect, a mild breeze, just enough to keep you cool while working in the hot sun.


May 2019 Science Meeting – Pulsars & Galactic Navigation

These are the slides from Dr. Richard Russel’s presentation at our May 2019 DSES Science Meeting.

Pulsar Galactic Navigation – DSES Science Meeting, May 2019

During the past year, Dr. Russel led us in measuring the Doppler shifts of galactic neutral hydrogen (HI). Building on his experience from navigation, he then developed his ideas on how to use HI Doppler shift measurements to navigate from star to star across galactic space.

This year we are undertaking measuring the pulse time of pulsars. Pulsars are understood to be the star remnants of supernova explosions. They become what are called neutron stars. The supernovas compress the stars tightly into enormous densities so that their matter become neutrons, and the stars are only about 7 miles in diameter. Due to the conservation of angular momentum, their spin increases very rapidly. The youngest rotate with periods of miliseconds. Their magnetic poles are often offset from their spin axes. Electrons spin rapidly along the outgoing magnetic field lines of the poles, producing synchrotron radiation, which in turn produce broad band radio signals. If a magnetic pole is oriented so that it points at Earth during the rotation, we receive a radio pulse, and maybe pulses at other wavelengths too. (That is how pulsars were first discovered during the late 1960s.)

The pulses are very regular. But the spin of the pulsars gradually lose energy and slow down over time too.

Dr. Russel took his ideas for navigation, and now he has developed a concept for doing interstellar navigation using pulsars as references. That’s what this slide set is about. He just submitted a paper on the topic to the journal of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers.

– ed. Gary Agranat

Plishner Site Work Trip Report for May 18, 2019

(Editor’s Note: This is Ed Corn’s report of our work at the Plishner radio telescope site during the weekend of May 18, 2019 – Gary, WA2JQZ)

I arrived about 9:30 AM and proceeded to the generator shed to install breakers and to survey the conduit route for 2 extra camper hook ups. The breaker box is ready. I will run conduit and wiring during another trip prior to the open house.

Steve Plock arrived shortly there after. We traveled separately so Steve could stay over with Paul Berge, as I have a graduation to attend on Sunday.
We looked at the ham radio tower project. All the hardware is on site but tower climbing is out for most of us. Steve decided we will assemble the tower on the ground, and tip it up with a winch at a later trip. We need a few extra parts to do this which are easily obtained or fabricated. Gary Agranat arrived and went to work on the vertical antenna. The vertical was damaged during the blizzard storm several weeks ago. He has a list of all needed parts for fixing on the next trip.

Steve moved the dish to the work stand and checked the control voltage for the feed to the preamps, and adjusted for voltage drop in the line from the communications trailer.

Steve and Gary then worked on tuning the 16o meter and 80 meter wire antennas. (Gary added: We trimmed the lengths to retune the antennas to about the center of the ham bands. The 160 meter antenna was tuned to 1.9 MHz, with a best SWR of 1.7:1. The 80 meter antenna was tuned with an SWR of 1:1 from 3.8 to 3.9 MHz. Before the tuning, each antenna was slightly long, which therefore gave better performance at the low ends of the bands. The retuning enabled better resonance in the phone portion of the bands, where several members like to participate in nets.)

I moved into the bunker and pulled wire for the sub main panel in the battery room, in preparation for the hot water heater for the sink and shower and the sewer pump system. The sub main is complete, ready for extension of the conduit runs on a future trip.

Paul arrived late afternoon and stayed the weekend with several items he wanted to work on.


Photos by Gary

Plishner 60-foot antenna