Plishner Antenna Site Work Trip Report for April 22, 2018

The following is the report of our work trip to the Plishner antenna site in Haswell, Colorado on Sunday April 22, 2018.  This was written by Ed Corn KC0TBE, with additional contribution by Dave Molter AD0QD, and with editing and photos by Gary Agranat WA2JQZ.

* * *

Steve Plock (KL7IZW), Ed Corn, and Gary Agranat left the Ellicott Fire Station about 7:30 AM, and arrived around 9:30.  Dave arrived just a bit later. We met Paul Berge (K0DJV) at the site, who had traveled down on Saturday from Lyons and stayed overnight. Paul had done some clean-up in the bunker. And he cleaned out the pile-up of tumble weeds from the bunker ramp.

Steve worked on the locking system for the box with the azimuth/elevation hardware in the pedestal. He reports moving the dish antenna down to 0° elevation and back up to zenith with no read-out errors. The lock holds the door securely shut to form a good shield from motor EMI (interference).

Ed installed a stronger fence at the bunker ramp entrance.

Ed built a more robust gate for the bunker ramp. The strong winds at the site had unhooked the previous gate, which then allowed tumbleweeds to pile down the ramp again. Ed dragged two farm gates from west of the Communications Trailer to the bunker ramp. He set up the hinge pins for the gate, and Gary helped hang the gate.

 

We then covered the gates with field wire (in the gaps and along the bottom) to keep the tumble weeds from getting into the ramp area.

Ed then installed a VHF base antenna on the bunker dog house for the talk-in radio. The talk-in radio, K0PRT 146.460 MHz, is now up and working, with desk remote controls in the bunker and communications trailer.  Please note the desk remote control in the comm. trailer must be plugged into an outlet and powered on to operate. This arrangement keeps the RF at the bunker, and gives access to talk-in radio at the comm. trailer as well, without RF emissions near the 60-foot dish.

Ed installed a talk-in VHF radio system for the site. The remote control phones for the talk-in radio system are at the communications trailer (pictured) and in the bunker. The power plug-in for the comm. trailer phone is right next to it.

Gary continued work on the Hustler 5-BTV HF vertical antenna for the club station at the bunker. By the end of the day Gary had the vertical assembled and mounted on an anchor pole he installed with Dave’s help. The vertical is in place with non metallic guys for stability in the Plishner winds.

Gary doing final assembly of the vertical HF antenna.

Gary added these comments: “I assembled the antenna with lengths used by the previous owner, but noted the originally specified lengths from the manual. Some worn parts were replaced with parts provided by Dave, and some machine screws were replaced with stainless steel ones. We salvaged a conduit pipe for a base mount, and Dave drove it into the ground (a few feet deep) northwest of the dog house, at a distance of more than 20 feet from nearest obstacles. Dave and I then mounted the antenna on the base…”

The Hustler 5 Band Vertical Trap Antenna mounted to the base post near the bunker.

“… One of the two leads of the pigtail connection to the antenna at the base came loose. With Steve’s help we removed the pigtail, and I soldered a new lug connector, and reconnected the pigtail.  I then used Dave’s antenna analyzer to map the SWR – frequency response of the antenna.  That was just an initial check, as we have not yet installed the radials. With the current lengths, the antenna is resonant in the 80 and 40 meter bands, but not the 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. At the end of the day, the whole team present helped install non-conducting guy ropes. Those will provide the lateral structural support against the expected winds.”

The team set up the HF vertical ham antenna with non-conductive guy ropes northwest of the bunker. The antenna will add 10, 15, 20, and 40 meter band capability to the bunker ham radio station. The bunker already has 80 and 160 meter dipole antennas. L to R: Dave, Ed, Steve, and Paul.

Dave unloaded a truck full of concrete blocks,  bagged cement, and mortar mix for use in the retainer wall extension at the bunker.  Then Dave and Paul used the rest of the day to work on the antenna dish controls. They also lowered the 2 old drive motors from the pedestal control deck to the floor in preparation for removal from the site to salvage.

Dave walking back to the pedestal of the dish antenna.

Dave added these comments: “I delivered 22 concrete blocks, 2 bags of type S mortar mix, and 6 bags of concrete mix. That makes a total of about 65 blocks to use when we resume the wall building. Paul Berge was at the site, and we discussed the installation of the VFD for the elevation axis drive. His insight answered many questions I had and had never gotten answers to. We stepped through the wiring of the VFD and cabinet wiring, and how the remote unit in the trailer and hand paddle were wired to the cabinet. We soldered permanent ground wires with terminal lugs onto the shields of the Az and El brake cables, and onto the shield to the elevation motor drive. All shields were terminated to the main cabinet ground connection. There appeared to be no change in the observed noise present on the LEDs while no signal was present.”

“Paul and I lowered the two motors that were on the 03 (top) level of the pedestal to the ground level. There is one more motor on the 02 level that Paul believes is a spare for the installed motor.”

“A mounting post was driven in the ground about 35 feet west of the main support for the for 80 meter dipole. Gary had assembled the 5 BTV vertical antenna, and the group mounted the antenna to the post, and installed 3 guy lines.”

 * *

Ed and Steve talking in the Com Trailer, at the end of the day. Steve created a chart map of astronomical radio sources, which he placed in the Com Trailer (the white chart behind the remote call-in phone).
The commercial power feed at the site entrance on County Road 20, installed earlier this year.
The completed, more robust, fence at the bunker.

Paul stayed over Sunday and Monday nights, traveling home on Tuesday. He spent Monday doing routine maintenance and clean-up on the dish drive systems, which had been delayed and was past due.

Thanks to everyone for a very productive work weekend at the site.

Ed KC0TBE

 

 

 

DSES All Members Meeting April 14, 2018

This is the slide presentation for our All Members Annual Meeting on April 14, 2018. This was presented by Dr. Richard Russel, our out-going president.

DSES All Members Meeting 2018

The content includes:

  • The results of the Executive Board election
  • The Treasurer’s Report
  • Club accomplishments of the past year (of which there are many)
  • List of current projects
  • Science and published paper highlights
  • Outreach and communications
  • New Officer nominations / elections / appointments *

The Annual Meeting was held at the La Casa Fiesta Restaurant in Monument, CO.

The next official meeting is an open Executive Board Meeting on Friday evening, May 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm. The location is the IHOP just east of Powers Blvd. on Constitution Ave. in Colorado Springs. The General Membership is welcome to attend. Unfinished business and plans for the upcoming year will be discussed.  (*) Also the elections will be recertified at the meeting.

 

 

Annual 2018 Members Meeting Invitation

Dear DSES Members,

Please attend our annual all members meeting to be held on Saturday, April 14th at 1:00PM in Monument Colorado at the La Casa Fiesta Restaurant www.lacasafiesta.net in the Garden room. This should make it a little more convenient for our northern Colorado members to attend.

We have completed our annual partial board election with the election or retention of the following four board members:

Gary Agranat, Myron Babcock, Steve Plock, and Dr. Richard Russel.

Seven Board Members are elected for a two-year term with 4 and 3 elected on alternate years. The other three board members elected on the last election cycle are, Floyd Glick, Dave Molter and Bill Miller.

At the annual meeting we will elect the officer seats for President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary from the board members, and we will also give the annual activities report and treasurers report as well as discuss future project plan and new business.

We hope to see you there.

Regards,

Bill Miller
DSES Secretary

Directions:
From I25 Take exit 161 for CO-105 toward Monument/Palmer Lake, 0.5 mi
Turn left onto 2nd St, 0.6 mi
Turn right onto Front St
Destination will be on the right, 177 ft
La Casa Fiesta New Mexican Restaurant
230 Front St, Monument, CO 80132

Fiber Cable Installation

These are photos, shared by Steve Plock, from the installation of the 100 meter fiber optic cable during the first week of March. The new cable runs from the antenna feed to the com trailer, and replaces a coax cable. A 50-foot lift was rented, to run the cable to the antenna feed. Ed Corn worked from the lift bucket.

The installation was originally scheduled for Monday March 5th, but the winds were too strong. The winds were not as strong the next day, though still a challenge, and they did the installation then.

The fiber optic cable enables a higher data rate, and also eliminates a significant source of noise.

Skip Crilly, Monday March 5, 2018.
Ed Corn working from the bucket. Tuesday March 6, 2018.
Ed working from the bucket, with Floyd Glick and Bill Miller watching on the ground. Tuesday March 6, 2018. Also present were Glenn Davis and Paul Berge.

 

Plishner Site Report March 17, 2018, and other Updates

By Gary Agranat, March 27, 2018.
Updated March 29, 2018 0200 GMT: 1) Skip Crilly’s slides were updated, and 2) the supernova remnant detected was NRAO 5690.

On Saturday March 17, four of us were at the Plishner antenna site: Steve Plock, Ed Corn, David Molter, and I (Gary Agranat).

And before I say anything more, I want to point out that the site has had much activity over the past few months. Full commercial power was installed and the site now operates using that. A number of simultaneous observing runs were made with Skip Crilly at the 40 foot dish of Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia, 1257 miles distant. More about that later.

Plus, a number of equipment upgrades to the site were made. Many of those enable the joint observations, yet also enhance our ability for observations on our own. For example, a few weeks ago a 100 meter long fiber optic cable was installed from the antenna feed (at the focus of the dish) to the receiver at the communications trailer. In order to install it, a 50-foot lift was rented. However, the installation had to be delayed a day because the originally planned day was too windy. Replacing the coax with fiber optic cable eliminates a significant source of electrical noise to the receiver. This is very important for radio astronomy observing.

Effort has been ongoing as well to troubleshoot and make work our two independent antenna pointing control systems. One system was designed by Glenn Davis and David Molter, the other by Ray Uberbecken and Ed Johnson. Both seem to be good workable solutions, and we will have one back up the other. An ongoing problem we have been troubleshooting is electrical noise.

Meanwhile, Rich Russel and Skip Crilly traveled to the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Western Conference at Stanford University in California, to give talks based on papers they wrote. More detailed information about these other activities are already, or will be, posted on our website.  And so we have been very busy, and doing much. Today’s activities are a moment in a bigger story.

* *

This is our connection to commercial power at the entrance to our site. New utility poles and a power line were erected, which connect to an existing power line about a mile to the north.

On this trip, Ed brought an additional roll of fencing. David Molter and I (Gary) then completed fencing the periphery of the bunker entrance ramp. The bunker when it was originally built in the 1950s had a fence, but it deteriorated away since. Without a fence, tumbleweed accumulate in the ramp when the winds are strong enough. And it is a chronic, time consuming task to clear our the entrance. The fence is a worthwhile accomplishment.

David Molter completing the last section of fence.
David Molter completing the last section of fence.

The last part of the fencing job was to create a moveable gate across the ramp entrance. Ed, Steve and David created an improvised gate with the fencing, and with spare re-bars (steel bars for reinforcing concrete), and hooks.

A used Hustler 5-BTV vertical ham radio antenna was donated to us. We plan to erect it near the bunker. Its coverage is the 10, 15, 20, 40, and 80 ham radio bands. I inspected the parts, and found we just needed a few “spider” radial parts for near the top of the antenna, to replace worn or missing parts. As of this writing, David got us replacement parts, and we are ready for the next steps for installation. An existing pipe in the ground might be used to mount it, or we may put in a new one. Given the wind conditions, we will guy the antenna with non-conducting cable.

Ed has been installing an internal phone system on the site. Phones are being installed at the pedestal, com trailer, and bunker. Dialing a number will ring an individual phone. On future trips, Ed will also install a VHF radio, connected to the phone system, so that one can “call in” from outside using the ham VHF 2 meter band.

David Molter
Ed Corn

**

Steve and David worked on the pointing control system. David wrote these details for us:

For the elevation/azimuth work that I did last weekend:  I used a bubble level to set a horizontal line, then zeroed the bubble level/inclinometer that I brought. Steve and I moved the mount to as close to 0 degrees elevation using the vertical part of the inclinometer by lining up the edges of the dish and sighting across them until they showed vertical from where we were standing on the ground.  The readout on the computer was minus 0.1 degree. I then took the digital inclinometer and zeroed it on the same bubble level. I took it up to the back of the dish and measured the elevation axles. The left axle measured minus 0.1  degrees and the right axle measured plus 0.4 degrees.  I then measured the horizontal beam on the left side as you are looking out the dish it measured 0.1 degree. I can’t remember if it was plus or minus. The same beam on the right side measured minus 0.7 degrees.  Steve then rotated the dish to point to the Haswell grain elevator He moved the dish until the feedhorn blocked the view of the elevator as I was looking through the bottom of the reflector.  I then checked the seam of the azimuth electronics box and it was lined up with the tower part of the elevator. Steve knows what the reading was. I didn’t observe the elevation lights when the dish was moving. I did observe that the 3/4 inch ‘liquid tight’ sealable conduit was secure at the elevation electronics box, and it ends about 3 feet into the tube where the wires go into the upper mount level.

I then started helping Ed troubleshoot the phone system.

Before I did the elevation observations, Gary and I put up the fence that Ed had brought down. We completed the run along the North East side to the end of the ramp. After lunch, Ed, Gary, Steve and I  built (designed, created, hodge podged, jury rigged, slapped together) a gate out of the same fence material. Now the ramp is surrounded by a ring of steel (fence that is).

**

During the day we had two visitors from Las Animas: Sharon Branch and her friend Cheri Martinson. Sharon is a member who joined last November. I gave them a nice tour, with some background of the history and science. Steve then took them up the dish antenna. Cheri later wrote us a delightful letter, and she became a member too.

Views of neighbor farm fields:

Late in the afternoon two photographers came who had arranged to work overnight, in order to photograph the dish with starry background: Mike Cunningham, who has become a member, and a friend.

**

For the past few months we have been doing a series of joint observing runs with Skip Crilly, who uses the 40 foot dish antenna at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia. These observations are for SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). However, a test observation also detected the supernova remnant NRAO 5690. The detection and measurement of NRAO 5690 is probably our first real confirmed detection of an astronomical object with the Plishner 60 foot dish antenna. These joint observations are the subject of Skip’s talk at the SARA Western Conference at Stanford.

Now that he has given the talk, we have posted a recent revision of his slides on our Publications Page on our website, in the Science Section. See: “Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System”, by Skip Crilly.

The next set of joint observations are scheduled for April 9. Several members will be at the site to carry out observing, and to also continue site work in between observing runs (which last about 30 minutes).

At this week’s DSES Science meeting, Rich Russel gave us details about the SARA Western Conference, including his paper. Rich also discussed bringing the Jupiter-Io experiment “Radio Jove” back online, now that Jupiter is placed well again for observing. And he discussed a week-long “Synthesis Imaging Workshop” (on radio telescope data imaging) that he will be attending. The dates are May 16-23, and the location is near the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. He also plans to attend the main SARA conference in Greenbank, West Virginia this summer.

***

Some more news:

  1. Last week the votes for the 2018 DSES Board election were counted. The Board members elected are: Rich Russel, Steve Plock, Myron Babcock, and Gary Agranat. Thanks to Lauren Libby and Bob Sayers who also ran.
  2. With the Board election completed, the Annual membership meeting is now being planned. The scheduled date is April 14, probably at 2 PM. A location is being finalized now.

The DSES Secretary should be sending formal announcements soon.

73,
Gary
WA2JQZ

 

Plishner Site Report – January 25 & 26, 2018

Steve and I arrived at the site about 9:40 AM Thursday. We energized the main line up to the bunker. We than made the necessary voltage checks for each of the branch feeders and energized the entire distribution system. The Plishner site is now on grid power.

All of the battery packs and inverters are still in service. Reminder that any light or plug  sprayed with red paint is an inverter outlet, any plug or light with no paint on the box is grid power. Be sure to turn everything OFF before leaving the site.

Steve worked with Skip Crilly at Greenbank by phone to turn up equipment and point the dish for the data observations. Steve had everything running for the first observation and continued running until 12:50 PM Friday the 26th. We shut down at that time and removed the equipment for shipment back to Skip for maintenance and upgrade. Steve will ship after returning back. All indications are a successful data run.

Between checking equipment, we added wire to the 160M dipole at the bunker. It is better but needs some extra work. Also filled the wire trench in front of the concrete slab at the top end of the ramp to allow driving on to the slab and not having to jump the trench going in to and out of the bunker. This leaves about 500 feet of trench to fill; We will need some help with this in February.

I also installed a dedicated outlet in the generator shed to feed the LAN switch that is necessary to provide cat 5 Ethernet from the Comm Trailer to the bunker. The last item we covered was moving the WIFI hot spot to the bunker. There is now wireless internet in the bunker. We did not have the manual for the converter from wireless to cat 5 with us to configure the unit. This will be completed next trip to provide internet on cat 5 cable end to end at Plishner. This relocate removed the RF from the hot spot in the Comm Trailer during observation times.

Note: The sump pump in the battery room is on grid power and the front entry way sump pump is on inverter. I will change over to grid power after a wiring change. This will be first order of business next trip.

We secured the site and left about 1:30 PM Friday.

Ed and Steve

DSES earned a first place award in the ham radio 2017 Colorado QSO Party

K0PRT, the club ham radio station of the Deep Space Exploration Society, earned this First Place certificate in the 2017 Colorado QSO Party, for our category.  The QSO party ran last September.

We operated Morse Code (CW) and Phone (SSB).  We entered as a portable station,  because we made contacts while traveling to the telescope site, and then while at the telescope site itself.  We made 37 contacts around the U.S. and Canada.  Thanks to all of the team for supporting this event.  Our operators were Gary Agranat WA2JQZ and Bill Miller KC0FHN.

DSES 2017 Year End Update and Membership Renewal

December 22, 2017

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


I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Today marks the first day of our 2018 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. Those members who have recently joined within the past 3 months (October-December) will be credited for 2018. Annual elections of board members/officers will be in late January. You must be current on your dues to vote in the elections.

 

You can pay your dues on the DSES web site (DSES.science) by credit card or PayPal. You can also mail dues to the following addresses:

DSES,
4164 Austin Bluffs Parkway #562,
Colorado Springs, CO 80909-2118

 

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. Also 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.

Please read the attached DSES 2017 Highlights written by Bill Miller, your Secretary. He did a fantastic job in covering the great success we had in 2017.

Please feel free to email or call me if you have any questions or if you have a change of any contact information, email, phone or snail mail.


Thank You and have a great 2018 New Year;

Myron F. Babcock; DSES Treasurer

[To contact Myron, please use the email address dsestm{at}gmail.com . ]

Read our Deep Space Exploration Society 2017 Highlights.

DSES Commercial Power Installation Update

Posted by Myron Babcock, DSES Treasurer.  Photos by Steve Plock, DSES Vice President.

Thanks to Skip Crilly for his $37K donation and to Steve Plock and Ed Corn for leading this effort to fulfill the dream of connecting the DSES Plishner Site to the AC Power Grid. Steve reported on Saturday December 9 that approximately 22 power poles, almost 5000 feet of wire, and a 25KVA transformer were installed last week. The Colorado Southeast Power Association worked 5 days in accomplishing this task. Saturday December 9, Steve Plock, Ed Corn, and Glenn Davis spent the day assisting local resident, Mark Nelson, from Haswell, CO in the trenching of approximately 600 feet of ground from the transformer pole area to the Southwest corner of the bunker area. Number 4/0 3 wire URD/with reduced neutral wire is now in the trench and once inspected by a Southeast Power Association representative the trench will be filled back in. Ed Corn has the necessary supplies for final connection to the bunker power panel. Once completed DSES will have 220 VAC 100 amp service in the communications trailer and 220 VAC 100 amp service in the bunker. Currently the plan is for the existing 30+KW propane generator to be disconnected. A decision will be made at a later date as to the disposition of this generator. Existing solar panels and batteries will continue to be used until such time as it is deemed the continuing expense out ways its usefulness.

 

Looking North along Kiowa County Road 20. The white structure in the background is the 200 foot tall grain elevator 5 miles north in Haswell, CO. The electric meter will be mounted on the nearest pole next to the fence.
The trenching operation starting from the southwest corner of the bunker area. The structure at the starting point of the trenching operation is the “dog house” emergency bunker entry/exit over the recently constructed spiral staircase. Next to this structure is a 40 foot telescoping mast supporting the 160 & 80 meter dipole antennas.