2019 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) Western Conference

By Gary Agranat. Photos courtesy of SARA. With contributions by Bob Haggart, Steve Plock, and Skip Crilly.

The 2019 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Western Conference this year was held in Boulder, Colorado, from March 22nd to 25th. The Deep Space Exploration Society co-hosted the conference this year, with a field trip to the Plishner radio telescope site in Haswell. DSES members presented 5 of the talks at the conference. The venue location was the Boulder campus of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

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Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers 2019 Western Conference, group photo Sunday morning. (Courtesy of SARA)

The conference activities began on Friday afternoon, with a visit to the NCAR Mesa Labs High Altitude Observatory (HAO). During the weekend the conference was hosted at the NCAR Center Green conference Center in Boulder. Nine talks were presented by SARA members on a variety of amateur radio astronomy topics. Plus the keynote address was by the HAO Director Scott McIntosh about a regular predictability of the solar cycle based on an understanding of the sun’s magnetic physics.

DSES members presented 5 of the papers at the conference:

  • “Milky Way Rotation Rate and Mass Estimation Using HI Measurements, Latest Updates as of February 2019 Observational Data”, by Dr. Richard Russel.
  • “Earth’s Orbital Position in the Solar System using Galactic HI Measurements, Updated to Include: Fourth Observation Results with Solar System Yaw Measurements”, by Dr. Richard Russel.
  • “Simultaneous and Associated Pulses Observed with Synchronized and Distant Radio Telescopes”, by Skip Crilly.
  • “The Future of Radio Astronomy: The Square Kilometer Array and the Next Generation Very Large Array”, by Dayton Jones.
  • “Expanding the RTL2832u SDR Dongle”, by Hans Gaensbauer.

DSES Contributions to the 2019 SARA Western Conference – with abstracts: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/DSES-Contribution-to-the-2019-Western-Conference.pdf

More information about the conference program and talks can be found on the SARA website. http://www.radio-astronomy.org/node/301

Also attending the conference from DSES were Ray Uberecken, Steve Plock, Bill Miller, Paul Berge, Brian Nelson, and Gary Agranat.

Over the weekend were field trips to two sites: The North Table Mountain antenna site operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Little Thompson Observatory at the Berthoud High School. Table Mountain is the site where DSES got its start, using the two 60 foot dish antennas there. That was one of the locations we visited on the site. We also visited Terry Bullet’s lab, and a lab for measuring radar cross sections of test objects (like military personnel carriers). The group went for dinner Saturday evening at the Three Margaritas Restaurant in Longmont.

For Sunday evening and Monday, DSES sponsored a field trip visit to its 60-foot dish antenna site at Haswell. Ahead of time, DSES members help prepare the site for the visit, and helped with providing food. Then, much of the visit time was devoted to touring and discussions and getting to know one another better. The dish antenna was made available for observing.

* * *

Bob Haggart wrote about the work he contributed: “I went to the site on Sunday and stayed overnight. While there I cleaned up the ops trailer, placed a shelving unit to help keep order in the area. I also installed a camera on the rear door, in order to view the dish antenna movement. That evening I lit up the dish with a single light so that it can be seen at night.” It made the dish appear as a “ghost-like ship”. Bob also mentioned the amount of mud that made cleaning difficult.

Steve Plock wrote about additional work: He left the conference Sunday afternoon, stopped at his home to pick up frozen pizza for serving to the group, and proceeded to the site. He delivered a large microwave oven as well. He stayed overnight with Skip Crilly at the guest house in Haswell. “For quite some time on Monday I helped Skip with his new setup to make sure it worked OK. He put in a new receiver system for the SETI data acquisition. The photo with the feet was me climbing into W9YS’s vehicle that had locked keys inside.” Steve and Bill Miller took several visitors on tours of the pedestal. “The dish antenna was made available for observing. ” Several other DSES members helped with the site visit, including Ed Corn and Rich Russel.

Skip Crilly also wrote: “In between DSES member Skip Crilly’s endless story-telling, a new simultaneous SETI pulse detection receiver and its software was installed in the comms trailer. The new receiver system has approximately twice the pulse detection throughput as the previous system, which was used for simultaneous SETI with Green Bank, since late 2017. Details about the 2017 to 2019 simultaneous pulse observations are in a presentation Skip gave at the SARA Western Conference. More SETI fun will be forthcoming, especially when the third simultaneous dish comes on line, planned for mid-2019. Stay tuned and keep looking up!”

Thanks to everyone in SARA, DSES, Little Thompson Observatory, and NCAR who supported and made this a great conference. And thanks to everyone who participated.

Some photo highlights from the conference

Visiting the HAO Mesa Lab. The Mesa Lab was the site of the first commercial Cray computer.
Scott Mcintosh giving his keynote talk about recent work on the predictability of the solar cycle, based on the underlying magnetic physics of the Sun. For more see http://opensky.ucar.edu/islandora/object/articles:22329
Dr. Richard Russel from DSES presenting his talk, about estimating the mass of the part of the Milky Way galaxy within the Sun’s orbit, from taking HI (21 cm neutral hydrogen) Doppler velocity measurements.
We were served deli lunches each day of the conference.

Visit to Table Mountain – Tour of Terry Bullets lab.

Visit to the twin 60-foot dish antennas on Table Mountain, where DSES started in 1991.

Dinner Saturday evening at Three Margaritas Restaurant in Longmont.
Visit to Little Thompson Observatory. Terry Bullet showing us the meteor scatter experiment.

Photos from the visit to the DSES radio telescope site in Haswell.

Salvaging a 2 meter dish antenna for radio astronomy

On Sunday March 9, 2019 a group of Deep Space Exploration Society members in Colorado Springs salvaged a 2 meter diameter satellite dish antenna, to repurpose it for solar radio astronomy. The antenna came from the KCME commercial broadcast station, which was no longer using it. The group moved the antenna to the home of DSES member Floyd Glick. Floyd will configure and test it there, to use for solar radio astronomy. It will then eventually be moved to the group’s Plishner antenna site in Kiowa County.

The DSES members who participated were Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Floyd Glick, Myron Babcock, Bill Miller, Bob Haggard, and Gary Agranat.

Here are some photos from the move, taken by Bob Haggard, and one photo by Gary Agranat.

Three DSES members judge at 2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

Deep Space Exploration Society members Bill Miller, Gary Agranat, and Tony Bigbee participated as judges at the 2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. The Fair was held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs University Center building on Saturday February 23rd.  This year 115 students from 20 schools presented projects. The purpose of the fair is to encourage students to take more active interest in the study of science and mathematics, to encourage experiment and consideration of science careers, and to provide a means of reward and recognition.  Informally the fair gives students an opportunity to interact with and get helpful feedback from specialists already in the fields.

Bill and Gary were at the science fair to judge and award prizes specifically offered by DSES. The prizes were offered to encourage projects related to astronomy and radio.  However any outstanding STEM project related closely enough to the fields were considered.  Bill and Gary interviewed 17 students in 16 projects at the fair, at the middle school and high school levels, with most of the topics in physical sciences or engineering. A scoring criteria was used based on the qualities of the ideas, hypotheses, methods, data, and lessons learned.

DSES awarded one Senior Division prizes and two Junior Division prizes:

For outstanding senior division project we gave a certificate and $100 to Mark Bloomfield. Mark received 6 additional special awards from other organizations, and he placed 3rd in the Fair’s Senior Physical Sciences category.

• Mark Bloomfield [grade 11] [project SC9], Coronado High School/David Bloomfield: ‘‘Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell’’

For the two Junior Division prizes we gave a certificate and $50 each to Hailey Kressen and Benjamin Homan.

• Hailey Kressin [grade8] [project 8E10], The Classical Academy JHS/Candus Muir: ‘‘A sixth sense: Omnidirectional presence detection system’’. Hailey received 6 additional special awards, and she placed 2nd in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category. 

• Benjamin Homan[8] [8E1], Monument Academy/Karl Brown: ‘‘Does pressure affect carbon dioxide absorption by polyethyleneimine?’’ Benjamin received 5 additional special awards, and he placed 4th in the Grade 8 Physical Sciences & Engineering category.

Tony participated as a general Award Judge for the Fair itself. He judged  middle school social and behavioral science projects.

Tony took a few minutes to take some photos.  The first three photos are from when Bill and Gary interviewed Connor Takenaka about his cybersecurity project. The third includes Tony.

Bill is show interviewing Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon for their Senior level science project “Engineering a portable refreshable braille device for improved communication.” Gary is interviewing Jenna Salvat for her Senior level science project “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding Cripple Creek and Victor Diatreme”.

Projects Bill and Gary interviewed:

  • “Shields Up” by Samantha Cerniglia. She tested the ability of several materials to block cosmic rays. She built a cloud chamber to do the tests.
  • “LED Lights: Hero or Zero” by Michael Wu. He tested energy efficiency savings claims of a set of consumer LED lights, and found those fell short.
  • “Energy Efficiency” by Samantha Schaefer. She tested the effects of placing different colored filters on solar energy panels.
  • “This Will Blow You Away” by Levi Archambault. He tested the efficiency of windmills with different number of blades, with different wind speed conditions.
  • “Prevent Basement Floods” by Austin Cellar.  He designed and tested a low cost device to detect basement water leaks and flooding, and send an alarm.
  • “Cleaning glasses with portable ultrasonics” by Ty Rockey. He researched, designed, and tested a low cost device to clean eye glasses using water cavitation.
  • “Does Pressure Affect Carbon Dioxide Absorption by Polyethyleneimine (PEI)” by Benjamin Homan. He tested the ability of PEI to absorb carbon dioxide at sea level and 7350 foot elevation pressures.  He utilized previous research by others and theory that predicted lower pressure would result in less absorption, due to fewer number of molecules per volume.  The material would be applicable to CO2 scrubbers in submarines and spacecraft. Benjamin won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
  • “Analyzing how various hydroelectric designs can ameliorate the accessibility of tides” by Chandler Wilburn. He tried to design and test an alternate way to generate electrical power from tides, using a large pressure plate instead of flow past a turbine.
  • “Neodymium field slide” by Amir Laarja. He tested different position configurations of magnets in a generator, to test differences in efficiency.
  • “A sixth sense: Omni-directional presence detection system” by Hailey Kressin.  She designed and tested a system to detect the presence of approaching objects within 1.5 meters in 1 second, to aid people who are blind. Hailey won one of our two Junior Division prizes.
  • “Cybersecurity: Defending our Computers” by Connor Takenaka. He tested the effectiveness of different length and complexity passwords to prevent or delay hacking.
  • “Variable scintillation frequency in muon detection” by Xander Duvall.
  • “Using Solar Radiation” by Erick Lopez.  He tested the effectiveness of several designs for homes to retain heat from solar heating.
  • “Engineering a portable low-cost braille device for improved communication” by Josh Nakka and Katelynn Salmon.
  • “A geothermal analysis of metamorphic lithologies surrounding the Cripple Creek and Victor diatreme” by Jenna Salvat.
  • “Charged up: Testing lithium ion battery performance using a Raspberry Pi load cell” by Mark Bloomfield.  He developed a Raspberry Pi constant load cell to test how temperature, drain rate, and charging patterns affected energy recovered in charging.  Mark won our Senior Division Prize.

Bill presented the DSES awards at the science fair awards ceremony on the following Tuesday, February 26th.

The Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair created this nice video about the activities and the students in the science fair:
2019 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair [https://vimeo.com/319543131].


Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System by Skip Crilly, New Hampshire Astronomical Society, February 8, 2019.

Skip Crilly gave this presentation to the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, February 8, 2019.

Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System (Please click to read pdf presentation.)

Abstract: Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is a confounding problem in radio SETI, as false positives are introduced into receiver signals. Various methods exist to attempt to excise suspected RFI, with a possibility that true positives are rejected, and that un-excised RFI remain as false positives. Uncertain far side-lobe antenna patterns add to the uncertainty. To ameliorate the RFI problem, a system having geographically-spaced simultaneous and synchronized reception has been implemented. A radio telescope at the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia has been combined with a radio telescope of the Deep Space Exploration Society, near Haswell, Colorado to implement a spatial filter having a thrice-Moon-distance transmitter rejection. Approximately 135 hours of simultaneous synchronized pulse observations have been captured from November 2017 through February 2019. This presentation describes the problem, observation system, observed results and a proposed hypothesis to be subjected to attempts at refutation through further experimentation and RFI and ETI transmitter signal model development.

Two wave audio files from the presentation, “Tones” and “Slow Tones”:

Winston W. Scott Jr. “ Scotty”, 1935-2018

By Paul Berge.

Winston W. Scott Jr. “ Scotty”  callsign K0TEP and a DSES lifetime member died Feb 2, 2018.

Scotty was a true gentleman and a scholar.

He was born in Escondido, Ca in 1935. He earned an Electrical Engineering (EE) degree at UC Berkeley and was employed by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in Boulder in the Electromagnetic Engineering Lab for many years.

He was the sole inventor of an RF amp-meter patented while he worked there. His work included papers published in the IEEE Proceedings.

Scotty married Barbara in 1959 and they raised four daughters. After more than 50 years of marriage Barbara died in 2017.

Scotty was aware of the work done by NBS at the Table Mountain Field Site, which included thunderstorm detection, over the horizon radar, tropospheric-scatter, and he also knew that the 18 meter dishes were abandoned.

DSES was founded by engineers Jan King and Rex Craig, Scotty’s son-in-law (also at NBS/NIST), who were working on AMSAT micro-satellites. They were able to convince the Department of Commerce that letting this amateur group use an 18 meter dish on Table Mountain was a good idea.

Scotty provided inspiration, interest, and funding to help launch and sustain DSES on Table Mountain for many years.

After his work at NBS, Scotty co-founded Laerie Inc. in Berthoud, CO, a successful business specializing in repair calibration and certification of test and measurement equipment.

Scotty was a kind and generous man who is being missed by all who knew him. DSES probably wouldn’t have existed without him.

2019 DSES Membership Drive

Deep Space Exploration Society

4164 Austin Bluffs, #562

Colorado Springs, CO  80918-2928


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

Want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!   Today marks the first day of our 2019 membership drive.  DSES started the year 2018 with 51 members and ended the year with 63 members.  Our organization relies on annual membership dues to fund most all of the DSES projects and monthly operating costs 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 early February.  You must be current on your dues to vote in this election.  For those recent members who have joined since October 1, 2018, your dues will carry you over into 2019.

You can pay your dues on the DSES web site (DSES.science) by credit card or PayPal to  dsestm@gmail.com  You can also mail dues to the following addresses:  DSES, 4164 Austin Bluffs Pkwy #562, Colorado Springs, CO  80918-2928.  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, amateur radio call sign (if any), and 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 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 for your support.


Myron F. Babcock

DSES Treasurer


December 28, 2018

Results of December 2018 Observing Trip

Dr. Richard Russel put together this slide set about the latest results from this month’s observing.  Contents:

  • Galactic Rotation Rate Results
  • Earth’s Position in Solar System
  • Complete HI spectrum Measurements from all observing trips

Dr. Russel is now utilizing Doppler shift measurements, and hence velocity, to also estimate the Earth’s position in the Solar System.

DSES Observation Trip December 2018 [Click to open the pptx slide show file.]

Haswell Site Trip Report for December 14-16, 2018

Personnel present – Bill Miller, Ed Johnson, Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Myron Babcock, Bob Haggard, Glenn Davis, Phil Gage, Hans Gaensbauer, Rich Russel.
Rich Russel and Bob Haggard showed up Friday, joined later that day by Hans Gaensbauer. All three spent the night and Rich did radio astronomy observations. Bob  Haggard finished the new front stairs for the communications trailer. Thanks Bob they look great! Everyone else came the next day. Glenn Davis and Phil Gage upgraded the software on pointing System 1, and Glenn installed the NTP server as well. Bill Miller and Ed Johnson were able to demonstrate go-to functionality on System 2 and the PID algorithm employed operated flawlessly. A milestone has been achieved and Ed plans to attempt sidereal tracking as his next step. Congratulations to all members of both pointing teams!
 The fireproof door for the bunker hallway was cut to size by Steve Plock, Myron Babcock and Hans Gaensbauer. Ed Corn continued with electrical buildout in the bunker.
 Again many thanks to all who participated and worked in the spirit of friendship and cooperation.
submitted by: Steve Plock, President DSES

SETI Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detecction System – Simultaneous SETI Observations Oct 2017 to Nov 2018


Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detecction System – Simultaneous SETI Observations Oct 2017 to Nov 2018. Please click to read the PDF presentation.

Prepared for the Deep Space Exploration Society by Skip Crilly. Revised November 8, 2018.

This is an updated revision of Skip Crilly’s slide set, originally presented last summer. Skip points out that the revision includes a summary of the pulses of November 2017 through November 2018.. Two newer NRAO 5690 plots in the presentation show the very stable performance of the telescope, and the narrower Plishner beamwidth.