DSES Science meeting 2/22/2021

Welcome to the DSES Science meeting 2/22/2021

2021-02-22 DSES Science Meeting Notes:                                                                            by Bill Miller

We had 14 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Bob Haggart, Floyd Glick, Gary Agranat, Myron Babcock,Dan Layne, Brian O’Rourke, Dan Layne, Edward  Currie, Jerry Espada W7IEW, Jon Ayres, Tim Cline, Steve Williams W0ML,  Bill Miller

Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:  

Topic: DSES Science Meeting

Start Time : Feb 22, 2021 05:27 PM

Meeting Recording:

We missed recording the operations and house keeping portion of the meeting, but this link includes all but the first few moments of the Science portion of the meeting.

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/kUiVcAAiyqMexQTmUzZSq4Y4Xs3CrEv5gFOKUQxHZA8_Iymu5gkL78_f2qF2NCt3.YvX6G2M_ZqKk_g1K

This meeting’s notes on PDF

Agenda and Notes.    

  • Myron’s Treasure’s Report:  Checking: $2716.09,  Savings:   $5792.29.   33 current paid up members that include 5-life members and 1-student membership.  Please pay your yearly $50 for full voting membership or $20 for interest only membership on Pay-Pal on the web site or by check to Myron at our Austin Bluffs address.

Mail: Deep Space Exploration Society

4164 Austin Bluffs Parkway #562

Colorado Springs, CO 80918

  • Science Fair: Gary and Bill reviewed he projects submitted to the 2021 Virtual Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair.    The awards were as follows

Junior Division:

1. $100  Lily Sobers – Outstanding Science Project:  The Science of Spin 

2. $50 Shrey Rohilla – 2nd Place Science and Engineering Project: Battle of the Blades 

3. $25 Gurman Goraya – Honorable Mention Science Project: Stellar Endgame  

Senior Division:

1. $100 Kathryn Kummel – Outstanding Science Project: Investigating Atmospheric
Convection as a Chaotic System though the Lorenz Attractors using
Mathematical Modeling and a Lorenz Water Wheel 

2. $50 Alden Kruse – 2nd Place Engineering Project: Something in the Water – Creating an Origami Microfluidic Device for Developing Communities

3. $25 Sean Brooks – Honorable Mention: Separating Microplastics from
Beach Sand Using a Fluidized Air Bed

Bill made Parchment Award Certificates and Myron wrote award checks for our winners. The monetary awards were taken from money generously donated for the purpose by Rich Russell from proceeds of his “Mind Files” project.

  • On Saturday Feb, 20 Gary and Bill gave the 6 science fair award certificates and checks to  Carol Bach, the fair coordinator at UCCS, for distribution to the students.

If anyone wants to see the projects, Bill has a list and files

  • Call for BOD Nominations.  We need at least three nominations for the board to replace or retain BOD members, Floyd Glick, Dave Molter, and Bill Miller by Feb 3rd.  Bill called Dave Molter this week and he declined to be nominated for retention as he is too busy to serve.  Don Latham was nominated and seconded in the engineering meeting and Ray Uberecken and Floyd Glick were also seconded in the meeting.  Later Bill self-nominated and Myron seconded.
  • Bill moves that nominations after this meeting will close and he will send out the election ballots in Email.  This was seconded and Bill will send out the Ballots on Feb 23.
  • BOD Initiative

In 2019 and 2020 we accomplished a lot of the big goals that we had been working on for a number of years including (H1) Hydrogen Line mapping, Tropospheric scatter communications, Pulsar detection, and EME.  Now that we have those accomplishments and can replicate them at will, we should look ahead and decide what we do next.  Everyone should think of a radio astronomy or organization project that they think would be doable and important and get those into a list that we can review and go after with some more detailed plans.   The main categories  of interest would be:

  1. New observation initiatives
  2. Ham Radio capabilities, contesting and special events
  3. On site open house for Aug 2021
  4. Continued Infrastructure upgrade and maintenance.
  5. Instrument and electronics upgrade and additions.
  6. Scientific discovery, theory testing, and publication.
  7. Educational programs and events for members and students.
  8. Public outreach and member recruitment
  •  There is an upcoming Schriever STEM Day on April 23rd from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  This may be an opportunity to gain some new members and is an excellent outreach opportunity.
  • Our Site is photogenic!   Don Savage and Jason Fazio would like to do some all-night photography at the site. Andrew Miller, another photographer based out of Denver would like to do a project on the site as well as Marc Slover and Michael Rice who compiled the time-lapse videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=HLrpsVmBchE&feature=youtu.be
  • Front Range 6 Meter  Group.  President, Paul Sobon sobonpaul@gmail.com asked for a DSES presentation on Wed. , Feb 10th .  at 7PM.  Please view Bill’s presentation of the “Virtual DSES Open House” recorded from the Front Range 6 Meter Group at http://dses.science/dses-presentation-to-the-front-range-6-meter-group.
  • If going to the site call Chad Carter to see if he would like to meet you there.  He often works on the camera on the large grain elevator in Haswell and other Eastern Colorado sites.  www.car-telenterprises.com 785-564-0118 cell. 
  • Planet Walk:
  • Dr. Rich Russel’s Science presentation. Click on to view.

Deep Space Exploration Society
Science Meeting

End of meeting

February 2021 DSES Engineering and Ops Meeting – Minutes and Video

Welcome to the February 2021 DSES Engineering and Ops Meeting

2021-2-08 DSES Engineering and Ops Meeting Notes:                                                    by Bill Miller

We had 16 participants in the virtual engineering meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Myron Babcock,  Glenn Davis, Jerry Espada, Dr. Richard Russel, Gary Agranat, Dan Layne, Bob Haggart,  Floyd Glick, Phillip Gage, Ted Cline,  Jonathon Ayers, Bob Sayers, Phil Coker, Ray Uberecken, Don Latham, Bill Miller

See the Zoom Meeting Video at:  Topic: DSES Engineering and Ops Meeting

Start Time : Feb 8, 2021 05:30 PM

Meeting Recording:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/sx1UdhzZEdMfq5k5vnjvTTTFt36VEptQcOj7K_edCM6YvzuhpdX-R_F-Bilyerrh.mPzKtAnKn__fnJkB

See the Zoom Meeting Chat at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/sdownload/kY_gXTy5O0ogjIsRjH1elZFw2rkc9NmfVNxPEiXiyebkYrni7ugAMBTq_f8CjMxkzNNE1fx6Ek3LezqY.e46qIxQNO41we6rh (This will send a text file to your Download Folder.)

Agenda and notes;

  1. Check In
  2. Membership Dues are now due for 2021.  Please submit check or pay pal payment to Myron or on the link in the website.  We started 2020 with 62 members and ended  with 52 members. Several members that we normally see at the open house and renew dues then did not do so this year because we did not hold the open house.  Myron has tried to contact them but have not heard anything back yet. 
  3. Latest Treasures Report from Myron Babcock.  The current checking is $2579.20  Savings Is:  $5742.29, Jan 978.25 income and $471.73 expenses. Bob Haggart was reimbursed $360.25,  Electric bill $83.77.
  4. If you order on Amazon use the Smile option for Deep Space Exploration Society and we get a rebate.  Gary will post a procedure form Myron on how to do this. Update: the URL for the Amazon Smiles link is now at the bottom of the DSES homepage after the PayPal link. Use the URL: https://smile.amazon.com/. The site will then guide you. Select “The Deep Space Exploration Society” as the non-profit organization/charity.
  5. Discussion on Phishing EMAIL.  Getting a lot of 1 liner emails.  Don’t open the attachments!
  6. Photographer, Marc Slover, Road Trip Ventures visited the site with Dan Lane, Ray Uberecken and Rich Russel on Jan 23 and took some more time lapse videos while the dish was chasing and tracking pulsars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=HLrpsVmBchE&feature=youtu.be
  7. Marc’s Videos from Previous trip
  8. BOD Election.  Need to Nominate 3 BOD members.
    • We elected 4 BOD positions in 2020.  Myron Babcock – Treasurer and  Gary Agranat – Vice President were retained.  Steve Plock – At large, and  Dr. Richard Russel-At large were replaced by Bob Haggart and Bob Sayers. 
    • We will elect or retain 3 seats turning over in 2021.  These are  Dave Molter at Large, Floyd Glick- Secretary,  Bill Miller – President,
  9. So far, we have these nominations.
    • We have received only one nomination for BOD by Email for Ray Uberecken from Myron. Bill Seconded that nomination, 
    • Floyd Glick self-nominated in this meeting and Bill seconded.
    • Ray nominated Don Latham and Bill seconded. 
    • That is Three but to have a little competition we would like to have more and will hold nominations open for a few more days.
  10. In keeping with the Bylaws schedule changes voted by the board in 2019 the rough schedule is  as follows,  To hold nominations open we will need to modify these dates by the delay.
    • Open nominations now, January 15th, and close in 20 days, on February 4th.
    • Release the ballot to the members by February 9th.
    • Hold board election in the following 10 days, completing Feb 20th.
    • The 4 BOD members not up for election shall count the ballots and make results known to the membership by Feb 26th.
    • Schedule the “all-member annual meeting” in early March and in that meeting the Board votes for or assigns officers from the elected BOD.  Although we would like to have an in person meeting, because of the Covid-19 and our responsibility to keep our members safe, the all-members meeting will be scheduled and held virtually.
  11. We need to finish and post the new bylaws changes related to the BOD election schedule that was approved last year to our website. Bill sent the Ver 3.1 Bylaws markup to Gary and Floyd for review, incorporation and posting.
  12. April 3rd is  the SARA western conference with papers already submitted.  Deadline for papers for the August conference is the first of June. 
  13. The SARA Drake’s lounge is on Feb. 21st at Noon.  SARA members should be automatically invited.
  14. Rich wrote a paper for the spring SARA conference. Check out Rich’s SARA paper on “An Arduino Controller for the Yaesu G5500D mount”.
  15. Rich is doing a MAX2870 RF signal generator paper for SARA and will post.  The unit has  a frequency range of 23.5MHz to 6GHz.
  16. Last Pulsar trip was not too successful.  Had some issues of the tracking SW driving into the electrical limit switches.   One failure was caused by a power glitch. The second failure was unplugging the Ethernet Switch and losing communication. Resetting the power, limit switches and manually driving the dish corrected the error but when moving the dish, you should always keep an eye on it with the CCTV monitor or out the window.
  17. To get beyond the 13 pulsars captured so far and find fainter ones, we will need greater dwell times and more bandwidth in the receiver.
  18. Bill to do a DSES Virtual Open House presentation to the Front Range 6 Meter Group on Wednesday Feb. 10th at 7PM.  This was completed and the recording will be linked on the website.   This picked up a couple of new members, Jim White who was part of the original Table Mountain DSES and Paul Sobon the president of the Front Range 6 Meter group.
  19. Late breaking news is that Everett Curry, W6ABM Assistant Section Manager/Oregon ARRL. Would like to present the presentation to the General Interest Amateur Radio Club in North East Oregon Thursday, Feb 18th.
  20. The 1296MHz feed is now changed out to the 408MHz feed for continuing pulsar work.
    • Need to learn how to use the B210 receiver.
    • Need more dwell time.
    • Need a 10MHz reference source for B210.
  21. See the Feed change schedule on the main website page this needs updating.
  22. The HughesNet dish for internet service may be a dry hole. Ray and Rich had called the service tech to the site, but he showed up at Rays residence, so it didn’t get fixed.  We need to look for other alternative Internet providers Myron has started to investigate this.
  23. Need internet for SuperSids and Radio Jove, Magnetometer, Security System, Power monitors, etc.
  24. Things to  do
    • Check clean out and fix the Sump Pumps in the underground before spring rains flood the bunker.
    • Cut off the 5 band vertical mounting pole and move the vertical base to ground level and reattach and add more radials and bury them for protection.
    • Repair the dish edge damage.
    • Clean out the tower and the pedestal base.
    • Align Ray’s HughesNet Satellite internet dish. Call HughesNet for reprogramming and support.  Find internet provider alternative.
    • Need to remove Tumble weeds have piled up in the ramp.
    • Continue to look for more, higher (8 Ft) chain link fence to mitigate.
    • Clean the silt out of the Underground from the flooding damage.
    • Nails on Road.  Several of Ray’s friends came out on the 10/3 trip and used metal detectors and magnets to clear the site of nail and metal on the road.  We’ve all had flat tires and need to continue to clear the road and site of debris as many of us have had tire damage.  Bill bought a new magnet roller and left it in the Comm. Trailer.  Please walk it up and down the road once whenever you’re on site.
    • Align the 3 element Yagi and re-enforce.
    • The Ham Radio Equipment in the bunker needs some dust covers or enclosures to keep the dust out of the equipment. 
    • Need a program to combine logs for position and time and signal strength.
    • Need to modify the heater with sheet metal or plastic covers to provide safety  and the bracket needs to be reinstalled. Need 4  2 ½ inch drywall screws to hold the heater bracket to the wall.
    • Replace the rear window of the Comm. Trailer.  Complete: Bill bought custom window from Kent Glass for $81 and installed it.
    • Ray has 8 brackets to fix a railing around the scaffold for additional safety.
    • Ettus Research B210 receiver from Don Latham. Rich has it working except for the GPS input.  Will work at  the site with the GPS.  Don says there is a 10MHz source in the electronics he brought down.
    • Retrieve Key for Battery Box from Ed Corn.
    • Clean up the DC Bus on the Comm. trailer wall.
    • Find the perfect focal point and phase center of the dish. See: Ruze formula. Could we characterize the dish surface for problems and accuracy to determine the loss from damage and weathering. Or, could devise  measurement and reference system so we always place the feed in the exact phase center?
    • Ground the feed to the pedestal ground for lightning and static build up mitigation.
    • Fix old website to link to new one.
    • Facebook page link to new website.
  25. Miscellaneous discussion on various topics, see the Zoom recording.

DSES Science Meeting January 25, 2021

Welcome to the DSES Science meeting 1/25/2021

2021-01-25 DSES Science Meeting Notes:                                                                            by Bill Miller

We had 14 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Bob Haggart, Floyd Glick, Gary Agranat, Lauren Libby, Myron Babcock, Robert Sayers, Dan Layne, Michael Nameika, Marc Slover, Phillip Coker, Paul Sobol NO0T, Bill Miller

Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:  

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/4QX0KYVA-hEwRBuzXQOOWFATULWSDa1Om-BvlxFOdpIICmBVScbEnOn-f242PxYm.WmvPFXtfQNb75LwO?startTime=1611621114000

  1. Myron’s Treasure’s Report Checking $2533.03 Savings $5742.25 , We have 31 paid members. 23 yet to pay. Paul Sobon, Marc S.  Myron will pay the property tax shortly.
  2. Questions on ORION Meeting invite from David Fields.
  3. Call for BOD Nominations.  Need three nominations for the board to replace or retain BOD members, Floyd Glick, Dave Molter, and Bill Miller by Feb 3rd.
  4. BOD Initiative

In 2019 and 2020 we accomplished a lot of the big goals that we had been working on for a number of years including (H1) Hydrogen Line mapping, Tropospheric scatter communications, Pulsar detection, and EME.  Now that we have those and can replicate them at will, we have to ask ourselves, what else can we do and what direction(s) should we go in? In my opinion here are several key areas or categories that the org. needs to address with some more detailed plans.

1. Continued Infrastructure upgrade and maintenance

2. Instrument and electronics upgrades and additions

3. Scientific discovery, theory testing, and publication

4. Educational programs and events for members and students

5. Public outreach and member recruitment

6. New observation initiatives

  1. Science Fair:  Letter from PPRSF below.  The Science Fair will be on Feb. 18-20.

Hello Bill,

Please send us a list of your special award judges and their email contact information by February 10, 2021.

We will send you and your judges an email with the details and code to view projects in the virtual showcase.

The attached letter outlines the information for this year’s fair.

We are looking forward to your participation in the virtual science fair and are hoping that next year will be an in-person event.

Thanks!

Carol Bach, Karen Crosson and Lynne Williams 

  1. Our Site is photogenic!   Andrew Miller, another photographer based out of Denver would like to do a project on the site.
  2. Front Range 6 Meter  Group.   Paul Sobon sobonpaul[at]gmail.com The group would like an open house virtual presentation on Wed. , Feb 10th at 6:30 opening at 7PM. Bill is working on a general presentation.
  3. Chad Carter was in Haswell on Friday working on the camera on the large grain elevator.  Did anyone call him into the work trip Saturday. www.car-telenterprises.com 785-564-0118 cell.  Ray sent him email but he didn’t show at the site Saturday so probably had to return to home base.
  4. Planet Walk:
    • Bill will write an endorsement letter and have the DSES Board modify and approve for Planet Walk Colorado Springs. See https://www.planetwalkcs.org/ 
  5. Rich:  See all the notes about the site visit from Saturday Jan 23rd.
  6. See the DSES Science Meeting 1-25-2021 slides PDF from Dr. Rich Russel. http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DSES-Science-Meeting-1-25-2021.pdfhttp://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/DSES-Science-Meeting-1-25-2021.pdf
  7. Saturday Power Glitch: A Mains power glitch caused an upset of the system and that drove the dish to the electrical stops. Rich believes that we should have a UPS or backup battery power on the tower electronics, including the Raspberry Pie and Ethernet Switch and on the Ethernet Switch and computer in the trailer to prevent this.  Bill suggests that anytime the dish is active the operators should monitor its position on the CCTV and use the panel VFD switch to kill the drive if not in control.  In this particular case the watch dog timer in the controller didn’t stop the drive because the computer was still sending updates.
  8. Marc Slover took some pictures while at the site up until about 9PM when the clouds came in.                  
  9. Dan Layne came down for the first time and he and Ray had a good conversation about the systems and the site.
  10. Rich got his 27 KHz, SuperSids receiver and data collection working again and it agrees with Floyd’s data. See graphs in the presentation.
  11.  Floyd uses a 5 ft by 5 ft. loop antenna in PVC to hook up. About 20 Ft per loop.
  12. Rich’s H1 hydrogen measurement with the spectra Cyber.
    • The Sara $300 H1 receiver or Radio Scope in a Box can receive Hydrogen data similar to the Spectra Cyber instrument.
    • For Positioning Use Stellarium Program for Windows or Linux.
  13. See the Zoom recording that will be up for the next 2 months for more detail.

End of meeting

Work Trip Report, December 8, 2020

Text & pictures by Bill Miller.

On Tuesday 12/08 Ray Uberecken and Bill Miller traveled to the Plishner site.  We found that the gate chain lock was not properly attached to the post and could be removed without unlocking it

We replaced two of the coaxial cables running from the dish pedestal control deck to the upper deck just below the dish.  These cables had stretched from their own weight and from the elevation rotation of the dish. As a consequence the center pin pulled out from the mating connector, losing the conductivity. We added to the cable a loop over the elevation axis. Ray added a feedthrough connector attachment on the ceramic slip ring collar, in order to remove the rest of the hanging stress on the wires, and he re-added the swivel joints below that.  This arrangement completely eliminates the cables traveling up and down thru the collar as the elevation is changed, and this also virtually eliminates the coaxial cable wrap in the control deck area.  We redressed all of the cables there with tie wraps and tape to get them out of the way of personnel in the deck and to remove the mechanical strain on all the cables. 

At the top deck we removed the AC extension cord, which had been temporarily installed to a power amplifier at the feed for EME.  Its cord insulation might not have survived the winter, and the uninsulated cord could potentially short out to the structure.  A more permanent and reliable 120 volt power distribution is needed to the feed point. 

We also re-dressed all the wires and coax cable in the upper deck. We reused the pipe grommets as a weather shield for the cables going down thru the azimuth axes collar to the control deck level.

We then placed a ladder on the mount and proceeded up to the dish surface. There we continued to remove the  120 volt extension cord, and we inspected the surface and the support. This is a wide angle shot of the scene in the dish. It does give a sense of the surreal feeling of the view from there. 

Wide angle view from atop the dish.

We inspected the attachments and connections.  We discovered that the grounding cable connection on one of the legs leading to the focal box had been cut off.  Furthermore, the wave guide that is attached at the dish structure is not electrically attached to the focal point box. Therefore the only ground to protect from RF, lightning, or static is the coax shield and the low voltage control cable ground wire. This may be one of the causes of failures in the electronics. We should retrofit to provide a good DC ground connection between the feed box at the focal point to the pedestal. 

The ground cable cut, near the dish end of the support arm.

We also wanted to know how the fiber glass supports for the feed are adjusted.

The fiber glass supports are badly weathered after 60 years in the open.  We should derive a plan to rework the fiberglass surface, for the next time we rent a bucket lift to work on them.

Full view of one of the dish’s support arms that supports the feed.

Once we had inspected the dish, we tipped the dish down to the service elevation, donned climbing harnesses, and climbed the scaffold tower.  We removed the 1296 MHz feed and installed the 408MHz antenna using Ray’s quick-change mount.  This only took about an hour where before the process could take as much as half a day.

Lowering the 1296 MHz feed antenna from the dish focus.

We also reworked the connector attachments in the electronics box. Ray then reattached the additional 20db amplifier, and checked everything out with the TDR and Spectrum analyzer.  He reattached the cables in the pedestal to connect the correct coax lines to the Comm. Trailer.

Bill replaced the broken window in the back of the comm. trailer with the new one he purchased from Kent Glass and sealed it with RTV.  This provides a much clearer view of the dish from the trailer.

We parked the dish, turned off all the equipment, locked the site and left for the day.

DSES Succeeds in our 2nd EME Moonbounce Communications Competition

Text and photos by Gary Agranat.

On the weekend following this past Thanksgiving we participated in the second round of the ARRL EME Contest, which ran for 48 hours, on November 28 & 29, 2020, GMT hours. This time it was a cliff-hanger in that we almost didn’t get on the air. But with some dedicated effort we succeeded again. This time we contacted some new places. And we added JT65C digital mode.

Team members for this operation were Ray Uberecken AA0L, Gary Agranat WA2JQZ, Myron Babcock KL7YY, and Bill Miller KC0FHN. Floyd Glick WD0CUJ came out also for one evening, accompanied by our new member Michael Nameika.

For this weekend the Moon was at almost full phase. That meant that it would be up mostly during our nighttime, which therefore was when we would have to do our operations. The contest would start at 0000 Hours GMT, which for us was 5 PM on Friday evening November 27. The Moon was already rising at 3:19 PM, so it would be up high enough to begin operating right away, once the contest started.

The Moon above our horizon already at about 4 PM Friday.

Ray and Bill arrived Friday afternoon by 3 PM to set up and do last minute testing. I (Gary) arrived soon after.

In our testing, we found we could receive the 1296 MHz beacon Ray set up at his home in Peyton. But we couldn’t properly transmit.

We quickly slew the antenna to the service tower, and Ray retrieved the amplifier at the feed. The thinking was the problem might be there.

The 60 foot dish antenna lowered to the service tower, as the sun set.
Ray climbed the service tower and retrieved the amplifier at the feed.
Ray retrieving the amplifier.

Ray did some quick testing of the amplifier. But an initial check didn’t find anything wrong.

Ray quickly tested the amplifier in the operations trailer, but didn’t find a problem. Outside, the Moon was rising, and the contest was starting. But were were not operational.

Ray then climbed back up the tower to return the amplifier to the feed point. We thought about what else could be wrong.

We then checked how much power was being drawn by the amplifier in the pedestal. The power meter was reading about 30 Watts when we tried to transmit, when it should have been reading about 200 Watts. At that point the sky was getting dark. It would not have been safe to do any more climbing. And so for the first night of the contest we couldn’t operate.

Bill returned home, but was available the next day for coordination in Colorado Springs. Ray and I spent overnight at the site, to continue troubleshooting on Saturday. We would have the whole day in sunlight, until the Moon rose for the second pass at 3:47 PM.

Ray replacing the amplifier at the feed, as the sun set.

Pikes Peak was visible on the northwest horizon, as the sun set.
The frost on Gary’s car the next morning.
The bunker Saturday morning.

Before going to sleep I (Gary) made some HF ham radio contacts. So we got on the air still, but on HF. This weekend there was also another contest, the CQ World Wide CW (Morse Code) Contest. On 160 and 80 meters I made three contacts with Canadian stations. There were lots of US stations on, but for the rules of this contest, you have to contact stations outside of your country (or more precisely outside of your DX area, which for us is the CONUS). I afterwards made some HF FT8 digital contacts for the club, on 80 and 40 meters. On 40 meters we made our first DX contact with New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific, with station FK8HM. This was with our recently repaired vertical antenna, so this showed our vertical was working OK.

Early the next morning I made some more CW contacts for the contest, this time on 40 meters using the vertical, and on 15 meters, using both the vertical and Yagi antennas. On 40 meters, while it was still dark across the Pacific, stations in China, Hong Kong, and South Korea were heard, but I didn’t succeed in making contacts. I did succeed though in contacting two Japanese stations. Then on 15 meters, with daylight across the Atlantic, the band was wide open to Europe. For a few minutes while on the air, we made contacts with France, Spain, and Slovenia, and also one contact to the south with Brazil.

Earlier during the year, the 3-band Yagi antenna bank angle slightly tilted. The 5-band vertical antenna also was damaged, probably both from storms. Earlier in the fall we repaired a bent piece of the vertical antenna, and reconnected the radial wires that had been severed. The HF operating showed these were at least working OK again. The 160 and 80 meter contacts were made with dedicated diploe antennas, also lightly visible in the picture. The Yagi antenna on the tower is aimed towards the northeast, towards Europe.
This is an eQSL confirmation we received from VE7JH in British Columbia, Canada, for our 80 meter Morse Code (CW) contact on Friday night. The card came with this caption information: 08 Aug 2009 Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island HMCS Toronto navigates an iceberg HMCS Toronto navigates past an iceberg near Frobisher Bay off the coast of Baffin Island while conducting sovereignty patrols as part of Operation NANOOK 09. Operation NANOOK 09 is a Canada Command sovereignty operation conducted with the participation of personnel, ships and aircraft from the Navy, Army and Air Force, working under the command of Joint Task Force (North) (JTFN). The operation runs from 06 to 28 August 2009, in Canada’s eastern Arctic. Photo by: Corporal Dany Veillette, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.
An eQSL confirmation we received from F6HKA in France, for a Morse Code (CW contact) Saturday morning on the 15 meter band. His card shows several Morse Code keys.

Ray and I had breakfast and resumed troubleshooting work at 9 AM. We retrieved the amplifier again, and this time did a much more thorough test. Ray found one diode was leaking current. But this was a circuit safety issue and not a showstopper for transmitting. Ray replaced the diode, and returned the amplifier to the feed.

Ray retrieved the amplifier again Saturday morning.
Ray doing a thorough test of the amplifier. Nominally it should boost our signal to about 200 Watts at the feed.
Ray tested the output of the amplifier by sending the signal through the disc cone antenna on top of the operations trailer.

We then considered what else could cause our problem. Ray tested the conductivity of our feed lines. We have two coax cables running from the operations trailer to the feed. Ray climbed to the feed, and connected the two cables there. Then we measured the conductivity going out and coming back, together at the same time. His software analyzer showed Coax cable #1 had a fault at 135 feet down the line, and Coax cable #2 had a fault 185 feet down the line. This corresponded with where there are swivel joints for the cables, where the fixed pedestal interfaces with the moving dish antenna structure. A signal test also showed there was more loss on the lines then expected.

The oscilloscope showed we didn’t have as strong as signal as we expected along the feed lines.

At first Ray wondered that the swivel joints might be the problem. However, on visual inspection those were seen to be OK. The problem was eventually traced instead to the weight of the cables at that location pulling on the centers of the feeds, causing those to slip out. 

Ray was able to repair Feed Line #1.  We then did more testing, with Ray’s beacon and the W0TTT beacon in Como, CO, and with an SSB tropospheric scatter contact with Myron in the Springs, and found we were working well. We were back in business.

Saturday, troubleshooting. The disc cone antenna is on the short tower on the left side of the trailer.

Myron drove out to the site, and operated with us the second night. While Myron was on his way, I slew the antenna for Moonrise, getting more practice with the System 1 automatic tracking.

As soon as the Moon rose we heard CW and digital signals. We again had to figure out the Doppler shift correction, using the WSJT 10 software. At the start we made several CW contacts with Europe: to Germany, England, Croatia, France, Poland, and Austria.

Eventually we also tried digital JT65C –for the first time. That was a learning curve, but we finally got it. One of the tricks for that was that the waterfall window on the JT65C has a bar at top designating where the sync pulse of the signal has to be, in order for the software to decode it. Another challenge was that operators were heard with JT65 weren’t using a consistent contact exchange format. And so I had to manually edit the exchange fields quickly, in the 10 seconds between decoding and transmitting.

We made 19 contacts altogether. 16 were with CW (Morse Code) and 3 were digital JT65C. Myron tried several times to make SSB contacts. But there were no takers to respond back to us.

Over the night, I generally made the CW and digital contacts, while Ray operated the radio, including keeping up with the Doppler shift offsets. I offered to let others make contacts too. But we were comfortable doing it this way.

Floyd came during the evening with his astronomy student Michael Namieka. Floyd showed Michael around the site, and I believe also made some HF contacts in the bunker. They watched our EME operation. They got into a good technical discussion about the component causes of the Doppler shifts. Myron had Michael send a voice CQ and test moon bounce signal, and Michael heard his voice come back about 2 seconds later.

Our CW contacts included our DSES member Skip, VE6BGT — he said we sounded much stronger this time. And we found several other stations we had contacted last month too. 

On JT65 we had QSOs with AL Katz K2UYH, W6YX Stanford University, and AA4MD in Florida (who last month we got on CW). 

New countries to Europe this time were France and Croatia. We got KL6M in Alaska, who built our feed. We got one Japanese contact JH1KRC, who we contacted last month. And this time we had one contact with Australia, VK5MC, probably our contact furthest away from us.  I am happy to report we had pileups on us.  At least some of our contacts already knew something about us and our capability.

This is a record of our contacts, from the Cabrillo formatted file we submitted to the ARRL for the contest. CW is Morse Code. DG is JT65C digital. 1.2 G is the 1.2 GHz frequency band. You see the date and times in GMT, our station with the signal report we sent, and the station we contacted with their signal report to us.
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2312 K0PRT 599 DG5CST 599 Germany
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2317 K0PRT 559 SP7DCS 589 Poland
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2324 K0PRT 559 G4CCH 599 England
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0007 K0PRT 559 9A5AA 579 Croatia
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0020 K0PRT 569 DL6SH 579 Germany
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0040 K0PRT 569 VE6BGT 589 Canada
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0057 K0PRT 579 OE5JFL 579 Austria
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0216 K0PRT 569 WA9FWD 579 Wisconsin, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0350 K0PRT 559 F2CT 569 France
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0403 K0PRT 559 KL6M 579 Anchorage, Alaska, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0407 K0PRT 559 OK1KIR 569 Czech Republic
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0413 K0PRT 559 I5MPK 599 Italy
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0420 K0PRT 559 K7CA 559 Nevada, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0430 K0PRT 549 KA1GT 559 Maine, USA
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 0629 K0PRT -06 K2UYH -01 New Jersey, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0750 K0PRT 569 JH1KRC 589 Japan
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 0811 K0PRT -08 W6YX -08 California, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0920 K0PRT 439 VK5MC 449 Australia
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0946 K0PRT 599 N4PZ 599 Chicago, Illinois, USA
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 1006 K0PRT -09 AA4MD -07 Florida, USA

The automatic tracking system display, showing us tracking the Moon.
The WSJT JT65 display on my computer. The upper left shows a spectrum waterfall, where we had to position the signal for the software to decode. We also at times had to adjust the audio gain, to not overwhelm the display. The upper right shows the message exchange, in this case with W6YX in California. The lower window is our logbook.

We decided to stop operating at around 3:30 AM Sunday morning. We were hearing much fewer new contacts. But also the outside wind was picking up immensely. Forecasts for the region were for gusts up to 50 knots. We stowed the antenna back to the safe position. Ray, Myron and I then got sleep in the operations trailer. Outside the temperature dropped to the low 20s, but we kept warm inside with the heaters. Myron left early in the morning. Ray and I closed the site by 11 AM Sunday, and headed back to the Springs.

* * *

Some technical feedback: System 1 was working almost perfectly.  The one glitch again was that there was a discontinuity in elevation reading on Friday night as the elevation was brought close to zero (seen by Bill).  I didn’t experience that on Saturday or Sunday.  Otherwise, the System 1 is an immense help.  It makes the slewing and tracking easy and seamless.  

We had a learning curve figuring out all of the nuances and details (or the sufficient and necessary details) for running JT65.  We did eventually get JT65 working well. You do need to pay attention to its peculiarities.  It probably could use some guidance documents, like we have for System 1. 

I will note I did try to make a number of contacts but didn’t get responses. I don’t know why that was.  I am suspecting part of the reason might be due to not getting the Doppler shift offsets quite right at times. But we did get a number of good signal reports and explicit comments that we had good signals.

Later I did some research. One of our contacts KA1GT has some articles on the Doppler shift math and corrections. These might be helpful:

Bob Atkins – KA1GT – EME Doppler shift 101

CFOM Constant Frequency On Moon Doppler Mode – Bob Atkins – KA1GT

It was a somewhat intense weekend for the team — with not being able to operate Friday evening as it got dark, with the troubleshooting, the cold and windy weather conditions and staying overnight (for some for 2 nights) on site.  But we were very pleased we got our Moon communications back.  We had lots of good signal reports.   We apparently were doing better than in October with our signals. We probably had fewer contacts than last time as we were spending time figuring out the JT65 and Signallink.  And I suspect there might have been fewer hams on for the second night. But I think also we didn’t want to knock ourselves out, especially with all the work we did. We found a good balance that worked.

I think all of us involved were very pleased with what we accomplished this weekend. We spent the effort to troubleshoot, we got ourselves back on the air, and we made a successful second EME Moon bounce operation.

  • 73 Gary WA2JQZ

DSES Science Meeting Nov 23, 2020

Welcome to the DSES Science meeting 11/23/2020

2020-11-23 DSES Science Meeting Notes, by Bill Miller

We had 16 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Lewis Putman, Bob Haggart, Don Latham, Floyd Glick, Gary Agranat, Glenn Davis, Jay Wilson, Jon Ayers, Lauren Libby, Myron Babcock, Robert Sayers, Ted Cline. Jerry Espada, Bill Miller

Agenda and notes;

Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/3mwT_OSBrUV6KMi8GTTrcFaiG77Jmuuke72Jk1zmmUDpSrO2nAY3jFx49_muRz5I.7GK8PFSy5Vs-kL4R?startTime=1606177717000

Agenda and notes:

  1. Myron’s Treasure’s Report Checking $1774.28. Savings $5742.15. We have 49 paid members.
  2. Science Fair: 
    • Bill spoke with Carol Bach the coordinator,  she replied, “The Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be held virtually on February 20, 2021.  We are hoping that the Deep Space Exploration Society will again sponsor a special award or awards at the fair.  In addition, we are hoping you or another member of your group will consider being a special awards judge.  We will send you a code to unlock a showcase with digital displays that you can view.  Virtual judging will take place between February 18-20, 2021.”
    • Bill to send board DSES Special awards criteria for approval.
    • “Please respond by December 2, 2020 to this email and confirm that your organization is planning to participate. Also, please let us know the name and contact email for future communications.”
  3. Planet Walk:
    • Bill will write an endorsement letter and have the DSES Board modify and approve for Planet Walk Colorado Springs. See https://www.planetwalkcs.org/
  4. Arecibo Failure:
    • See Bob Haggard’s repost on the Arecibo Radio Telescope status.
  5. Rich presented the DSES Science part of the Meeting:  See all notes in the DSES Science Meeting Power Point. http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/DSES-Science-Meeting-11-23-20.pdf
  6. Ray
    • Problem with the 1296 feed last trip.  Took down the Feed amplifier and found that the unit was stuck in the transmit configuration again due to a failed FET in the Relay driver.  Fixed this and added more gate protection circuitry to solve the problem. 
    • Also had a bad diode and a bad cable that had to be corrected.
    • The FT-736R Keyer connection failed on last trip but Ray fixed it.
    • Tried CW EME but couldn’t hear the echo.
    • Did receive Rays Home Based beacon bounced off Pikes Peak and verified pointing so the receiver chain is working.
  7. Gary Underground K0PRT  bunker station summary report.
    • FT8,  PSK Reporter website showed our station was received on 40 meters during afternoon in CA and TX.
    • 15M operation was hot
    • Our rare grid square (DM88) attracted many Japanese stations
    • Vertical working well on 15 and 40 meters. 10 meters was tried and at least had good SWR, but band was dead.
    • Yagi was also working well to Japan
    • PSK reporter showed good coverage on 15 meters all around the Pacific Rim.
    • See more in Rich’s slides above
  8. Glenn says that Phil is working on an elevation tracking update that will need some onsite testing when ready.
  9. Much discussion about the SDR receivers, GNU SW and the computer power needed to run them.  See the meeting recording for too much detail to capture here.

Plishner site trip summary of 2020-10-31:

Written summary and photos by Bill Miller.

Ray Uberecken and Bill Miller went to the Plishner site on Sat. October 31.

Ray brought back his EME 200 Watt amplifier box that he had removed on the previous weeks trip.  The unit had blown a relay control FET that kept the unit in the transmit position so it would not connect the feed to the receiver.  Ray and Bill donned climbing harnesses, scaled the scaffold, and installed the amplifier before the wind could start blowing about 11:00 AM at the site. 

Ray also brought back the FT 736 Transceiver after repairing the seized tuning knob.  He brought in a computer and an audio interface with JT-65 HF software loaded.  This will enable digital mode EME on the next contest  EME 50-1296 MHz — November 28-29, 2020.  In addition, he installed  an extra 1296 MHz 18 Watt auxiliary amplifier between the FT736 10W max output  and the Amplifier at the feed point.  This extra amplifier will enable the full power of the linear amp at the feed.  Both the 18 watt amp and the 200 watt feed point amp are enabled with the Key circuit from the FT 736.  

There is an extra power supply on the bench to power the 18 Watt amp and the key circuit to the feed amp is attached with the terminal block on the rack.

Ray also brought back the Electronic Keyer and Paddle for the FT736 moon bounce CW mode.

Once all this equipment was installed, we climbed the tower and replaced the bad swivel joint on the down feed coax with a short segment of very flexible RG8X cable to allow the cable wrap. Because this is the same impedance as the main hard line coax and very short it has insignificant loss to the signal.

We then called Myron Babcock to test the equipment.  We pointed the dish at Colorado Springs and at first did not hear his signal.  He swung his antenna around to point at Pike’s Peak and we did the same and established communication on 1296.1 MHz with clear copy.  This proved the overall system viability.  

Bill set up his phone app and computer program for aiming the Hughes Net dish for internet.  After using the compass to point the dish to the apps specified Azimuth and Elevation and working the dish around for half an hour, we still couldn’t get the modem to lock up and receive the satellite.  More research is needed to make sure we are trying for the correct satellite and have the right coordinates and tools to do the alignment on the next trip. Once we have the Hughes Net system working, we should have high speed internet capability for a number of uses.

Ray has been working on his new radio Astronomy receiver based on a medical signal preconditioner and a stable amplifier/integrator and A/D converter.  The receiver will give a greater bandwidth than current SDRs with  up to 100MHz of bandwidth.

A conversion program is needed to convert the comma delimited tabular output of the A/D to the .Fil file format for radio astronomy.  Ray installed the receiver and checked its operation.

We stowed the dish, shut everything down, removed the trash and locked the site.  Note that the new service  position on the scaffold after the recalibration of the pointing system is 314.5 deg. All old bearings for Beacons and such should be adjusted by -2.5 deg.

You can read a PDF version of this report here: 2020-10-31-Plishner-site-trip-summary-v2-.pdf

DSES Science Meeting October 26, 2020

Welcome to the DSES Science meeting 10-26-2020

2020-10-26 DSES Science Meeting Notes:   by Bill Miller

We had 14 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Chad Carter N0ZMG, Don Lewis, Matt Mathews, Bob Haggart, Michael Nameika, Gary Agranat,  Jonathan Ayers,Floyd Glick, Don Latham, Myron Babcock, Ted Cline on Phone, Bill Miller

Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/VGBjHU_8SX1oUIID9rfAETR6FDWU-AiO_jtXLBN5allYy37d8WWxX1-rcsEk_NwV.hIq6Lvmw397kui6R

Agenda and notes:

  1. Myron’s Treasure’s Report Checking $1756 Savings $5742.05  September electric Bill $90
  2. Rich:  See all notes in the DSES Science Meeting Power Point. DSES-Science-Meeting-10-26-20.pdf
  3. Ray
    • Problem with the 1296 MHz feed last weekend.  Took down the Feed amplifier and found the unit was stuck in the transmit configuration due to a failed FET in the Relay driver.  Fixed this and added a gate protection resistor to solve the problem. 
    • A second issue was discovered with one of the coaxial swivel joints that failed on the feed lines.  Will find a new swivel joint or alternate method of coupling the coax while allowing for the cable wrap.
    • See slide 4 of Rich’s slide presentation above.
  4. Gary EME report.
    • Ray has JT65 digital setup ready
      • Use WSJT 10.0 Program for EME.
    • On November 28 and 29th there will be another EME contest under nearly a full moon.
    • Nov 27 – 28 Moon Rise 3:19 PM  set at 5:03 AM
    • Nov 28  – Nov 29th Moon rise 3:47 PM to about 6:03 AM
    • We will benefit by organizing the operation trip, to utilize our time while the moon is overhead with multiple operators.
    • Morse code is simple and effective.  Can be done with the computer keyboard or with a keyer.
    • Simple protocol of multiple repeats on Call sign, signal report and acknowledgement should be followed.
    • Signals experience polarization rotation, we therefore circularly polarize our signal.
    • Operation on JT65C will be added.
    • Operating EME is an experience you won’t forget
  5. Astronomy at Hydrogen Line 1420.406 MHz:  See Rich’s PPT presentation page 6 to end.
  6. SARA “Radio Astronomy in a Box” costs about $250 and is a great platform for a science fair project. Rich has one for evaluation and will lend to a worthy student.
    • 2.4 G dish
    • Stellarium planetarium software
    • Can be used for science fair
    • Don’t download the SW, as it has a virus.
    • Rich has another source of virus free SW.
  7. We have a new student member, Michael Nameika who is a student at UCCS interested in Astrophysics and Radio Astronomy.  He has been working with Professor Floyd Glick at the PPCC observatory and with Steve Plock.  Welcome, Michael.
  8. Myron Babcock, DSES Treasurer, has received a very generous donation of a Yaesu FT-736R from  N6KN, Rocco Lardiere in California.   He also triple boxed the unit and paid the FedEx postage to ensure that it arrived in great shape.  This will make an excellent addition to our radio resources and backup to our high band EME and Tropo communication.  Thank you, Rocco.

Our 1st DSES Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) Moon Bounce Communications

By Gary Agranat, with Myron Babcock and Glenn Davis. Videos by Bill Miller.

Friday evening at sunset as the team prepares for our first EME attempt overnight. Photo by Gary Agranat.

On Saturday October 10, 2020 we succeeded in making our first Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) Moon Bounce communications. We succeeded at our first attempt. This accomplishment was several years in the making, thanks to the work of many members, past and present.

We did this participating in the annual ARRL EME contest held on the weekend of October 10-11, 2020 GMT. (That’s Friday 6 pm to Sunday 6 pm local time.) The frequencies available for this contest were in the ham radio bands from 50 to 1296 MHz. We used our 60-foot dish antenna at Haswell, CO, with a 1296 MHz feed with dual circular polarization, installed 2 weekends earlier.

[ Installing the 1296 MHz feed for Autumn Moon Bounce Communications, Sept 27 ]

EME Moon Bounce communications is directing a signal to the Moon. The Moon’s surface simply reflects the signal back to Earth. If the Moon is above your horizon, if you have suitable equipment, and if you know enough about what to do, it would be possible for you to receive the signal and communicate back. You could communicate to your neighbor or across continents. The signals, however, are extremely weak, having to travel back and forth the Earth-Moon distance, over 238,000 miles. EME generally requires efficient directional antennas to sufficiently increase the signal gain. Amplifiers can be used too. And the antennas have to point to the Moon. Also, radio signals sent through the ionosphere experience a rotation in their polarization. And there is some effective rotation from other causes, including from the changes in orientation from the Moon and from operating on different points of the Earth’s globe. Our solution is to circularly polarize our signals. And also, there is a Doppler shift between transmitted and received signal, mostly due to the Earth’s rotation, causing a difference in velocity between the Moon and our location on Earth. All of these are challenges to deal with.

Our 60-foot dish antenna at sunset as we started preparations. Photo by Glenn Davis.

Our team for the EME operation were Ray Uberecken AA0L, Myron Babcock KL7YY, Gary Agranat WA2JQZ, and Glenn Davis. Bill Miller KC0FHN also came on Saturday morning.

The team arrived Friday evening October 9, while we still had daylight, to set up and test. Testing included making pre-arranged tropospheric scatter contacts, which were successful. We also attempted to complete set-up of a Hughes Internet antenna, to give us Internet access, but that was not successful. We instead sometimes connected to the Internet using cellphones. Although the contest began at 6 PM local time, we had to wait for the moon to rise above the horizon. Moonrise for us was at about 11:30 PM local time, and the Moon was above our horizon until about 2 PM local time the next day Saturday. We chose to stay for just this one Moon pass, and not continue through Sunday, in order to not knock ourselves out on this first attempt.

After we completed our testing, we relaxed until we were ready to start. Looking outside, we had an exceptionally deep starry sky. We could see the Milky Way clearly arching overhead through Cygnus. Jupiter and Saturn were bright to the south, and Mars was very bright, rising in the east. Glenn Davis experimented with his camera and took some nice time exposure photos with the dish antenna, the stars, and the Milky Way.

Photo by Glenn Davis. (Click to enlarge.)
Our 60-foot dish antenna with the Milky Way. Jupiter and Saturn are brightly visible to the left of the antenna. Photo by Glenn Davis. (Click to enlarge.)

I (Gary) meanwhile got some rest. This enabled the others to get some rest later in the morning while I continued.

Myron KL7YY wrote and emailed an update about our operations to the DSES membership on Saturday morning at around 4 AM. It provides a good narrative of how we were doing until that point, and his update follows next:

* * * * * * * * * * *

Summary of DSES first attempt at EME, Earth Moon Earth, contacts using the 60 foot dish:

On Friday evening, October 9 we started with a few nearby Tropospheric Scatter contacts around 7 PM with DSES member KL7IZW, Steve in Monument, CO, and W6OAL Dave in Parker.  Around 9 PM we talked to N0YK in Scott City KS, These contacts ranged from 110 to 130 miles and confirmed that our system was working.

 When the moon came over the horizon at midnight we tried to listen to the ON0EME moon beacon in Belgium but couldn’t hear it.  About 45 minutes after moon rise we started to hear JT-65 digital signals. 10-15 minutes we started to hear CW signals.  Glenn Davis made a few corrections to the tracking program and signals increased in strength.  At times it sounded like a 20 meter CW contest pileup with all the loud signals bouncing off the moon all across 100 KHz of band (1296.0 to 1296.1 MHz).  After about 90 minutes without hearing our own signal we rechecked the power to the amplifier at the feed horn and everything appeared to be normal.  A few moments later we finally heard our own signal 2.5 seconds later on CW off the moon and the Belgium Moon Beacon.  I made several calls on SSB and heard our echo really loud.  We went back to CW and Gary proceeded to start making CW contacts. The first almost contact, a German station, abruptly dropped out so no official contact was completed.  Our first official station worked on CW was with OH2DG in Finland.  England was next followed by Italy, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and with DSES member Skip Macaulay, VE6BGT, in Alberta Canada.. Also made our first voice SSB contact with him as well.  Seems that with every new contact we make it is with a new European country.  In order to correct for Doppler shift and with no RIT we are changing VFO’s from Receive to Transmit by several KHz or more.  Lots of CW signals being heard and we still have 12 more hours of moon to bounce signals off of… We are hearing our own echo and we have lots of hours to go. We plan on Digital mode later in the day but for now there are more than enough signals to hear on CW. 

Our Moon bounce station consist of an older Yaesu FT-736R with 10 watts feeding almost 180 feet of half inch hardline into a 200 watt amplifier at the antenna feed horn.  The receiver pre amplifier is a 30+db gain with a noise figure of minus .35.  Our Effective Radiated Power (ERP) is over 6 million watts. 

* * * * * * * * * * *

We operated with our club call sign K0PRT.

A short video of Myron KL7YY calling CQ. You can hear the echo of his signal coming back from the Moon a couple of seconds later. (Video length 35 seconds)

K0PRT-2020-10-10%2010.24.25.mp4

Because the signals are extremely weak, and there can be fading, there is a standard protocol for exchanging messages for EME contacts. This is intended to ensure as much of the message as possible can be copied and acknowledged on both sides. The basic format is simple, and one repeats a lot. One first exchanges call signs, then the signal reports, and then finally if that worked, an acknowledgement all that was copied correctly. If one only completes part of the contact, one should still log that, as that is an accomplishment. If using Morse Code, the standard is to send at 15 words per minute, but spacing out the characters longer than usual. The faster sending and spacing is to help one copy complete characters if there is fading. If one misses a character, one still has a high chance to get the character with the many repeats.

In order to have the proper frequency offset for the Doppler shift, we referenced the WSJT 10.0 software, at the suggestion of Steve KL7IZW. The software has an astronomical data section that calculates and displays the frequency offset. The higher the frequency, the more significant the offset. At 1296 MHz we had a difference of as much as 3 KHz between transmit and receive frequencies. The software also displays other useful data like local Moon rise and set times (based on Grid Square location).

The WSJT 10.0 software also can be used for JT65C digital EME communication. However, we didn’t figure out how to configure that in time with our setup, and so we didn’t do any digital contacts this time. We could tell we were hearing JT65 signals. They were present from 1296.05 to 1296.1 MHz, and we almost always could hear those signals while the Moon was up.

Glenn stayed up until about 3 AM, when we were sure our antenna azimuth alignment was correct and would continue to point accurately to the Moon. His work was invaluable in troubleshooting the azimuth offset, which turned out to be about 1.5 degrees, and honing in on the Moon once we heard CW signals.

Glenn Davis working with the antenna pointing. Photo by Gary Agranat.
The 60-foot antenna pointing east, for the tropospheric scatter test to N0YC in Kansas. Later we would point east again, to prepare for where the Moon would rise. Photo by Gary Agranat.
Myron making a tropospheric scatter SSB phone contact during testing, with Glenn Davis setting the antenna pointing. The scene was similar when me made SSB phone contacts during the EME contest. Photo by Gary Agranat.
Myron, Glenn, and Ray. Ray was looking for the ON0EME beacon after the Moon rose. Photo by Gary Agranat.

Since the Moon rises in the east, our signal paths at first are to the east. That is to Europe and the North American east coast. As Myron mentions, once we started receiving the signals, we were hearing many European stations, and we were busy. Through the morning we made 14 contacts to Europe, to 8 European countries. We also made the contact to our DSES member Skip Macaulay VE6BGT in Alberta, Canada, on CW and then phone. W4OP in North Carolina, hearing us on SSB, then gave us a call on SSB too.

Ray AAOL brought a CW keyer that can send Morse Code with either a keyer paddle or a keyboard. It can store pre-programmed messages, like a CQ call. I (Gary) decided to use the keyer paddle, as that gave me more flexibility — I could quickly adjust for conditions — and I felt more comfortable as I am used to the key.  Meanwhile, it seemed to me also that some of the CW contacts we made used software to send their messages.  Those didn’t have good spacing between words or call signs.  And that made copying slightly more challenging. A keyboard though can enable any of us to send, even if we don’t have practice sending Morse Code. Most of the contacts we made were with CW Morse Code.

This short video shows part of a Morse Code CW contact by Gary WA2JQZ. XE1XA in Mexico called CQ. We responded by sending our call sign K0PRT several times. Then K (the invitation to respond) several times. When we switch the VFO from the transmit to the receive frequency, you can hear the last part of our signal coming back, reflecting from the Moon, several seconds later. You then here the signal from XE1XA, also coming back reflecting from the Moon. He transmitted back our call sign as K0PRN, instead of K0PRT. We afterwards replied sending our callsign again, only, to give him the correction. That’s why we repeat a lot, and send sections of the message just one at a time. We completed the contact successfully. If you look carefully on the transceiver, you will see we switched about 2 KHz down from the transmit to receive frequency. (Video length 1:16)

K0PRT-2020-10-10%2011.07.09.mp4

At around 6 AM, when the Moon was high enough so that we no longer had a path to Europe, we took a break for breakfast and to rest.

Just before sunrise. Photo by Gary Agranat.
Tracking the Moon during early morning. Photo by Gary Agranat.

In earlier discussions we thought we might have many more contacts across the Pacific and to the North American west coast, when the Moon was sufficiently to the west. But it turned out we had very few contacts that way. We made just two contacts to Japan. Our first was at about 9 AM local time, to JH1KRC. Our second was three hours later to JA6AHB. Instead we made a few more contacts to the US, a few to Canada, and one to Mexico. These other stations we heard were searching around too. That led me to believe that if there were any other signals out there, we likely would have heard them.

Our contacts included: 

  • K2YUH Alan Katz in NJ, who runs the 432 MHz and Above newsletter: http://www.nitehawk.com/rasmit/em70cm.html
  • W5LUA Albert Ward in TX, who some in our group know for EME.  (He at first thought I was Ray, when I contacted him on CW.  Myron then contacted him on SSB.)
  • W6YX, the Stanford University radio club, which was using a 28 foot dish.  We contacted them first on CW.  Then later when Bill was looking to record a phone QSO, which would illustrate the signal delay from the transit time to the Moon and back, W6YX just happened to call CQ on SSB on the frequency we were tuned to.  We then had about a 4 minute QSO on SSB with them, which Bill recorded.

A video of Gary WA2JQZ responding to W6YX at Stanford University and having a 4 minute SSB QSO. (Video length 4:38)

K0PRT-2020-10-10%2012.30.38.mp4

We operated until about noon. We made 30 contacts in all.  25 contacts were CW (Morse Code) and 5 were SSB phone.  4 of the 5 phone contacts were with stations we also had CW QSOs with.

We submitted our contest log to ARRL the next day.

In the judgement of all of us, we had a very good EME operation. We are very pleased it worked so well on the first attempt. We clearly have a capable EME station.

Glenn and his team are continuing to follow up to investigate why we had a 1.5 degree azimuth offset.

It still takes my breath away to hear the echo of our signal coming back from the Moon, a couple of seconds later. The speed of light isn’t just a value in the books, it is something you experience viscerally first hand. It is real. EME is the longest signal path we have for communicating with others. This is fun.

These are the contacts we made. (CW = Morse Code, PH = SSB phone. Given also are the date and GMT times, the signal reports, and the other stations and their locations):

CW 10/10/2020 750 K0PRT 559 DL0SHF 559 Germany
CW 10/10/2020 756 K0PRT 559 OH2DG 579 Finland
CW 10/10/2020 805 K0PRT 559 G3LTF 579 England
CW 10/10/2020 814 K0PRT 549 I5MPK 569 Italy
CW 10/10/2020 846 K0PRT 569 SP6JLW 589 Poland
CW 10/10/2020 900 K0PRT 559 DL4DTU 559 Germany
CW 10/10/2020 912 K0PRT 579 SM4IVE 589 Sweden
CW 10/10/2020 919 K0PRT 549 DG5CST 569 Germany
CW 10/10/2020 934 K0PRT 559 VE6BGT 579 Alberta, Canada
PH 10/10/2020 947 K0PRT 57 VE6BGT 56 Alberta, Canada
PH 10/10/2020 947 K0PRT 55 W4OP 57 North Carolina, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1034 K0PRT 549 OK1KKD 569 Czech Republic
CW 10/10/2020 1043 K0PRT 599 OE5JFL 599 Austria
CW 10/10/2020 1049 K0PRT 579 W6YX 589 California, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1103 K0PRT 569 IK2MMB 569 Italy
CW 10/10/2020 1111 K0PRT 579 OZ4MM 599 Denmark
CW 10/10/2020 1149 K0PRT 549 OK1CS 579 Czech Republic
CW 10/10/2020 1153 K0PRT 569 OK2DL 479 Czech Republic
CW 10/10/2020 1201 K0PRT 559 VE6TA 579 Alberta, Canada
CW 10/10/2020 1503 K0PRT 559 JH1KRC 569 Japan
CW 10/10/2020 1526 K0PRT 549 AA4MD 559 Florida, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1533 K0PRT 569 WA9FWD 559 Wisconsin, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1540 K0PRT 569 W5LUA 579 Texas, USA
PH 10/10/2020 1547 K0PRT 569 W5LUA 579 Texas, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1652 K0PRT 539 VA7MM 559 British Columbia, Canada
CW 10/10/2020 1703 K0PRT 559 XE1XA 559 Mexico
PH 10/10/2020 1731 K0PRT 55 VE6TA 55 Alberta, Canada
CW 10/10/2020 1740 K0PRT 569 K2UYH 559 New Jersey, USA
CW 10/10/2020 1806 K0PRT 549 JA6AHB 569 Japan
PH 10/10/2020 1826 K0PRT 54 W6YX 55 California, USA

And these are summaries of our contacts from the logging program:

K0PRT’s Contest Summary Report

 Total Contacts = 30

 Operating Period: 2020/10/10 07:50 – 2020/10/10 18:26

 Total Contacts by State \ Province: AB 4, CA 2, TX 2, BC 1, FL 1, NC 1, NJ 1, WI 1. 8 total.

Total Contacts by Country: USA 8, Canada 5, Czech Republic 3, Federal Republic of Germany 3, Italy 2, Japan, 2, Austria 1, Denmark 1, England 1, Finland 1, Mexico 1, Poland 1, Sweden 1. Total countries 13.

 Total Contacts by Continent: Europe 14, North America 14, Asia 2. Total continents 3.

Photo by Bill Miller.

-72/73 Gary WA2JQZ

Addendum: QSL confirmations we received: