2016 ARRL CW Sweepstakes – We Won 1st Place for Colorado !

Last November (2016) we tried participating in our first contest.  This was the annual ARRL Sweepstakes for CW (Morse Code).

The goal of this contest is to contact hams across the U.S. and Canada. As such, it is usually a sociably friendly event.  Your points do get multiplied for each ARRL geographical Section you contact.  Some Sections are whole states or provinces, like Colorado is its own Section.  Some populous states though have a few Sections within them, for example California.  If you contact all the Sections in one contest, that is called a “Clean Sweep”, hence the name of the contest.  That is a lot of work. For many hams, though, this is just for fun, and a chance to make contacts with other folks in other places.  I was looking forward to having some fun making contacts from our site, and bringing our club call sign K0PRT on to the air.

To our surprise we just received a certificate from the ARRL that we won First Place in our category for Colorado! Our category was Muli-Operator (for two or more hams operating) Low Power (less than 150 watts).

We actually only made 8 contacts for the contest: 6 on 20 meters and 2 on 15 meters, to 7 states.  Then at that point we discovered our CW signal had a chirp.  We were operating on battery power from the site.  And when we drew current as we  pushed down the telegraph key, the voltage dropped too much.  Later we added a regulated power supply to our ham station to solve that problem. But on that day we decided we should just stop, as our signal sounded awful.

And yet, what we did was enough in our category to still earn First Place!

We operated for the contest from our Communications Trailer. The photos are from that day.

Sometimes there are not many stations operating in a contest as multi-operator low power.  I investigated into the contest records, and that was the case this time.  That said, I am still proud of what we did. Bringing together a team to operate and have fun is not necessarily easy.  And we did this at our remote site.  Our category has its challenges.  Congratulations to our Club!  We earned a First Place certificate.  We will have more opportunities.

                                                                                                 – Gary WA2JQZ

2017-09-02 DSES Plishner Site Work Trip Report

Here is a summary from our work trip to the Plishner Radio Telescope site on Saturday September 2, 2017.  It includes many photos of what we did.  Highlights include:

  • Work started on rebuilding the bunker ramp retaining wall
  • Work on the control boxes which control the azimuth and elevation pointing of the 60 foot antenna
  • Maintenance and calibration of the Radio Jove and total power measurement instruments
  • Positioning the 60 foot antenna for detecting radio source Cygnus A during drift scan
  • Colorado ham radio QSO Party participation

The summary report was written by DSES Secretary Bill Miller.  The ham radio report was written by Gary Agranat.  Click the link to see the report in PDF.

2017-09-02 DSES Plishner Site Work Trip Report rev3

Video of the August 21, 2017 Great American Total Solar Eclipse, from Lusk, Wyoming

The following video and text were posted by Bill Miller, DSES Secretary. Click the link to watch the 7 minute video. Bill traveled to Lusk, Wyoming to watch the the recent total solar eclipse. – Gary WA2JQZ

In this video of the August 21, 2017 Great American Total Solar Eclipse, shot on Main Street in Lusk, Wyoming, I used a Canon EOS Rebel T3 DSLR in manual focus and automatic exposure with a 250mm f/6.3 lens mounted on a non tracking tripod and a low cost 3 inch Celestron solar film filter suspended on a makeshift mount in front of the lens.  Most of the stills came in around 1/320 sec at ISO-1600 with the filter.  This worked reasonably well for the gusting wind that buffeted the filter and camera.

The first part of the video is a sequence of the partial eclipse leading up to the totality with a frame shot manually every 1.5 minutes and the camera repositioned every 6 to 8 frames to show the progression and movement of the sun and moon across the sky. The same was done for the partial phase after the totality.  The two small dots to the left of the partially eclipsed sun are not stars but dead pixels in the camera which I didn’t realize were there until now.

The camera was changed to movie mode leading into the totality phase and the background audio captures the comments and excitement, we and some of the people around us experienced.  Shortly after the “diamond ring” appeared at the onset of totality the solar filter was swung out of the way and the camera automatically adjusted movie exposure settings for direct unfiltered viewing of the totality.  During the totality, planets and stars were visible and the movie captured Mercury, (what I originally called out as Venus) just to the lower left of the eclipsed sun.

When the “diamond ring” reappeared the solar filter was swung back into place to protect the camera imager.  After a few minutes of post totality commentary from the bystanders the camera was returned to still mode and the outgoing partial eclipse sequence was again recorded in stills.  The pre and post partial eclipse still images were added to the totality movie to edit the complete video.

Lessons learned:  This technique was simple and worked reasonably well while allowing us to concentrate on experiencing the eclipse without having to worry too much about the camera, but If I could do it again with much more practice and gear I would:

  1. Use multiple cameras to capture the surrounding scene and darkness during the eclipse and a dedicated wide angle time-lapse camera for a wall framing shot.
  2. Use a time-lapse Intervalometer to precisely time the partial eclipse still shot sequence and also help stabilize the camera without touching it.
  3. Mount the camera on a tracking telescope mount set up for solar tracking so the sun stays centered in the frame for the entire 3 hour event.
  4. Use a much sturdier tripod such as that of my telescope and seek a sheltered location out of the wind on the side of a building to improve camera stability and comfort for the 3 hour event.
  5. Use a better solar filter or find a way to shield out ambient light leakage to the camera to reduce the aura or glare captured around the partial eclipsed sun, though some of this aura may have been due to smoke in the atmosphere from western wildfires.

I hope you enjoy this little 7 minute movie. Best Regards,

Bill Miller,  DSES Secretary

Video download: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2017-08-21-Total-Eclipse-Movie-Final-LR.wmv

Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) SuperSID station measures the August 20, 2017 Solar Eclipse!

Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) SuperSID station measures the August 20, 2017 Solar Eclipse!

[ http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Eclipse-SuperSID-Results.pdf ]

DSES President Dr. Richard Russel has been measuring signal strengths 0f stations in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) band for the past year, looking for changes in ionospheric propagation due to solar flares. He uses a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID) monitor small radio telescope.  His SID detector is located in Colorado Springs, CO. The measurements are sensitive to the changes in radio propagation at sunrise and sunset.

With his baseline of historical data at sunrise and sunset, he then predicted what could be expected during the August 20, 2017 solar eclipse. He presented his prediction work at the 2017 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Annual Conference at NRAO Greenbank, WV on July 25, 2017. His paper was titled, “Ionospheric Reflection Variation During Sunrise and Sunset and Predictions for the 2017 Total Eclipse”.

During the eclipse he made measurements, and found the results matched closely with his predictions. The link presents a summary of his work. Plus it has YouTube links to this and another of his talks at the SARA conference. The second talk is titled, The Use of Monte-Carlo Analysis to Evaluate Radio Astronomy Source Detection”.

Also see this Daily Mail article, NASA Scientists to Study the Ionosphere During the Eclipse (August 10, 2017).

Photos from our site work trip July 23, 2017

These are photos taken during our work trip the Plishner radio telescope site on Sunday July 23, 2017. – Gary WA2JQZ






Ray Uberecken AA0L and Steve Plock KL7IZW reinstalled Ray’s 3-band antenna feed at the focus of the 60-foot dish. Bill Miller KC0FHN and Gary Agranat WA2JQZ  helped from the ground.




An all-day project today was the rebuilding of the “Radio Jove” phased dipole antenna. The first version had been constructed with PVC pipe masts, but that was collapsing. Dave Molter AD0QD redesigned a new antenna support system, using surplus stainless steel pipes, and adding springs and pulleys. Last autumn the bases for the poles had been already set with concrete. Today most of the team helped rebuild the antenna at one time or another. The placement of the structural support ropes was carefully rethought. Floyd Glick WD0CUJ fastened all the knots.  Here is the result.  This antenna system is used to monitor radio pulses emitted from Jupiter and its moon Io at 20 MHz.  These pulses are among the strongest astronomical signals observable.


Ed Corn KC0TBE contributed with much facilities work. Here he is installing a small solar panel to charge the 12 volt batteries at the generator.  With him is Floyd Glick WD0CUJ.


Ed Johnson AD5MQ walked around the 60 foot antenna with a UHF signal source.
Inside the communications trailer, Ray Uberecken AA0L monitored how the signal was received.
Ed Johnson AD5MQ
Ed Johnson AD5MQ
Bill Miller KC0FHN constructed a ventilation fan to the side of the communications trailer. The fan is self-powered by a solar electric panel. Its purpose is to help exhaust the hot air that builds up in the trailer during the summer season. It turns on automatically whenever the sun is out. Bill first cut a wood mounting frame to place on a window opening, to mount the fan.
Bill KC0FHN installing the fan at the side of the trailer.
Bill KC0FHN installing the fan at the side of the trailer.
Ed KC0TBE meanwhile installed a new air filter for the trailer, to help the air flow for Bill’s vent fan.
Inside view of the new trailer ventilator fan.
The new small solar panel on the roof is to power the ventilator fan.
The ventilator fan, installed by the end of the day.


The propane fuel tank for our generator.
Our generator shack.




July 10, 2017 Technical Planning Meeting Minutes

Link to minutes: 2017-07-10 DSES Technical Planning Meeting Minutes

 *  *  *

Dear DSES members and interested parties,

Attached are the July 10th DSES technical meeting minutes. Please review.
In the future we will post these and past and future minutes on the http://dses.science/ website.

July and August are very busy months for the DSES. Here is a summary of the activities. This is a great time to get involved. Here is a summary of the upcoming activities in the next two months from the website. These and other work is elaborated in the attached meeting minutes.

*** DSES Annual Astronomy Open House at Plishner ***
Friday August 11, 5-12 PM, and Saturday August 12, 2017.

Work trip to Plishner radio telescope site in Haswell scheduled Sunday July 23, 2017: Install antenna feed, install antenna readout/control, finish propane tank work, re-connect internet hotspot, test harmonic generator source, battery swap, repair Jupiter science antenna.

QSO Party: Saturday September 3, 2017 – We plan to operate our ham radio station at the radio telescope site for the Colorado QSO Party

Dr. Richard Russell AC0UB will present a paper on “Ionospheric Reflection” at the 2017 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Annual Conference at NRAO Greenbank, WV. Dates: July 23 – 26, 2017.

Ray Uberbecken AA0L will present at the 2017 Central States VHF Society Conference in Albuquerque, NM. Conference dates: July 27 – 30, 2017. Ray’s topic is about an original engineering design and technique he developed, “Using High Power FM stations to Monitor Meteor Activity Utilizing the 19-kHz Pilot Carrier”. This approach to Meteor Scatter can take the place of using broadcast analog TV signals, which now are mostly gone.

Bill Miller KC0FHN
DSES Secretary


DSES Plishner Work Trip Report July-02-2017

The following report was provided by Ed Corn and Steve Plock.  Special thanks to Gary Agranat for providing the pictures.

Myron Babcock
DSES Treasurer



Greetings all:

This is a summary of our trip to Plishner Sunday 7-2-2017. Steve, Dave, Bill,  Gary and my self made a very successful trip with a few exceptions.

Dave, Bill and Gary worked on the tumble weeds, cleaning all out of the ramp. I am positive they combined lost a bunch of weight (sweat down their backs) It was a bit warm. We all were involved in installing the chain link and construction safety fence around the perimeter of the ramp. We had enough fencing to do about ¾ of the perimeter. The rest will be completed the next trip down. This should take care of about 95% of the tumble weed problem.

Steve and I went to the comm. Trailer and re established the bunker battery monitor line. We discovered that Myron’s Hot Spot adapter has quit functioning. (DOA) I will get the unit back to Myron for exchange with his carrier. We need an agenda Item at the next engineering meeting to discuss the failure and preventative measures to prevent future failures.

Steve and I went to the generator tank and changed the wet leg valve. The excess flow check valve did check lock as designed so we did not have to depressurize the tank.

I corrected the wiring on the start/stop remote stations for the generator and Steve went to the bunker to help with the fencing.

After lunch we removed the feed and controller for the dish and Dave will deliver to Ray for modification.

I know I have forgotten some things the rest will have to fill in.

On the trip back Dave had a slow leak in a tire. Bill got him aired up and headed west. Steve and I headed home in my pick up. Just before Punkin Center I ran out of propane and switched fuels too late. This disabled my vehicle. So we put Steve in Bills van for the trip back to Ellicott and I called a favor from a friend who came down and recovered me. As of this writing the pick up is back on the road. Just too long of a day to make repairs on the road.



* *

Steve Added:

Myself and Dave Molter removed the multiband feed from the dish and Dave Molter delivered it to Ray’s house along with the feed control panel which I removed from the comm trailer.

The original station clock has been put back near operating position in comm trailer. Bill Miller inflated tires on bunker transport wagon. I removed the hotspot from the comm. trailer and when Myron is given a replacement from his wireless provider I recommend that we re-install it in the bunker because there is a much better environmental conditions for it to operate. The main valve on the 1000 gal tank was successfully replaced by myself and Ed Corn and tank can be filled after leak test is performed. Ed will contact Haswell Propane this week to arrange pressure test and fill. Please distribute.

Thanks, Steve KL7IZW

* *

Bill added:

Additionally Steve and Ed loaded some of the old excess test gear and servers from the bunker onto Ed’s truck and sold them at the PPRAA ham fest the following Saturday. Bill brought back another one of the bad 6 volt deep cycle battery cores and will get the other from Ed to turn in for credit for two new batteries for the battery room on the comm. trailer.



The spiral staircase we constructed for the bunker, as a secondary/emergency exit, now being painted.


DSES Plishner Work trip report May-28-2017

Originally posted by Myron Babcock, DSES Treasurer, June 2, 2017.

Special Thanks to Ray Uberecken, AA0L, for providing this detailed report. Thanks to Gary Agranat, WA2JQZ, for providing the photographs.

Sunday’s work trip to Plishner was to say the least ‘very productive’.

Ed Corn replaced the spark plugs in the generator and it fired up and ran great all day.

Michael worked in the bunker cleaning it up some and provided a great lunch.  Thanks Gail, the salad and cobbler were perfect.

Ray and Ed Johnson tested a new position readout and controller and after fixing a few errors on Ray’s part it worked great.  The controller part is not complete yet but that is being worked on now.

Ray and Floyd installed the 1/4 wave shorted stub at the feed and replaced the 1420 preamp.  We didn’t have to remove the feed to fix it.


Floyd took the six metre antenna down and tightened the reflector element and then put it back up.


Rich and Ed J. worked on the computer installing the readout software that Ed J. wrote and worked on improvements for the future needs along with Bill.

Ray and Rich got the Spectracyber set up and running.

Bill and Ed C. worked on replacing batteries in the shed and fixing a few issues.

Ed C. finished the welding on the steps of the spiral staircase.  I think the stairs are ready for scraping and painting.

Bill took video with his drone for inclusion in the package to send to the Plishners.

Gary organized the ham shack and managed to work a few contacts.

I probably forgot a few other projects but needless to say it was a good day.