Bob Haggart N0CTV is working on building a new stairway and porch to the communications trailer at the radio telescope site. He started the work at home after taking measurements. Today he traveled to the site to continue the work. With him were his grandson Allen and Allen’s friend Ben. Bob writes:
“We arrived at 11 AM. Worked on the porch and covered the fan with 24″ X 24″ plywood. Ran out of time but did get the porch assembled and painted inside and out. The hand railing is only temporary and will finish next work day on the 17th.”
Bob’s work is replacing a small simple set of metal steps that has given us access to the communications trailer.
The new porch and stairway provide a great improvement.
Thanks to Bob for all this work, and for improving the access to the communications trailer.
Attendance: Gary Agranat, Ed Corn, Floyd Glick, Glenn Davis, Steve Plock, Rich Russel, Tony Bigbee, Ray Uberecken, Dave Molter, Jon Richardson, Bill Miller
Attending Remotely via TeamViewer: Skip Crilly, Dayton Jones, Jamie Riggs
Last Trips: Oct 19 Observation Trip. Oct 20 Work trip for ED. Steve, Hans, Gary, Paul
Next Trips to site: The regularly scheduled 3rd Saturday of the month, Saturday Nov 17th. Observation the night before on Nov 16th
DSES Technical and Operations Meeting- 2nd Monday of Every Month
DSES Science Meeting – 4th Monday of Every Month
Accuracy: The notes for this meeting may be out of order. This was done to group the discussion into subjects for better clarity and continuity, so they are not true chronological minutes. As always if I have misstated, omitted or misrepresented anyone please feel free to correct me WKM.
Agenda and Notes
Ray Uberecken has his mount ready to install a 12 ft dish with capability up thru the KU band. He needs to move the dish from the KCME radio station to his site in Payton. The dish F/D ratio is the same as the 60 ft Haswell dish, so the 12 ft dish could be used to prototype feeds and receivers for the Plishner site. Ray would like some volunteers from the DSES to help move it next Sunday the 28th at 10AM. (Note: Recent change of plans. Ray will hire a crane to pick the dish out of the KCME yard enclosure before disassembly. This is currently scheduled for 7 AM Saturday, November 10th.) He could use some volunteers, power drills with sockets and a trailer. KCME is at Fontanero and 1921 N. Weber in. Bill will send an EMAIL out to the group.
Once the dish is in place the first thing that Ray will install is a Dicke Switch.
Ray also wants to know if we want to use the 8 channel UHF remote at the site for reset and control of the systems. We have not been using it, but that is available and installed in the communications trailer rack and can be commanded remotely from Ray’s residence.
Ray has also started his optical observatory with 8 inch Celestron and a good refractor at his residence.
Dr. Rich Russel reviewed his new Radio Astronomy Guide Rev. 3.
The RA/Dec of many of the objects are from both celestial coordinate year 1950 epoch and year 2000 epoch, so needs updating.
The output of the SpectraCyber is in volts and a translation to Jansky is needed.
Rich and Gary observed a number of sources on the Oct. 19th observation trip.
Some source positions were very good. Others were not. This may indicate a pointing error or other system issue.
They were getting a lot of clear source signatures but don’t know what many of them were. Rich would like to do cross galactic scans while changing declination to map the whole area in the future.
Cassiopeia A, Cas-A, was thought to be seen, but at a relatively low amplitude. Cas-A, being a 2200 Jy source it should have been clearly seen but they weren’t sure they had it.
Sagittarius A was strong and had the instrument setup with too high of gain, resulting in scale saturation.
Special sources 1 and 2 were studied.
The special source 2, a contact binary star is getting close to a supernova event in a few years, and we want to baseline it and get ready to observe the supernova emission.
To find objects Gary used the tables in Rich’s observing guide and in the Data Book “Astrophysical Data: Planets and Stars” by Kenneth R. Lang.
The V notch object that Tony studied was not tried in Rich and Gary’s session.
Rich and Gary also did an experiment to measure the hydrogen (HI) Line Doppler shift and therefor the velocity along the galactic plane. They were able to get reasonable hydrogen measurements of the galaxy’s rotational velocity at multiple points from the center out to the radius of the sun.
Rich plotted these observations and got a curve that is in the ballpark but a little different than the published data on similar measurements. This is the first time that the Galactic angular velocity measurement has been attempted with the 60 ft. dish.
See Dr. Rich Russel’s attached Science Meeting presentation for more detail on the site trip and the observations mentioned above.
Tony Bigbee also went to the site for the observing session last week. Tony installed onto the system after Rich and Gary had finished. He did not get the expected results on the RASDR 4 receiver when attached to the 60 ft. dish over the weekend. He thought that the issue may be with the pointing accuracy of the System 1 controller. We used System 2 at the open house when Tony had very good results but did not get the same on this last weekend’s observation session using System 1. Tony looked for the V notch absorption object and is using a new code to calculate the source amplitude. He did not get good results on this and suspects pointing error.
He calculated the curves for the open house and last weekend’s observations showing time and discovered that these are different indicating that something is wrong between the two.
Tony did a Mollweide projection plot like the one below. In Tony’s plot the green line is the meridian, the blue line is the galactic plane. The black X is the position of the telescope. See Tony Bigbee’s actual plot when he posts or sends it out.
Rich suggests that anyone going down to observe should measure some of these same sources and get data to compare their results.
SkipCrilly says we have aligned NRAO 5690 at Greenbank and Haswell sites three times using the System 1 controller and it seems to be positioning correctly. Steve can do an additional observation next week, Tuesday and Wed and verify the alignment.
Another difference from the open house observation was that Steve Plock added the alternate cavity filter configuration.
As mentioned previously the coordinates of some of the sources are from celestial coordinate year 1950 epoch and year 2000 epoch so may be different positions now due to precession and galactic movement. A mathematical correction to the coordinates may be required to make an accurate set of coordinates for the current date. However, the small difference afforded by this is probably within the capture angle of the dish.
Glenn Davis says that his NTP time sever may be useful to improve the accuracy of the pointing systems.
Bill Miller said that the System 1 controller may still have a discontinuous elevation reading error. This was seen previously this summer and has not been fixed. This could contribute to a pointing error and inaccuracy on some coordinates.
Anyone going to do observations at the site should try to replicate the studies of the observation guide and use the Observation Checklist to make their session useful and comparative.
Currently the LMST is close to local time, and so one needs to consider this and observe in the evening instead of afternoon.
See the back of Rich Russel’s observing guide for dish rules and limits. An observation data sheet and suggestions are available in the back of the guide as well.
We need a list of some calibration sources to start all observing session with, to be sure that the pointing system is working properly and that it isn’t broken with new SW drops. Also, we hope the voltages we measure from calibration sources (with known Jansky levels), will enable us to derive the Janskies of other objects we wish to observe. Janskies are the measure of the flux density that the antenna receives.
Three papers have been accepted in the next SARA journal.
“The Deep Space Exploration Society 2018 Perseid Meteor Shower Open House”. By Bill Miller, Gary Agranat. Deep Space Exploration Society.
“SpectraCyber Neutral Hydrogen Measurements using the Deep Space Exploration Society 60 – foot Antenna System“. By Richard Russel D.Cs., Ae.E.; Gary Agranat. Deep Space Exploration Society.
“Dark HI Cloud Observation using the Deep Space Exploration Society Plishner 18 – Meter Dish with the RASDR4“. By Tony Bigbee, Richard Russel, Steve Plock. Deep Space Exploration Society.
Skip Crilly discussed his new 28 ft. antenna that has a 5 pixel or 5 separate antenna segment feed and is mounted on a cargo trailer but will be used mostly for SETI. The antenna may not be large enough to observe the strange signals we have seen. File size is one challenge since it is inversely proportional to the gain and noise ratio.
Meeting was adjourned after much secondary discussions not captured here.
Old 9/24/2018 Agenda and Notes from last science meeting:
Glenn Davis proposes a graphical user interface called Astro Guide that would allow better guiding and tracking of radio sources.
Rich’s presentation and overview of the radio astronomy guide
Started with Floyd’s list
Added the 1420 MHz sources from the book “Tools of Radio Astronomy” by K Rohlfs and T Wilson.
Added the hydrogen measurements from K5SO, Dr. Joe Martin who has provided signature images of the objects.
Gary, Jay Wilson, Rich and Steve all went to the site on 9/22 and did observations using the 60 foot dish.
Used Spectra Cyber
Used system 1 pointing
Used the new setup with the cavity filter
Limit switches are set at +/-15 ether way of north. CCW to 345. CW to 015.
Gary got great pictures of the event.
Need screen print capability to capture the Spectra Cyber parameters display.
The Spectra Cyber SW is easy to take the data and use it.
Need a Lap Top with a com 2 serial port to attach the spectra cyber. This is difficult because most of the Serial to USB port adapters don’t want to set for Com1 or Com2.
Need to do calibration sources before and after observation of an observed object and keep all settings on the Spectra Cyber the same.
From Tony, “To avoid problems of solar interference all observations were made between sunset and sunrise. Most scans were taken with the telescope on the meridian.” Galt and Kennedy, 1968, ‘Survey of Radio Sources Observed in the Continuum near 1420 MHz, Declinations —5° to +70°’ http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1968AJ…..73..135G
Rich presented a number of plots from their observations. See Rich’s report.
The scan across the galaxy were at one RA. The radio hot area was offset from the optical.
The galactic rotation rate was also observed.
Got a lot of raw data, learned how to catalog it and analyze it.
The calibration sources did not show any signal above the noise.
Got good data for Sagittarius A, SAG A.
3 Papers have been submitted for the SARA Journal.
The Western SARA conference is in Boulder in March.
This is a summary of our activities at the Plishner radio telescope site during the third week of October 2018. Steve Plock, Ed Corn, and Gary Agranat contributed to this report.
Participants this weekend were Gary Agranat, Paul Berge, Tony Bigbee, Ed Corn, Hans Gaensbauer, Dave Molter, Steve Plock, and Rich Russel.
Our plan for the rest of the year is to work at the site during the third weekend of each month. The Friday evening is devoted to astronomical observing, and the rest of the weekend is then devoted primarily to infrastructure and equipment work.
60-foot Antenna Observing, by Gary Agranat, WA2JQZ
On Friday afternoon and evening Rich, Gary, and Paul did 1420 MHz neutral hydrogen observing with the 60-foot antenna. The primary observing goal was to take regular measurements of the hydrogen signal along the Milky Way galactic plane at 10 degree intervals, from the galactic center to about 110 degrees (a little more than the first quadrant). The Doppler shift of the hydrogen was measured at each 10 degree point. From that, Rich later used some basic geometry to derive a velocity and distance from the galactic center for each measurement. A second goal was to observe several known, strong galactic radio sources that could be used in the future for calibration of our observations, and also to see if we are capable of observing those sources in a consistent way (without unknown biases). A third goal was to observe additional galactic sources as targets of opportunity, to see how well we do, and to also see what problems we hit.
Galactic plane observing started at about 5 pm local time, when the galactic center in Sagitarius had risen high enough in the sky for us to observe. The galactic plane and most of the other observing were done with the 60 foot antenna pointed along the meridian (180 degrees azimuth to the south and zero degrees to the north), in order to eliminate the Earth’s rotational motion in the Doppler shift measurements. We observed until about 10:30 pm, when the team was then quite tired. To warm us up during the evening, we made a batch of hot apple cider.
Details of the observations and results were discussed at the science meeting on Monday October 22nd, and those will be covered in a separate post.
– Gary WA2JQZ
We’ll continue with the discussion of the weekend infrastructure work.
Saturday Infrastructure Work by Ed Corn, KC0TBE
Our first order of business was to re-service the toilet and spare in the outhouse. They now both have RV antifreeze for winter. Next installed was a portable heater for winter operations and I labeled all the breakers in the out house. I then labeled the doors with instructions for emergency exit and the safety pin for privacy at the main door.
With the help of Gary, Hans, and Paul we have the first 3 tower sections in place at the bunker, along with the first set of guy wires. [More about the tower below.]
-73’s Ed KC0TBE
DSES Site Work Report by Steve Plock KL7IZW, DSES President
Paul Berge worked on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Because he travels from Lyons, Co. he prefers to maximize his efforts each visit. Also the weather window for the year is closing. I attempt to support his efforts as best as I can. Paul provided support for Rich Russel’s data acquisition which included galactic Doppler measurements. The team knocked off before midnight. Results have already been detailed in the Science meeting on 22nd of October.
On Saturday Ed installed a heater in the outhouse, winterized the RV toilets, and labeled the outhouse breakers.
During Saturday afternoon Hans, Ed, Paul, Steve and Gary all worked together to erect the new communications tower. The first set of guys were finished at 23 ft. by Ed Corn doing all the climbing. The majority of the rest of Saturday myself and Paul spent evaluating the elevation limit switch operation, including testing complete functionality with fault clearing via the built in override capability.
Later that day, Tony Bigbee showed up, and Paul and Steve supported subsequent hydrogen observations using the RASDR4 receiver.
The majority of Sunday was consumed by lubrication of the dish and adjustment of the azimuth drive chain. I also installed the conduit in the elevation bulkhead so that Bill Miller can complete his synchro wiring project.
Sunday Dave Molter worked into the night using the 500W floodlights and mixed over 1000lbs of concrete to try to prevent continued erosion in the ramp area. A big thanks to all who participated in this cooperative effort.
Participants: Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Rich Russel, Dave Molter, Gary Agranat.
Summary and photos by Gary Agranat.
We worked at the Plishner Radio Telescope site on Saturday August 25, 2018. One motivation was to proceed with needed infrastructure work before the cold of winter returns. Another motivation was to follow up on the observations we made during the Open House with the 60-foot antenna. In addition, the antenna tuner for the bunker ham radio station was still not running, and needed to be checked. Here is a summary of what we did, with some photos.
1. Ed and Steve replaced the outflow hose from the ramp sump with one more durable (including durable against mice). Ed tested that the outflow did drain away from the ramp area. We placed a new aluminum manhole cover on the sump access (vs the original steel one), fabricated by Steve.
2. Ed moved the Internet hotspot to the bunker. The hotspot was used by Gary while testing and operating the ham radio station.
3. Dave brought 20 x 60-pound bags of cement, and used all of them to continue to repair/rebuild the ramp retaining wall. He made considerable progress extending the base of the wall. The higher the base of the wall reaches up the ramp, the less rain sediment will clog the sump pump. Dave stayed until late in the evening, until around sunset. Gary stayed with him and gave some help.
4. Rich brought the SpectraCyber 1420 MHz Hydrogen Line Spectrometer, and used it to continue to test the functioning and ability of the SpectraCyber together with the System 1 pointing system on the 60-foot antenna. Rich later showed Gary how to steer the dish antenna, and how to measure and record neutral hydrogen data. By the end of the day we located and measured several radio sources in the Sagitarius region. And we made a systematic scan almost perpendicular to the Milky Way galactic plane, in order to measure neutral hydrogen while pointing away from and in the plane. A more detailed discussion follows later in this post.
5. Gary tested the setup of the newly installed auto tuner for the FT-897 in the bunker ham station. With some adjusting and checking of cable connections, the tuner was found to be functioning OK. Gary took the opportunity to operate K0PRT in the QSO Parties this weekend for Kansas, Ohio, Hawaii, and for the US & Canadian islands, making about 30 contacts, on SSB and CW, on 40, 20, and 15 meters. Signal reports were mostly good, which seemed to indicate the combined FT-897 + tuner system is working OK. Gary wrote some Guidance Notes for using the tuner, and left those next to the tuner.
6. We received 20 QSL cards in the mail from the Open House special event station. Myron passed them on through Ed to Gary. Gary responded to all of them, and sent in the mail our QSL card responses to all by Monday.
Next are some photos of our work. Then follows a more detailed discussion about the SpectraCyber observations with the 60-foot antenna.
SpectraCyber observations with the 60-foot antenna
Rich brought the SpectraCyber 1420 MHz Hydrogen Line Spectrometer, to follow up on the successful observations we started to make with the 60-foot antenna during our Open House 2 weeks before. We used the System 1 pointing system. I later joined him by mid afternoon, after I finished my other work, and this is a report of what we did.
We started by searching for several sources with flux density values higher than 200 Janskies. However, at first no sources were found. The plane of the Milky Way was at that time very low along the southern horizon. There were few strong sources on our list available to look for at that time.
A little later, we just about ran into the Milky Way without looking for it, when the galactic plane rose higher. The signal trace of the SpectraCyber indicated the change: pointed away from the galactic plane, the signal trace stayed near about 3 volts, varying probably with noise, but not by more than a volt. Once pointing at the galactic plane, the voltage trace increased from about 5 to 7 volts (up to about 4 volts above the noise floor). The signal consistently showed a peak at about the center of the trace, at about the frequency of neutral hydrogen. We have not calibrated the SpectraCyber, and so we don’t exactly what frequency we were peaking. (The actual spectral line frequency is 1420.40575 MHz. And we may be seeing some doppler shift in our measurement.)
We then looked for several strong sources in the Sagitarius region, which by then had risen. We successfully found several, including:
Sagitarius A, the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The radio emission is thought to be from the secondary effects of a black hole there.
CTB 37, a supernova remnant about 20,000 light years away (see https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/ctb-37a.html.) Our signal trace showed three peaks through most of our scans. Our interpretation is that the central peak is the original supernova remnant. The other peaks would be the doppler-shifted material outflowing away and towards us, following the supernova explosion.
The Sagitarius Star Cloud Messier 24, with a colder hydrogen cloud closer along the line of sight that absorbs some of the M24 hydrogen signal. This is the radio source Tony Bigbee pointed to during our Open House 2 weeks earlier. The signal trace has a distinctive dip, which had been identified in data from the Parkes Observatory in Australia. And as Tony has discussed, was used in the past by the RASDR2 team as an engineering detection test. The dip in signal is interpreted as a hydrogen cloud along the line of sight that is colder than the background source. It absorbs the background signal and then reradiates it out, but in all directions, hence the net signal to us is reduced. We used the RA & Dec location coordinates recorded during the Open House. We found the source again without difficulty.
We used the System 1 computer display to read the angles our 60-foot antenna was pointed to. The display showed coordinates in both azimuth & elevation (Earth ground reference), and Right Ascension & Declination (celestial sky coordinate reference). We turned the antenna with the manual steering controls. At this time we do not have automatic tracking ability. But we were able to reasonably stay on our targets with continual manual adjustments. What we more often did was we found our source, then allowed the antenna to scan at the set elevation as the Earth rotated, and as a result get a short scan along a line of Declination. We then moved the elevation up and down slightly, to see differences in the scans a little north and south. We used this technique also to hone in on targets.
We then manually scanned across the Milky Way galactic plane, to obtain a slice from 16 to 20 hours Right Ascension, along the declination of -05 degrees. We stopped at intervals of 30 minutes Right Ascension (e.g., 17h 00 min, 17h 30 min, 18h 00 min, …), to let the SpectraCyber take full scans.
Our scan cut a steep acute angle through the width of the galactic plane, going across the constellations of Ophiuchus, the north edge of Scutum, and the southern part of Aquila. We therefore started and ended at angles pointed “above” and “below” from the galactic plane, and scanned across the galactic plane in between.
Since we were pointing to the southeast (and not due south), if we moved azimuth while maintaining elevation, the declination still changed. And so to keep on the -05 degree declination line, we had to adjust azimuth and elevation together.
DSES Science Meeting August 27, 2018 Follow Up
On the following Monday we had our monthly DSES Science Meeting at the home of Rich Russel.
At the meeting we discussed the observations we made with the 60-foot antenna two days earlier.
Tony Bigbee then also presented deeper details about his RASDR4 (Radio Astronomy Software Defined Radio). And he gave us more background about the earlier RASDR2 observations of Messier 24, with the dip in frequency. And he showed how he researched the earlier Parkes observatory data to find useable results and plots for us to compare to.
On Saturday July 29th Dave Molter, Rich Russel, Steve Plock, Ed Corn, Michael and Gail Lowe, and Bill Miller went to the Plishner telescope site and did the following:
1. Steve, Ed, Bill, Dave, Michael, Steve and three women volunteers from Las Animas cleaned all of the scrap metal, wood and unused tech equipment out of the bunker, and loaded as scrap onto Ed’s trailer.
2. They also cleaned out the scrap from the pedestal and in front of the new outhouse.
3. Dave and Ed both took full trailer loads of scrap back to Colorado springs for salvage.
4. Rich brought his lawn tractor and mowed all the grass and weeds along the road and in the open space, AKA the Diane Uberecken Memorial Park area around the dish.
5. Dave and Bill unloaded about 700 lbs of concrete and sand that Dave brought into the bunker, for use on rebuilding the retaining wall.
6. Ed wired up the breaker panel in the outhouse and attached the RV outlet wires.
7. Steve installed the RV outlet pedestals by driving steel fence posts and attaching the outlets.
8. Dave cleaned out the bottom of the bunker ramp and worked on some of the retaining wall.
9. Bill measured and accessed the installation for the elevation synchro wires and liquid-tight conduit from the upper deck to the control deck of the pedestal.
We worked at the antenna site in Haswell from Friday May 18 through Sunday May 20, 2018. We essentially worked in two teams. The first team was at the site from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, with some in that team just coming on Saturday. The second team worked Sunday afternoon.
Accomplishments for this work trip:
Beginning of work on a new toilet facility “outhouse” in the southwest corner of the site.
Aaron Reid brought his tractor. He excavated a large 5 1/2 foot hole, which will eventually be used to properly dispose the effluent from the outhouse. He also completed covering of the 600-foot trench that had been dug earlier to install the power line in the site. And he also excavated a new trench from the pedestal to the Comm. Trailer, to be used to lay control lines for our antenna pointing systems.
Initial checkout of the 5-band trap vertical antenna for ham radio at the bunker.
Removal of a 10-foot satellite dish antenna in Sugar City.
Continuing work on the dish antenna pointing control systems.
Contributors to this post are Steve Plock, Bill Miller, and Dave Molter, with additional writing and editing by Gary Agranat. Photos by Bill Miller, Gary Agranat, and Steve Plock. Working on this trip also were Aaron Reid, Paul Berge, and Floyd Glick.
Thanks to everyone who helped on this trip.
Trip report by Steve Plock
I arrived Friday afternoon. Paul Berge arrived shortly after and Aaron Reid not long after that. We ate a little dinner and turned in. Right around sundown it started raining. It rained most of the night and stopped around sunrise. Because it had rained all night it was pretty muddy outside. We helped Aaron unload his tractor off of his trailer. We then started cleaning debris out of the 600′ trench ahead of the tractor that was pushing the low side hill made by the ditch witch down into the trench. We then placed the barrier tape into the trench ahead of the tractor which pushed the high side berm into the trench as well. We tromped through a lot of mud that morning.
Next we cleaned out the building that would become the new outhouse.
Then Steve and Paul ran an 85′ coax cable from the new vertical into the bunker. When Gary arrived he checked the antenna out using Ray’s Intellituner as a crude analyzer. It checked out OK on 80-40-20-15 and 10 meter phone portions of these bands.
Floyd Glick showed up and started helping out to get the outhouse up on the old platform that had the battery box building on it. We used a couple of chains and the tractor and some boards to accomplish this. Next I marked the spot the Ed had wished the pit to be placed and Aaron dug it to a depth of about 5 ½’. All three of us worked together to cover the pit with railroad ties.
Next I marked the 2nd trench, from the pedestal to the Comm. trailer, after consulting with Paul to stay clear of the existing conduit. By that time everyone was pretty tired and turned in for another, night. Sunday morning everyone left before noon. I led Aaron north on County Road 20 until we hit CO Highway 96 up in Haswell. Told him to pick up Highway 287 north in Eads.
Ham Radio Vertical Antenna Check, by Gary Agranat
On our last trip we installed a donated 5-band trap vertical antenna for our ham radio station at the bunker. Although we had radial wires with the donation, we didn’t yet have time to install those.
Before I arrived on this trip, Steve Plock installed an 85 foot coax cable from the antenna base, through the doghouse, to the ham station in the bunker. Although he didn’t try to make any contacts, he reported good signal reception using the IC 706 on 40 and 20 meters, including DX from Europe. The IC 706 has an attached automatic antenna tuner, and he reported there was good tuning on all of the bands.
I decided to hold off installing the antenna radial wires, and instead check how well we could operate in the current set-up. I systematically checked the SWR and the ability to tune on all 5 wavelength bands of the vertical (80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters). I confirmed we could tune well enough on all of the band spectrum except for the 20 meter Morse Code segment. I tried making some phone contacts but succeeded only with one. And for the IC 706 I didn’t have the right connector for my CW key. I therefore instead set up a Yaesu FT-950 with a SignaLink digital interface matched for it. With that I succeeded in making 30 FT-8 digital contacts, most on 40 and a few on 20 meters. I was able to do some DX (distance contacts) on 40 meters: IU8CNE (Italy) and LU5VV (Argentina). Plus we made one New Zealand contact, with ZL2IFB, on 15 meters, but otherwise DX conditions were poor. The other contacts were across the U.S. and to northeast Canada. I also had one traditional Morse Code CW chat on 40 meters with K3WAS in Kansas. And so the vertical antenna without the radials does work, and we do get out at least domestically. The somewhat poor FT-8 DX suggests radials may be worth installing still, although I cannot rule out that we had poor band conditions.
Log of contacts:
K5BZI 20m SSB TX
K4SHA 40m FT8 AL
W6GRD 20m FT8 CA
K9ZJ 20m FT8 WI
VA3HP 40m FT8 ON, Canada
K2PS 40m FT8 FL
KG7RZD 40m FT8 WA
K3WAS 40m CW KS
K0CHW 20m FT8 SD
N9RS 40m FT8 WI
AB1HL 40m FT8 MA
K6SJT 40m FT8 CA
K7ZYV 40m FT8 MS
NA8N 40m FT8 OH
K6KHB 40m FT8 CA
WA6PHR 40m FT8 CA
AE8S 40m FT8 OH
N4RLG 40m FT8 KY
KB7ZDM 40m FT8 OR
KC1GWX 40m FT8 MA
WA2HIP 20m FT8 ME
VA3CTX 20m FT8 ON, Canada
ZL2IFB 15m FT8 New Zealand
VE2GYA 40m FT8 QC, Canada
N4ZI 40m FT8 TN
KB5DXO 40m FT8 MS
LU5VV 40m FT8 Argentina
N8NXG 40m FT8 FL
K4RGN 40m FT8 NC
WY7CDL 40m FT8 WY
IU8CNE 40m FT8 Italy
K9QVB 20m FT8 IL
AB5CA 40m FT8 TX
Trip Report by Dave Molter, for Sunday May 20, 2018
On Sunday I met Bill Miller in Sugar City, and tore down a 10 foot dish that was donated to DSES. The dish was left at the residence until a trailer can be provided to remove the parts. The base post was not removed from the concrete and will need to be done on a future trip. This effort also led to 3 more fiberglass 10 foot antennas identified which will be donated and obtained at a future date.
When we got to the site we energized the dish drives and observed noise on the elevation encoder lines shown by the LEDs flickering and watching the position signal on an Oscilloscope. Ferrite beads were installed around the elevation encoder lines. There was no change to the amount of noise present on the wires. The elevation readout cover was removed and the cable was removed from the encoder. The connector was opened to allow inspection of the wiring. The cable shield drain wire was temporarily jumpered to the frame ground. The signal noise was reduced. The cable drain wire was connected to pin S of the encoder (Frame Ground). A jumper wire was also attached to the drain wire and connected to the encoder body. The mount was run in elevation and azimuth and the readout was stable, the LED did not flicker. The dish control was transferred to the trailer. The control panel was used to move the mount in azimuth and elevation. The readout computer was energized and the remainder of the day was spent looking for the paper that contained the logon to the portable computer.
It was observed that the electrical trench was backfilled. The trench between the tower and trailer was dug out. The ramp has a good sized amount of tumble weeds in residence.
– Dave Molter
Additional Details from Bill Miller, Sunday May 20, 2018
I arrived at Sugar City at 9 AM and met with Dave about 10:30. We went to Sugar City contact’s (Sue) house and proceeded to disassemble the 10ft Fiber glass satellite antenna and mount in the back yard. This took about 3 1/2 hours and we didn’t complete digging up the concrete foundation but got a good start on it. This will be completed and the dish will be transported in a future trip. Sue gave us contacts for a 10 ft mesh dish in Sugar City and for her daughter’s perforated dish in Rocky Ford. Dave made contacts for 2 more fiberglass dishes in Sugar City. Seems we can have all of these that we want for the asking and labor.
We didn’t get to the Plishner site until about 3:00 on Sunday and by then the previous crew of Aaron Reid, Steve Plock, Gary Agranat, Paul Berge and others had left the facility.
Dave and I set up to determine the cause and fix for the elevation encoder noise that we have been fighting for the last five months. We took a methodical trouble shooting approach with scope and meter instrumentation. We verified that the elevation encoder circuit was much more susceptible to the motor controller noise than the azimuth encoder circuit. It was even susceptible to the Azimuth motor drive but to a lesser degree than to the elevation drive. After trying several things we discovered by continuity checking that the Azimuth encoder wiring shield was grounded to the telescope structure at the encoder end but the elevation encoder wiring shield was open. We opened the elevation encoder box in the upper deck and attached the shield drain wire to the chassis ground with a clip lead. This had a dramatic effect on the noise as seen by the scope and the 12 bit LEDs indicating the input signal state on system 1. Seeing this, we permanently attached the shield drain wire to Pin “S” (Case GND) of the encoder connector and to the attachment screw on the encoder with a flying lead. This substantially reduced the motor drive noise problem on the elevation encoder circuit and should provide much cleaner encoder signals to both system 1 and 2. Of note: There is still a lot of HF noise on the system 1 electronics as indicated on the scope. It appears to be from the small switch mode power supply in the box and the motor drives. It may be wise to change out the small PS with one that is less noisy. We were unable to check the Laptop program operation with System 1 due to a missing password.
We saw the trench that Aaron Reid had dug for the syncro cabling. Thanks to Aaron for that. I brought down a 350 foot spool of 15 conductor x 18awg wire for the syncro connection. Unfortunately we had no suitable conduit to install in the trench so we will have to do that on a separate trip. I left the spool of wire in the locked pedestal for when it can be installed. The deal with OEM Electronics is to use what we need and return the rest for credit as soon as possible. The approximately 160 ft of wire needed will be charged to Michael Lowe’s OEM credit that he established several years ago.
Two curious boys from Los Animus HS stopped by while we were working in the pedestal and we told them about the Dish, but not knowing them didn’t offer a tour. Bill took their names and Email addresses for future contact.
Several spools of RG59u and a 4KW generator were left in the open after the clean out of the RR shed to be used for the outhouse. We moved the wire to the locked pedestal and Dave took the generator back to Springs to see if he could get it running. We put food in the bunker away, locked up the site and left about 7:30PM.
The following is the report of our work trip to the Plishner antenna site in Haswell, Colorado on Sunday April 22, 2018. This was written by Ed Corn KC0TBE, with additional contribution by Dave Molter AD0QD, and with editing and photos by Gary Agranat WA2JQZ.
* * *
Steve Plock (KL7IZW), Ed Corn, and Gary Agranat left the Ellicott Fire Station about 7:30 AM, and arrived around 9:30. Dave arrived just a bit later. We met Paul Berge (K0DJV) at the site, who had traveled down on Saturday from Lyons and stayed overnight. Paul had done some clean-up in the bunker. And he cleaned out the pile-up of tumble weeds from the bunker ramp.
Steve worked on the locking system for the box with the azimuth/elevation hardware in the pedestal. He reports moving the dish antenna down to 0° elevation and back up to zenith with no read-out errors. The lock holds the door securely shut to form a good shield from motor EMI (interference).
Ed built a more robust gate for the bunker ramp. The strong winds at the site had unhooked the previous gate, which then allowed tumbleweeds to pile down the ramp again. Ed dragged two farm gates from west of the Communications Trailer to the bunker ramp. He set up the hinge pins for the gate, and Gary helped hang the gate.
We then covered the gates with field wire (in the gaps and along the bottom) to keep the tumble weeds from getting into the ramp area.
Ed then installed a VHF base antenna on the bunker dog house for the talk-in radio. The talk-in radio, K0PRT 146.460 MHz, is now up and working, with desk remote controls in the bunker and communications trailer. Please note the desk remote control in the comm. trailer must be plugged into an outlet and powered on to operate. This arrangement keeps the RF at the bunker, and gives access to talk-in radio at the comm. trailer as well, without RF emissions near the 60-foot dish.
Gary continued work on the Hustler 5-BTV HF vertical antenna for the club station at the bunker. By the end of the day Gary had the vertical assembled and mounted on an anchor pole he installed with Dave’s help. The vertical is in place with non metallic guys for stability in the Plishner winds.
Gary added these comments: “I assembled the antenna with lengths used by the previous owner, but noted the originally specified lengths from the manual. Some worn parts were replaced with parts provided by Dave, and some machine screws were replaced with stainless steel ones. We salvaged a conduit pipe for a base mount, and Dave drove it into the ground (a few feet deep) northwest of the dog house, at a distance of more than 20 feet from nearest obstacles. Dave and I then mounted the antenna on the base…”
“… One of the two leads of the pigtail connection to the antenna at the base came loose. With Steve’s help we removed the pigtail, and I soldered a new lug connector, and reconnected the pigtail. I then used Dave’s antenna analyzer to map the SWR – frequency response of the antenna. That was just an initial check, as we have not yet installed the radials. With the current lengths, the antenna is resonant in the 80 and 40 meter bands, but not the 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. At the end of the day, the whole team present helped install non-conducting guy ropes. Those will provide the lateral structural support against the expected winds.”
Dave unloaded a truck full of concrete blocks, bagged cement, and mortar mix for use in the retainer wall extension at the bunker. Then Dave and Paul used the rest of the day to work on the antenna dish controls. They also lowered the 2 old drive motors from the pedestal control deck to the floor in preparation for removal from the site to salvage.
Dave added these comments: “I delivered 22 concrete blocks, 2 bags of type S mortar mix, and 6 bags of concrete mix. That makes a total of about 65 blocks to use when we resume the wall building. Paul Berge was at the site, and we discussed the installation of the VFD for the elevation axis drive. His insight answered many questions I had and had never gotten answers to. We stepped through the wiring of the VFD and cabinet wiring, and how the remote unit in the trailer and hand paddle were wired to the cabinet. We soldered permanent ground wires with terminal lugs onto the shields of the Az and El brake cables, and onto the shield to the elevation motor drive. All shields were terminated to the main cabinet ground connection. There appeared to be no change in the observed noise present on the LEDs while no signal was present.”
“Paul and I lowered the two motors that were on the 03 (top) level of the pedestal to the ground level. There is one more motor on the 02 level that Paul believes is a spare for the installed motor.”
“A mounting post was driven in the ground about 35 feet west of the main support for the for 80 meter dipole. Gary had assembled the 5 BTV vertical antenna, and the group mounted the antenna to the post, and installed 3 guy lines.”
Paul stayed over Sunday and Monday nights, traveling home on Tuesday. He spent Monday doing routine maintenance and clean-up on the dish drive systems, which had been delayed and was past due.
Thanks to everyone for a very productive work weekend at the site.
These are photos, shared by Steve Plock, from the installation of the 100 meter fiber optic cable during the first week of March. The new cable runs from the antenna feed to the com trailer, and replaces a coax cable. A 50-foot lift was rented, to run the cable to the antenna feed. Ed Corn worked from the lift bucket.
The installation was originally scheduled for Monday March 5th, but the winds were too strong. The winds were not as strong the next day, though still a challenge, and they did the installation then.
The fiber optic cable enables a higher data rate, and also eliminates a significant source of noise.
By Gary Agranat, March 27, 2018.
Updated March 29, 2018 0200 GMT: 1) Skip Crilly’s slides were updated, and 2) the supernova remnant detected was NRAO 5690.
On Saturday March 17, four of us were at the Plishner antenna site: Steve Plock, Ed Corn, David Molter, and I (Gary Agranat).
And before I say anything more, I want to point out that the site has had much activity over the past few months. Full commercial power was installed and the site now operates using that. A number of simultaneous observing runs were made with Skip Crilly at the 40 foot dish of Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia, 1257 miles distant. More about that later.
Plus, a number of equipment upgrades to the site were made. Many of those enable the joint observations, yet also enhance our ability for observations on our own. For example, a few weeks ago a 100 meter long fiber optic cable was installed from the antenna feed (at the focus of the dish) to the receiver at the communications trailer. In order to install it, a 50-foot lift was rented. However, the installation had to be delayed a day because the originally planned day was too windy. Replacing the coax with fiber optic cable eliminates a significant source of electrical noise to the receiver. This is very important for radio astronomy observing.
Effort has been ongoing as well to troubleshoot and make work our two independent antenna pointing control systems. One system was designed by Glenn Davis and David Molter, the other by Ray Uberbecken and Ed Johnson. Both seem to be good workable solutions, and we will have one back up the other. An ongoing problem we have been troubleshooting is electrical noise.
Meanwhile, Rich Russel and Skip Crilly traveled to the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Western Conference at Stanford University in California, to give talks based on papers they wrote. More detailed information about these other activities are already, or will be, posted on our website. And so we have been very busy, and doing much. Today’s activities are a moment in a bigger story.
This is our connection to commercial power at the entrance to our site. New utility poles and a power line were erected, which connect to an existing power line about a mile to the north.
On this trip, Ed brought an additional roll of fencing. David Molter and I (Gary) then completed fencing the periphery of the bunker entrance ramp. The bunker when it was originally built in the 1950s had a fence, but it deteriorated away since. Without a fence, tumbleweed accumulate in the ramp when the winds are strong enough. And it is a chronic, time consuming task to clear our the entrance. The fence is a worthwhile accomplishment.
The last part of the fencing job was to create a moveable gate across the ramp entrance. Ed, Steve and David created an improvised gate with the fencing, and with spare re-bars (steel bars for reinforcing concrete), and hooks.
A used Hustler 5-BTV vertical ham radio antenna was donated to us. We plan to erect it near the bunker. Its coverage is the 10, 15, 20, 40, and 80 ham radio bands. I inspected the parts, and found we just needed a few “spider” radial parts for near the top of the antenna, to replace worn or missing parts. As of this writing, David got us replacement parts, and we are ready for the next steps for installation. An existing pipe in the ground might be used to mount it, or we may put in a new one. Given the wind conditions, we will guy the antenna with non-conducting cable.
Ed has been installing an internal phone system on the site. Phones are being installed at the pedestal, com trailer, and bunker. Dialing a number will ring an individual phone. On future trips, Ed will also install a VHF radio, connected to the phone system, so that one can “call in” from outside using the ham VHF 2 meter band.
Steve and David worked on the pointing control system. David wrote these details for us:
For the elevation/azimuth work that I did last weekend: I used a bubble level to set a horizontal line, then zeroed the bubble level/inclinometer that I brought. Steve and I moved the mount to as close to 0 degrees elevation using the vertical part of the inclinometer by lining up the edges of the dish and sighting across them until they showed vertical from where we were standing on the ground. The readout on the computer was minus 0.1 degree. I then took the digital inclinometer and zeroed it on the same bubble level. I took it up to the back of the dish and measured the elevation axles. The left axle measured minus 0.1 degrees and the right axle measured plus 0.4 degrees. I then measured the horizontal beam on the left side as you are looking out the dish it measured 0.1 degree. I can’t remember if it was plus or minus. The same beam on the right side measured minus 0.7 degrees. Steve then rotated the dish to point to the Haswell grain elevator He moved the dish until the feedhorn blocked the view of the elevator as I was looking through the bottom of the reflector. I then checked the seam of the azimuth electronics box and it was lined up with the tower part of the elevator. Steve knows what the reading was. I didn’t observe the elevation lights when the dish was moving. I did observe that the 3/4 inch ‘liquid tight’ sealable conduit was secure at the elevation electronics box, and it ends about 3 feet into the tube where the wires go into the upper mount level.
I then started helping Ed troubleshoot the phone system.
Before I did the elevation observations, Gary and I put up the fence that Ed had brought down. We completed the run along the North East side to the end of the ramp. After lunch, Ed, Gary, Steve and I built (designed, created, hodge podged, jury rigged, slapped together) a gate out of the same fence material. Now the ramp is surrounded by a ring of steel (fence that is).
During the day we had two visitors from Las Animas: Sharon Branch and her friend Cheri Martinson. Sharon is a member who joined last November. I gave them a nice tour, with some background of the history and science. Steve then took them up the dish antenna. Cheri later wrote us a delightful letter, and she became a member too.
Views of neighbor farm fields:
Late in the afternoon two photographers came who had arranged to work overnight, in order to photograph the dish with starry background: Mike Cunningham, who has become a member, and a friend.
For the past few months we have been doing a series of joint observing runs with Skip Crilly, who uses the 40 foot dish antenna at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia. These observations are for SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). However, a test observation also detected the supernova remnant NRAO 5690. The detection and measurement of NRAO 5690 is probably our first real confirmeddetection of an astronomical object with the Plishner 60 foot dish antenna. These joint observations are the subject of Skip’s talk at the SARA Western Conference at Stanford.
Now that he has given the talk, we have posted a recent revision of his slides on our Publications Page on our website, in the Science Section. See: “Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System”, by Skip Crilly.
The next set of joint observations are scheduled for April 9. Several members will be at the site to carry out observing, and to also continue site work in between observing runs (which last about 30 minutes).
At this week’s DSES Science meeting, Rich Russel gave us details about the SARA Western Conference, including his paper. Rich also discussed bringing the Jupiter-Io experiment “Radio Jove” back online, now that Jupiter is placed well again for observing. And he discussed a week-long “Synthesis Imaging Workshop” (on radio telescope data imaging) that he will be attending. The dates are May 16-23, and the location is near the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. He also plans to attend the main SARA conference in Greenbank, West Virginia this summer.
Some more news:
Last week the votes for the 2018 DSES Board election were counted. The Board members elected are: Rich Russel, Steve Plock, Myron Babcock, and Gary Agranat. Thanks to Lauren Libby and Bob Sayers who also ran.
With the Board election completed, the Annual membership meeting is now being planned. The scheduled date is April 14, probably at 2 PM. A location is being finalized now.
The DSES Secretary should be sending formal announcements soon.