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:


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.

DSES Pulsar Observing on September 12, 2020

Text and photos by Gary Agranat. Analysis pdf by Rich Russel.

On Saturday September 12, 2020 an observing team of Rich Russel, Bob Haggart, Bill Miller, and Gary Agranat spent the day observing pulsars. This is the first observing session since we recalibrated the 60-foot antenna azimuth pointing the weekend before. The team observed 3 pulsars we had not seen before. Plus several other pulsars were attempted. The team spent the whole day at the site, from about 9 AM to 7 PM.

The pulsar signals are so faint that we cannot detect them directly. To observe them, we have to point to the correct celestial coordinates and then track that point as the Earth rotates. While we are pointed, our computer accumulates the signal data. We need at least a half hour continuously tracking the position. At this session some of our observing runs lasted 2 hours, for the fainter objects. At previous sessions we have tracked for as long as 4 hours.

After the observing track, we have our software process the data. The random background noise should cancel itself out. But the pulse signals should build up with time. If we have the correct timing interval of the pulses, and if everything else is working, the computer display will show the pulses, and several other parameters.

Pulsars are very unusual objects. These are what remain of massive stars (greater than 5 solar masses) after they use up all their fuel for nuclear burning. These more massive stars fuse heavier and heavier elements at their cores until they start to fuse iron from silicon. Unlike the fusion of other elements, iron requires energy to fuse, rather than produce energy. The sudden reduction of energy at the core drops the temperature and pressure there. The pressure at the core is no longer enough to counter the weight of the star’s material above it. Gravity is now the stronger force, and the material above collapses in on the center. The pressure and temperature at the core then becomes even higher, which starts new reactions that fuse the matter at the center to neutrons, and and which also generates neutrinos. The outer layers falling in at great speed bounces back out. The result is a supernova explosion. What remains is the neutron star at the center. It is extremely massive and compact. And like an ice skater rotating faster as the arms are brought in, the star’s rotation speeds up immensely. The star’s magnetic field also has become compressed and much more intense. Charged particles will rotate around the magnetic field lines, with very high energy. Whenever charged particles are forced to deviate their paths from a straight line they emit electromagnetic energy, like visible light and radio. At the neutron star’s poles, this energy is channeled out, with immense energy. Because the magnetic poles are generally not at the same spots as the rotational poles, the beam of this light and radio is spun around like a light house. If Earth happens to be in the path of such a beam, we detect that as a pulsar. So that’s what we’re observing.  These neutron stars are hundreds and thousands of light years away.

Pulsars were first discovered by accident in 1967, by Jocelyn Bell (now Jocelyn Bell Burnell) who was then a graduate student at Cambridge University. Bob contributed a recent photograph of her, posed by some radio telescopes. We now proudly have that displayed on the wall above our computer displays.

Because the observing runs take a while, for this session we decided to try watching some videos. Bob brought a DVD player and a large monitor. Gary brought some educational videos, including one about the Crab Nebula and pulsars. Rich brought some movies.

This is a summary of our observing results: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/11-Pulsars-Observed-so-Far-9-12-20.pdf.

On this work trip the team also inspected damage to our ham radio antennas, damage probably from the storm weather over the past months. 7 radials at the base of the vertical antenna were damaged. And the 3 element Yagi antenna on tower was slightly tilted along its longitudinal boom.

Tumbleweeds also had accumulated again at the bunker ramp. Some of the surrounding fence had also been damaged from the weather. Rich Russel brought some fencing to use in the future, to place over the immediate entrance path to the bunker door.

Repair of the ham antennas and ramp clearing will be planned for a future work trip.

Below is a photo narrative of the day’s work.

It was an excellent day’s work.

At the start of observations, we point to and observe a pulsar with a strong signal that we know we should be able to reliably receive and analyze. If we cannot detect it, that indicates something is wrong with our system. We would then troubleshoot rather than waste our time trying to observe. Here the antenna is pointing to a pulsar we use as a reference source, B0329+54. It is located in the circumpolar sky to our north, so it is always visible above the horizon for us.
Bill Miller, Rich Russel, and Bob Haggart starting observations in the Operations Trailer.
After we checked our equipment and processes, we tried looking for some pulsars that were relatively low on the horizon to our south. Objects that appear to the south are above the horizon only briefly. They rise in the southeast, as the Earth turns they continue to rise in a shallow arc above the southern horizon, then soon set in the south west. If we want to try to observe them, we have just a short window of time to find and track them. Being low on the horizon adds some bias errors and attenuation to the observations. At this session we didn’t succeed in observing any pulsars that were close to the southern horizon.
On this run, the display shows we did not get good data. The software is attempting to synchronize our data with an expected pulse period. In the top window display that is open, for good data we would expect to see clearly spiked peaks rising from a lower noise floor. And in the white rectangular box below that, we would expect to see a signal at that timing accumulate under such spikes. There is no pattern of periodic data. The white box to the right shows timing at the bottom with radio frequency at the side (going up). Because the pulsar signal is broad band (it is spread broadly over a wide range of frequencies), we would expect to see a continuous line of signal from bottom to top, across the frequencies. But we do not see that. (You can click this image to enlarge it.)

The two graphs in the center right tell us we don’t have a definitive measure of a pulse rate, and a steady change in pulse rate. The pulsars are generally slowing down with time, at a very slow but measurable pace. The display is showing the algorithms cannot fit a pattern. If it could, the two peaks would both be centered.
Our Operations Trailer
Our antenna site is surrounded by farm fields.
Rich and Bob are checking data for each next pulsar we attempt to observe. Besides the celestial coordinates, we need to know the expected energy flux. If the signal is weaker, we need to observe and track on the object for a longer period of time. We also need to know the expected pulse timing and several other parameters.
We have up in our control room a framed photo of Jocelyn Bell Burnell, contributed by Bob Haggart. She discovered pulsars serendipitously while she was a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1967.
Rich is assessing a good data set we just got. Here you can see the distinctive pulse timing spikes in the upper left. In the center white plot, you see two straight lines, representing the pulsed signal, across the spectrum of frequencies we observed (we observe across a bandwidth of 10 MHz). At the right, the software found a good analysis for the rate and change of rate of the pulses. The bottom plot slopes downward slightly to the right. That is showing us the dispersion of the signal, something we expect to see. As the pulsar radio signal travels through interstellar space, it has to go through dust and magnetic fields. The effect is that the longer the radio wavelength, the slower the signal will propagate through space. Therefore the longer wavelength signal will arrive slightly later than the shorter. This is an indirect measure of the distance to the pulsar. If the algorithm was just trying to make sense of random noise, we would not see this result in our data. (You can click this image to enlarge it.)
This is a close-up of our SYSTEM 1 software display for pointing our dish antenna. The antenna now can be pointed manually or with several levels of automation.

The first accomplishment was to translate the actual azimuth and elevation pointing angles of the antenna through encoders with digital readouts. That azimuth and elevation angles were then correlated with the celestial coordinates at the given time. That required a good timing reference, as well as an accurate fix on our longitude and latitude. We now take care of that timing and position fix with GPS.

The upper part of the screen shows the direction the antenna is aimed at, in both azimuth and elevation angles, and the celestial coordinates of Right Ascension (RA) and Declination. There is more on the right side that was added later which I will discuss shortly.

The next development was to have a visual reference of the celestial sky, with its coordinate grid system and celestial objects we are interested, displayed on the computer, together with where the antenna is pointing. You see that display in the lower half of the screen. How wide a beam angle our antenna can see (like the field of view you see in an optical telescope) depends on the wavelength of the radio waves we are using. At a wavelength of 70 centimeters (about 400 MHz frequency), the beam width is about 2 degrees for our dish antenna. At wavelength of 21 centimeters (about 1420 MHz where the spectral line of neutral hydrogen is), the beam width is about 0.8 degrees. The software calculates the appropriate beam width and shows that as a circle on the display.

Within the last three months, our software team succeeded in creating a system that will now automatically point and keep tracking a celestial object or any other sky position. As part of this package, the software has a database of celestial objects we may be interested to look at, with their celestial coordinates. The database is updatable. If an object we want is in our database, it will appear on our sky coordinates display, we can point to it with our cursor, and the antenna will slew to point to it and then track it. We can also enter data manually. The software and hardware have safety stops, so that the antenna cannot be pointed below a certain limit above the horizon. And the antenna has azimuth limits, so that our cables to the antenna feed in the pedestal don’t wrap around with too many turns. The software also is programmed to avoid direct pointing towards the sun.

Because it makes the display much more user friendly, the display shows the visible stars and constellations as well. (You can click the image to enlarge it.)
This screen is how we set our data parameters. And the display at lower left shows the signal coming in. The blue line is the data signal, across the bandwidth of 10 MHz, here centered at 420 MHz.

The green line shows the peak maximum of the signal over the course of the run. Earlier in the day we were seeing persistent radio signals, for us interference, at around 390, 406, 408, 410, and 432 MHz.
We were concerned that one possible cause of problems with some of our data was the sun being close in angle to our pointing. We were never closer than 25 degrees from the sun. But we are wondering if the sun still might heat our preamplifiers at the feed focus of the antenna.
The next set of photos are close-ups of the damage seen on the ham radio HF antennas. This is the tower with the 3-band Yagi. There is a slight tilt along the main boom.
7 radials at the multi-band vertical antenna were also damaged. 5 severed at the lugs, which suggests metal fatigue from repeated moving in the wind. 2 were severed in their middles, which suggests some debris may have impacted those from the winds.
Some of the fence damage by the bunker.
The bunker ramp filled with tumbleweed again.
Closeup of the 408 MHz feed and the feed mount at the focus of the 60 foot dish antenna.
A closeup of the display we now use for pointing the dish antenna for astronomical observing. At the upper right, we can acquire the celestial coordinates from our database, or we can manually type in the needed data. The lower part of that window shows the actions the control system is executing, that is if it is slewing to an object, tracking, holding steady, or something else. The lower display shows the celestial sky, the coordinates, our antenna beam, as well as naked eye objects and constellations.
The grain elevator in Haswell in the distance.

DSES Sept 19, 2020 Pulsar Observing Trip Observes 2 More Pulsars

Bob Haggart and Rich Russel did an observation all nighter on Friday/Saturday (September 19, 2020, GMT) and observed 2 pulsars.
VELA (B0833-45) is one of the strongest pulsars at 5 JY while B1946+35 is at 0.145 JY.
DSES is one of the most northern amateur stations to detect VELA. We detected it in 15 minutes at 5 to 6 degrees elevation.
This make 13 pulsars and puts us 5th on the international amateur pulsar hunter list. http://www.neutronstar.joataman.net/

DSES Pulsar Observing Team netted 5 new pulsars!

The DSES team of Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, and Glenn Davis observed for pulsars on Saturday September 5, 2020 at the DSES 60-foot dish antenna at Haswell, CO.

The team successfully observed 5 pulsars which we hadn’t been able to detect before.

The success is attributed to the calibration of the antenna pointing system and the new automatic tracking system developed by the System 1 team.

We started with calibrating the azimuth of the antenna (it was 2.5 degrees off!) Elevation was good. Glenn put the offset in the auto tracking system and we were able to detect the B0329+54 pulsar within 30 minutes. (We use the B0329+54 pulsar, the first one we successfully saw last May, as a starting reference. If we can observe this, we know our system is working.) Every pulsar we looked at after that was detected – we just ran out of time for more!

It is possible we missed observing previous pulsars because our pointing accuracy was off.

See the slide set for our observation summary.


We are pretty sure we observed the Crab pulsar. The last slide shows an analysis of the time between pulses we measured for the Crab pulsar, compared to the standard reference database.

More detail to come at the next science meeting

Our total pulsar count is now 8!

2020-07-27 DSES Science Meeting Notes

Welcome to the July DSES Science meeting 7/27/2020

2020-07-27 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, Ted Cline, Jonathan Ayers, Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Glenn Davis, Jim Madsen, Bob Haggart, Jon Richardson, Dave Schick, Don Latham, Tony Bigbee, Bill Miller

Agenda and notes; See the Zoom Recording for more detail: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/u50vfrXt12hJbKf341OCGbJmA8fIaaa80ylL-

  1. Discussion of needed policy on site installs and changes 
    1. We have had a number of site conflicts of late.  These have resulted in a lot of waisted installation and observation time and frustration as well as hard feelings between members and damage to the dish, and operations center.
    2. General Proposal:  I have often said that if you see something that needs improvement and you have the skill to do it, take it on and just do it.  We need to qualify that with a little more process. In order to improve the site, equipment and observation capability and move the organization forward we often need to make changes.  The Engineering meeting is where we coordinate and plan for these changes.  If not previously planned and you are on site and need to make a change to a significant system you must call the person who installed or last modified that system and discuss it with them prior to removing, modifying or replacing it. 
    3. Use the Engineering Meeting for what it was intended.
    4. Be considerate and helpful to each other.
    5. Communication and coordination of equipment changes should not be a problem and further conflicts will have to be dealt with.
    6. We will need to repair the damage.
    7. We all have a common goal to improve the facility and equipment.  Let’s not have these issues.  When in doubt, Ask.
  2. We will potentially have photographers on site Thursday or Saturday for comet picture opportunity.  Would like to have a member on site to give access and keep the photographers out of trouble. Any volunteers?
    1. Don Savage don.savage54 (at) gmail.com is coordinating 4 or 5 night sky photographers.
    2. We will have them sign a Liability Waver
  3. July-August Events:
    1. The SARA virtual Eastern Conference will be held on Saturday and Sunday the 1st and 2nd of August.   See the SARA web site for info and payment.
    2. Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is currently in the constellation of Ursa Major. The current Right Ascension is 11h 45m 40s and the Declination is +36° 12’ 10”
    3. Additional pulsar observations. Please post planned dates and attendance
    4. Additional SETI Observations. Please post planned dates and attendance.
    5. Open house is cancelled for CoVid19, but we may do a small member camp out if some members would be interested in that.
    6. We will also assemble a virtual Open House presentation for various usage such as public outreach, education, fundraising and general interest.
    7. The Perseids will peak on Aug 11-12. On these nights, the moon will be 47% full.
    8. The next dark sky moon phase is Aug 13th through Aug 21.
  4. Glenn gave an overview of what was done recently on the System 1 Automatic Tracking HW and SW.  New features include:
    1. Automatic Tracking
    2. RA and Dec track automatically
    3. Az/El position command
    4. Track Moon Command
    5. Stow command

Tracking stayed within the bore site during the whole 5 hr. evening session.

Need to do more training, Glenn and his wife will go to the site tomorrow and draw up a training presentation and checklist.


  1.  Sun exclusion track but there is a pop up on the screen that you are in the sun exclusion area.
  2. It would be nice to have a Raster Scan capability to map Object Hi Emissions and to help pointing accuracy.
  3. Rich provided his presentation on Pulsar, Fast Radio Burst and other experiments and observation we can do.

5. Rich gave high praise and kudos to the System 1 team to get a very high quality tracking and control complete. Very clean system design and implementation from Glenn Davis, Lewis Putnam and Phil Gage.  Much praise.

Discussion/presentation on Pulsar and other science topics from Dr. Richard Russel

See the attached presentation: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DSES-Science-Meeting-7-27-20.pdf

See the Zoom recording for more detail.


Deep Space Exploration Society 3rd pulsar observed on Saturday July 11, 2020

By Dr. Richard Russel, DSES Science Lead

The pulsar, B1133+16, was observed on the 60 ft dish antenna by Rich Russel and Ray Uberecken after 4 hours of tracking and collecting data on the pulsar.

This pulsar is the weakest object observed by DSES at 0.257 Janskys!

The pulsar is noted for having a “conal double” peak in its profile. Our observation picks this out very well.

The PRESTO analysis program results are shown below.

The conal double plot is produced from the raw data and plotted in excel.

PSR B1133+16 is located at RA 11h 33m 27s Declination +16.07°, in the northeast part of the constellation Leo. It was observed with a pulse period of 1.187 seconds. Our center frequency was 417 MHz, and we used a 10 MHz bandwidth.

(The name B1133+16 conveys the celestial sky coordinates, referenced to a standard year epoch. In this case the B indicates the position is from the year 1950, the “Besselian” year, named after the German astronomer Friedrich Bessel.)

Congratulations to the entire membership for turning the DSES dish into a world class scientific instrument!


Dr. Richard Russel

DSES Science Lead

“Our second confirmed pulsar!”

Rich Russel reports we observed our second confirmed pulsar, “We got B0950+08 today!!!!!!” The observing team was Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, and Bob Haggart. The team did the observing and made the measurement at the Plishner radio telescope site with the 60-foot antenna yesterday on July 4, 2020. Congratulations to the team! And congratulations are due also to all of the DSES members who have been working hard to restore the 60-foot dish antenna and develop is capability as a working scientific tool! This is a long time coming.

A brief information entry about PSR B0950+08 in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSR_B0950+08

Meanwhile, the report of our first pulsar observation on May 2nd, of pulsar, B0329+54 (J0332+5434), was just published in the May-June journal of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers: First Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) Pulsar Captured on the 60-ft Dish

DSES Science Meeting June 22, 2020

2020-06-22 DSES Science Meeting
Notes by Bill Miller.
Science Presentation by Dr. Rich Russel.


We had 19 participants in the virtual science meeting, a new record.

Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Myron Babcock, Don Latham, Bascombe Wilson, Ted Cline, Jon Richardson KU4PEH, Ed Corn, Storm Quant (Kevin Shoemaker), Jay Wilson, Glenn Davis, Gary Agranat, Dave Molter, Dave Schick, Bob Haggart, Jim Madsen K3ILC, Bob Sayers, Tony Bigbee, Bill Miller


Plishner site trip summary of 6-20-20:

Ray Uberecken , Bob Haggart and Bill Miller went to the Plishner site on Sat. June 20.  See notes in Site trip report.

Covid-19 Policy:

Once again, we want to remind everyone to read our policy on Covid-19 on the webpage concerning meeting and going to the site.  In summary; If you have had the virus or have had symptoms or been closely exposed to a positive person you should let us know and self-isolate from the group and others for 14 days and not meet of go to the site.

SARA east conference

Rich is the SARA east conference coordinator. The August conference is virtual and is $20 to participate on Sat-Sun Aug 1st and 2nd.

Rich’s science presentation on Pulsar detection:


Much of the discussion was focused on understanding our pulsar observation and on what we can do improve our ability.

Zoom Meeting Recording
Date: Jun 22, 2020 05:08 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Password: 9x@t3pt*

Deep Space Exploration Society Science Meeting – May 25, 2020

Hosted online by Dr. Richard Russel.

The slides for the meeting are available here on PDF: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DSES-Science-Meeting-5-25-2020-r2.pdf

The link to the video of the meeting is at the end of this page.


Notes of the May 25, 2020 Science Meeting are by Bill Miller:

We had 12 participants in the virtual science meeting:

Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Myron Babcock, Ted Cline, Jon Richardson KU4PEH, Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Bob Haggart, Jim Madsen K3ILC, Dave Molter, Bill Miller


Rich thinks we need Internet service at the site for some of the experiments.

When Rich and Ray went down this last weekend the transformer at the gate had blown and they had to call in the power company to come fix it so didn’t get anything else done.   The power company came down, worked on it, and got it fixed.

Bill, we need to mention that everyone should read our policy on meeting and going to the site on the webpage.  If you have had the virus or have had symptoms or been exposed to a positive person you should self-isolate from the group and others for 14 days and not meet of go to the site.

Rich is the SARA east conference coordinator. The August conference is virtual and is $20 to participate. http://www.radio-astronomy.org/node/279

We were placed on the Neutron star group for the pulsar observation that Rich, Ray and Bob made several weeks ago. Rich thanks the rest of the group for all the hard work that got us to this point.


Rich’s presentation:

Rich gave his presentation on Pulsar B0329+54 observation, software setup and capture.

  • We had a lot of help from Steve Plock and Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO) to set up the SDR.
  • All the team members have put in a great deal of time and travel into the observatory to set up the feeds, cabling, power and control system to do this.
  • Ray, Bob and Rich were there for the first pulsar capture but everyone contributed.
  • Used the Ettus Research USRP N210 receiver.
  • Used a specially configured Laptop with a 1TB drive, Linux and Presto SW.
  • Used the GNU SW by Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO).

The Presto SW  builds a .FIL file with the data and time stamp.

Initial trial runs in Feb and May had the gain set too high and was saturating the receiver.

The first thing to check is the signal level of the feed and amps on a spectrum analyzer.

The site has a lot of RFI at 408 MHz right where we would like to observe so have to move up from this.

Ray added a 20dB preamp at the trailer end of the feed line.

Will move this preamp to the antenna end to compensate for the coax loss and reduce noise.

Single frequency RFI signals are filtered out by the SW.

The manual tracking works really well.

The tracking is run on the control Laptop and the Presto SW is run on the Linux Laptop.

The Initial  .FIL file gave a 2 pulse display after folding the signal from several hours of data.

The Presto SW is at    www.cv.nrao.edu/~sransom/presto

The SW needs input of a very accurate pulsar period.  The doppler error in the period due to the rotation of the earth and its orbital velocity  and position in orbit, also modifies the perceived pulsar period. Need to have the pulsar period set out to 4 or 5 decimals for the SW to fold/stack the signals to a usable observation.

The new SW takes the data, time tags it with the GPS data and creates the .FIL file.

The data from the Presto program will give a signal strength vs time for a single pulse that can be plotted using excel.  This Pulsar has a W50, 50% of pulse height with width of 6.6 mSec

This pulsar is circumpolar so it can be acquired at any time of day.  We need to change the mount limits to better enable this tracking without having to stop and unwrap 360 degrees if near the stop.

Most of the other available pulsars are in the Milky Way and only visible at night at this time of year.

The Murmur SW http://i0naa.Altervista.org  is a good tool to find the pulsars

For low horizon pulsars with little access time, perhaps you could add the sample files from several days together to get more data and stacking strength to acquire the signal.

Scintillation is a problem that distorts the signal through the atmosphere so we need observations that are high in elevation and at the best times of day and night for atmospheric stability.

The next observing session is planned for coming Friday night or through Saturday.

We need to get at least 5 pulsars to get on the top of the neutron star list.

Jon asked,  “Where is the pulsar capability going?”

                Badge of honor and accomplishment.

                One of the difficult things we have the facility to do.

Finding a glitch in the pulsar.

There are guys that process pulsars daily and look for anomalies.

Ray has his new quick change feed on the dish.

We can do pulsars for several months and then do EME or can receive the beacon from the moon.


With Rays quick change feed, we can switch back and forth.

We can do Skips SETI observations in between other work with simple change out of the feeds.

We need a group calendar or way to communicate on the web site to schedule site trips and who is going.  Need to find a way to do this.

The Zoom Meeting Recording can be found on my Drop Box link at:         


Please forgive the first 5 minutes of setting up Zoom.

First DSES Pulsar captured on the 60-ft dish by the observing team of Richard A. Russel, Ray Uberecken, Bob Haggart On May 2, 2020

By Dr. Richard Russel, DSES Science Lead.

The pulsar, B0329+54 (J0332+5434)1, was observed on the third try just before the team was ready to pack up for the day on Saturday, May 2, 2020. A final modification of the software defined radio settings was tried (all the gains were set to a minimum) did the trick.

The 60-ft dish was setup to manually track the pulsar using the System 1 tracking program software developed by Glenn Davis and Phil Gage. This program allowed us to track the pulsar’s position by keeping it in the bullseye.

We observed at a frequency of 420 MHz, with a bandwidth of 10 MHz.

The pulsar system was initiated last year by Steve Plock. Our mentor throughout the effort has been Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO) in New Mexico. Joe validated that we made a successful pulsar capture.

A screen shot of a computer

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The GNU radio software was turned on to start the acquisition.

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It should be noted that you cannot tell if you have the pulsar real-time because it is pulsing way below the noise level. After about 30 minutes, we stopped the acquisition and we moved the post-processing over to Bob’s new workbench.

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Bob Haggart constructing the new workbench.
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The new workbench in the science trailer, built by Bob Haggart.

Rich and Ray celebrate our first pulsar! (Bob’s taking the picture)

Two people standing in a kitchen

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The first iteration of post -processing requires that the pulsar period be estimated with a program called TEMPO. The first iteration is shown below. It clearly shows a pulsar because of the prominent peaks and the lines tracing down the plots, however it is not quite set to the optimum period.

After some more iterations the final picture looked cleaner.

More analysis using the resultant data files allowed us to verify the pulsar as B0329+54 (J0332+5434).

Even the pulse width at the 50% height (W50) was estimated. The preliminary analysis below shows a measured W50 of 6 ms. The current value in the ATNF database is 6.6 ms. This is real close and confirms our observation.

More observation runs are planned and DSES can can consider itself one of the few amateur organizations to accomplish pulsar observations2.

A picture containing outdoor, clock, tower, water

Description automatically generated


  1. PSR B0329+54 is a pulsar approximately 3,460 light-years away in the constellation of Camelopardalis. It completes one rotation every 0.71452 seconds and is approximately 5 million years old.[Ref: wikipedia]
  2. Our successful observation is reported in Neutron Star Group http://neutronstar.joataman.net/