An update on the progress of our DSES building project. Our DSES Vice President and Project Manager, Bill Miller, has spent many hours and has made many trips down to the Plishner Site near Haswell Colorado to make this project happen. After many delays, some due to COVID, in finding contractors for concrete, plumbing, and electrical as well as building manufacturers to provide a 60-foot by 30-foot structure, DSES has finally made some progress. We still have many hours of interior/exterior work and antenna towers to place before we can move our current operations from the existing communications trailer and the underground bunker. This future work will still require many trips and hours on site to complete these tasks. We hope our local Colorado DSES members will be able to provide some help in completing these projects. DSES will provide dates and times of these trips so members can plan their time at the Plishner Site. A big thank you to Bill Miller for taking on this project and to those other members who were able to assist him over the past few months.
On Sunday October 2, 2022 Ray Uberecken, Dan Layne and Gary Agranat climbed on to the 60-foot dish antenna to measure the dish diameter, the distance from the dish center to the feed, and the bore alignment. This verified the original geometry specifications continue to be valid to at least within a quarter of an inch.
The original plan for the day was to also install the 1296 MHz feed at the focus, for the upcoming ARRL EME contest. However, the wind gusts increased, as was anticipated from the forecast. The feed changeout was therefore postponed.
2021-01-25 DSES Science Meeting Notes: by Bill Miller
We had 14 participants in the virtual science meeting today: Thanks everyone for joining.
Participants: Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Bob Haggart, Floyd Glick, Gary Agranat, Lauren Libby, Myron Babcock, Robert Sayers, Dan Layne, Michael Nameika, Marc Slover, Phillip Coker, Paul Sobol NO0T, Bill Miller
Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:
Myron’s Treasure’s Report Checking $2533.03 Savings $5742.25 , We have 31 paid members. 23 yet to pay. Paul Sobon, Marc S. Myron will pay the property tax shortly.
Questions on ORION Meeting invite from David Fields.
Call for BOD Nominations. Need three nominations for the board to replace or retain BOD members, Floyd Glick, Dave Molter, and Bill Miller by Feb 3rd.
In 2019 and 2020 we accomplished a lot of the big goals that we had been working on for a number of years including (H1) Hydrogen Line mapping, Tropospheric scatter communications, Pulsar detection, and EME. Now that we have those and can replicate them at will, we have to ask ourselves, what else can we do and what direction(s) should we go in? In my opinion here are several key areas or categories that the org. needs to address with some more detailed plans.
1. Continued Infrastructure upgrade and maintenance
2. Instrument and electronics upgrades and additions
3. Scientific discovery, theory testing, and publication
4. Educational programs and events for members and students
5. Public outreach and member recruitment
6. New observation initiatives
Science Fair: Letter from PPRSF below. The Science Fair will be on Feb. 18-20.
Please send us a list of your special award judges and their email contact information by February 10, 2021.
We will send you and your judges an email with the details and code to view projects in the virtual showcase.
The attached letter outlines the information for this year’s fair.
We are looking forward to your participation in the virtual science fair and are hoping that next year will be an in-person event.
Carol Bach, Karen Crosson and Lynne Williams
Our Site is photogenic! Andrew Miller, another photographer based out of Denver would like to do a project on the site.
Front Range 6 Meter Group. Paul Sobon sobonpaul[at]gmail.com The group would like an open house virtual presentation on Wed. , Feb 10th at 6:30 opening at 7PM. Bill is working on a general presentation.
Chad Carter was in Haswell on Friday working on the camera on the large grain elevator. Did anyone call him into the work trip Saturday. www.car-telenterprises.com 785-564-0118 cell. Ray sent him email but he didn’t show at the site Saturday so probably had to return to home base.
Bill will write an endorsement letter and have the DSES Board modify and approve for Planet Walk Colorado Springs. See https://www.planetwalkcs.org/
Rich: See all the notes about the site visit from Saturday Jan 23rd.
Saturday Power Glitch: A Mains power glitch caused an upset of the system and that drove the dish to the electrical stops. Rich believes that we should have a UPS or backup battery power on the tower electronics, including the Raspberry Pie and Ethernet Switch and on the Ethernet Switch and computer in the trailer to prevent this. Bill suggests that anytime the dish is active the operators should monitor its position on the CCTV and use the panel VFD switch to kill the drive if not in control. In this particular case the watch dog timer in the controller didn’t stop the drive because the computer was still sending updates.
Marc Slover took some pictures while at the site up until about 9PM when the clouds came in.
Dan Layne came down for the first time and he and Ray had a good conversation about the systems and the site.
Rich got his 27 KHz, SuperSids receiver and data collection working again and it agrees with Floyd’s data. See graphs in the presentation.
Floyd uses a 5 ft by 5 ft. loop antenna in PVC to hook up. About 20 Ft per loop.
Rich’s H1 hydrogen measurement with the spectra Cyber.
The Sara $300 H1 receiver or Radio Scope in a Box can receive Hydrogen data similar to the Spectra Cyber instrument.
For Positioning Use Stellarium Program for Windows or Linux.
See the Zoom recording that will be up for the next 2 months for more detail.
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.
Please read our Review of our annual Open House at the Plishner Radio Telescope site in Haswell, in August 2018. We host our Open House each year during the Perseid Meteor Shower. The link will open our review report as a PDF file. It was an enjoyable weekend, with many science and social activities. A significant highlight is our ability to now make observations with the 60-foot antenna. With many photos.
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.
These are some photos I took of the DSES radio telescope site about a year and a half ago, in July 2016.
The altitude of the aircraft was 7500 feet above sea level. The elevation of the site is about 4500 feet, and so these photos are about 3000 feet above the ground. The radio telescope site is located in Kiowa County. The neighbors are ranches and farms.
Visible from the air, to the southwest of the radio telescope site, are the remains of a World War II training airfield. The pattern of runways forms a triangle.