Plishner Site Report – January 25 & 26, 2018

Steve and I arrived at the site about 9:40 AM Thursday. We energized the main line up to the bunker. We than made the necessary voltage checks for each of the branch feeders and energized the entire distribution system. The Plishner site is now on grid power.

All of the battery packs and inverters are still in service. Reminder that any light or plug  sprayed with red paint is an inverter outlet, any plug or light with no paint on the box is grid power. Be sure to turn everything OFF before leaving the site.

Steve worked with Skip Crilly at Greenbank by phone to turn up equipment and point the dish for the data observations. Steve had everything running for the first observation and continued running until 12:50 PM Friday the 26th. We shut down at that time and removed the equipment for shipment back to Skip for maintenance and upgrade. Steve will ship after returning back. All indications are a successful data run.

Between checking equipment, we added wire to the 160M dipole at the bunker. It is better but needs some extra work. Also filled the wire trench in front of the concrete slab at the top end of the ramp to allow driving on to the slab and not having to jump the trench going in to and out of the bunker. This leaves about 500 feet of trench to fill; We will need some help with this in February.

I also installed a dedicated outlet in the generator shed to feed the LAN switch that is necessary to provide cat 5 Ethernet from the Comm Trailer to the bunker. The last item we covered was moving the WIFI hot spot to the bunker. There is now wireless internet in the bunker. We did not have the manual for the converter from wireless to cat 5 with us to configure the unit. This will be completed next trip to provide internet on cat 5 cable end to end at Plishner. This relocate removed the RF from the hot spot in the Comm Trailer during observation times.

Note: The sump pump in the battery room is on grid power and the front entry way sump pump is on inverter. I will change over to grid power after a wiring change. This will be first order of business next trip.

We secured the site and left about 1:30 PM Friday.

Ed and Steve

DSES Commercial Power Installation Update

Posted by Myron Babcock, DSES Treasurer.  Photos by Steve Plock, DSES Vice President.

Thanks to Skip Crilly for his $37K donation and to Steve Plock and Ed Corn for leading this effort to fulfill the dream of connecting the DSES Plishner Site to the AC Power Grid. Steve reported on Saturday December 9 that approximately 22 power poles, almost 5000 feet of wire, and a 25KVA transformer were installed last week. The Colorado Southeast Power Association worked 5 days in accomplishing this task. Saturday December 9, Steve Plock, Ed Corn, and Glenn Davis spent the day assisting local resident, Mark Nelson, from Haswell, CO in the trenching of approximately 600 feet of ground from the transformer pole area to the Southwest corner of the bunker area. Number 4/0 3 wire URD/with reduced neutral wire is now in the trench and once inspected by a Southeast Power Association representative the trench will be filled back in. Ed Corn has the necessary supplies for final connection to the bunker power panel. Once completed DSES will have 220 VAC 100 amp service in the communications trailer and 220 VAC 100 amp service in the bunker. Currently the plan is for the existing 30+KW propane generator to be disconnected. A decision will be made at a later date as to the disposition of this generator. Existing solar panels and batteries will continue to be used until such time as it is deemed the continuing expense out ways its usefulness.


Looking North along Kiowa County Road 20. The white structure in the background is the 200 foot tall grain elevator 5 miles north in Haswell, CO. The electric meter will be mounted on the nearest pole next to the fence.
The trenching operation starting from the southwest corner of the bunker area. The structure at the starting point of the trenching operation is the “dog house” emergency bunker entry/exit over the recently constructed spiral staircase. Next to this structure is a 40 foot telescoping mast supporting the 160 & 80 meter dipole antennas.

October 29, 2017 DSES Plishner Site Work Trip Report

Report written by Bill Miller, DSES Secretary.

Location and Time: On Sunday, Oct 29th Ed Johnson and Bill Miller made a trip to the site to reinstall and tune the computer for the System 2 dish controller.

Attendance: Ed Johnson, Bill Miller

Site Activities:
A. Bill arrived on site by 9:00am, unlocked the facilities and fired up the generator. Ed arrived a little later and brought in the bench computer on which he had repaired the operating system corrupted by a MS update from the last trip. We immediately hooked up the computer to the controller interface in the pedestal control deck via the Ethernet LAN interface and got to work. Several items in the software needed to be corrected.

B. Ed added a Start and Stop ramp subroutine to the motor drive software to prevent the system from abruptly starting and stopping the drive at high speed. This generates a stepping ramp function to start the motors slowly and speed up to the desired speed and then slow down in a similar fashion to stop. It greatly helps to reduce the stress on the system and should reduce over currents from popping the 3 Amp breakers on the drives. Some amount of iterative tuning of this was needed to get this to work just right.

C. A problem was seen when the computer would pause and stop communicating with the interface about every 10 seconds. This is a critical fault which would render any closed loop control unstable or ineffective. We attempted to find the source of this problem. We traced and substituted the LAN switches, CAT5 wires and connections and eliminated this as a cause. We turned off as many processes in the machine that could interrupt the system as possible. Ed found that by unloading the MS Visual Studio program that the interrupts occurred about half as frequently but they still occurred. We finally concluded that the PC was just not fast enough to perform the control function with all of the other MS programs and housekeeping functions and this was causing it to hesitate. Ed decided to donate another laptop he has with considerably more speed for this function and will ready that for the next trip. Bill will pick it up at Ed’s in Limon if Ed can’t make the trip. In the mean time we left the bench computer in place to control the dish pointing.

D. While Ed was modifying the software and testing the movement, Bill monitored the result from the pedestal control deck and also spent some time mapping out about half of the controller box. He will finish that on the next trip and transfer the diagrams to schematic capture for documentation.

Observations: Some important observations are as follows:
A.  It was found that there is a fault in the elevation optical encoder. At several particular positions of the elevation the encoder would jump a number of degrees in value. For instance at 44 deg of elevation it would suddenly jump to 50 deg. So the 6th significant bit appeared to be faulty. These errors always occurred at the same positions indicating a fault in the encoder and not the electronics attached. This could be contamination or a scratch on the optical device. Since we use only half of the encoder for the +0 to 180 elevation position sensing it might be possible to realign the encoder 180 deg off and use the other half of the bits if no errors are seen there. If not the encoder will have to be repaired or replaced. This problem was not seen on the Azimuth encoder but we were not looking for it. A means of testing the encoders for such a defect would be a handy utility in the software that we should add.

B.  Even with the start/stop ramp function and driving the dish at a relatively slow speed we still had the 3 amp breakers tripping, sometimes in the middle of a continuous movement when we were not starting or stopping. We need to measure the currents in these breakers and determine the root cause whether an overload, controller fault, worn or miss-sized breakers. This is a real nuisance when trying to move the dish and must be corrected before computer control can be effective.

C. Bill stayed in the tower communicating with Ed on the radio to position the dish from the previous ~ 45 deg elevation for 40 Eridani observation to the parked 90deg (birdbath) and 315 deg azimuth position. This 315 deg azimuth position is the optimum service setting to allow access to the upper deck and dish though the service portal. It is also the best position to allow the feed point to be driven in elevation only to the -0 or 180 deg position to place the feed on the service tower.

Shut Down:
We had to wrap up the work by about 3pm to travel to other commitments. After setting the dish to the parked position Bill shut down the lights, locked all of the doors, returned the keys and shut down the generator using the original procedure of turning off the main gas valve. This may not be required anymore but as yet we haven’t officially changed the procedure and it is the safest condition if we are not on site for a while.

That concludes the minutes from our Plishner site work trip of October 29th, 2017

73, and keep looking up! 
Bill Miller
DSES Secretary
Email: mountain_son[a]
Snail Mail to our new Colorado Springs Address at:
Deep Space Exploration Society
4164 Austin Bluffs Pkwy. #562
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-2928

2017-09-02 DSES Plishner Site Work Trip Report

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

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

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

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

Photos from our site work trip July 23, 2017

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






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




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


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


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


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




DSES Plishner Work Trip Report July-02-2017

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

Myron Babcock
DSES Treasurer



Greetings all:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



* *

Steve Added:

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

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

Thanks, Steve KL7IZW

* *

Bill added:

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



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


DSES Plishner Work trip report May-28-2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Ray and Rich got the Spectracyber set up and running.

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

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

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

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

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