Every year the DSES holds an open house public event, where we provide tours of the facility and demonstrate what radio astronomy and Amateur radio are all about. This year, on September 16 we demonstrated EME (Earth Moon Earth) or moon bounce communication allowing folks to bounce their voice or radio signal off the moon using our 60 Ft radio dish antenna. This is a rare opportunity and thrill for children and adults alike, to hear their voice echo off the moon, traveling about 240,000 miles to the moon and back at the speed of light,186,000 miles per second. The echo returns in about two and a half seconds. Only a few private stations in the world can accomplish this because it takes a very large antenna and powerful transmitter for voice transmission to echo off the moon. In addition to hearing our own echoes, the EME station was able to contact other stations in Canada, Italy, England, and Germany as well as many other ham operators in the USA. We also gave tours of the new building and underground facilities and did solar and nighttime observations with optical telescopes. An astronomy presentation on Pulsars was held during the event. Throughout the day, we got a lot of great questions from the public about the site, and what we do there. There were about 75 people who attended the event.
The 60 Ft Diameter Radio Astronomy Dish Antenna stands 55 feet tall, weighs over 65 tons and is made of aluminum and steel. It can point in any direction at any elevation so is full hemispherical. The dish is so well balanced that it only takes 3HP motors to drive it from horizon to horizon in just a few minutes. The Facility and dish were built around 1959 and used to study high speed microwave communication at great distances in support of our northern defenses or DEW Line. In about 1973, when Satellite and fiberoptic communications took over, the facility was put up for government auction and sat unused for about 40 years. After some time, Paul Plishner, a prominent radio and microwave contractor, purchased the facility donated it to the DSES who have been working diligently to restore it since about 2009. The DSES has repurposed the dish and facility for Amateur Radio Astronomy and Ham Radio. So far, we have detected 24 Pulsars, mapped the Hydrogen radio Emissions of Milky Way Galaxy and done countless radio experiments. The facility is completing a new building as an operations and educational facility and has many new projects on the horizon.
When operating EME most people were awestruck, pondering the distance and speed. The children thought that it was really cool. As we explained the other things that we do, we dispelled some misunderstandings and enlightened visitors about our Kiowa County operation.
According to the FCC there are about 43 Ham Radio Operators in Kiowa County and many more in the surrounding counties. Several hams from those counties showed up for the event but we had members from the Front Range and as far away as Oregon and Arizona come in to help with the event. Almost everyone who wanted to was able to be a guest operator for the EME and many were given a tour and demonstration of the general-purpose ham radio station at the facility. During the open house day, many ham radio stations across the USA were contacted from our ham radio station K0PRT.
DSES holds this open house only once per year. However, the public can stop by whenever there is an official work party on site. The Deep Space Exploration Society site is open to scheduled visits from educational groups or other social groups wishing a tour and presentation on Radio Astronomy. Also, the general public can join the Deep Space Exploration Society by signing up for membership on our website at https://dses.science/ for a small membership fee, entitling them to all of our meetings and events onsite.
The Pork BBQ catered by the Michelle Nelson, the mayor of Haswell and her family, was definitely a hit with everyone. We asked for a donation to support the BBQ and raise money for the Haswell Community Center and 4H club.
Duncan WE7L hears his voice bounced off the moon:
Photo Credits: Marc Slover, Bill Thomson, Roger Oaky, Bill Miller and Bill Thomas
Bill WT0DX represented DSES at three recent ham radio events: The CSVHF Conference, the Rocky Mountain Division Convention and the Denver Radio Club Hamfest. In each case, a posterboard display was set up, site videos were displayed, and club brochures were handed out. The upcoming Open House was also promoted.
The annual CSVHF conference was held July 27-30 in Little Rock, AR. There were about 150 participants. The posterboard display was set up in the main meeting room and the Friday night swap room. In addition to talking about the club, several folks said they were interested in attending the Open House.
Rocky Mountain Division Convention
The Rocky Mountain Division Convention was held August 11-13 in Albuquerque, NM. They provided a free table for clubs in the swap meet area. There were about 400 attendees, and many interesting conversations. Unfortunately, many of the folks thought that the DSES site was too far away for an Open House visit.
Bill also had an opportunity to discuss DSES with David Minster NA2AA the CEO of ARRL. He was unaware of the club but found it very interesting.
Denver Radio Club Hamfest
The Denver Radio Club Hamfest was held on Sunday August 27th at the Adams County Fairgrounds. This is a well-attended hamfest and we had many good conversations about the club, with quite a bit of interest in the Open House. Also, Paul NO0T managed to secure a great donation to the club of several HF Yagi antennas.
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.
Glenn Davis and Dan Layne made observations for pulsars at our Haswell antenna site this week, on Tuesday November 1, 2022. They successfully observed for the first time pulsar B1556 -44, making this the 23rd pulsar DSES has observed to date.
The PDF files in this post are their observation and data report, and an updated list of pulsars detected by DSES to date.
Photos courtesy of Glenn Davis. Text by Bill Miller.
On Friday afternoon October 14, 2022, we prepared the 60-foot dish antenna for the weekend’s Moonbounce communications operations in the ARRL EME contest.
Glen Davis updated the tracking software, checked the callibration of the mount and helped as ground crew and photographer. Meanwhile Ray Uberecken and Bill Miller climbed the scaffold and changed the feed from the 437 Mhz antenna to the 1296Mhz antenna. They also installed Ray’s 180 watt amplifier at the antenna feed point and checked the system reception from Ray’s Calhan residence beacon.
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.
Deep Space Exploration Society will support the Japanese OMOTENASHI Cube Sat Moon lander, by attempting to receive and record its UHF downlink signals enroute to the Moon and after landing. OMOTENASHI is a project created by the Japanese space agency JAXA Amateur Radio Club, and is one of ten Cube Sat satellites on the NASAArtemis 1 lunar mission.
Several hours after Artemis 1 boosts from an Earth parking orbit to a transfer orbit to the Moon, OMOTENASHI should deploy. After 6 days the OMOTENASHI will separate into an orbiter and lander, and the lander will make a hard landing on the Moon. The lander is designed to survive and then transmit signals.
This was our most successful EME season to date, not just in the number of contacts we made, but in the participation of our members, in successfully using a digital mode for many contacts for the first time, and with our equipment working well with no trouble. And we are learning from our experiences.
For our December weekend we had Gary Agranat WA2JQZ and Ray Uberecken AA0L operate through the whole weekend. We also had Jim Burnett WB0GMR, Flyod Glick WD0CUJ, Bill Miller KC0FHN, Glenn Davis, and Marc Stover. Jim got his first experience operating EME, making some of the digital Q65 contacts Friday night. Floyd, Bill, and Glenn stayed Friday night. Marc was there both nights to make time lapse movies of the antenna tracking the Moon. Glenn ensured our tracking system was working well. Everyone had a chance to call CQ on SSB and to hear their voices reflect back from the Moon 2 seconds later.
Moon bounce is communicating by sending signals to the Moon, and reflecting those signals back to Earth to anyone else who has visibility of the Moon and the necessary equipment. With the Moon’s distance a quarter of a million miles away, traveling at the speed of light, the signals take about 2 seconds to make the round trip journey. And the signals are significantly weakened by traveling that long a distance. With the Moon traveling at a different velocity from one’s location on the surface of the Earth, there also is a Doppler shift to compensate for. Moon bounce communications therefore can be quite a technical challenge. Reliably copying the weak signals can also be a challenge. With our large 60-foot dish antenna, our group is fortunate to have an excellent capability to meet all these challenges.
Because Moonrise was at about the time of sunset (as it was on the November weekend), our EME operation was essentially all over night, with a short period available also after sunrise.
We operated on the 23 cm band (1296 Mhz). We operated Morse Code CW, SSB voice, and Q65 digital mode. More about our technical setup later.
On our December weekend we made 47 EME contacts. Added to our November weekend operation, that brought the total number of contacts to 92. This compares with the 50 contacts we made for the contest last year.
Of the 92 contacts, 54 were CW (Morse Code), 2 were SSB phone, and 36 were in the new Q65 digital mode. 53 contacts were to Europe, 33 to North America, 3 to South America, 1 to Australia, 1 to the Philippines, and 1 to Asia (Japan). We contacted 22 unique DXCC entities, 16 states, and 3 Canadian provinces.
For the November weekend, Dan Layne AD0CY got our Q65 digital mode working and made 2 contacts then. On the December weekend, Jim WB0GMR operated Friday night and made 8 Q65 contacts. Gary WA2JQZ stayed for the operations on both weekends and made the other contacts (CW, SSB, and Q65) with the help of Ray AA0L.
For this year’s contest we experienced no significant technical problems. That enabled us to start operating as soon as the contest time started and as soon as we had a signal path to the Moon. The operations for both weekends went smoothly and with a relaxed tone.
Ray AA0L contributed this technical description: The moonbounce equipment this year consists of an ICOM IC-1271A with a built-in low noise preamp (about 1 dB), a VHF Design 150 Watt amplifier at the feed, a Tokyo High Power intermediate power amp with built in Gasfet preamp, VHF Design .3 dB nf, 30 dB gain preamp at the feed and a KL6M feed with a choke. All this provides a noise figure of 0.4 dB with an overall gain at the feed of >40 dB. We have more than sufficient gain in both directions to overcome the 200 or so feet of feedline from the trailer to the dish feed.
On Friday night we tried to get in as much Morse Code CW contacts as we could. We switched to digital Q65 when we had contacted most of the CW contacts we could hear at a given time. Through the night we alternated back and forth. We also occasionally attempted SSB voice.
On Saturday morning we determined when the Moon would rise in Japan and in Australia. We stayed awake for that, and when those times came, we searched for those stations. That’s how we immediately found our Japan and Australian contacts, as soon as they had a signal path. We got them in time before the pileups that followed. When we couldn’t hear any additional stations, we went to sleep.
We had an unexpected power failure late Saturday morning, after the Moon had set and we were taking a break. The cause was eventually traced to a pigeon that had short circuited the transformer where the electric power comes into the site. We called the local utility, and after a couple of hours they reset the circuit breaker on the main county road. This was unfortunate for the pigeon. But fortunately for us this didn’t happen during our EME operation, and didn’t disrupt us.
As we anticipated, most of the stations we heard on CW on Sunday night were ones we had already worked. Therefore on Sunday night we concentrated most of our efforts on digital Q65. We made most of our digital contacts then.
On Sunday morning after the Moon had set, as we woke up and wound down and had coffee, Gary made some HF FT-8 digital contacts on the 15 and 20 meter bands. A portable multi-band end fed antenna was extended from the trailer to the service tower. And the contacts were made on a Yaesu FT-950. The bands were open to as far as Europe and Japan. This gave us a chance to get on the air on the more traditional ham bands, and to be part of the rest of the ham radio community. Over 50 FT-8 contacts were made.
The Yaesu FT-950 operating HF FT-8 and the End fed antenna extended to the service tower. (Photos by Gary Agranat)
This was our most successful EME operation to date. We made more contacts, our equipment worked well as expected, we had increased participation, we developed our experience further, and we all enjoyed the experience. Certainly hearing one’s voice or signal come back from the Moon 2 seconds later is an experience one doesn’t forget. This should give us a basis for doing more EME operations, better, and more times than just for the contest.
This year several members also devoted their efforts to photographing. Marc Stover’s time lapse movie work and Floyd Glick’s lunar photography follow.
Mark Stover devoted all of Friday and Saturday nights to record time lapse movies of our dish antenna tracking the Moon, from Moonrise to Moonset. He used several cameras, capturing several perspectives, and several aspects of the antenna’s and sky’s motions. These are still images from photographing. These are followed by a one-minute movie he edited together. The temperature both nights dropped to the teens F. Marc wore an exposure suit to keep warm.
Floyd Glick (WD0CUJ) took these astronomical color images of the Moon on Friday night. He took these unfiltered images through his 5 inch Maksutov telescope (unguided). Floyd wrote: “The Moon actually has color, but because it is so bright our eyes perceive it as black and white. I have enhanced the colors (solar temperature = 5900K) in the last picture to illustrate them better.”
QSL confirmation cards we received for our EME contacts, by eQSL and post office mail. Countries represented are Argentina, Chile, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United States:
Some of the variety of QSL cards we received for our high frequency (HF) FT-8 digital contacts from Sunday morning, on the 15 and 20 meter bands. We reached North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa: