Save the 30 foot Dish Update

The 30 Foot Dish and Pedestal have been safely removed from Ignacio, CO.

Read the progress reports here: 30 Foot Dish Progress Report and Unloading the Dish. Thanks to Elaine K0ARR for the excellent writeup and photos.

Paul NO0T took this video of the dish being removed from the Pedestal: Dish Removal

For more information about the project, and to make a donation read this post: Save the 30 Foot Dish Project

Next, the Dish and Pedestal components will be unloaded at the DSES Haswell, CO site. Plans are to install the Dish in the Spring of 2025.

Save the 30 foot Dish Project

The Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES), a 501 C(3) non-profit (K0PRT) is working to save a 30-foot EME dish which was built and used by Bruce K0YW who passed away last year. The 30-foot Kennedy EME dish is located in a remote area of SW Colorado near Ignacio and is scheduled to be torn down for metal scrap this July so that the property can be sold by Bruce’s XYL.

DSES is trying to raise donations to help pay for a crane and then transport the antenna 330 miles to their location near Haswell Colorado in SE Colorado and reinstall the dish. All donations received will help fund this dish removal, which includes crane rental, transportation, lodging and any associated cost in the reassembly process and re-mounting this dish back on the 25-foot tower secured to a large concrete foundation at the DSES Plishner Site in Southeast Colorado.

No amount is too small and DSES really appreciates your support. The plan is to rebuild and reinstall the dish late this year or early in 2025.

Click here to donate

DBUS Contest 2024

We are thrilled to announce that, once again, the Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) has been invited to participate in the 2024 European Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) Contest sponsored by DUBUS and REF, set to commence on May 10 at 0000 UTC. This prestigious European contest, focusing on Continuous Wave (CW)/Single Side Band (SSB) communication, presents an exciting opportunity for our members to engage in Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communication with the international community.

Date Begin:    Friday, May 10, 2024, at 6 PM MST

Date End:       Sunday, May 12, 2024, at 1 PM MST

Location:       Paul Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center
9301 County Rd 20, Haswell CO 81045

Last year, our participation in the contest yielded remarkable results, with our members successfully contacting over 80 stations off the moon using our formidable 60-foot dish. In fact, our collective efforts secured us a remarkable 2nd place in this esteemed worldwide contest. Building upon this success, our goal this year is to surpass the number of contacts made and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to excellence in deep-space communication.

It’s important to note that the contest primarily occurs during daytime hours, aligning with the moon’s morning rise and facilitating communication with many European stations. Additionally, we anticipate Pacific and Asian EME contacts during the late afternoon and early evening hours. Moonset times are scheduled for 10:20 PM MST on Friday and 11:20 PM MST on Saturday evening, providing ample opportunities for engagement.

For those planning to join us, rustic overnight accommodation will be available in the new unfinished building. Please remember to bring your own sleeping bags and cot/air mattress. Alternatively, the Cobblestone Inn in Eads, CO, is available for those seeking more comfortable lodging. Reservations are necessary for accommodation at either location.

To facilitate our planning efforts, we kindly request interested participants to contact:

Vice President Marketing 
Paul Sobon, NOØT

Changing the antenna feed for Moon Bounce

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.

EME (Earth Moon Earth) Moon Bounce Communicating – Part 2 – on the weekend of December 18 & 19, 2021

The DSES 60-foot dish antenna aimed at and tracking the Moon, as the Moon rises Friday evening. (Cover photo by Glenn Davis.)

Post by Gary Agranat, with Ray Uberecken and Floyd Glick.

Photos by Glenn Davis, Marc Stover, Bill Miller, Floyd Glick, and Gary Agranat.

Last December DSES successfully completed operating Moon bounce communications for a second year, for the annual ARRL EME (Earth-Moon-Earth communications) Contest EME Contest ( The contest had two rounds last autumn. We reported earlier on operating for the first round on the weekend of November 20 & 21, 2021. This article is about successful completion of the second round, on the weekend of December 19 & 20, 2021.

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.

Friday evening, the Moon rose shortly before the 0000 UTC contest start time. We pointed our 60-foot antenna to the Moon and started tracking as we waited. (Photo by Gary Agranat WA2JQZ)
Moonrise Friday evening (Photo by Gary WA2JQZ)
Our operation setup in the trailer. Our transceiver was an ICOM IC-1275A. We sent Morse Code CW with a keyer set to 16 words per minute. (The keyboard could also be used for sending Morse Code, but that wasn’t used.) Antenna tracking was set and monitored with the computer and display at left. We monitored our signal output with the power supply meter and scope display located in the rack further left. The laptop at right was used for logging. Off to the right a separate laptop was used to control making the digital Q65 contacts.

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.

Our 60-foot dish antenna bathed in full moon light as it tracked the Moon during operation Friday night. The planets Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter (lower center to upper left) brightly lit the western sky after sunset. (Photo by Bill Miller KC0FHN)
Our 60-foot antenna tracking the Moon. (Photo by Glenn Davis)

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. 

Our 60-foot antenna tracking the Moon Friday night. (Photo by Bill Miller)

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.

Gary copying Morse Code CW during a contact, with (L to R) Floyd Glick, Glenn Davis, and Ray Uberecken. (Photo by Bill Miller)
Due to the Doppler shift, we had a gap between transmit and receive frequency by as much as 3 KHz. We switched between the two frequencies by using the transceiver’s two VFOs. We used the WSJT software by (W1JT Joe Taylor) to continually calculate and display the frequency difference. (Still from a video by Bill Miller)
Jim WB0GMR (standing) and Gary WA2JQZ operating SSB. Jim later operated digital Q65 and made 8 contacts. (Photo by Floyd Glick)
Bill Miller KC0FHN calling CQ.

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.

Gary, Glenn, and Ray. Digital Q65 operating. (Photo by Bill Miller)

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.

Our operations trailer K0PRT at night. The constellation Orion is rising in the southeast.
Moonset with the antenna tracking.
A still-image from Mark’s movie, as the Moon nears the western horizon before dawn, with the antenna precisely tracking it. The constellation Orion is to the left of the Moon. The tight Pleiades cluster is to the right. The Moon itself is in front of the constellation Taurus.
Timelapse: Moon bounce at DSES – YouTube by Marc Stover

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:

EME (Earth Moon Earth) Moon Bounce Communicating on the weekend of November 20 & 21, 2021

By Gary Agranat (WA2JQZ)

This past weekend our radio telescope group DSES successfully operated EME (Earth Moon Earth) Moon bounce communications again. EME Moon bounce is transmitting and directing signals to reflect off of the Moon, about 240,000 miles away in space, and communicate with anyone else on Earth who has the Moon visible above their horizon and who has similarly capable equipment. As we did last year, we participated in the ARRL annual EME contest. We used our restored 60-foot dish antenna, operating at 1296 MHz, with our call sign K0PRT. This turned out to be our smoothest and most successful EME operation to date.

We can only communicate sending signals off of the Moon when the Moon is above our horizon. For this past weekend the Moon was just past full, which means the Moon rose just after sunset, and set shortly after sunrise. That means we could only operate during the night time — all-nighter operations.

Ray Uberecken (AA0L) and Gary Agranat (WA2JQZ) were the primary team on the site operating for the full weekend. Marc Stover was on site all of Friday night, taking time-lapse night photography of the dish antenna as it tracked the Moon, with the starry sky moving as the Earth rotated. Our science lead Dan Layne (AD0CY) was on site on Saturday afternoon and evening. He particularly helped us properly configure our digital mode, and he succeeded in making Q65 digital contacts to South American and Europe. Both Marc and Dan also got some experience calling CQ on SSB voice, and they heard their voice signals traveling at the speed of light reflected back about 2 seconds later.

Our set up overnight Friday. We used an ICOM transceiver transmitting 150 Watts. A Morse Code keyer was attached, set to 15 words per minute (WPM). The keyer device was also able to send code by typing characters on the keyboard, but we kept to sending the standard way. This is my preference (Gary), yet this also enables flexibility to adjust one’s sending as one hears the conditions. We also used the microphone for SSB voice. On Saturday night, in addition, we tried the Q65 digital mode, using the Signalink box to the right of the transceiver, connected to a laptop. Another laptop to the left of the keyboard kept our contact log digitally. It was also set up with a WSJT 10 program, to display to us the needed Doppler shift between our transmit and receive frequencies, to correct for the difference in speed between our site and the Moon. When we transmitted, we monitored the green oscilloscope and power supply on the rack at left, to verify we in fact were sending out a signal to the antenna.

This was our most successful weekend EME Moon bounce operation to date. We made 19 contacts the first night, and 26 contacts the second. (In comparison, last year for the first weekend of the contest we made about 25 contacts, and we operated then for just one night.) Just about all of our equipment worked perfectly and smoothly. 42 of our contacts were by using Morse Code. Dan made our two Q65 digital mode contacts: to IK7EZN in Italy and CX2SC in Uruguay (our only South American contact). Our other contact was using SSB voice (with DL6SH in Germany). EME voice communications requires better equipment capability and often also more power, so making EME voice contacts is generally rarer.

Almost all of our contacts were done between Moonrise and about 1 AM local time, on each of the two nights. We had a moon path to Europe until about that time. By then Ray and I (Gary) were feeling tired enough, and the European signals were becoming sparse. We were aware that in another hour or so Japan should have moonrise and give us a communications path to us. But we decided getting some sleep was more important, and we chose to sleep. We woke again around sunrise and went back on the air, with the Moon then to the west over the Pacific Ocean. On Saturday that enabled us to work DU3T in the Philippines, and VA7MM in British Columbia, Canada. We heard DU3T work an Australian station, but we didn’t hear the Australian station ourselves. We tried calling CQ ourselves, but didn’t hear anyone else. On Sunday morning we didn’t succeed in contacting anyone — we suspected we might not find anyone by then, but we believed the try was still worth it. (By comparison, last year once the Moon gave us a path across the Pacific, we were able to work 2 stations in Japan and one in Australia.)

On our second night we made contact with our DSES member VE6BGT Skip Macaulay in Alberta, Canada.

With our 60-foot antenna we are probably one of the stronger and more capable stations on the air. We consistently got strong signal reports from other stations. I typically got RST reports of 579. Most of the stations I gave signal reports to had much lower values, from 219 to 569. We were outputting about 150 Watts.

As an indication of our good signal, on Saturday night I had a run of 18 Morse Code (CW) contacts in a row, in a period of about an hour and a half. That is, after I completed one contact, I heard someone else trying to contact me, and I then continued with them. This kept happening for 18 contacts straight. In ham radio terminology this is called a “pile up”. This is fun and uplifting when it happens. But it also takes endurance and energy and patience.

Often the signals we heard were extremely weak. And so there is definitely some skill to bring to bear.  Depending on conditions, I may need to repeat key parts of the message many times. For Morse Code CW I may need to adjust the speed of my sending to a rate and pattern that I think the other person can copy. By choosing how I send, I indicate to the other person how I am hearing him or her, and that person can then adjust to my conditions too. It helps to be mindful too, so that one doesn’t make the other person feel intimidated. We are trying to make successful contacts, we also are part of a community.

Of our total 45 contacts, 28 (the majority) were with Europe. Those were with Germany (DG5CST, DL6SH, DL7UDA, DF3RU, and DL0SHF), Poland (SP6JLW, SP7DCS, SP9VFD, SP6ITF, and SP3XBO), Sweden (SK0CT, SM5DGX, SM6FHZ, SM7FWZ, and SM4IVE), Czech Republic (OK1KKD, OK1CA, OK1CS, and OK2DL), Italy (IK2DDR, IK3COJ, and IK7EZN), France (F5KUG and F6KRK), England (G4CCH and G3LTF), Finland (OH2DG), and European Russia (RA3EC). 12 contacts were with the continental US: WA9FWD (WI), N8CQ (NC), NQ7B twice (AZ), WK9P (IN), N5BF (CA), WA6PY (CA), WB8HRW (OH), W2BYP(NY), K2UYH (NJ), K3WM (PA), and W6YX (Stanford University, CA), plus one with Alaska (KL6M). 2 were with Canada: VE6BGT (AB), and VA7MM (BC). Plus we had the digital contact with Uruguay CX2SC. And DU3T in the Philippines.


I’ll mention, during the daylight hours on Saturday, while we had some quiet time in between Moon passes, Ray and I each spent some time with other activities. Ray did some autumn cleaning of the operations trailer. That included reorganizing the rack equipment, to make it easier for our current needs, and removing cables not in use. Ray also switched our cable for receiving GPS to an antenna on the roof, from the portable antenna we had been using inside.

Meanwhile I went to operate our HF (High Frequency) ham radio station at the bunker. I had not been on site for over a year. I wanted to check that our HF equipment and antennas were still functioning Okay. Starting around 1 PM local time I made some casual SSB contacts with our multiband vertical antenna and our directional 3-element Yagi antenna on the 50-foot tower, on the 20 and 15 meter bands. Most of those contacts were Parks on the Air stations around the country. I contacted NB6GC as well, the USS Hornet Museum ship in Alameda, CA (Bay Area) for a special event commemorating the splashdown of Apollo 12. The operator there noticed our callsign for DSES, and he told me he would be operating EME that evening too, though I think on a lower frequency. I also tried going on the 40 meter band with the vertical, but I mostly heard regular weekend nets, and I didn’t want to interfere with those. Starting at 2 PM local I then operated on the ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB contest. I chose to stay mostly on the 15 meter band with the Yagi, as 15 meters seemed more relaxed than 20 meters, and we had good propagation to the US northeast. I also swung the antenna around to contact stations I heard in California and Washington State. I sometimes searched around the band, I sometimes held a frequency and called CQ. Later I did try 20 meters too. In all I made 57 contacts, to 32 of the 84 ARRL sections in the US and Canada. Besides getting on the air and testing our equipment, I was interested to have our club station with our callsign participate with the rest of the ham community, so that other hams get to know us and to feel us as part of their community. I operated on HF for about 2 hours, though not all at once.

The one maintenance issue I had for the HF station is that the Yagi antenna direction was offset from the indication on the rotator control by about 80 degrees. I compensated for this while I operated. I remember that when we last had the tower lowered for maintenance over a year ago, the rotator didn’t seem able to lock.


As I mentioned, this was our most successful EME event to date, with 45 contacts and with no major equipment problems to troubleshoot. The automatic tracking system worked flawlessly, allowing us to concentrate on the signals we heard and making contacts.

This past weekend’s operation was the first of two parts of the ARRL EME contest in which one can use 1296 MHz. We plan to operate for the second part too, which will be on the weekend of December 18 & 19, 2021. Several more of our members, and at least one local ham, plan to come for that.


EME has been a major strategic goal of DSES since we started restoration of our 60-foot antenna in 2009. An immense amount of work was done in our group to achieve the capability we have now. The most visible aspect now is in making the operation work, and in developing our experiences to make the operation work well. Yet behind the scenes there have been many people, and much work in many more aspects — for example, the infrastructure repair and modernizing, restoring full electric power, developing from scratch the automatic tracking, to name just a few. To my mind this is a lot like having our own Moon mission.

And at the same time we’ve been developing our science capability and doing science too.

To me as well, hearing one’s signal come back 2 seconds later at the speed of light from the Moon and communicating with others around the world this way still takes my breath away. I really am doing something physical with the Moon, a celestial object out there in space, and the Moon physically responds back. To me the Moon is no longer something in the sky I just see, it is a physical object in space I have touched in some way and it has responded. And the speed of light and the wave-nature of light are no longer something just theoretical — I have to deal with those practically. I think something has changed and grown, for each one of us in DSES who have had the opportunity to work with EME.

Our 60-foot dish antenna in stowed position and the operations trailer, during the daytime break Saturday, before the Moon rose again after sunset. The antenna focus has installed a 1296 MHz dual polarized feed.
The power lines on Delores Lane that provide our site with electricity.
Our high frequency (HF) ham radio antennas on the site. On Saturday afternoon while we waited for the Moon to rise again, I operated for a couple of hours for an ARRL HF contest: the November SSB Sweepstakes. I used the directional Yagi antenna on the tower and a multi-band vertical antenna at left. For the Sweepstakes contest I made 57 contacts around the continental US and Canada, plus with Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Before that I also made some casual contacts, mostly with hams who set up at parks in various parts of the country.
After about 1 AM each night we took a break and got some sleep. When we woke a few hours later, the Moon was still above the horizon and we operated Moon bounce for a little while longer. On Saturday morning that gave us contacts with DU3T in the Philippines and VA7MM in British Columbia, Canada. This photo is on Sunday morning as we repointed the antenna to the Moon, near the horizon above my car. On Sunday morning we made no further contacts, but if anyone else was there on the air we would have heard them.
The two wire antennas in the foreground are phased dipoles, which we use for receiving natural signals from Jupiter and its moon Io, caused by Io moving through Jupiter’s strong magnetic field. The 12-foot dish antenna is a new project that will be part of a radio astronomy interferometer we are developing.
Closer view of one of our dishes we will use for radio astronomy interferometry.
Our operating station early Sunday morning. We had coffee and muffins ready.
You can see the antenna tracking software displays. The Moon is shown on an astronomical sky map. The circle around the Moon represents the beam width of our signal. Other windows on the display indicate the coordinates the antenna is pointing to, its motion, and settings for how we are controlling it. On my laptop on the far right, I have a logging program (not shown) and a program that shows me the position of the Moon (in Az & El and RA & Declination), and the Doppler shift corrections we need to continually make as our relative motion between our location and the Moon changes.
The ICOM transceiver we were using, tuned to 1296 MHz, and the Morse Code keyer for sending code. We had the keyer set for 15 words per minute. I wrote down (copied) the code that I heard on the paper pad. I save the hard-copy record, in case I need to double check a call sign or a contact detail for the contest or QSL request.
The farm and ranch fields across the road from our site.

ARRL 2020 EME Contest Results

Reported by Gary Agranat WA2JQZ.

DSES participated in the ARRL Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) moon bounce contest last autumn. The contest was spread over 3 weekends. We participated in the weekend segments of October 10-11 and November 28-29. The ARRL has now posted the contest results.

We operated solely the 23 cm (1296 MHz band) with our 60-foot dish antenna. We used CW Morse Code and SSB Phone on the first weekend, and CW and Digital JT65 on the second weekend. We made 50 contacts over the two weekends. However, for contest scoring, stations we contact again over both weekends only count once. Therefore for scoring, we were credited with 36 contacts. Our team consisted of several operators: AA0L, KL7YY, WA2JQZ, and KC0HPN. Glen Davis also was crucial for adjusting our antenna pointing system and ensuring we were operational. (WD0CUJ and Michael Namieka also came out, and made a moon bounce test transmission, but didn’t make contest contacts.) And so we submitted our contest log in the All Mode, Multioperator, 1.2 GHz category, with our call sign K0PRT. Worldwide we came in 4th place in this category.

ARRL posted the results on this PDF file. EME-2020-FinalQSTResults.pdf ( They also have an interactive page, Contest Scores (

In addition, we were contacted last month by Rick Rosen, K1DS. He wrote an article for QST about the 2020 ARRL EME contest, and he included dedicated segment of the article just for DSES. The article is here: 2020 EME Contest – Final Results – Version 1.1 (

Our posts about our participation in the contest:

Our 1st DSES Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) Moon Bounce Communications – Deep Space Exploration Society

DSES Succeeds in our 2nd EME Moonbounce Communications Competition – Deep Space Exploration Society

DSES Succeeds in our 2nd EME Moonbounce Communications Competition

Text and photos by Gary Agranat.

On the weekend following this past Thanksgiving we participated in the second round of the ARRL EME Contest, which ran for 48 hours, on November 28 & 29, 2020, GMT hours. This time it was a cliff-hanger in that we almost didn’t get on the air. But with some dedicated effort we succeeded again. This time we contacted some new places. And we added JT65C digital mode.

Team members for this operation were Ray Uberecken AA0L, Gary Agranat WA2JQZ, Myron Babcock KL7YY, and Bill Miller KC0FHN. Floyd Glick WD0CUJ came out also for one evening, accompanied by our new member Michael Nameika.

For this weekend the Moon was at almost full phase. That meant that it would be up mostly during our nighttime, which therefore was when we would have to do our operations. The contest would start at 0000 Hours GMT, which for us was 5 PM on Friday evening November 27. The Moon was already rising at 3:19 PM, so it would be up high enough to begin operating right away, once the contest started.

The Moon above our horizon already at about 4 PM Friday.

Ray and Bill arrived Friday afternoon by 3 PM to set up and do last minute testing. I (Gary) arrived soon after.

In our testing, we found we could receive the 1296 MHz beacon Ray set up at his home in Peyton. But we couldn’t properly transmit.

We quickly slew the antenna to the service tower, and Ray retrieved the amplifier at the feed. The thinking was the problem might be there.

The 60 foot dish antenna lowered to the service tower, as the sun set.
Ray climbed the service tower and retrieved the amplifier at the feed.
Ray retrieving the amplifier.

Ray did some quick testing of the amplifier. But an initial check didn’t find anything wrong.

Ray quickly tested the amplifier in the operations trailer, but didn’t find a problem. Outside, the Moon was rising, and the contest was starting. But were were not operational.

Ray then climbed back up the tower to return the amplifier to the feed point. We thought about what else could be wrong.

We then checked how much power was being drawn by the amplifier in the pedestal. The power meter was reading about 30 Watts when we tried to transmit, when it should have been reading about 200 Watts. At that point the sky was getting dark. It would not have been safe to do any more climbing. And so for the first night of the contest we couldn’t operate.

Bill returned home, but was available the next day for coordination in Colorado Springs. Ray and I spent overnight at the site, to continue troubleshooting on Saturday. We would have the whole day in sunlight, until the Moon rose for the second pass at 3:47 PM.

Ray replacing the amplifier at the feed, as the sun set.

Pikes Peak was visible on the northwest horizon, as the sun set.
The frost on Gary’s car the next morning.
The bunker Saturday morning.

Before going to sleep I (Gary) made some HF ham radio contacts. So we got on the air still, but on HF. This weekend there was also another contest, the CQ World Wide CW (Morse Code) Contest. On 160 and 80 meters I made three contacts with Canadian stations. There were lots of US stations on, but for the rules of this contest, you have to contact stations outside of your country (or more precisely outside of your DX area, which for us is the CONUS). I afterwards made some HF FT8 digital contacts for the club, on 80 and 40 meters. On 40 meters we made our first DX contact with New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific, with station FK8HM. This was with our recently repaired vertical antenna, so this showed our vertical was working OK.

Early the next morning I made some more CW contacts for the contest, this time on 40 meters using the vertical, and on 15 meters, using both the vertical and Yagi antennas. On 40 meters, while it was still dark across the Pacific, stations in China, Hong Kong, and South Korea were heard, but I didn’t succeed in making contacts. I did succeed though in contacting two Japanese stations. Then on 15 meters, with daylight across the Atlantic, the band was wide open to Europe. For a few minutes while on the air, we made contacts with France, Spain, and Slovenia, and also one contact to the south with Brazil.

Earlier during the year, the 3-band Yagi antenna bank angle slightly tilted. The 5-band vertical antenna also was damaged, probably both from storms. Earlier in the fall we repaired a bent piece of the vertical antenna, and reconnected the radial wires that had been severed. The HF operating showed these were at least working OK again. The 160 and 80 meter contacts were made with dedicated diploe antennas, also lightly visible in the picture. The Yagi antenna on the tower is aimed towards the northeast, towards Europe.
This is an eQSL confirmation we received from VE7JH in British Columbia, Canada, for our 80 meter Morse Code (CW) contact on Friday night. The card came with this caption information: 08 Aug 2009 Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island HMCS Toronto navigates an iceberg HMCS Toronto navigates past an iceberg near Frobisher Bay off the coast of Baffin Island while conducting sovereignty patrols as part of Operation NANOOK 09. Operation NANOOK 09 is a Canada Command sovereignty operation conducted with the participation of personnel, ships and aircraft from the Navy, Army and Air Force, working under the command of Joint Task Force (North) (JTFN). The operation runs from 06 to 28 August 2009, in Canada’s eastern Arctic. Photo by: Corporal Dany Veillette, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.
An eQSL confirmation we received from F6HKA in France, for a Morse Code (CW contact) Saturday morning on the 15 meter band. His card shows several Morse Code keys.

Ray and I had breakfast and resumed troubleshooting work at 9 AM. We retrieved the amplifier again, and this time did a much more thorough test. Ray found one diode was leaking current. But this was a circuit safety issue and not a showstopper for transmitting. Ray replaced the diode, and returned the amplifier to the feed.

Ray retrieved the amplifier again Saturday morning.
Ray doing a thorough test of the amplifier. Nominally it should boost our signal to about 200 Watts at the feed.
Ray tested the output of the amplifier by sending the signal through the disc cone antenna on top of the operations trailer.

We then considered what else could cause our problem. Ray tested the conductivity of our feed lines. We have two coax cables running from the operations trailer to the feed. Ray climbed to the feed, and connected the two cables there. Then we measured the conductivity going out and coming back, together at the same time. His software analyzer showed Coax cable #1 had a fault at 135 feet down the line, and Coax cable #2 had a fault 185 feet down the line. This corresponded with where there are swivel joints for the cables, where the fixed pedestal interfaces with the moving dish antenna structure. A signal test also showed there was more loss on the lines then expected.

The oscilloscope showed we didn’t have as strong as signal as we expected along the feed lines.

At first Ray wondered that the swivel joints might be the problem. However, on visual inspection those were seen to be OK. The problem was eventually traced instead to the weight of the cables at that location pulling on the centers of the feeds, causing those to slip out. 

Ray was able to repair Feed Line #1.  We then did more testing, with Ray’s beacon and the W0TTT beacon in Como, CO, and with an SSB tropospheric scatter contact with Myron in the Springs, and found we were working well. We were back in business.

Saturday, troubleshooting. The disc cone antenna is on the short tower on the left side of the trailer.

Myron drove out to the site, and operated with us the second night. While Myron was on his way, I slew the antenna for Moonrise, getting more practice with the System 1 automatic tracking.

As soon as the Moon rose we heard CW and digital signals. We again had to figure out the Doppler shift correction, using the WSJT 10 software. At the start we made several CW contacts with Europe: to Germany, England, Croatia, France, Poland, and Austria.

Eventually we also tried digital JT65C –for the first time. That was a learning curve, but we finally got it. One of the tricks for that was that the waterfall window on the JT65C has a bar at top designating where the sync pulse of the signal has to be, in order for the software to decode it. Another challenge was that operators were heard with JT65 weren’t using a consistent contact exchange format. And so I had to manually edit the exchange fields quickly, in the 10 seconds between decoding and transmitting.

We made 19 contacts altogether. 16 were with CW (Morse Code) and 3 were digital JT65C. Myron tried several times to make SSB contacts. But there were no takers to respond back to us.

Over the night, I generally made the CW and digital contacts, while Ray operated the radio, including keeping up with the Doppler shift offsets. I offered to let others make contacts too. But we were comfortable doing it this way.

Floyd came during the evening with his astronomy student Michael Namieka. Floyd showed Michael around the site, and I believe also made some HF contacts in the bunker. They watched our EME operation. They got into a good technical discussion about the component causes of the Doppler shifts. Myron had Michael send a voice CQ and test moon bounce signal, and Michael heard his voice come back about 2 seconds later.

Our CW contacts included our DSES member Skip, VE6BGT — he said we sounded much stronger this time. And we found several other stations we had contacted last month too. 

On JT65 we had QSOs with AL Katz K2UYH, W6YX Stanford University, and AA4MD in Florida (who last month we got on CW). 

New countries to Europe this time were France and Croatia. We got KL6M in Alaska, who built our feed. We got one Japanese contact JH1KRC, who we contacted last month. And this time we had one contact with Australia, VK5MC, probably our contact furthest away from us.  I am happy to report we had pileups on us.  At least some of our contacts already knew something about us and our capability.

This is a record of our contacts, from the Cabrillo formatted file we submitted to the ARRL for the contest. CW is Morse Code. DG is JT65C digital. 1.2 G is the 1.2 GHz frequency band. You see the date and times in GMT, our station with the signal report we sent, and the station we contacted with their signal report to us.
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2312 K0PRT 599 DG5CST 599 Germany
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2317 K0PRT 559 SP7DCS 589 Poland
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-28 2324 K0PRT 559 G4CCH 599 England
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0007 K0PRT 559 9A5AA 579 Croatia
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0020 K0PRT 569 DL6SH 579 Germany
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0040 K0PRT 569 VE6BGT 589 Canada
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0057 K0PRT 579 OE5JFL 579 Austria
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0216 K0PRT 569 WA9FWD 579 Wisconsin, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0350 K0PRT 559 F2CT 569 France
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0403 K0PRT 559 KL6M 579 Anchorage, Alaska, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0407 K0PRT 559 OK1KIR 569 Czech Republic
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0413 K0PRT 559 I5MPK 599 Italy
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0420 K0PRT 559 K7CA 559 Nevada, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0430 K0PRT 549 KA1GT 559 Maine, USA
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 0629 K0PRT -06 K2UYH -01 New Jersey, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0750 K0PRT 569 JH1KRC 589 Japan
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 0811 K0PRT -08 W6YX -08 California, USA
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0920 K0PRT 439 VK5MC 449 Australia
QSO: 1.2G CW 2020-11-29 0946 K0PRT 599 N4PZ 599 Chicago, Illinois, USA
QSO: 1.2G DG 2020-11-29 1006 K0PRT -09 AA4MD -07 Florida, USA

The automatic tracking system display, showing us tracking the Moon.
The WSJT JT65 display on my computer. The upper left shows a spectrum waterfall, where we had to position the signal for the software to decode. We also at times had to adjust the audio gain, to not overwhelm the display. The upper right shows the message exchange, in this case with W6YX in California. The lower window is our logbook.

We decided to stop operating at around 3:30 AM Sunday morning. We were hearing much fewer new contacts. But also the outside wind was picking up immensely. Forecasts for the region were for gusts up to 50 knots. We stowed the antenna back to the safe position. Ray, Myron and I then got sleep in the operations trailer. Outside the temperature dropped to the low 20s, but we kept warm inside with the heaters. Myron left early in the morning. Ray and I closed the site by 11 AM Sunday, and headed back to the Springs.

* * *

Some technical feedback: System 1 was working almost perfectly.  The one glitch again was that there was a discontinuity in elevation reading on Friday night as the elevation was brought close to zero (seen by Bill).  I didn’t experience that on Saturday or Sunday.  Otherwise, the System 1 is an immense help.  It makes the slewing and tracking easy and seamless.  

We had a learning curve figuring out all of the nuances and details (or the sufficient and necessary details) for running JT65.  We did eventually get JT65 working well. You do need to pay attention to its peculiarities.  It probably could use some guidance documents, like we have for System 1. 

I will note I did try to make a number of contacts but didn’t get responses. I don’t know why that was.  I am suspecting part of the reason might be due to not getting the Doppler shift offsets quite right at times. But we did get a number of good signal reports and explicit comments that we had good signals.

Later I did some research. One of our contacts KA1GT has some articles on the Doppler shift math and corrections. These might be helpful:

Bob Atkins – KA1GT – EME Doppler shift 101

CFOM Constant Frequency On Moon Doppler Mode – Bob Atkins – KA1GT

It was a somewhat intense weekend for the team — with not being able to operate Friday evening as it got dark, with the troubleshooting, the cold and windy weather conditions and staying overnight (for some for 2 nights) on site.  But we were very pleased we got our Moon communications back.  We had lots of good signal reports.   We apparently were doing better than in October with our signals. We probably had fewer contacts than last time as we were spending time figuring out the JT65 and Signallink.  And I suspect there might have been fewer hams on for the second night. But I think also we didn’t want to knock ourselves out, especially with all the work we did. We found a good balance that worked.

I think all of us involved were very pleased with what we accomplished this weekend. We spent the effort to troubleshoot, we got ourselves back on the air, and we made a successful second EME Moon bounce operation.

  • 73 Gary WA2JQZ

DSES Science Meeting Nov 23, 2020

Welcome to the DSES Science meeting 11/23/2020

2020-11-23 DSES Science Meeting Notes, by Bill Miller

We had 16 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Lewis Putman, Bob Haggart, Don Latham, Floyd Glick, Gary Agranat, Glenn Davis, Jay Wilson, Jon Ayers, Lauren Libby, Myron Babcock, Robert Sayers, Ted Cline. Jerry Espada, Bill Miller

Agenda and notes;

Also see the Zoom Video Recording for more detail:

Agenda and notes:

  1. Myron’s Treasure’s Report Checking $1774.28. Savings $5742.15. We have 49 paid members.
  2. Science Fair: 
    • Bill spoke with Carol Bach the coordinator,  she replied, “The Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be held virtually on February 20, 2021.  We are hoping that the Deep Space Exploration Society will again sponsor a special award or awards at the fair.  In addition, we are hoping you or another member of your group will consider being a special awards judge.  We will send you a code to unlock a showcase with digital displays that you can view.  Virtual judging will take place between February 18-20, 2021.”
    • Bill to send board DSES Special awards criteria for approval.
    • “Please respond by December 2, 2020 to this email and confirm that your organization is planning to participate. Also, please let us know the name and contact email for future communications.”
  3. Planet Walk:
    • Bill will write an endorsement letter and have the DSES Board modify and approve for Planet Walk Colorado Springs. See
  4. Arecibo Failure:
    • See Bob Haggard’s repost on the Arecibo Radio Telescope status.
  5. Rich presented the DSES Science part of the Meeting:  See all notes in the DSES Science Meeting Power Point.
  6. Ray
    • Problem with the 1296 feed last trip.  Took down the Feed amplifier and found that the unit was stuck in the transmit configuration again due to a failed FET in the Relay driver.  Fixed this and added more gate protection circuitry to solve the problem. 
    • Also had a bad diode and a bad cable that had to be corrected.
    • The FT-736R Keyer connection failed on last trip but Ray fixed it.
    • Tried CW EME but couldn’t hear the echo.
    • Did receive Rays Home Based beacon bounced off Pikes Peak and verified pointing so the receiver chain is working.
  7. Gary Underground K0PRT  bunker station summary report.
    • FT8,  PSK Reporter website showed our station was received on 40 meters during afternoon in CA and TX.
    • 15M operation was hot
    • Our rare grid square (DM88) attracted many Japanese stations
    • Vertical working well on 15 and 40 meters. 10 meters was tried and at least had good SWR, but band was dead.
    • Yagi was also working well to Japan
    • PSK reporter showed good coverage on 15 meters all around the Pacific Rim.
    • See more in Rich’s slides above
  8. Glenn says that Phil is working on an elevation tracking update that will need some onsite testing when ready.
  9. Much discussion about the SDR receivers, GNU SW and the computer power needed to run them.  See the meeting recording for too much detail to capture here.