Newsletters‎ > ‎

Semiannual Project and Activity Review January through June 2011

posted Sep 13, 2012, 12:55 PM by Simon Shupp   [ updated Sep 15, 2012, 10:30 AM ]

Table Mountain Field Site, Longmont, Colorado
Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center, Haswell, Colorado

The verdict is in and DSES will be vacating Table Mountain in Boulder County near Longmont, Colorado. DSES submitted a proposal for use of Table Mountain, but due to the National Telecommunications Institute and Administration, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) decision to instigate a two-year site assessment, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement was declined. On the bright side, refurbishment of the facilities at the Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center in Kiowa County near Haswell, Colorado, is in full swing.

Photograph by Don Lewis, 2011.


DSES member trips to the Plishner site have resulted in facility clean-up and repairs of the dish. Michael Lowe has been working with the local Haswell electric cooperative to get power installed at the site. Paul Berge, Don Lewis, and Michael Lowe have spent several weekends at Plishner, and with the efforts of local residents, have made a rewarding collaboration between DSES and Kiowa County.

The following is but a sample of the activities at Plishner. Steel door and a rectangular steel panel were welded in place on the dish tower. The tower was secured with a stout lock and keys are in the possession of Mike Lowe and Paul Berge. The door and panel were painted grey. A folding ladder was left in the tower to allow access to the upper decks. Other material was stored in the tower for future use such as wire, etc. Debris was removed from the ramp on the east of the underground structure to allow opening the door. Dimensions of the door were taken to facilitate replacement. A walk through survey was done of the underground structure to note problems and condition. Pictures were taken. OSB board was cut and used to cover some openings in the roof structure.

The winds repeatedly bring enough tumbleweeds to completely obscure the entry door to the station. They can be cleared simply by throwing them upward at which point the wind takes them to the south fence in less than 20 seconds! Clean up of the station (underground) is about all that can be done during high winds, so its looking right tidy. There now is a very nice lab table with casters and slide out shelves that Don Lewis obtained. Paul Berge got lighting circuits activated for use with the generator.

Michael Lowe and his wife routinely provide building materials, generators, tools, and, well, the list is very long. Plywood from the building material was used to cover the 4-foot opening at the southwest corner main skylight, ventilator, and fire exit door. Local residents removed most of the scrap metal, cleaned off the entry ramp into the station, and mowed the flora. The dish tower was cleaned out, a generator was installed, and a ladder was provided to access the upper reaches. Even as this newsletter is being written, motors and controllers are finding their way into the tower. Great work everyone!

Rodney Howe (DSES) and John DuBois, Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA), are building a horn antenna and radio to monitor the Solar Flux Index (SFI). The Solar Flux Index is used to assist National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) modelers in predicting solar cycles. See Building a 10.7cm horn for monitortng the Solar Flux Index by R. Howe and J. DuBois for further details.

Joint DSES/Front Range Community College (FRCC), Boulder campus public “astronomy night” continued successfully, even with cloudy nights. The astronomy night gatherings featured both radio and optical observing. DSES members assisted with the Small Radio Telescope (SRT), giving short presentations on what radio astronomy is, and demonstrating the operation of the SRT. As the FRCC facilities are undergoing renovation during the summer months, public astronomy night will resume in October of 2011.

Adler Planetarium (http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/) astronomers and Jamie Riggs worked on understanding what column densities in star-forming regions lead to either intermediate mass stars or high mass stars.

DSES members attended conferences, gave presentations on DSES activities, and published papers. Wayne Green attended the Society of Astronomical Sciences 30th Annual Symposium on Telescope Science May 25-28, 2011, in Big Bear, California. Jamie Riggs attended the 2011 USNC-URSI National Radio Science Meeting in Boulder, CO. Jamie gave talks to the University of Northern Colorado Applied Statistics and Research Methods Colloquium on February 3, 2011. The presentation was “Comparing the Distributions Resulting from Selected Additive Combinations of the Real and Imaginary Components of the Signal Spectral Density Function.” She also presented Intermediate-and High-Mass Star-Forming Regions: Making Stars at Mass Column Densities < 1g/cm2, at the University of Northern Colorado Research Day. Jamie Riggs attended the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Innovations in Data-Intensive Astronomy, Greenbank, West Virginia.



Solar Flux feed (10.7 cm) for monitoing sunspot cycles. Photograph by Rodney Howe.




DSES Organizational Opportunities

The DSES is an organization of amateur radio operators, astronomers, scientists, radio hobbyists and plain old “big equipment” nuts. Whether you like to help with organization and management, work on a keyboard, try to pull in the weak signals, want to try your hand at digital signal processing or just wonder “what is out there” and you want to see for yourself, the DSES has a place for you.

We still need your help.

The DSES wants to renew its relationship with its members and bring in some new ones as well. In addition to dish improvement projects, we are always looking for projects that use the capabilities of the dish such as radio astronomy, Earth-Moon-Earth (EME), satellite ground station uses, etc.

Do you have something you think we should be adding to our abilities? Come and re-join us! Membership for a full voting member is $50/year and for an associate, non-voting member is $20/year.

Thanks to all who have joined or renewed!

Thank you for your interest in the Deep Space Exploration Society!

For further information you can send email to the board members at inquire@dses.org or see our website at www.dses.org. Our newsletter and activity reports are available on this website.



Semiannual Project and Activity Review
July through December 2010

Table Mountain Field Site, Longmont, Colorado
Haswell Site, Haswell, Colorado

The second half of 2010 was intriguing. The upper dish at T22 achieved tracking capabilities sufficient for both astronomical sources and many earth-obit satellites. The lower dish had manual control restored. Haswell restoration plans took on new life. However, as of the end of December 2010, DSES has not had a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Telecommunications Institute and Administration, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS). However, talks with ITS have been encouraging.

Haswell. Photographed by Paul Berge, 2010.


Joint DSES/FRCC first joint public “astronomy night” on 21 October 2010. As a result of discussions between John Minors, Science Chair of the Front Range Community College (FRCC) Boulder Campus, and Jamie Riggs, the first monthly joint FRCC/DSES Astronomy Night held on the FRCC Boulder Campus in Longmont, CO. DSES members assisting were Paul Berge, Wayne Green, Michael Lowe, John Minors, and Jamie Riggs. Wayne and Michael set up a Radio Jove system, John ran the FRCC optical observatory, and Paul and Jamie operated the FRCC SRT, a 2m dish. The size of the public attendance at the gathering was considered a success. The FRCC administration was quite pleased.

Adler Planetarium ( http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/) astronomers and Jamie Riggs worked on understanding what column densities in star-forming regions lead to either intermediate mass stars or high mass stars.

DSES trips to the Haswell site have resulted in preparations for refurbishing the Haswell dish. Michael Lowe has been working with the local Haswell electric cooperative to get power installed at the site. Much work by Michael and others is still needed to obtain an overall refurbishment plan.



DSES acquired a US Government surplus trailer, built in 1959 as a mobile office. It contains equipment racks, heat, air-conditioning, power conditioning, carpet, sound reduction acoustic ceiling, etc. The tires are in reasonable shape. The undercarriage needs some work. Ownership paperwork needed. DSES currently has John Ewan’s license tag. Rex Craig has a desk, and work benches donated by Michael Lowe, now stored at T22, can be utilized. Paul Berge suggests hooking-up power and get systems working while the trailer is on Wayne Green’s property. The roof may leak. There is no plumbing.



Jamie Riggs began tracking accuracy tests of the upper dish after celestial source track file generation was enabled on the upper dish controller by Sam Krenning. She and Dennis Akos have been using this controller for satellite tracking. Sam’s code for celestial sources works very well, and the tracking accuracy studies are well under way. Jamie began beam characterization studies to determine, initially, beam shape.

DSES members attended conferences, gave presentations on DSES activities, and published papers. John Ewan, Rodney Howe, and Jamie Riggs attended the 2010 USNC-URSI National Radio Science Meeting in Boulder, CO. Jamie gave talks to the University of Northern Colorado Applied Statistics and Research Methods Colloquium on November 3, 2010. The presentation was Intermediate-and High-Mass Star-Forming Regions: Making Stars at Mass Column Densities < 1g /cm2. Jamie Riggs attended the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Twelfth Synthesis Imaging Workshop in Socorro, NM ( http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/events/synthesis/2010/ ). Her description of her experiences at the workshop may be found at http://dses.org/edu.shtml.
DSES Organizational Opportunities

The DSES is an organization of amateur radio operators, astronomers, scientists, radio hobbyists and plain old “big equipment” nuts. Whether you like to help with organization and management, work on a keyboard, try to pull in the weak signals, want to try your hand at digital signal processing or just wonder “what is out there” and you want to see for yourself, the DSES has a place for you.

We still need your help.

The DSES wants to renew its relationship with its members and bring in some new ones as well. In addition to dish improvement projects, we are always looking for projects that use the capabilities of the dish such as radio astronomy, Earth-Moon-Earth (EME), satellite ground station uses, etc.

Do you have something you think we should be adding to our abilities? Come and re-join us! Membership for a full voting member is $50/year and for an associate, non-voting member is $20/year.

Thanks to all who have joined or renewed!

Thank you for your interest in the Deep Space Exploration Society! For further information you can send email to the board members at inquire@dses.org or see our website at http://dses.org. Our newsletter and activity reports are available on this website.
Comments