View Full Version here: : Radio Astronomy
19-01-2009, 02:57 AM
Has anyone looked into this at home?
I'd be interested in links to websites outlining how they did it and what they achieved. I can only find high end sites on line.
Found one ...
Of course I'm trying to find a way to see through the perpetual cloud cover we have here :)
19-01-2009, 08:22 AM
Yes I have....it's a little bit more expensive to start off in than optical astronomy, but it's not prohibitively expensive and you can get results for a lot less than you'd believe. If you wanted to setup a decent rig, you could do it for $5000, maybe less. I've got some info on it around home, somewhere. If I can find it I'll try and post some stuff here.
22-01-2009, 02:15 PM
Yes 24/7 does sound appealling.
22-01-2009, 02:30 PM
That is not true. You can do a lot with very small amount of money.
However, radioastronomy requires skills associated with electronics: design, testing, soldering, building (circuitry and antennas).. And interpreting the results is impossible without basic knowledge about electronics.. unless someone enjoys listening to the noise :lol:
22-01-2009, 03:24 PM
Yes, you can...with a basic radio receiver, you can listen to the 21cm crackle, pickup Io/Jupiter, listen to the Sun and quite a few other things. But if you really want to do something constructive you need a decent antenna (if you want a steerable one) and radio receivers....$5000 will buy you some pretty good kit. Or you could opt for a fixed antenna, which will save you money on the hardware. Having skills in PCB design, circuitry and such is a plus but it's not mandatory....you can buy most of the stuff to setup these days, off the shelf (assembled and tested). You do need some background in astronomy, though. Especially in radio astronomy, but not the degree that a professional would need. Although, that would help:D
22-01-2009, 04:45 PM
Talking money is not good approach for starting amateur radio- astronomy activities.
First, interested person must know exactly what it is all about.
Radio-waves can not bee seen, heard or touched.
So, the solid knowledge of physics and electronics is essential, to be able to interpret the results (which will be basically the power of more or less white noise over certain frequency band.
If someone relies on what is commercially available, she/he will not get very far, it will remain in the realm of commercial, will end up on the shelf or in garage or shed and it will not be even appreciated by others.. because at least you can show your friends and associates the nice pictures you have taken with expensive and shiny telescope, you can even show them the real objects in the super-wide-angle eyepiece during the night observing sessions, buy just try the same thing with graphs and numbers (and this is what is coming out of your radio-telescope back end).
Being a professional RF engineer I know very well there are receivers and "receivers" and what can be done to tune one properly for particular use.
And this does nor require a great deal of money.. just expertise. Even antennas can be built (and they have to, btw, you will want to receive emissions from outer space in frequency bands that are not used for commercial purposes (because in them there is nothing to receive anyway, due to radio-pollution).. so antennas will not be available commercially.
22-01-2009, 05:23 PM
Anyway, it'd be an interesting field to get into. If I had any problems I could always ask one of my cousins for advice. He's was a senior electrical engineer for Telstra...or was. He's retired. It'd probably be a project he'd sink his teeth into because he likes that sort of challenge:)
22-01-2009, 05:29 PM
I thought getting a decent antenna together would be the hard bit but found a couple of antenna images, one really cheap and the other looking quite manageable.
And some guy built this in his back yard :)
22-01-2009, 05:57 PM
Antennas are basically very complex in functionality but essentially very simple to build. Also, today, satellite antennas are relatively cheap and available, but they are suitable for higher frequency bands.
All depends on what do you want to do.. that is why such a range of complexity and physical size.
Having a cousin who is (electronics? we are always that, even when retired :-) ) engineer in the field of radio frequencies iis certainly a great help and guidance.
It is interesting what is happening in radio field: In my time (40+ years ago), ham radio operators would build their equipment from the scratch. They would know very well what it does and how it performs. This was the time when amateurs from Europe and Americas would talk via radio waves reflected off the Moon. Great achievement were done by clever and capable individuals/amateurs.
Today, they do not know much, they go and buy ham radio and all they do is talk, mostly (except honourable exceptions, as there is always someone who sticks out of masses). But, in general, today this is what was once CB band: place to meet and chat (today we have web chat room for this purpose.. except maybe in outback where there is no internet (yet)).
Be aware, that radio-astronomy receiver could be described as one-pixel camera.. with very narrow band filter in front of it. And with very lousy lens (in terms of resolution).
There will be no spectacular things to see or show.. except maybe on rare occasions when something blows up in space, and is intense enough to be recorded by your equipment.
Anyway.. good luck with your projects..
And I will be glad to help if I can :-) Amateurs to amateurs.. :-)
22-01-2009, 06:25 PM
You know what would be really cool....when you see every now and then an old antenna being decommissioned and then put to scrap, if a bunch of amateurs could take over the scope and refurbish it to working order. Wouldn't have to be a "Parkes" or anything quite that big, but a 10 metre or so dish would be pretty nifty to have working. Being aware of the design limitations of the dish and the equipment, you could still get a pretty impressive project up and running.
22-01-2009, 06:55 PM
At Ondřejov, astronomical observatory complex, near Prague in Czech Republic (http://www.expats.cz/prague/czech/Observatories/ondrejovobservatory/), they were using an old WWII German radar dish (10 m dia or bigger, I do not remember) for continuous observations of Sun (in couple of bands). I do not know if this facility is still being used, it was when I was there back in 1974. It was an everyday job, recording of received power and correlating with visible phenomena on the Sun's surface).
After I saw that I wanted to use old Marconi radar I was given by some people for our astronomical club (antenna dish was 2m dia, mounted on vehicle with motors and driving electronics) for the same and/or similar purpose, but there were other priorities in my life and the whole thing faded into oblivion..
22-01-2009, 07:17 PM
You mean like this?
22-01-2009, 07:28 PM
Yep, antenna is still there ...
22-01-2009, 07:30 PM
Yes, this is definitely usable for Sun observations. And lots more...
22-01-2009, 08:51 PM
What would be good, if you had the spare cash to do it:D, is setup about 50-60 of the dishes you have at Grove Ck and create an interferometer array out of them. Have like a mini SETI setup, or a mini VLA. The hardest part would be the control software for the scopes.
22-01-2009, 09:15 PM
OK, you can EFT me the cash to do it....lets see now... 50 x $10K each.... hmmmmm
22-01-2009, 09:23 PM
I'll just go to my petty cash tin:P:D
22-01-2009, 10:02 PM
This is sort of related , but a bit of a stretch....:
I messed around in another lifetime with Weathersats.
From an Electronics and Radio hobbyist background I built several
weather satellite (NOAA and Russian Meteosat) decoders
Long story short, you picked up the feeble line by line
'live' picture coming direct from polar orbiting weathersats that
passed over twice a day.
Your homemade omni antenna picked it up and displayed the live
pic coming in. The picture you got was obviously whatever part
of Australia the satellite was passing over as you received it.
On my best reception days I could have a pic start with the
satellite far down in the Southern Ocean and lose the signal as it
flew over Darwin. Me receiving in Adelaide.
When I first did it it was on an old Amiga 500 computer and later on
Later, when someone wrote software called WxSat, a dabbler could feed
in scanner audio (modified wideband IF) into the soundcard of the PC
and the computer would decode the audio into a picture.
I modified my Yaesu FRG9600.
All of this was a great experience in dealing with just how tiny the signals
were and nursing them out of a very noisy band with masthead preamps
and good antennas. They were (and I think, still are) in the 2m band at
137Mhz. A higher res picture was also available from the same satellite
but you needed a dish to receive (and track) it.
Some outdated NOAA frequencies here:
WxSat software here:
Cheers Steve, I remember Jim Rowe doing something similar and doing an article and kit in Electronics Australia years ago, never got around to doing it myself because A: was too young(no money) B: didn't have a suitable receiver, C: no computer.
Now that I have all the above and you've reminded me of the article, will dig it out and have a go!
Can't use the scanner for listening to the police anymore(dang encrypted digital) so it's just gathering dust!
Robin, I recall SouthernSky mag did a series of articles on amateur radio astronomy around '94 or '95. Will dig out the mags and scan the articles for you.
23-01-2009, 08:28 AM
I reckon Tom Moffatt did the article Simon, from memory...I corresponded
with him a bit about Amigas.
I built his Listening Post II as well...that received Weatherfax from HF radio
sites in Canberra and Darwin...worked 24 hours, clean as a whistle.
Sing out if you want the articles...I've got all the old EA's circa that era.
Steve, your absolutely correct!
I miss those Moffatt's Madhouse articles he did too.
Cheers for the offer, like you I still have all those mags, from about '91 till it's death.... and I'm still bitter about that, was only one or two years shy of it's 100th birthday.
Also have a stack of EA, ETI and EAM mags from the '70 and '80s that were donated to me.
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