by Dave Smith W6TE
“ECHOES OF APOLLO” SHAKE DOWN TRIP & UPDATE by Dave Smith W6TE
Jim Klassen, W6JMK, Pat Barthelow, AA6EG and I picked Wayne Overbeck, N6NB, up at the San Jose Airport about 4 PM on Tuesday and headed to the Stanford, 150’, SRI dish in Palo Alto. We were gathered to set up the 23 CM equipment for a “shake down test” . For the “Echoes of Apollo” event June 26-28, 2009.
We arrived at the dish around 5PM to find the dish’s feed housing lowered to the ground while Dr. Cousins and his vary capable engineers and technicians were installing SRI’s dual-polarity septum feed horn for our use.
One of the volunteers helping on this project is well known satellite pioneer, Lance Ginner, K6GSJ. Lance worked (hands-on) on OSCARS I, II and III and assisted on others up through OSCAR 7. (You may recall that well publicized photo of someone transporting OSCAR I under their arm. That was Lance!)
Also at the site was a camera crew from the BBC. They were shooting a program for the BBC.
We spent the next 4 hours getting everything stalled, reengineering my concept of how circular polarization (CP) should be implemented. It was decided without the transfer relay (I had ordered but hadn’t yet received) we would not be able to do CP. We set the feeds up to allow switching between the two horizontal and verti-cal linear ports on the feed horn.
Around 8 PM we decided to call it a day, Everyone was hungry, tired and nerves were on edge. We left to go eat and get some sleep agreeing to meet the next morning at 9 AM.
Wednesday morning we all met at 9 AM and finished trouble-shooting and in-stalling the equipment. Everything look like it was working so the SRI crew raised the feed horn into position.
Around noon everything came together and we were on the air AND TRACKING THE MOON. I’ve never heard louder echoes off the moon be-fore. Our return CW echoes were S9 + 20 db!
The SRI team seemed delighted at our overall success. It was a first for the Stanford dish as it has never been on the Amateur 23CM band before.
There were a group of stations waiting for us. The first station was Christoph HB9HAL in Switzerland. The contact was on SSB (voice). We were all able to get on the air and work some stations.
Around 4:30 PM The New York Times reporter, Ashlee Vance, and a photographer was on the scene. They are doing a story on “Echoes of Apollo and Amateur Radio EME. The interview lasted about 90 minutes. We demonstrated ech-oes and they were very impressed hearing our signals off the moon.
After that we loaded everything up and Jim and I headed for home. We got to Fresno at 9 PM. Jim had another :45 minutes to get to his Reedley residence.
All in all, it was a great experience. One I’ll neverforget. This was great a shake down run. The big day (for Echoes of Apollo) is June 26th weekend.
Here’s my Shutterfly website with the entire group of 78 photos.