Monday, January 5, 2009

To the Moon...

“I believe that this station should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this summer is out, of sending signals to the moon and receiving them safely on the Earth”

Since this year is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing I decided we should get serious about setting up for EME. Its been something of a long-term goal for a while now but with a deadline I'm hoping to motivate myself to pull together all the pieces that I've been collecting for so long. In addition to VHF EME there will also be a UHF antenna for satellite work.

The VHF antennas (a pair of Cushcraft 13B2 yagis) are sitting in storage ready to go. The 10-turn UHF helix antenna has the reflector and boom completed, just need fabricate a mount and install the element and antenna connector. I have a cheapo antenna rotator for azimuth and an old dish jackscrew for elevation. I've got a LabJack box and an plan to tie them all together with the computer to provide fully automatic tracking of satellites (including the moon). I've got piles of 50 ohm hardline for antenna cables and 75 ohm hardline for the phasing harness. On its way as belated xmas gifts are a pair of VHF preamps. Several big coax relays with N-connectors are waiting in the junk box. And then there is the amplifier.

A couple of years ago, before I was even back on the air, I decided I was going to build a 2m EME amp. After lots of research I settled on a 2 x 4CX250B design by LA0BY. I had an old semi-functional HF amp that could be sacrificed to provide the power supplies and chassis so all I needed to get started was tubes and sockets. Fortunately, I came across a fellow selling a driver stage from a Collins broadcast transmitter that had a pair of 4CX250B's, the sockets, chimneys, and an assortment of other useful parts. I picked that up for the same price as a pair of tubes and its been collecting dust on my shelf since then. The only thing I don't have yet is the RF deck enclosure which I'm hoping to have fabricated from aluminum by an acquaintance who fixes airplanes and the tetrode board. This little piece of electronic magic by G3SEK is available in a reasonably priced kit and will provide all the required control, protection and voltage regulation circuitry. After all that, the rest is mostly just wiring and plumbing...

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