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A Different Kind of Radio Astronomy

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#1 Mike Foster

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 10:24 PM

I recently earned my HAM radio Technician class license. With Technician privileges the logical choice for a radio is a dual band mobile rig, 2 meter and 70 centimeter. I have become active on these 2 bands but was surprised to find out that it appears as if there is very little crossover between the hobbies locally.

Does any one know if there are any High Frequency radio operators that like to communicate when at the eyepiece or imaging? Is there an HF rig and a General Class license exam in my future?

Thanks,
Mike

#2 Bernie Poskus

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 12:20 AM

Mike: I have been a ham radio operator much longer than I've been an astronomer (started astronomy 11 years ago, but have been an active ham since 1968).

In all honesty, I don't do any radio operating at the eyepiece. This is for a variety of reasons.

First, both take a lot of work and concentration. If I'm doing both, I'm likely doing both badly. I'd rather do one at a time well.

Second, with the power levels used for HF communication, there is a chance, though not great, that you would screw up someone's imaging, through RF overload of their device (e.g., their CCD camera). I'm personally not aware of this phenomenon occurring, but I'd hate to find out.

Third, both take a lot of work to set up, and so I don't want to go through that much brain damage. Indeed, the antenna necessary for HF operation will have a sizable footprint, and you'd likely trip over it in the dark.

Contrary to your impression that there is little crossover between the hobbies, I know multiple people that do both.

I strongly recommend you get your general class license. I have never been confined to a Technician license, and would feel very confined if all I could do was exercise Tech privileges. I have an Extra Class license, and my favorite things to do are HF CW operating (occasionally, I do voice via SSB)using either high power or QRP power (i.e., 5 watts), satellite operating, and kit building (I've built an Elecraft K1 and K2) and other electronics experimentation.

If you want to discuss it further, email me offline at hamdan@ix.netcom.com.

73 de Bernie, KF0QS

#3 Mister T.

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 09:37 PM

Hi

 

I too am an amateur (W9LBB, ex K9TA, ex WA9QMB, ex WN9LGD), first licensed in 1963; I got my Novice license in the mail the day before the Kennedy assassination.

 

Tho I'm a Newbie at astronomy, I've never had the urge to indulge in both at the same time; I see it as pointless, the one exception being in one VERY special situation.

 

I would strongly consider having an HF rig handy for contacting other observers during a solar eclipse. That one is unique, and at least regional contact with other observers could be useful...  best bet, IMHO, would be 40 meter SSB for that; ionospheric disruption caused by the eclipse isn't gonna wipe out long distance communication on 40 like it might the higher bands.

 

The closest I come to mixing the two activities is having a receiver around for time check (WWV) and SWL purposes (I like listening to Arnie Coro on RADIO HAVANA), as well as keeping tabs on the National Weather service on VHF; my old Zenith Trans Oceanic portable (solid state version) fulfills those needs quite admirably, as well as tuning in a classical music station on FM.

 

I find Holst's THE PLANETS to be particularly satisfactory while observing, as well as Mendelssohn (Fingal's Cave / Hebrides Suite) and the Greig Piano Concerto... but that's just ME!  :grin: 

 

73's DE Mr. T.

 

 


Edited by Mister T., 15 August 2014 - 09:38 PM.


#4 ssmith

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 11:16 PM

Hi Mike -

 

One of the more popular intersections of ham radio and astronomy is meteor scatter communication which can be done with technician operating priveleges.


Edited by ssmith, 15 August 2014 - 11:17 PM.


#5 Charles B.

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 10:13 AM

Hi Mike,

 

Go for your General. Operating on the HF bands is great fun and there are so many things to do you won't get bored. 

 

I've never used my HF rigs for communicating from the telescope. Unless you have a rig that can be controlled by an HT or your smart phone, the setup at scope-side would be nontrivial. That being said, I could see setting up a portable QRP rig. My portable setup takes about 15 minutes to get setup and on the air. I don't think astronomy and QRP radio operating are really compatible since both require some dedicated concentration. 

 

However, I have used an HT to hit one of the local repeaters to chat with other astronomer/ham friends while at the telescope. Generally, these are all local folks observing from their yards and just sharing the the experience via ham radio. These informal radio star parties work pretty well and can be a lot of fun.

 

73 and Clear Skies,

Charles

 

 

 

I recently earned my HAM radio Technician class license. With Technician privileges the logical choice for a radio is a dual band mobile rig, 2 meter and 70 centimeter. I have become active on these 2 bands but was surprised to find out that it appears as if there is very little crossover between the hobbies locally.

Does any one know if there are any High Frequency radio operators that like to communicate when at the eyepiece or imaging? Is there an HF rig and a General Class license exam in my future?

Thanks,
Mike








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