Tennessee SkyNet
What's New

February 26, 2010

We finally took time to study and take our Amateur Radio Operator Technician tests.  We both passed and our call signs are KJ4SKL (Bill) and KJ4SKK (Melinda). 

We have shipped over 60 SuperSID units and started a user group.  If you have an interest, go to the SID-VLF page to sign up. 

November 22, 2009

We finished the electronics lab in late September and have been using it to build the SuperSID pre-amps.  Stanford University is partnering with the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) to build and distribute these units.  Along with Bill and myself, Dick Castle, Bill Seymour and Jerry Moore have been working on the units. 

We have also been busy planning two upcoming SARA conferences.  The first will take place in March at Stanford University in California and the second is the annual SARA conference in July at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV.

September 5, 2009

It has been a busy summer.  We have been working with Tim at Stanford on the SuperSID receiver.  It looks like the unit will be ready for production soon. 

Bill decided to finally build a seperate room in the garage for a workshop to do soldering and building of receivers.  With the room built, we will be putting in duct work for heat and air.  It will be more comfortable and a cleaner work environment. 

The Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) has a new webmaster and a new look for the website.  Check it out if you have not seen it lately. 

July 11, 2009

We got back last week from StarQuest and the SARA Conference in Green Bank, WV.  We had a great time and enjoyed the programs presented and the people we met.  Check our Flickr page for photos of the trip.   At the end of Star Quest we got to listen to and meet Apollo 11 astronaut Allen Bean who walked on the moon.  He was an excellent speaker and a very gracious gentleman.  After talking he signed autographs and let us take pictures with him.

As the SARA Conference we listened to and met Dr. Jill Cornell Tarter.  She is the scientist the movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster was based on.  She gave us a briefing on the new Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.  Again, she graciously (and patiently) allowed us autographs and pictures.

A highlight of the SARA conference was the opportunity to tour the 300' Great Big Telescope (GBT).  The GBT was having maintenance done, so they were able to give us a rare up close and personal tour.  We went nearly to the top (500 ft) to the turret with the various feed horns and all the stops in between.  Disney Land for geeks!

When we got home we did some work on the 40 MHz VLF receiver from Radio Astronomy Supplies.  I will try to post info and pictures on this unit tonight.  Check the SID-VLF page.

We also got the new Meade LX 200 mounted to the pier, check it out on our Optical Astronomy page.

June 14, 2009

We completed the new SuperSID antenna, check it out under the SID-VLF page. 

We are getting closer to having our Meade LX200 mounted on it's new post.  Here are a couple of shots of the mount.  We dug a hole 3 foot deep, put in rebar and set the pier on top. 















You can see in the picture, we sealed the gap between the floor and the concrete using foam insulating material.

We will be heading to Green Bank, WV for the annual SARA conference near the end of the month.  We are looking forward to the trip and hearing what progress others have made with their radio projects.

May 17, 2009

We have the sound card for the SuperSID unit working, and have decided we need a bigger, more sensitive antenna.  We will be working on this soon.

We are excited because we recently bought a used Meade LX200 10" Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.  We have been modifying the support under our pier and have a new pier cap on order.  The new scope will be easier to get around in the observatory.   We also got a SBIG ST7 camera, so we will be trying some astrophotography.

We spent yesterday with our local astronomy club starting with a tour of the Walker County Science Center in Chickamauga, Georgia.  Afterwards we went to a member's home for a cook out and socializing.  We had a great time.  I posted pictures from the day on our Flickr page.

April 27, 2009

We are still working with the SuperSID unit and have some bugs to figure out with the sound card.  The SuperSID uses a sound card connected to a preamp that accepts inputs up to 96,000 KHz.  For unknown reasons, our sound card is not sampling at the higher rates.  We are trying a Sound Blaster card.  Tim at Stanford has been helpful and we are continuing to work this out.

We went to a star party at the local Girl's Prep School in Chattanooga.  There were 9 students with their teacher and a few friends.  We had a lot of fun looking at the crescent moon and Saturn.  Our sites were limited since we were doing this downtown.

Here is a picture of a few of the girls, their teacher and folks from the Barnard Astronomy Society.  I did not get my camera out until after several of the girls had left.  The school has a nice 8" Meade LX200GPS for their astronomy program (at left).



February 7, 2009

We had some problems with the main computer in January, so I did not post any updates to the site.  I am trying to catch up now.  The meteor detection unit and antenna is now up and running.  We have tried a couple of different frequencies aimed at strong stations 400+ miles away.  We have not had a lot of time to look at the data and see if we are really getting anything.  We will run the unit 24/7. 

The SARA SID unit was modified for the SuperSid beta unit.  The SuperSid will use the sound card and a pre-amp to monitor three stations.  We are playing with this unit and hopefully it will have bugs worked out and be ready to distribute to schools 4th quarter 2009.  SARA is working with Stanford on this project.

December 30, 2008

As you can see, we are still working on the web site.  This past Christmas weekend we did a lot of work in the radio observatory.  We got the second SID unit up and running.  The data is shown under SARA on the Stanford Solar site.  We installed another short counter top for this and the Hewlett Packard 3586C Selective Level Meter.  We put in another computer donated to us that Bill added memory to and we did lots of updates and deletion of viruses

Bill also built a case for the Chrylser radio that will be used for meteor detection.  We still have to build the Yagi antenna for this unit.


December 19, 2008

We are expanding our web site.  Over the next few weeks you will find more pages devoted to specific projects with expanded information and photos.  Let us know what you think!

November 23, 2008

Dick Castle, Bill Seymour, Bill and myself traveled to the Tamke-Allen Observatory today to install the dual dipole Radio Jove antenna.  Dr. David Fields had the poles up and conduit laid from the antenna to the building.  Our job was to mount the antenna and combiner to the poles and pull the coax cable through the conduit.

The location was on sloped ground, so the first thing that had to be done was extend two of the poles 40" higher so the antenna would be level.  This was done with a two by four cut in half and lots of screws.  David Fields, Jeff Haun and Misty were on site to help.

After some adjustments, the antenna was installed and connection made to the radio inside the classroom.  Here are a few photos from our afternoon of antenna installation.

November 8, 2008

We finally have the 10 foot dish painted and mounted on the pole.  We have been busy with family and work, so have not gotten it calibrated and on line yet.  We hope to have some time this month to work on the system.

We have installed a battery backup on our two computers in the radio observatory.  Our power will go out periodically for short periods of time, so this will help to keep us up and collecting data.  Bill is working on a battery system for the Radio Jove and SID receivers.  He wants to hook up a trickle charger to the battery that is solar powered.  We will keep you posted on how this works.

Dick Castle and Bill built a new Radio Jove antenna system for the Tamke-Allen Observatory in Rockwood, Tennessee.  We plan to go to the observatory this month and install the dual dipole antenna on the poles David Fields has had installed.

September 15, 2008

                                                           We went outside tonight and cleaned this big dish.  It will be ready for some fresh paint soon.  While we were outside, we were getting a very light rain.  We stopped and looked up and saw a spectacular rainbow.  I even got a few pictures along with the setting sun.  Check out our Flickr page 

We have also been working on setting up a computer for Bill Seymour.  Looks like it is ready for him to start observing the sun and Jupiter.

September 2, 2008

We spent this last Saturday taking down the neighbor's 10 foot satellite dish and have started cleaning it so Bill can paint.  We are excited to be getting this dish which should improve our ability to monitor hydrogen at 1420 MHz.

August 2008

We are just getting our web page completed.  I went with a template since I know less than nothing about HTML- it might as well be Greek.

We are already making changes to our SpectraCyber set up thanks to help from Carl Lyster.  We are putting in a better coax cable and we will be getting a 10 foot C-band dish from a neighbor (free for the taking) when the weather cools a bit more.  These two changes should really improve our ability to monitor hydrogen in the Milky Way.

We are working on a dual dipole antenna with Dick Castle that is portable and easy to set up for Radio Jove.  The poles are fiberglass sections about 4 foot in length that fit into each other.  We can experiment with tilting the antenna and compare reception with our fixed dual dipole.  We will report on that later as we get more of it completed. 

We have been collecting data on the SID receiver and uploading daily to the Stanford University web page. Check out KARNS data at http://sid.Stanford.edu/database-browser/.  We have not detected any flares yet, but the unit is running good and seems to be calibrated correctly.

July 2008

We attended the annual SARA conference at Green Bank, WV this summer.  It was a lot of fun and educational.  Check out a few pictures on our Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnskynet/.


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Bill & Melinda Lord

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