Information for Amateur Radio Astronomers

We have gathered links for amateur radio astronomers who may be interested in building their own antennas and interferometers. These are links we have found useful in putting together the small radio telescopes we have installed for visitor/teacher/student use at our observatory facilities. While we are unable to provide technical assistance, we feel the information provided in the following links should help you in your quest for hardware, software, and configuration information.
Vic and the SRT

Installed at the Visitor Center at the Very Large Array in New Mexico is a Small (2.1 meter) Radio Telescope (SRT) we purchased as a kit from CASSI. It was developed by Haystack Observatory, which maintains a web page with technical information about the antenna hardware, software, installation, and use as well as a tutorial on radio astronomy and SRT projects. Our SRT was built by three senior design students from New Mexico Tech and tweaked for public use by high school physics teacher Vic Moore during a summer Research Experience for Teachers program. We use the SRT at the Visitor Center as a demonstration tool, usually tracking the sun, showing the current spectrograph, and a 25-point image of the sun. We are currently working on a touchscreen script that will allow visitors to maneuver the telescope to various strong radio sources and build images of those sources.

The interferometer

In a cooperative effort with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, NRAO has built the N2I2: NRAO/NMT Instructional Interferometer. It is a 2-element adding interferometer located at the Etscorn Campus Observatory at New Mexico Tech. The dishes were purchased from CASSI, are 10' in diameter, 25 meters apart on an east/west baseline, and use the SRT pointing software. The 21cm receivers are from Radio Astronomy Supplies. Graduate student Danielle Lucero was in charge of putting it together and making it work. Her paper (pdf) gives more details.

Other helpful links:

  • SARA, the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers "is a scientific, non-profit group founded for the sole purpose of supporting amateur radio astronomy."

  • The American Radio Relay League is the national association for amateur radio (hams). It publishes numerous technical books, including books on antennas, microwaves and VHF/UHF/microwave electronics.

The Itty Bitty Telescope

During a summer 2004 Radio Astronomy for Teachers class taught in conjunction with the Master of Science Teaching program at New Mexico Tech, one of the participants built an Itty Bitty Telescope to use as a demonstration tool with her students. Her instructions are modified from those for the Little Bitty Telescope.

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Modified on Tuesday, 04-Jan-2005 11:12:15 EST