Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Moon is a harsh mistress...

I can confirm that the 1960's Sci-Fi novel is correct. The Moon is, indeed, a harsh mistress. My first attempt at EME using the attic mounted six element 2 Meter Yagi was a complete failure. No signals were detected from W5UN's massive array. Nor did he detect any signals from my attic.

We were using WSJT JT65b near my local moonset, which in theory, should have provided another 5-6db of ground gain. Unlike meteor scatter, EME is truly a "weak signal" mode, with signals being several db below the noise floor on average. My system simply isn't optmized enough for this type of operation yet, even with the big guns.

It has inspired me to at least consider some sort of "tilt up" mast for the back yard that could be dropped below my privacy fence when not in use. Hopefully this wouldn't run afould of the neighbors or my home owners association..and if it was, I could always remove it and retreat back to the attic.

The tilt over mast would allow the option of installing much larger Yagi's (10-12 elements on 2 Meters) and improve both terrestrial, EME, and meteor scatter operations from the home QTH. I'm really enjoying portable/rover operation, but with my limited operating time, it won't be a good option for day to day work. If I'm to earn VUCC on 2 Meters, it will still have to come in large part from operation at home...and that means dealing with the deed restrictions and working around them.

Up to 47 grids on 2 Meters now from the indoor antenna...which is good progress, but also painfully slow. New grids have become red letter events now. Perhaps a tilt over mast will make EME operation possible, at least with the big gun stations, and that could add another 10-12 grids to my totals. Enhanced Meteor Scatter performance could add several new grids as well, especially with some major showers coming up at the end of July.

Thanks to Dave, W5UN for his generous attempt. It certainly won't be the last time that we try to pull it off. Just have to improve the station first.

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