I've written about it in some other posts that will pop up after this, but I have a lovely old ... I believe it's a Dish brand, Satellite receiver from my neighbor's house, that I want to turn into a Radio Telescope. I'm starting this page kinda late, as I've already nearly refinished it... but my documentation thus-far should be half decent. I just don't think I have any pictures of the pre-torn down dish. 

Let's back up, What is a "Radio Telescope?" Simply put, it's a tune-able radio antenna that listens to space. If you looked at a cutaway of a standard Newtonian Reflector telescope, you will see essentially a longer version of the Observatory at Arecibo, in Puerto Rico. My go-to example of a... (what do you call something that's above PHD level of commitment?) Really well known and high powered version of a Radio Telescope. Cornell University's Astonomy division has an amazing overview of how Arecibo works, you can read that excerpt here

 The basic cutaway of a Newtonian Reflector

The basic cutaway of a Newtonian Reflector

Now, there's another way to listen to the stars other than digging a Giant 305 meter (1000.66 feet) diameter dish into the mountainside:The Very Large Array ( no, I'm not kidding) is a 27 unit array of  25 meter (~82 feet) diameter radio telescopes. Now, the way this works, is once you compare the minute differences in distance, and do some fancy math and programming, the array acts as a single, much larger dish. What this allows for is a bit higher overall cost, but, you can track celestial bodies, thanks to their gearing just underneath the actual dish, as well as decreased maintenance and down time. as you don't need all of the dishes to be up and running at the same time, you can calculate out the missing dish to a reasonable accuracy should one be in for repairs. Arecibo, on the other hand, is a case of, when it's broken, none of it works. 

--[ For more information on why these kinds of telescopes are impressive and important, Watch this video on YouTube about pulsars, and go watch yet another amazing Zemeckis movie called "Contact" Starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. ]--

Because the dish I have is pretty tiny, at less than a meter in diameter Long Ways, I intend on finessing this receiver first, then adding additional ones as I acquire them. Ideally you would want the dishes to all be the exact same size and all nine yards, but I think that, especially because I am super amateur on most aspects of this build, that I shouldn't have many issues with adding signals from different dishes. My receivers are probably going to be craptastic enough to not notice much of a difference. 

The general outline of this project is as follows:

  • Restore the dish
  • Model and print missing/modified casements
  • Create motorized equatorial mount
  • Build mounting solution
  • Build new Radio Receiver
  • Run power and data lines to indoor unit
  • Listen to other wolds on-demand

Onward to New Sounds!