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432 MHz Moonbounce from VK1 in December 95

Project preparations

The project was made feasible by an offer of the use of a 10 metre steerable dish located at the Canberra University. This facility is owned by a consortium of bodies including the University.

A high power (1kW) permit was granted by the SMA for the duration of the tests. A receiver (IC7000) owned by the University was used for receiving. Other equipment used was privately owned, including

Contacts made

The station was made operational by about 2200 UTC, Sunday 10 December 95. Operation had been advertised for the period from moonrise, or about 1200 on 11 December (11 pm local time) until moonset at about 2300 on the same day.

Contacts were made with amateur moonbounce operators in Japan, USA, Germany and Czechoslovakia. Signals were weak, with only DL9KR being comfortable copy, though still only just above the noise. DL9KR has a long history and an impressive record on moonbounce, so his strong signal was to be expected. Another well known UHF expert contacted was Steve, K1FO, who has published numerous articles on UHF amplifiers and antennas in ARRL periodicals and handbooks.

Project Background

The project was initiated by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Centre of the University of Canberra. Professor Paul Edwards, VK1ZAS supervised the preparation of the system.

University of Canberra Engineering student James Webb (VK2XQF) built the preamplifier which was tested and optimised using the quiet sun. The system was validated by obtaining moon echoes with 100W radiated power from a modified log periodic feed antenna.

Prior to Marconi Day, Paul, James and other UC staff conducted an extensive and protracted period of testing, preparation and optimisation.

Operators and visitors

Visitors to the operation included Hugh VK1YYZ, WIA (ACT) president Rob VK1KRA and Andrew VK1DA (me). I got a chance to operate the station and believe me, this was difficult stuff. After listening to the first JA callsign about 30 times Chris and I finally agreed on the call letters. Then we had to exchange signal reports. Another 2 Japanese stations called and worked us after we completed that contact, then we worked K1FO, who had a nice big signal (about 539 by HF standards). That was at about 1500 UTC on 11 Dec (UTC), or 2am local time, 12 Dec.

Later that morning Chris contacted several other European stations. Having been awake through the night he was getting tired so I sat in the operators chair again. DL9KR called again, with a remarkable signal, head and shoulders above the level of most other signals we had heard, including our own echoes. He was so confident we would hear him well, he bypassed all the usual moonbounce procedures and worked us the way he would have on 20m, RST signal reports (569 from memory) and 18+ wpm.

All in all, a great experience. Moonbounce is still a very tough operation. Congratulations to Paul, James, Chris, Geoff and the team for making it work in such a short time.

Report by Andrew Davis VK1DA

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Updated Nov 96
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