Thursday, April 5, 2012

Like A Big Pizza Pie

Thought for the day:  Do you think electrons have a negative influence on society?

[THEME: Amateur radio]

Amateur radio operators employ a wide range of methods to get their radio signals from one place to another. Today, I'm gonna tell you about one of  the more unusual ones.

Now, I don't know exactly what prompted the first contact of this kind, but I like to imagine it went something like this:

Amateur radio operator Harvey Ham and his long-time girlfriend Hope were enjoying a romantic evening together ...

Hope:  (batting her eyelashes) Beautiful night, isn't it?
Harvey: (pensively) Especially that moon.
Hope: Almost looks like you can touch it.
Harvey: Hmmmm.
Hope:(fanning herself to blow whiffs of fragrance his way) Getting any ideas?
Harvey: (still pensiveI sure am.
Hope: (smiling) I've been waiting a long time for this.
Harvey: Really? Just came to me. (distracted and mumbling) ... a lot of directionality ...
Hope: Direction? Yes, I think this is definitely the right direction for us.
Harvey: (still distracted and mumbling) ... a heckuva lot of gain ...
Hope: (growing impatient) Yes, gain! We have a lot to gain! So, pop the question already!
Harvey: Um, okay. (He turns to her and peers intently into her eyes.) Do you think I could bounce a radio signal off the moon?

That's right. Believe it or not, EME stands for EARTH-MOON-EARTH.

And although Harvey may be lacking in the romance department, he's absolutely right about requiring a heckuva lot of gain (and power) to finesse a moonbounce. But that's exactly what some amateur radio operators do. With the use of impressive antenna systems, they focus a high-powered signal directly at the moon. The signal then bounces back to earth, where another EME operator can receive it.

Here's a peek at some of the antennas at the home of Georgia's own EME guru, Ray Rector, WA4NJP.

Here's Ray with some of his EME dishes, which he designs and builds himself.

And here's a better look at some of those stacked beams.

Yup, no telling what an amateur radio might use to send a signal, or what he might use as an antenna, either. That's only part of what makes the hobby so doggone ... romantic.


  1. I love a humorous, well-written blog that teaches me something. You'd make a wonderful science teacher.

    Keep writing only 21 letters to go!

  2. Alright. I'm running out of smart ass comments. But I'm determined to last until the end, so here goes...
    What happens when "breaker, breaker" blasts into Ray's neighbor's televisions during a good movie? Or is it so directional that that doesn't happen?

  3. It is an amazing concept.

    Sci-fi authors like Asimov and Clarke came up with ideas years beyond the technology. Star Trek also, for that matter. :)

  4. This reminds me of a very intersting neighbor I had growing up. He had one of those huge towers next to his house for his Ham radio. His daughter also used to pretend incense sticks were cigarettes. Funny family.

  5. Cute story. So, like bouncy ball with radio waves?

  6. Cindy- Thanks! I'll take that as a compliment. (I have a real soft spot for teachers.) Thanks for stopping by.

    Mr. C- Ray lives out in the boondocks, so has few neighbors, but yes, the antennas are EXTREMELY directional. However, when he was experimenting one time, he DID set the tops of some trees on fire. (Did I happen to mention he runs a LOT of power?) But he's such a kind and gentle man, his community loves him, and no one complains. They view him as eccentric, perhaps, but they're also thrilled to have someone like him in their midst.

    Huntress- You're right; it really is an amazing concept. The science and precision that goes into making it happen are mind-boggling. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard! I'll be happy to return the favor.

    Rebecca- Oh, he only had ONE tower?? (We have five ...) Hams prefer to think of ourselves as being a little "eccentric" rather than "funny", but if that girl actually LIT those incense sticks, um, that might escalate her status from "eccentric" to "weird." HA!

  7. Delores- HA! Yeah, kinda. A BIG bouncy ball.

  8. My father was into ham radio when I was little, and I've always been fascinated with it since and yet know very little about it. Great post.

  9. My father was into ham radio when I was little, and I've always been fascinated with it since and yet know very little about it. Great post.

  10. I find it interesting that the EME dishes, at least Ray's, are translucent.

  11. I'm fascinated at all this information. It's a whole world unto itself!

  12. Wow! I am envious of people that think like that and then just build it. So cool. Your romantic story was awesome!

  13. Wow, how interesting. I had fun reading the dialogue between the two of them, and I learned something.

  14. Wow -- cool! I love your posts, Susan! You must spend hours honing each one to perfection!

  15. Hope: Mouth drops.No, but I bet I can bounce you there. And that, ladies and gentlemen is how he knew it things could indeed bounce off the moon. First, um, hand experience. lolol!

    Seriously, pictures are impressive. Satellites go down and the Ham can still communicate.

    BTW: Susan, you won a book from Carolyn Brown on my blog. :-)


  16. Rubye- Very cool that your dad was into amateur radio. It's never to late to learn about it, and to get your own license, ya know.

    Suze- They're actually covered in a wire mesh. Very very cool to see.

    Laura- Great! I'm glad you find it interesting. And you're right; amateur radio is kind of a world unto its own. And you're be surprised how many of us there are in the world.

    Tracy Jo- Yeah, I know what you mean. Having a concept is one thing, but actually building it ... and making it work ... is another. Glad you liked my silly little story.

    McKenzie- Super. That's the best way to learn ... it kinds sneaks in there when you're just trying to enjoy something.

    Chris- Thanks. Reeeally nice to hear. (er ... read?) I don't know about "perfection", but I do spend way too long on a lot of posts, when I should be doing something else, like editing my poor neglected WIP.

  17. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I always love to meet another Kent lover. I've read that series about 4 times...I love it more each time. Your blog is amazing and I learned a lot. Very interesting topic.

  18. Sia- HA! Reminds me of Jackie Gleason and his, "To the moon, Alice!" Oh. wow, I won a book? How totally cool is that? Thank you so much.

    Gerri- And thank you for returning the favor. Glad you found the theme here to be interesting.

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  20. I am so glad I blog hopped over to your site...I learned something new today! That's so very interesting. Thank you for adding a wrinkle to my brain.

  21. Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

  22. Wow, I honestly had no idea this was possible. I feel woefully uneducated!

  23. Wow! I'm not sure if one of those dishes would go in my back yard. This just reminded me that when we moved in, there was a very tall mast still standing at the back of the yard, which we had to get someone in to dismantle. I think some previous owner was a radio enthusiast.

  24. I want look at a dish the same. Great post. Thanks for your visit today.

  25. Jaimee- Oh man, just don't go spreading the word that reading my blog contributed to your wrinkles, okay? I'd never get another visitor again! Thanks for stopping by, dear lady. I'll return the favor asap.

    Spacerguy- I like your sentiments, but they don't hold up so hot for radio waves. Thanks for stopping by and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard! I'll be materializing on your blog later today.

    Sarah- No, you're not. Think of the stuff you're learning on these posts about amateur radio as an extracurricular activity. Not necessarily taught in schools, but fun to learn.

    Botanist- Yeah, those dishes are enormous. I can't remember the exact dimensions, but I'm thinking the one he was working on the last time we went to his place was something like 43' in diameter.

    Debra- HA! I know what you mean, but not all dishes are created equal. My pleasure to visit your blog, and I appreciate you coming here and signing on. Welcome aboard!

  26. That's pretty cool. I've heard of that before, but it was so long ago I'd forgotten about it. Thanks for reminding me!

  27. Elizabeth- I think it's pretty doggone fascinating. I'm glad you do, too. Thanks for stopping by, and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard!

    Andrew- Good to hear you've heard of it before. Amateur radio activity is usually pretty invisible to non-hams. (Um... unless you happen to live next door to one who has a dandy antenna system...)Thank you so much for stopping by.

  28. No, never lived next to a ham. The closest I've had was a friend whose dad was a truck driver. I learned about the moon thing in some science class. Maybe 6th grade? I can't remember. Long, long ago...

  29. Andrew- Used to be, almost all truck drivers were into CB, good buddy. Now, quite a few have gotten into amateur radio, too.

  30. Hi Susan .. can't find one to hug, nor have a ham to eat .. so I'll have to believe your EME thing .. I hadn't realised that .. I had no idea what all the masts were about .. well I shall look at them in a different light, moonlight perhaps, when I find some ..

    Cheers Hilary

  31. Hilary- Yes, indeedy, hams consider their antenna farms to be things of beauty, with or without the moonlight. But not all masts mean EME. The moon bounce antennas and masts are humongous and in a category all by themselves.