The Radio JOVE 2.0 radio telescope is comprised of a wideband receiver and an antenna that operates over an 8 MHz (MegaHertz) span of shortwave frequencies centered on 20 MHz. The receiver is a commercially-available Software Defined Radio (SDR) from SDRplay (www.sdrplay.com), a UK-based company that manufactures SDR radios. Because this radio does not require construction, no tools are needed. You set up the receiver by simply attaching cables and downloading and installing radio control software.
You will construct the dual dipole antenna, requiring a soldering iron, solder, and basic tools for stripping the wires, installing the connectors, and constructing the antenna support masts. A professionally built antenna is an optional purchase that comes with all connectors installed. Still, basic tools will be needed for constructiong the antenna's support mast. A coaxial transmission line carries the radio signals from the antenna to the receiver. A USB cable carries the radio signals from the SDR to the computer and the display software.
Fabrication of the radio telescope is covered in detail in the receiver and antenna construction manuals. The receiver manual contains assembly instructions including tune up and troubleshooting procedures. If you have difficulties in successfully completing the receiver the Radio JOVE staff are available to help. As a final resort you can send the receiver to a Radio JOVE staff member who will get the unit working for a nominal fee.
The assembly of the radio telescope is covered in detail in the receiver and antenna manuals. These manuals also cover troubleshooting procedures. If you have difficulties in successfully getting the radio telescope working, the Radio JOVE team members are available to help.
Before making your first observations it is a good idea to set up the antenna and receiver to confirm that everything is working properly. For this test you can set up either a single dipole or the dual dipole array. Note—do not do any testing of the receiver and antenna if there is nearby lightning.
We recommend two different levels of testing:
The simplest test is to disconnect and reconnect your antenna while the software is running.
With the antenna connected you should see a large increase in signal denoted by the colored background after the antenna is connected. This is the galactic background radiation caused by relativistic electrons spiraling in our galactic magnetic field. You may also see additional signals due to terrestrial sources, typically seen as horizontal bands on the spectrogram. At night you will see a more constant background noise level with fewer stations.
If there is no change in the background when the antenna is connected, check the connections and connectors between the antenna and receiver. If you do not see a significant increase in the background either the software is not set up correctly or the receiver is not working properly.
SDRuno is the software that comes with the SDRplay RSP1A receiver. If you have not already done so, follow the download and software setup instructions in the Radio JOVE 2.0 receiver manual.
More tutorials and information about the SDRuno software from SDRplay (www.sdrplay.com)