Life After OTC

Robert BrandRobert Brand – Part 1
World Moon Bounce

A lot has happened since my departure from OTC but a quick note to say that I am extremely involved in the space sector these days. I still work in comms for mines, but also satellite and beyond. What is interesting is that 3.5 years ago the OTVA got contacted by a gentleman wanting to do a commemorative HAM radio event between the Jamesburg Earth Station and the Parkes Radio telescope. Basically bouncing signals off the moon and back to earth and using big dishes to do the work. In the week before the Apollo 11 40th Anniversary (July 2009) dishes from all over the world took part in World Moon Bounce Day (WMBD) and it was a great success. Notably Jamesburg and Parkes never took part!

We had support locally from the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and financial support from the OTVA to make this happen. Kids from all over the world took part in WMBD. We broke records with a 3mW transmission from the old NASA Orroral Valley dish (now in Tasmania with UTAS) and a dish in the Netherlands – both 30m dishes. The data was successfully decoded and a new record set. The gain in these dishes is massive – about 60dB each for the technical. It is great to think that the gains of dirt on the surface of the moon where shaking ever so slightly and reflecting back the voices of children for a global hookup.

The story of World Moon Bounce Day and the 2010 World Moon Bounce event is below and taken from the Echoes of Apollo Website. The 2010 event turned more into a week long event as my partner in crime in the US – Pat Barthelow – managed to secure the Aricebo Dish for a week or so! This was written before the 2010 event:

World Moon Bounce Events:

World Moon Bounce Day Logo 2010

EOA April 17th 2010

This major event will add a new word to most people’s vocabulary – Moon Bounce. Moon Bounce has been happening for almost as long as the oldest of us can remember. From the early days when it was thought to be a  means of communications that the military could exploit right through to today’s more peaceful use by amateur radio hobbyists. So what is moon bounce? Also known technically as Earth-Moon-Earth transmissions (EME), it is simply bouncing radio waves off the moon’s surface and back to earth. Every day hundreds of people enjoy doing just that and they do it as everyday people using mainly homemade dishes and antennas and  a mix of “do it yourself” systems, electronics and “off the shelf” equipment.

So why hold World Moon Bounce Day? At Echoes of Apollo we are both interested in space (especially the moon) and amateur radio. We created an event to highlight both of these amazing areas of interest. We are also looking to the commercial world to take part soon and make this an event for the whole world to enjoy

On Saturday, April 17th, many of the world’s large parabolic antennas (sometimes called dishes) along with hundreds of amateur radio operators and their gear will stop their normal work and swing around to track the moon when it rises. Volunteers will then use the EME or Moon Bounce transmissions to link up with other dishes and antennas worldwide via the moon. Signals are literally being bounced off the moon’s surface and back to other stations on earth where they are received some 2.5 seconds later. Yes, at an atomic level we are actually shaking each atom on the moon’s surface every so slightly and they then radiate the signal back into space and to earth where we again use our high gain antennas and dishes to receive them


The sites will be run by volunteers from the amateur radio community and they will be helping local youth talk to other youth from around the world in a “Jamboree of the Air” style event. This type of activity has happened before but never on this scale. One  fantastic demonstration was a small Moon Bounce occurred in 2007  to celebrate the UK’s Jodrell Bank Telescope’s 50th anniversary generated press and TV coverage. Children read and listened to their poetry being bounced of the moon. Jodrell Bank held another event in 2009, but it was a small event with a local transmitter.

The first World Moon Bounce Day held in June 2009 was huge by comparison with much high voice quality in comparison given the sizes of the big dishes at both ends that were involved. The bigger they are, the more effective power they will radiate and also the more power they gather and concentrate for reception.

Web video of World Moon Bounce Day on June 27th will be available on this website with feeds from multiple sites, so you can see all the action taking place. We have invited some of the world’s biggest dishes an a wealth of important people. We already have several large antennas taking part and we will provide a list shortly.

Why April 17th 2010?

At Echoes of Apollo we celebrate the amazing achievements of the Apollo astronauts and their vast numbers of support staff, whether part of the rocket design team, mission control or NASA‘s global communications network. We simply have the most incredible team ever assembled with a single goal that was beyond anyones expertise at the time of its announcement 10 years earlier. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 with out first annual World Moon Bounce Day and this year we will be honoring Apollo 13′s return to earth 40 years earlier. Echoes of Apollo still believe that this mission was one of the most amazing and riveting stories of the space age. It is the only Hollywood movie made of any of he Apollo missions.

Arecibo Puerto Rico

This year, April 16,17,18, Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce, a fun, educational, science outreach activity, will conduct 2 way Voice communications by bouncing radio signals off the Moon.  One day of the event, Saturday, the 17th, has been assigned the Moniker, “World Moon Bounce Day”.  Commonly known among the specialist amateur radio operators (hams) that do this,  as EME, for Earth-Moon- Earth,  this time, the Echoes of Apollo Moon Bounce event is quite special, and opens a big door of opportunity for Science outreach.The Arecibo Observatory amateur radio club has built an amateur radio EME station at the Arecibo 1000 ft dish.  Angel Vazquez, club president, is working with his team of radio amateurs and have produced a 500 watt station that will operate in the 70cm band, on 432.045 mhz.  The 500 watts at the feed of 58 dbi gain dish will produce a very loud signal that will be bounced from the moon, and can be heard, using very modest antennas.

On March 19, and 22, Arecibo conducted a test of their station on the air, establishing 2 way Moon Bounce contact with many ham radio operators all over the world.  The test, established that the very strong return signals from the moon, can be picked up, using radio communications receivers capable receiving 432.045 MHz  SSB and/or CW signals, and equipped with small, yagi antennas.

As a science/Education  outreach activity,  EOA  co founder, Pat Barthelow, has arranged for amateur radio mentors, and teachers, to supervise the construction of very simple, cheap yagi antennas that can be used to hear the moon bounced signals, returned to earth.  The yagi antennas are easy and cheap to build, according to published designs, and made from wooden  1 x 2 sticks, about 3-6 feet long, and welding rod,copper or aluminum wire.

Pat Barthelow:!/profile.php?id=1535563951&ref=ts

Robert Brand:

So far we have moon bounce-capable stations in the US, Europe,  and,  of course Arecibo in Puerto Rico. (Look up on Google Earth, latitude 18.33 degrees north, and Longitude 66.75 degrees West

Some other stations in Europe planning on participating,  are:

Dwingeloo dish run by the CAMRAS group in Holland,

HB9MOON 10 meter Dish, in Chur Switzerland,  run by Christoph, HB9HAL:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dishes at their Haystack facility. MIT based  Radio Amateurs are anticipated to be active with MIT station setup and operating.

The world wide event,  will have different stations around the world communicating whenever the moon is visible between them, and in the case of Arecibo, there will be two hour windows of operations, each of the three scheduled days. Arecibo only has limited time viewing the moon due the limited “steering” of about 20 degrees

On this weekend, this translates to operating times from Arecibo of:

Apr 16 1645 – 1930 UTC

Apr 17 1740 – 2020 UTC

Apr 18 1840 – 2125 UTC

FFI:   Pat Barthelow AA6EG (Founder of Echoes of Apollo)

Echoes of Apollo

Here is a video of the event from UTAS in 2009:

The large antenna, pictured below, at Mt Pleasant in Tasmania, Australia (University of Tasmania) is typical of the antennas that will be involved in Moon Bounce and it took part inthe 2009  World Moon Bounce Day. Photo by Jim Lovell of UTAS.


Another big dish was the SRI – Stanford 150ft Dish (45m). The reports from the site were amazing and the excitement high. Pat Barthelow reports via phone during the final 5 hours of the 2009 event as they were working Europe and Australia was coming back into view. You can hear Pat’s report below.

Christop Joos from Switzerland reports on our 2009 Event the link below to hear Swiss greetings via the moon

Greetings from Switzerland via the moon

Kids talking via the moon for World Moon Bounce Day.

“First of all many Thanks to all who helped us talking to our non Radio Amateurs, Visitors and Children of course. Special Thanks to Dough VK3UM how had to answer many questions about his “Crocodile” in his shack :-)

More than 300 Visitors, many Families, Swiss Television, News Journalists, joined our outstanding Party.

We also had ON4BCB, Walter on board and many Swiss Radio Amateurs and youngest YL too. 45 Children took this chance to send a short Message to the Moon. And a few did a great job and learned very quickly how we communicate. Who knows maybe one of them will become Hamsone day  too… Swiss Television will report from EoA HB9MOON on Monday evening during Prime-time! It was an unforgettable event for us!

Christoph, HB9HAL / HB9MOON

The following is Swiss TV coverage of the Echoes of apollo event on World Moon Bounce Day 2009:

Our June 2009 event featured Apollo astronaut Bill Anders who reportedly had a great time talking to the world via the moon. We are hoping to have an even bigger lineup of guests and they will be featured in interviews with the Echoes team after the event. You will be able to listen to the broadcast via the moon on the Internet. We have some large dishes taking part and that announcement will be coming soon so please stand by for more information. Echoes of Apollo salutes all the amateur radio operators that make this event possible.

Is There any Science Being Done?

Yes, plenty. Even setting this gear up is a major challenge to get it right. Not only do many of the scientist that take part find the effort rewarding, they all find that they learn a lot from working with amateur radio operators. The staff at the Mt Pleasant dish (above) also broke world records during our 2009 event sending data to the moon and having received as viable data in the Netherlands and their transmitter was only 3 milliwatts – about 1/1000th the power of a bright incandescent flashlight. The gain and accuracy of big dishes can achieve some amazing results.

What Frequencies will be used?

Any frequency that operators can legally utilise. Most amateur radio operators will be using frequencies of about 1.3GHz which is almost half that used in microwave ovens and Wireless computer networks. This frequency is the best for bouncing signals off the Moon’s surface. Some possible commercial operator may use frequencies as high as 12GHz.

How Can I Keep Informed?

Join our mailing list:

and while you are there join our daily space news service – it is simply the most informative service in the whole world.

You can also subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking the icon in the top right of our page. You will need a recent mail client or an RSS Reader for you browser to use the feed.


World Moon Bounce Day 2009

Below is some of the article on the Echoes of Apollo World Moon Bounce Day. Much of the article was written by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) staff members Rex Moncur VK7MO and Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW for the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA):

27 June 2009 was designated World Moon Bounce Day as an amateur radio contribution to the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. The event was organized by Echoes of Apollo – a joint project between Pat Bathelow (US) and Robert Brand (Australia). Key to the success of the event was the contribution of the Overseas Telecommunications Veterans Association. (OTVA) A key objective was to involve and interest school children in science and amateur radio by allowing children to hear voices from the moon. The event was supplemented by amateur Earth Moon Earth (EME) stations all around the world and particularly those with SSB capability on 23 cm.

Within Australia the University of Tasmania agreed to take part using their 26 metre dish which was originally used by NASA in the Orroral Valley near Canberra between 1964-1985 after which it was gifted to the University and transported to Mt Pleasant, near Richmond in southern Tasmania. Our involvement was to provide amateur EME equipment, help set up and test the system and operate the station on the day. As it eventuated the availability of large dishes provided the opportunity to explore QRP EME at as low a level as possible and we are pleased to report completion of a JT65 EME contact between the University of Tasmania’s 26 metre dish and a Dutch 25 metre dish, PI9CAM, with the Tasmanian end running only three milliwatts.

Setting up the University of Tasmania dish

While Dr Jim Lovell of the University of Tasmania willingly offered their dish and the support of the site technician Eric Baynes (VK7BB) it was first necessary to consider what was practical. At our first meeting it became clear that transmitting any sort of high power as required for SSB would be out of the question as the dish is fitted with five extremely sensitive liquid helium cooled receivers working from 4 to 22 GHz. There is no protection for RF and we could not risk damage to these receivers which are involved in ongoing international research programs. Accordingly, the Echoes of Apollo team where advised that we would contribute to the event but as a receive station only.

The feeds and receivers for the 26 metre dish are mounted in a small feed cabin (a cube approximately two metres per side) behind a Teflon window approximately one metre in diameter. Within the cabin there is a remotely controlled three axis focus frame that allows the feeds and receivers to be moved into the correct focal position depending on which feed is in use. There is space for a two GHz non-cooled feed and receiver which fortunately was not required around the time of the Echoes of Apollo event and the University agreed that this could be removed and replaced with a 23 cm antenna. Because of space limitations it was decided to use a small three turn helical. There is over 100 metres of LDF-4-50 coax between the dish and the control building where we could operate and for this reason we decided to down-convert at the feed and receive on 144 MHz. Eric constructed a down-converter and the VK7MO EME station provided pre-amplifiers, 144 MHz receiver, GPS frequency reference, computer running WSJT and bandpass filters at 1296 MHz and 144 MHz to limit interference from microwave systems at the nearby Hobart airport.

A few weeks prior to the event tests were conducted with Dave VK2JDS, with JT65c signal levels much worse than expected at -9 dB and no prospect of copying SSB. A sun noise test gave around 18 dB compared to 27 to 28 dB determined with the VK3UM EME calculator. The time for testing was limited as this is an operational radio astronomy research facility but the system was gradually refined with additional pre-amps and filters and through adjusting levels at all stages – as well as resolving the occasional “Murphy” problem. Finally we decided that the helical feed must be the remaining limitation and did some estimates to see if a Septum feed and choke ring could be physically mounted. Initially it fouled other equipment but after a redesign of the mount is was successfully installed. In the end we achieved a sun noise of 25 dB which was within a few dB of what could be expected. Every time the system needed adjustment Eric had to don a safety harness and go up in a cherry picker .

The story above is part of the article in the Amateur Radio magazine, a publication of the Wireless Institute of Australia.

Much of the credit for the 2009 World Moon Bounce Day success can be directly attributed to the efforts of the OTVA and other exOTC staff. This has been a fantastic experience and we are looking to grow the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day to even great success. Yes, a world first for OTC staff involvement and a world record! Plenty of Australian amateur radio people got involved and were active bouncing their signals off the moon. I am Now organising the 2010 World Moon Bounce Day for early April. If you wish to help, feel free to raise your hand.

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