BIG DISH Re Installation Project. Last Update late
This is a quick overview of an exciting
new Project that I'm driving...
I recently purchased a pair of surplus Uplink Dishes at
One is a VERTEX 9.3 Metre, C Band and the other is an
ANDREWS 7.5 Metre, Ku Band.
Through the generosity of Michael - VK3MM, these Dish
will be "re-installed" on his Farming property in
I am MOST grateful for Michael's generous offer !!!!
This is a huge Project.
disassembled Dish was in it's own 40 Foot
I then had both Containers "trucked" from near Sydney
down to Michael's Farm.
The orders of scale are nothing like I have ever tackled
The Dish surface on the 9.3 Metre alone weighs more than
2000 Kilo's and the supporting Pedestal is 1500 Kilo's.
We now have a Planning Permit, an Over Height Permit and
a Building Permit. Building Works can commence.
The Dish Azimuth Specification is limited to 2 off 120
Degree arc's. Naturally I want as much Azimuth range as
To achieve this I have added a second Azimuth Pad in the
This additional AZ Pad will deliver
a full 180 Degrees of Azimuth.
The initial Plan is to install the 9.3 Metre and get it
Operational. The 7.5 Metre can follow later.
After Installation, the plan is to "scan the heavens"
looking for signals from sources like Pulsars, Quasars
and other celestial objects.
The hope is also to be able to monitor the Telemetry of
some Man Made Satellites too.
our enhanced AZ capability, we also expect
to be able to achieve Terrestrial QSO's to
the South Island of New Zealand and
up to Sydney and Canberra. Sadly the nearby
Hills will prevent Terrestrial to VK4 and
around to the West.
However, Knife-edging off these nearby Hills
may be possible. We will not not know until
EME will be possible from the Eastern
Horizon (0 Degrees) around to the Western
Horizon down to a minimum of circa 7 Degrees
of Elevation due Hills.
it is our Plan to deliver Remote Operation of this
Facility via the Internet and to make this Dish
available for use by "any"
Amateur Radio Club worldwide. But... we still have a lot
work ahead of us before this Remote "access" can be
Here are a few Photo's of this Dish Hardware....
This is a photo of the 9.3 Metre VERTEX before it was
Note the small Car in the foreground.
After both 40 Foot Containers arrived at the Farm,
Michael used his Tractor to drag the 9.3 Metre to it's
new "home" !
This is a montage of Photo's showing the extraction of
the 9.3 Metre Dish hardware from the Container.
Note the huge Cassegrain that belongs to the Andrews
As off early November, 2019, the rebuild has progressed.
The choice of weekend with very bad weather was
unfortunate but unavoidable. I had to contend with very
high winds and lot's
of rainy showers. These terrible conditions caused a few
issues/delays but... I managed to make some good
I've now fitted all 16 Radials (Ribs) that support the 2
x 16 Dish segments.
More recently, the 6 x 6 x 0.5 Metre Concrete Slab has
been laid. Now we wait a few days for it to "cure".
During the Dish rebuild of my "kit of parts", I
discovered that a lot of crucial hardware was missing.
To start with - many Aluminium Angle Braces (totaling
more than 50 Metres) were missing.
had to purchase multiple lengths of
Aluminium Angle to fabricate these missing
Then I discovered I had to buy many 100's of
Bolts, Nuts and Washers...
Next I discovered a Brass
Bush (1 off 4) that forms a Dish Pivot point (Hinge) was
More significantly... 2 off Stainless Steel Hinge Pins
that form/complete the Dish Pivot/Hinges were also
Each of these critical missing items will need to be
fabricated before the Dish etc. can be Craned into
I also had to repair a Cassegrain Support Spar (1 off
A Weld had been broken during the Dis-assembly process.
And finally, both of the critical Inclinometers for the
AZ/EL position monitoring were "missing".
I am most disappointed with the lack of professionalism
by Av-Comm... the Sydney based Company retained to do
the Dismantle operations. A courtesy Email to inform
Garry Cratt of these "omissions" was not responded to.
Most disappointing !!!
The next job was to adjust/align the Rib Spacing's for
the 2 Rings (inner and outer) of 16 Petals.
With that task completed, the 32 Petals can be fitted
into their respective slots. This
task is of course done whilst
the Dish structure is still at Ground level.
physical lifting and "fitting" of each Petal is the
relatively easy task.
The time consuming task is to physically adjust the
position of each Petal to ensure optimal alignment
accuracy of the
entire Dish surface (32 Panels) relative to the
This is also an "on ground" task because it is NOT
practical to try and do this once the Dish is mounted on
Pedestal more than 5 metres above ground.
next part of the process involves the lift/mounting
of the 2 Pedestal Support Braces, then the
Pedestal (1600 Kilo's)
and the attachment
of the AZ/EL Actuators.
the Pedestal is bolted down and attached to the 2
Support Braces, the Pedestal orientation has to be
absolutely perpendicular to maintain AZ/EV pointing
accuracy. It is hoped this task can/will be done prior
when the missing parts have been
fabricated and all 32 Panels
have been fitted and
mechanically aligned can we
look to arrange the "high/long
Unfortunately, as stated
previously, we expect the
alignment of the 32 Petals will
consuming and thus we do not
expect to be ready to "lift" the Dish onto it's Pedestal
until early in January, 2020.
However - we expect the process will be as follows...
with the completed Dish structure still sitting at
ground level, the
Cassegrain with it's 4 off Support Arms attached
fitted into place.
Only then can the Crane "lift"
of the heavy Dish structure
(circa 2000 Kilo's) onto the
Pedestal. This is achieved by
attaching 4 "straps" the the
solid central Hub. Once the Dish
is locked in place on it's
from the Hub
the final component to be lifted.
final operation will be the alignment of the Cassegrain
relative to the Dish surface can be done using a Beacon
from a Ku Satellite in Geo. This to optimise the Dish
Side Lobe performance and to maximise the Dish Gain.
Here are a couple of Photo's.
Basic Dish structure with the 16 Ribs fitted. I used a
Gin Pole and a Hand Winch to lift each Rib into place.
The Central Hub (welded Aluminium) weighs more than 250
Dish structure progressing.
basic Dish structure is now
complete. It's absolutely huge
The Slab (6 x 6 x 0.5 Metres) is now down. That's
Molly... my over active Border Collie in the foreground.
The Slab is Down, the Pedestal has been installed and
the Dish has been fully rebuilt BUT COFID 19 has
I'm unable to get down to Michael's Farm to arrange a
Crane Lift because of our state Government mandated
Self Isolation edicts. This means I'm unlikely to be
allowed to travel until mid May, 2020. at the earliest.
Here's a few interim Photo's while we wait for the COVID
19 restrictions to be eased.
AC Power is 100 Metres away up near the house.
Dish waiting the BIG lift
Disaster has struck. A severe storm has caused
considerable mechanical damage to several Ribs and Dish
I'm very disheartened with this damage and the obvious
repairs that will be needed... to the point I have
to put the Project On Hold while I cope with the
I will get back into the Project in due course.