BIG DISH Re Installation Project. Last Update late April 2021.

This is a quick overview of an exciting new Project that I'm driving...

I recently purchased a pair of surplus Uplink Dishes at Auction.
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 Eastern Victoria.

I am MOST grateful for Michael's generous offer !!!!

This is a huge Project.
Each disassembled Dish was in it's own 40 Foot Container.
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 previously.
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 possible.
To achieve this I have added a second Azimuth Pad in the Slab.
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.

With our enhanced AZ capability, we also expect to be able to achieve Terrestrial QSO's to the South Island of New Zealand and hopefully
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 we try.
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.

Eventually, 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 implemented.

Here are a few Photo's of this Dish Hardware....

This is a photo of the 9.3 Metre VERTEX before it was disassembled.
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 Dish !!

Another montage...

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 progress.
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.
I had to purchase multiple lengths of Aluminium Angle to fabricate these missing structural Braces.
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 missing.
More significantly... 2 off Stainless Steel Hinge Pins that form/complete the Dish Pivot/Hinges were also missing.
Each of these critical missing items will need to be fabricated before the Dish etc. can be Craned into place.
I also had to repair a Cassegrain Support Spar (1 off 4).
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.
The 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 Cassegrain.
This is also an "on ground" task because it is NOT practical to try and do this once the Dish is mounted on the
Pedestal more than 5 metres above ground.
The 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.
Once the Pedestal is bolted down and attached to the 2 Support Braces, the Pedestal orientation has to be (adjusted)
absolutely perpendicular to maintain AZ/EV pointing accuracy. It is hoped this task can/will be done prior to Xmas.

Only 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 reach" Crane.
Unfortunately, as stated previously, we expect the alignment of the 32 Petals will be
time 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 is lifted and 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 Pedestal, t
he "straps" are removed
from the Hub and the Feedhorn section
is the final component to be lifted.

The 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 Kilo's.

Dish structure progressing.
The 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.

March, 2020.
The Slab is Down, the Pedestal has been installed and the Dish has been fully rebuilt BUT COFID 19 has intervened.
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.
More delays...

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.

Pedestal Lift

Pedestal installed

Dish waiting the BIG lift

August, 2020.
Disaster has struck. A severe storm has caused considerable mechanical damage to several Ribs and Dish Panels.
I'm very disheartened with this damage and the obvious repairs that will be needed... to the point I have decided to
to put the Project On Hold while I cope with the implications.

I will get back into the Project in due course.


Alan, VK3XPD