Electronics and Instrumentation Section

Section Coordinator: Bogdan Vacaliuc bvacaliuc@gmail.com

Background and Context
Advances in electronics have offered amateur radio astronomers new relatively low cost instrumentation to observe radio emitting sources.  Additionally, amateur astronomers have opportunities to use professional radio telescopes that have become available through public outreach grants. 

NRAO 40 Foot Dish and Jansky Antenna
The Forty-foot Telescope, was constructed in the early 60s for the purpose of determining if radio sources are variable. The Forty Foot Telescope is currently an educational instrument available to SARA members.  The NRAO also is host to a replica of Jansky's original antenna, also available to SARA members.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

UNC Skynet and On-line Radio Telescope Resources
SKYNET is a distributed network of robotic telescopes operated by students, faculty, and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is available to SARA members upon request.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Open Source Radio Telescopes
OSRT is a collaborative, open-source collection of ideas and methods concerning radio telescope construction.  It is accessible to anyone between middle school through graduate levels of education and beyond.  Its mission is to promote discussions about digital signal processing and using GNU Radio software with off-the-shelf electronics, such as low-noise amplifiers, filters, and digital signal converters.

Arduino is a single-board micro-controller, intended to make the application of interactive objects or environments more accessible, and has radio astronomy applications.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer that can be used in electronics projects, including radio astronomy applications.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Software Defined Radio (SDR)
SDR is defined as radio in which some or all of the physical layer functions are software defined.  SDR is a radio communication system where components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer. It has radio astronomy applications.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:


RASDR2 was a hardware/software package generated by SARA members.  Eight RASDR2 units were constructed and tested using RASDR software, and radio astronomy applications by SARA members were documented in the SARA Journal.  Citations are available.

RASDR2 Software and a User's Manual are available for download

RASDR4 hardware is available as a single-board SDR operating from 20-3800MHz, with dual receivers, 12 MHz bandwidth and based on a LMS7002M chip single-board LimeSDR, price $289.
RASDR4 may be operated in the RASDR mode (wide-bandwidth, Windows-compatible, documented SDR for Radio Astronomy). It is also served by several Linux applications.  SARA members designed and marketed a case and fan kits, but now several of these are available on the open market.  Current RASDR4 software and more information are available from the links, from articles in SARA Journal or the Proceedings of our meetings.  You're also invited to join the RASDR User Group

The Itty Bitty Telescope (IBT)
The IBT radio telescope is made from a small satellite dish and affordable components.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

408 MHz Receiver Project
The GEM, Galactic Emission Mapping, is an international project with the goal of making a precise map of the electromagnetic spectrum of our galaxy at low frequencies (radio and microwaves). The GEM Radio Telescope measures the radio emission of our galaxy in five frequencies, between 408 MHz and 10 GHz.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Antennas, Ancillary Components, and Test Equipment
See references for many applications in this sub-section.

e-CALLISTO Radio Solar Spectrometer Network

3-Axis Magnetometer Kit, SAM-III

Useful Links
•    Radio Observing Award Programs
•    Citizen Science Radio Astronomy Award Programs
•    Links (including related topics in the SARA Listserv Archive, and SARA Journal Table of Contents)

•    References
•    Glossary: http://www.radio-astronomy.org/pdf/SARA%20Glossary.pdf
•    edX Radio Astronomy Certificate Course


SARA is dedicated to the exploration of radio astronomy at the amateur level. Many amateurs are engaged in developing hardware, software, and methodologies to expand the limits of amateur radio observation. Such amateurs impose intriguing opportunities. With peer review, they can develop new approaches to radio astronomy observation, or offer an equally valuable dissertation on explanations to misidentified radio observations and their nature.  SARA welcomes positive diversity of opinion but does not necessarily embrace those opinions as it own.