HAMNET Report 9th July 2023

The ARRL letter for the end of June reminds us of an antenna that holds an important place in scientific history on a small parcel of land on Crawford Hill, New Jersey.

The antenna is known as the Holmdell Horn Antenna, and it was built in 1959 by researchers at the then Bell Labs. It was originally designed to bounce radio signals off reflective satellite balloons for long-distance communication. It worked, and the Holmdel Horn Antenna was no longer needed.

Two Bell Labs astronomer employees, Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson, received permission in 1965 to use the antenna to search for radio transmissions in outer space. They pointed the antenna toward what was considered a quiet area, but what they discovered was anything but quiet. They discovered Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, which provided evidence for the Big Bang Theory.

Now, there is a historical marker at the site, but there has been some dispute as to who owns the antenna and surrounding land. In mid-June 2023, the Holmdel Township Committee voted unanimously to approve resolutions that will begin the process of acquiring two of the three parcels that make up the [entire] Crawford Hill property. The township committee is leaving the third parcel to be part of the redevelopment toward preserving Crawford Hill as a public park to celebrate the horn antenna’s place in scientific history.

The ARRL has also published on the 46th annual International Amateur Radio Exhibition, HAM RADIO, which attracted more than 11,000 visitors to Friedrichshafen, Germany, from June 23 – 25, 2023.

Messe Friedrichshafen Managing Director Klaus Wellmann and Project Manager Petra Rathgeber were delighted with the success of the event.

“HAM RADIO lived up to its reputation as Europe’s largest amateur radio exhibition. In cooperation with the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC), the perfect partner for the event, we showed that amateur radio plays an important role in society,” said Wellmann and Rathgeber. “This year’s slogan, ‘We’re all about STEM!’ was brought to full fruition, with many activities focusing on work with young people — something that really brought in the crowds.”

A recent press release from HAM RADIO said young attendees were able to tinker and make things under guidance, and they were also able to test their knowledge in the Ham Rally, a technical scavenger hunt featuring 25 stations. Students were encouraged to try sending Morse code, and pass the QSL card quiz.

“We were really happy with the way this year’s exhibition went,” said Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG, Chairman of DARC.

A total of 392 participants, including 149 commercial exhibitors and international associations, as well as 243 flea market exhibitors, represented the unique diversity of amateur radio around the world.

Plans are already being made for next year’s HAM RADIO to be held June 28 – 30, 2024.

We have previously spoken of data transmission from satellites to earth and vice versa, using lasers. Interestingengineering.com reports this week that Changguang Satellite Technology, a State-owned enterprise based in the Jilin province of China, announced the achievement of a major milestone in space technology by successfully deploying laser-based high-speed communication on commercial satellites. This breakthrough has increased the speed of space-to-ground data transfer tenfold, reaching an impressive 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps). 

This advancement is made possible through lasers acting as data carriers, offering a much wider spectrum than traditional microwave technology. The deployment of this cutting-edge technology is expected to revolutionize ground communication with satellites.

The successful test involved researchers from the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who set up the satellite-to-ground link using lasers. 

The ground-based team received laser signals emitted from the Jilin-1 MF02A04 satellite, part of the world’s largest imaging satellite network, the Jilin-1 constellation. This constellation plays a crucial role in various sectors, including land resource surveys, urban planning, and disaster monitoring.

Li Yalin, leader of the ground system at AIR, explained the advantages of laser communication using an interesting analogy: “Using the common microwave at 375 MHz is like driving on a single lane, and the emerging [technology of a] higher 1.5 GHz microwave would be a four-lane road. Lasers, meanwhile, can accommodate hundreds or even thousands of lanes,” he told South China Morning Post.

This vast improvement in bandwidth allows transmitting [the equivalent of] a high-definition movie in just one second, 10 to 1,000 times faster than current microwave communication methods.

Thanks to interestingenegineering.com for this excerpt from their report.

 Phys.org has again come to my rescue with appropriate reporting. They have an article from techxplore.com which says that University of California Berkeley researchers have designed an extreme-weather proven, hand-held device that can extract and convert water molecules from the air into drinkable water using only ambient sunlight as its energy source, a study published in Nature Water shows.

This atmospheric water harvester used an ultra-porous material known as a metal-organic framework (MOF) to extract water repeatedly in the hottest and driest place in North America, Death Valley National Park. These tests showed the device could provide clean water anywhere, addressing an urgent problem, as climate change exacerbates drought conditions.

“Almost one-third of the world’s population lives in water-stressed regions. The UN projects in the year 2050 that almost 5 billion people on our planet will experience some kind of water stress for a significant part of the year,” said Omar Yaghi, the Berkeley chemistry professor who invented MOFs and is leading this study. “This is quite relevant to harnessing a new source for water.”

Berkeley researchers tested the device in Berkeley, Calif., and Death Valley National Park in California. The MOF-powered [unit] extracted water repeatedly in both locations, despite extremely low-humidity conditions and wide-ranging daily temperatures in Death Valley.

It is also extremely efficient at harvesting water, releasing as drinking water 85 to 90 percent of the water it captures as atmospheric vapour. It harvested up to 285 grams of water per kilogram of metal-organic framework in a day, the equivalent of a cup of water. The MOF can continue to operate for many cycles over many years without being replenished or modified. At the end of its lifetime, the MOF can be disassembled and reassembled in water with zero discharge and in a sustainable manner. And the beauty is that it runs on sunlight, and emits no harmful emissions.

Thanks to Phys.org for that news.

The HAMNET report welcomes any news relative to electronics and services to the community, so is happy to receive any suggestions from the listeners and readers. Please contact me at zs1dfr@gmail.com.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET from a wet and chilly Cape Town.