When one thinks of the possibility of detecting a pulsar, to that extent, thoughts turn to large dish antennas and rack up on the racks of sensitive receivers, filters and digital signal processors. But there are multiple ways to catch regular radio blasts from these celestial beacons, and if you know what you’re doing, a small satellite dish and an RTL-SDR dongle are enough.
Granted, [Job Geheniau] Exploring the radio universe has many experiences. His website has a long list of observations and achievements he has made using his “JRT”, or “Job’s Radio Telescope”. With a 1.9-m satellite TV dish and perfect azimuth-height rotator, the device looks like a homebrewer’s dream. The back of the feedhorn has a pair of low-noise amplifiers and bandpass filters for massaging the 1,420MHz signal commonly used for radio astronomy, as well as a Nulec Smart SDR dongle and an Airspy Mini. Everything is powered by remote control, as The Hague has little interference with the antenna located at his family’s farm, 50 kilometers from his home.
For Pulsar, bloodlessly named PSR B0329 + 54, it is a 5-million-year-old neutron star located in the constellation of Camelopardalis about 3,500 light-years away. This is a well-characterized pulsar and pulse at a regular 0.71452 seconds, but it is usually observed with many, many large antennas. [Job]There are many details about the method and software he used in the observation writing, and although the data is not clear to the casual observer, it seems certain that he has achieved it.
We’ve seen a number of DIY radio astronomy projects before, both large and small, but it’s really fascinating in what it has accomplished.