EQUIPMENT

The plans for the 6m station are essentially the same as used at VK9CGJ and VK9XGJ in 2017 and C21GJ in 2018 and Bolivia in 2019. 

ANTENNA: I use an M2 6M8GJ  yagi mounted on an M2 24' Portable Mast . I also built a manual elevation mount that allows me to elevation the antenna to aim it at the moon as it moves across the sky. There is a complete description of how I put together the antenna and mount, and how I raise it into position, along with photographs of the antenna in operation here. Here is a short video showing me raising the assembled antenna when I was operating from Palau in 2016. You can see from the video why it is important for me to try to find a place to set up where I have enough open space to raise the antenna easily. Here is a photo showing the antenna installation in Nauru in 2018, which was erected and operated in a much more challenging confined space than I usually try to find.

FEEDLINE: I use Times Microwave LMR-600 Coaxial Cable to connect the antenna to the station in order to keep the feedline loss well under 1 dB. This is essential because the signals coming back from the moon are very weak (and rarely audible to the human ear), it is essential to try to capture as much of the signal as possible before they reach the receiver preamplifier. I try to use as short a piece as possible, but much of that depends on the site where I am able to set up the station and antenna. In Nauru during 2018, and in Bolivia in 2019, the antenna was close enough to the station to allow me to use only 50' of LMR-600 Ultra Flex. In 2017 in Cocos/Keeling Islands and Christmas Island, I had to use closer to 120', to reach an open area large enough for the antenna.

TRANSCEIVER: To generate the RF signals on 50.190 MHz, I use Yaesu FT-857 amateur radio transceiver. I have modified it slightly as shown here, to provide an output to automatically turn on my 50 MHz amplifier.

AMPLIFIER: I use an M2 Inc. 6M1K2 amplifier to boost the maximum 50 MHz output from my station to 1000 watts. Due to the low duty cycle of JT65A mode (transmitting only 46.8 seconds during each 2 minute period), and the additional attenuation due to coaxial cable feedline loss to the antenna, the average power output at the antenna is 340 watts when aimed up at the moon.

WATTMETER: The amplifier output power and antenna match are monitored with a Daiwa CN-101L wattmeter.

PREAMPLIFIER: To boost the received signal, I use an ARR MSP50VDG RF-switched preamplifier that I modified to provide output to a separate receiver.

RECEIVER: The receiver I use is a USB RTL Dongle (NooElec NESDR SMArt - Premium RTL-SDR w/ Aluminum Enclosure 0.5PPM TCXO ). A small 50 MHz bandpass filter from Down East Microwave is used ahead of the RTL Dongle to prevent overload from out of band signals. The output of the RTL Dongle is processed by the computer program SDR-Console Version 3. The output from the SDR-Console program is sent via Virtual Audio Cable to the WSJT10 computer program to decode the JT65A modulated signals coming from the moon.
 
COMPUTER INTERFACE:  A RIGblaster Plug & Play  interface is used to cleanly connect the JT65A mode audio tones generated by the WSJT10 program in my computer to modulate the USB signal of my FT-857 transceiver.

COMPUTER: My computer is an MSI GP72 7RDX Leopard  17" laptop running a Windows 10 64 bit operating system.

POWER SUPPLIES: I use a Meanwell RSP-3000-48  220 VAC switching power supply to provide the 50 VDC required by the amplifier, and the PowerWerx SS-30DV 110/220 VAC switching power supply to provide 12 VDC for the transceiver and preamplifier.
The 50 VDC from the power supplies is connected to the 6M1K2 amplifier via a twisted pair of #8 stranded copper wire cables, attached to the #10 pigtails coming out of the amp using a 50A battery cable connector (NAPA #740234, like a really big Anderson Power Pole connector).   After connection failures in VK9 with the standard Yaesu 12 VDC molex power connector plug, I am also now using a NAPA #740234 for my 12 VDC connection to the FT-857.

OVERALL STATION SETUP: I also use ferrite filters on all computer and power leads to prevent RF pickup/generation. Here is photo of my station as described above, completely set up when I operated moonbounce on 50.190 MHz from Nauru in 2018.