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Probe the Galaxy on a Shoestring with this DIY Hydrogen-Line Telescope

Foil-lined foam insulation board, scraps of lumber, and a paint-thinner can infrequently sound just like the equipment of a radio astronomer. But when coupled with an SDR, a few amplifiers, and an excellent quantity of trial-and-error tweaking, it’s imaginable to construct your individual hydrogen-line radio telescope and use it to symbol the galaxy.

As the splendidly named [ArtichokeHeartAttack] explains within the remarkably thorough mission documentation, the feature 1420.4-MHz sign emitted when the spins of a hydrogen atom’s proton and electron turn relative to one another is a crucial software for exploring the universe. It allows you to see now not handiest the place the hydrogen is, however which manner it’s transferring should you analyze the Doppler shift of the sign.

But to do any of this, you want a receiver, and that begins with a horn antenna to gather the susceptible sign. In collaboration with a former scholar, highschool trainer [ArtichokeHeartAttack] constructed a pyramidal horn antenna of insulation board and foil tape. This collects RF indicators and directs them to the waveguide, constructed from an oblong paint thinner can with a quarter-wavelength stub antenna sticking out into it. The sign from the antenna is then piped into an affordable low-noise amplifier (LNA) particularly designed for the hydrogen line, some preamps, a bandpass filter out, and in the end into an AirSpy SDR. GNURadio used to be used to construct the spectrometer had to resolve the galactic rotation curve, or the velocity of rotation of the Milky Way galaxy relative to distance from its heart.

We’ve noticed different funds H-line SDR receiver builds prior to, however this one units itself aside through the standard of the documentation on my own, to not point out the infectious spirit that it captures. Here’s hoping that it unearths its manner right into a STEM lesson plan and presentations some scholars what’s imaginable on a restricted funds.