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 hardly sound like the tools of a radio astronomer. But when coupled with an SDR, a couple of amplifiers, and a fair amount of trial-and-error tweaking, it’s possible to build your own hydrogen-line radio telescope and use it to image the galaxy.

As the wonderfully named [ArtichokeHeartAttack] explains in the remarkably thorough project documentation, the characteristic 1420.4-MHz signal emitted when the spins of a hydrogen atom’s proton and electron flip relative to each other is a vital tool for exploring the universe. It lets you see not only where the hydrogen is, but which way it’s moving if you analyze the Doppler shift of the signal.

But to do any of this, you need a receiver, and that starts with a horn antenna to collect the weak signal. In collaboration with a former student, high school teacher [ArtichokeHeartAttack] built a pyramidal horn antenna of insulation board and foil tape. This collects RF signals and directs them to the waveguide, built from a rectangular paint thinner can with a quarter-wavelength stub antenna protruding into it. The signal from the antenna is then piped into an inexpensive low-noise amplifier (LNA) specifically designed for the hydrogen line, some preamps, a bandpass filter, and finally into an AirSpy SDR. GNURadio was used to build the spectrometer needed to determine the galactic rotation curve, or the speed of rotation of the Milky Way galaxy relative to distance from its center.

We’ve seen other budget H-line SDR receiver builds before, but this one sets itself apart by the quality of the documentation alone, not to mention the infectious spirit that it captures. Here’s hoping that it finds its way into a STEM lesson plan and shows some students what’s possible on a limited budget.

High Performance Crystal Radio

When you think of a crystal radio, you probably think of something simple maybe built out of household scraps. Not if you are [Chris Wendling]. He recently posted a video (see below) of his high-performance crystal set. He doesn’t take any shortcuts: he has several hundred feet of antenna wire, and uses a cold-water pipe ground system. With no amplifier, a strong signal input is crucial.

The radio has four subsystems: an antenna tuner, a bandpass filter, a detector, and a powered audio output system. He also has a truly enormous system of speakers on the ceiling–this isn’t the crystal radio you made in the boy scouts.

Continue reading “High Performance Crystal Radio”

Building An Analog Whistle Detection Device

Hackaday readers may remember a whistle detection device that I [limpkin] designed some time ago. As [Kevin] saw the new Staff roll call, he discovered this project and wanted to make his version of it.

In contrast with the original Whistled where all the signal processing is done in an ARM Cortex m4 microcontroler, [Kevin] uses discrete components, operational amplifiers and an Arduino Uno to detect someone’s whistle. In his video (embedded below), he goes into great lengths to explain how his circuit works along with the theory behind it. In his setup, his microphone’s signal is amplified, passed through a 1KHz-3KHz passive band-pass filter to a non-inverting amplifier with a 1000x gain (!) and finally to a voltage comparator. The Arduino measures the frequency of the signal coming out from the comparator and triggers a relay if the whistle is a ramp-up / ramp-down.

If you want to make the comparison between the two versions of the electronics, here is the link to the original whistled project.

Continue reading “Building An Analog Whistle Detection Device”