Radio JOVE

After we decided to built a radio telescope that would be available for educational use, we concluded that NASA’s Radio JOVE Project was exactly what we were looking for. From the Radio Jove website:

About Radio JOVE
The Radio JOVE project is a hands-on inquiry-based educational project that allows students, teachers and the general public to learn about radio astronomy by building their own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the internet. Participants also collaborate with each other through interactions and sharing of data on the network.

A Radio JOVE telescope typically consists of 3 parts – a radio reciever, an antenna, and a computer.

The radio telescope kit contains:
1. All components for the JOVE receiver;
2. Complete step-by-step instructions for assembly;
3. Antenna parts for two dipoles including cable, wire, and connectors;
4. Complete step-by-step instructions for antenna assembly and setup;
5. CD ROM with SkyPipe software and general information.

The kit is intended for advanced middle school, high school, and introductory college students. The kit can be assembled using basic hand tools and a soldering iron. Students can expect to spend about 8 hours building the Radio JOVE receiver. No specialized electronic test equipment is required.

The antenna is constructed out of wire (included with the reciever kit), PVC pipe, ropes and stakes. The masts, ropes, and stakes for supporting the antenna are not included in the kit.

The cost of tools and antenna support materials typically runs between less than $100. See the kit assembly manuals for recommendations on specific tools and materials.

Radio JOVE offers a radio reciever kit which can be ordered from here.

Alternatively, a shortwave radio reciever can be used. The ability to connect an external antenna is required, and the option to turn off AGC (Automatic Gain Control) is highly desireable.

To record data from the Radio JOVE reciever, we use Radio SkyPipe II software. We have a wireless internet connection (the distance to the internet connection is nearly 10 miles!) and are using an old home computer to digitize the reciever audio output and run the Radio SkyPipe II software so that we can access the data over the Internet.