Ever since I embarked on my journey in Amateur Radio, I have always regarded EME as the pinnacle of the hobby. The concept of bouncing signals off the Moon held a tremendous allure, but the immense distance, substantial link budget, and the requirement for massive antennas made it seem completely unattainable.
However, over the years, moonbounce has become increasingly accessible. The proliferation of digital modes has enabled ordinary hams to achieve Earth-Moon-Earth contacts even with relatively modest setups. You no longer need an antenna that would grace the front cover of a magazine to engage with the moon.
More recently Remote Ham Radio mada available a quite decent EME station for anyone to utilize. Consequently, if you wish to try EME today, all you need is your laptop. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
Before we move on, let me clarify two things:
- This is intended for Mac users. If you use Windows… I’m sorry!
- Remote Ham Radio isn’t sponsoring me in any way. I actually paid with my own money in order to use their service and research its functionalities. But… hey I did for science so that’s OK. I also did for fun. Actually, I did it just for fun. Whatever… let’s get into it!
Remote Ham Radio is a company that offers some kind of an “Amateur Radio as a Service” model. The concept is simple: they build powerful stations and you paid to use them. One of their stations – called Jefferson – is EME VHF capable.
Jefferson has an array of 4×16 elements Yagis and a 1KW amplifier. This is far from being a Big Gun in the world of EME, but is definitely enough to make a lot of contacts. Using the station currently costs $0.79 per minute + membership fee ($99 per year or $20 per month) . As you can see this isn’t cheap but it is still certainly cheaper than building your own station from nothing.
What you will need
Unfortunately RHR’s documentation about EME isn’t super descriptive. In the process of learning how to use their station I ended up with a setup that is a bit different. I find mine to be more convenient for the simple reason that it doesn’t require you to alter your Mac’s default security settings. Also, you will not need to pay extra $99 in order to purchase a third party program (see below).
This is what you are going to need:
- A Macbook or any other OSX based computer
- A RHR account (requires a valid US Ham Radio license)
- the RHR application for Mac
- xCAT by DL3LSM
- WSJT-X for Mac
- Blackhole Audio Driver
Contrary to what RHR recommends, in my setup you DON’T NEED:
Amoeba Loopback($99) xDAX by DL3LSM