Day 3.1: Up and rrrrruning

On day three of this journey, the strategy was to place the DARE antenna back inside the foam box.  Sure enough, as soon as we had placed the antenna back on the foam supports, Hamdi noticed that one of the antenna terminals was broken.  This meant that we needed to re-solder the joint together.

Inspecting the DARE system

Rather than risk moving the antenna again, we constructed a makeshift lab in the outdoor desert so we could solder the joint in place.  Hamdi promptly began soldering in a meditative style that would have made his yoga instructor proud.

Balancing stick position

Once the terminal issue was fixed, the team did a quick spectrum measurement from 1-300 MHz in the hut.  We noticed that it looked considerably different.  There was plenty of power from the sky!  At first we thought the RFI look suspiciously low.  Although we are in a RFI-low area, there is still a small trace of things that we should see in the spectrum – such as occasional Orbcomm transmissions at 137 MHz.  After waiting a few minutes, we did indeed see these signals.

Field lab

It’s also nice to note that today has been considerably cooler than the previous days.  The wind helped keep the flies away and the pristine clouds were very welcomed.

Hamdi proceeded on to taking a total power measurement.  First with the antenna connected and then with the load.  The input connection was connected to a splitter, which splits the signal in half.  We then have to compensate for this by adding 3 dB to both signals.  We recorded the total power produced by DARE when using the antenna to be -24.64 dBm and the load to be -28.46 dBm.

DARE with our hut in the background

With roughly half a day’s work already completed, we’ve analyzed some of data back in the control building. After a refueling lunch, we’ll go out again and wrap things up.