Moonbounce is a large, long-term EARS project which has been going on for the better part of 20 years now. The aim is to build a radio system capable of communicating with someone far away by bouncing radio waves off the moon. This represents quite a technical challenge, and pushes the capabilities of amateur radio.
The current iteration of the moonbounce came about around May 2013 when it was decided at the AGM to dust off the old moonbounce kit, see what state it's in, and hold a joint moonbounce and EE department BBQ event after exams. Cue Rob Taylor, James Parsons, Matt Temple and Phil Handley spending a very long week locked in the Shack getting everything into a vaguely working state. This involved finding all of the parts which had been scattered around campus, rebuilding all the antennas, putting the lattice mast together and working out a lift mechanism, working out the antenna mount assembly, and basically coming up with the entire RF chain from scratch. Many N-Types were soldered, several lab techs were annoyed via multiple incorrect iterations of a PCB design, lots of stuff was "borrowed" from the RF labs, an amplifier was blown up, much pizza was consumed and not a lot of sleep was had.
Before the event, there was a single full-up test lift without any sort of base and with all the antennas (but no RF kit) connected. It was decided that this was rather dodgy/unsafe and could've gone horribly wrong at any moment, so a base with a nice high pivot was made out of Stage Crew's scaffolding for the full event. On the day we were unable to transmit due to time constraints, and had questionable luck receiving. But everyone was pretty impressed and it didn't fall over and kill anyone, so we consider it a success!
2014 & Beyond
The final aim for the moonbounce project is to produce a set of equipment which lives in easily movable boxes which can be put in the back of a van and taken to STEM outreach events. It can then be unpacked, assembled, lifted and operated relatively quickly and safely by a minimal team of EARS members.
The short term aim for 2014 is to be able to successfully receive/transmit at another moonbounce/BBQ event towards the end of the summer term.