Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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The Kettering Group

Tyneside, UK
2023 Dec 1
Friday, Day 335

Curated by:

Kettering Group Equipment in Detail:

Elsewhere on the Web:

Contemporary 1966 film of the tracking equipment

Radio Aerials

Aerials varied in sophistication from simple (a 20 MHz dipole) to more complex (the 144 MHz circularly polarised turnstile beam. There was never anything particularly complex.

Perhaps the most important was the 20 MHz Dipole strung between the two major buldings of the school complex. It was tracking the Soviet Zenit satellites near 20 MHz that was the main element of the first few years of tracking and was what brought the Tracking Group to the attention of the world.

Item Purpose Note Currently Residing
20 MHz Dipole Aerial Reception of HF signals near 20 MHz Constructed by Derek Slater

Suspended between the rooftops of the School Science Building and the Main Building near classroom A5 - downward slope of 15-20 degrees towards Science Building

Maximum sensitivity in the NW and SE directions
Part of the Derek Slater collection, passed to British National Space Centre during 2011.
Jaybeam 144 MHz CP Turnstile Beam Aerial Used by Derek Slater, initially to receive signals from ESSA metsats for display/photography on a laboratory oscilloscope. Constructed and donated by Vic Hartopp of Jaybeam Ariels (Northampton), built as 144 MHz rather than the 136 MHz requested.

Originally hand held and steered, usually by a pupil, using feedback of the signal via earphones. Later the same method was used with the aerial on an equatorial mount constructed by the School's Engineering Department and sited on the roof of the main building.
Part of the Derek Slater Collection but passed on to another organisation, school or individual who had better use for it.

Equatorial mounting was left in place on the School main building and was lost in its demolition.
Discone Aerial Reception of VHF signals Constructed by Derek Slater from re-used copper pipe originating from his parents' redundant central heating system.

Located on roof of Science Building. Taken down prior to building demolition.
Tresham College, Kettering - in storage.
2m, Three-element Yagi Aerial Reception of VHF signals Located on top of the Science Block with eletcrtrically operated rotator, the rotator was later removed because of unreliability.

In 2000 it was still in place but the director element was missing. Taken down prior to building demolition.

Tresham College, Kettering - in storage.
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