Southside Automated Machines -- SAM Team

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Greenville, SC

TeleSAM--SAM Team's Mini Radio Telescope


TeleSAM is a mini-sized radio telescope designed to measure the relative microwave radiation at a wavelength of about 3 cm for any source celestial or nearby.

We removed the electronics from a satellite tuning meter and packaged them in a spiffy triangular base with a small 12 volt lead-acid battery as a rechargeable power source. We then mounted an ordinary satellite dish to the base and connected it to the tuning meter electronics. The result: a tiny-sized radio telescope capable of measuring microwave radiation.

Our inspiration for the project came from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's page called Building and Using an Itty Bitty Telescope. We basically followed their instructions but made a more robust device.

TeleSAM started out as a effort by IB Design Technology (no longer taught at Southside) students to get the now defunct small sized radio telescope working at Roper Mountain Science Center. When that failed, we looked at other possibilities and decided to build our own unit.

The first attempt was crudely constructed and had problems with battery life and intermittent electrical connections. We finally decided to do it right and TeleSAM became an IB Design Technology student's individual project. He brought it to near completion but the SAM Team actually finished it.

We currently use TeleSAM in AP Physics E&M class to take relative measurements of blackbody radiation in the microwave part of the EM spectrum. The SAM Team also periodically uses it for the same type of demonstration at Roper Mountain Science Center. We measure the microwave radiation of people as compare to the same type of radiation coming from the Sun. People are often freaked out when they find out they're emitting microwaves.

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Android Phone Donations
When your Android phone contract runs out and you want to upgrade, please consider donating the old one to us. To donate an Android contact Tom Rogers at We promise to put you donated phone to good use in both our computer science and physics our class rooms (see possible application at right).

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