the Internet to Anza
2001 - a report by Jerry Mulchin and Liam Kennedy
For a little over
a year now a small task force of members have been actively investigating
ways to bring high-speed Internet access to our OCA Observatory site.
The members include Jerry Mulchin, Lawrence Leavell, and Vance Tyree.
Additionally a number of board members have taken a strong interest with
the project and have helped answer questions - this includes Charlie Oostdyk,
Russell Sipe and Liam Kennedy.
Click image for larger
What would we do
with high-speed internet access at Anza?
Our plans call not
just for getting high-speed Internet access to Anza - but also to allow
for Wireless access to this Internet service from practically anywhere
on our site. This will be a truly revolutionary addition to our capabilities
at Anza and probably something that very few, if any, amateur organizations
Below are just a FEW
examples of how we would use this facility.
- Provide E-Mail
Access to Report Astronomical Events.
first to report an astronomical discovery can often be the difference
of a few minutes or seconds. This service will allow anyone with the
right equipment at Anza to immediately report his or her findings.
- Provide Remote
Imagine being able to access an observatory telescope at Anza from the
comfort of your own home. This is particularly relevant for private
members observatories - but also applies to our own Kuhn Telescope.
We could stream live images from the Kuhn to our meetings at Chapman
University - especially on a "cold" winter evening in December!
- Provide Wireless
access for club members
A member sets up their telescope and notebook computer on a pad in the
public "football field" area. The Member can use their wireless
equipped notebook to access the Internet for many different uses. Our
plans will allow members to access the Internet from all areas of our
20 acre site.
- Provide Internet
access for the Anza Weather Station
Currently the WeatherCAM and Weather Station data is transferred to
the OCA website by a single dial-up Internet account - we can save the
cost of the dedicated telephone line as it is no longer needed.
- Provide future
Internet access for MOCAT operations
MOCAT is developing the OCA remotely operated telescope just west of
Anza house. Internet access will be of great benefit to the project
allowing possible remote access to the scope one day.
How do we get high-speed
Internet out to Anza?
It is not as easy
as you might think to get high-speed Internet access to our Anza site.
Due to the distance we are from main telephone exchanges, we cannot make
use of high-speed services like DSL - and cable has not reached the area
at all. This issue has been the one thing that has held us back for so
Throughout the last
year various ideas surfaced and were investigated. Some of the ideas including
bouncing signals between the observatory and the top of a mountaintop
like Saddleback. Other ideas included trying to use new directional wireless
capabilities to reach someone in Temecula who could then link us into
a cable modem or DSL line. We also considered the costs of installing
a commercial T1 line. All of those lines of analysis turned out to either
be too costly or impractical for any number of reasons.
for letting us know...
In the end we found
the best solution to be based upon a commercial version of a satellite
Internet service. These services have been around for some time - but
we need something to be a little beefier than some of the home based services
such as from Starband. After waiting for commercial versions of these
services to be released, we finally found a company that is doing this
already using satellites in the Hughes Electronics network.
The plan will call
for removing the existing microwave dish
and replacing it with a 5 ft version pointing to the southwestern sky.
What are the costs
The setup costs of
everything above are under $2000. The monthly charges for the Internet
access are under $170 per month (updated - original estimate was $300
- now revised service is lower). That of course is a LOT of money when
you compare it to your own costs for cable or DSL (I pay around $60 for
my internet connection at home). Can we afford it as a club? Yes. There
are plans to share the cost among the club and those members who will
be making use of it. Initially at least three members with private observatories
will be a part of this service and all have agreed to pay a fair part
of the charges. Members who wish to use the Internet from their own computer
while at Anza will need to purchase a simple 802.11b wireless LAN card
(for about $100-$150) and there will be a small fee per month to use this
When will this
This could be setup
by December or even earlier. We'll be keeping all the membership informed
on the progress.
Please let us know
what you think about this service - and especially if you are interested
in using this facility at Anza. You can let us know via the Poll above
- you may also get involved in an on-line discussion on this topic on
the OCA's online forum post your questions/comments here
to OCA Home Page
updated April 23rd 2002