Today continued much the same as yesterday, we built as many dipoles as humanly possible, laid down a bunch of tiles and had another good, productive day. We finished laying out the ‘alpha’ array, but didn’t quite get it all cabled – which works out perfectly to keep non-dipole builders busy tomorrow morning.
We’ve worked out our average time for each dipole so far is about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Student Teresa Slaven-Blair currently has the super-fast record at 1 minute 43 seconds, but even she admits ‘everything went right with that one!’
To give you a true appreciation of just how fast 1 minute 43 seconds is, Kim Steele starred in this great video yesterday afternoon showing off what goes in to building a dipole.
I quizzed engineer Brian Crosse about ‘science commissioning’ and it turns out there’s a thing called engineering commissioning that happens first, which is when all the tiles and beam formers are attached to the receivers and the electronics and engineering functionality is tested. So a beam former ‘forms the beam’ on the sky or determines where the telescope is looking – which all happens electronically in the MWA, one of the reasons it’s so unique. The receiver (one for eight tiles) turns the analog electrical signal into a digital signal that computers can understand.
After the engineering commissioning, the engineers hand over to the astronomers for science commissioning which involves taking some astronomical data with the telescope and making sure everything works the way we expect it to.
The dipole making competition is starting to hot up even more, with both Kim and Jarrod reaching 100 dipoles each today. Some of the students are making sure to sign and number each dipole they make – brings to mind limited edition artwork!
The students have renamed the antenna groupings ‘turrets’ to avoid confusing what is an antenna and what is two antennas (each spidery looking thing is two crossed dipole antennas). We’ll see if it sticks!
Comment with any requests folks – I’ve done a very dodgey tour of the site on camera which i’ll upload tomorrow, and we’re working on another timelapse of the core region. Anything else you’d like to see?
I’ll leave you at the end of day 4 with a lovely timelapse of last night’s sky at wooleen – put together by student Malcolm Whinfield. About two thirds of the way through the almost-full Moon sets and you get a good impression of how many stars are visible up here – the sky is simply stunning. See you tomorrow!
Day 4 Summary
Antenna Count: 1152/4096
Completed MWA Tiles: 30/128
Beam formers installed: 0/128 (0 on site)