On the home stretch

Today we installed all 60 of the beam formers that have arrived on site – this means we’ve done as much of the alpha and beta MWA sections as we can, which was the main goal of the trip.  As some of the students would say ‘Achievement Unlocked’.

Luke attaching cables from each dipole to the correct place on the beam former.

Luke attaching cables from each dipole to the correct place on the beam former.

We managed to install and hook up all the beamformers before lunch! We’re all working well together as a team.

Sammy hooking up a beam former in the core of the MWA

Sammy hooking up a beam former in the core of the MWA.

Our next goal is to get as many tiles as possible cabled up and finished.  We’re on 88 tiles after today’s effort, leaving 40 to do tomorrow for a complete finish (our last day). Phew, hopefully we can do it.

A few of us also took a minute to head up one of the breakaways to look over our site and see the progress we’ve made in the last 11 days.

Breakaways, a beautiful feature of the country up here.

Breakaways, a beautiful feature of the country up here. Lovely view of ASKAP, it’s great to see all 36 dishes constructed – congrats CSIRO!

ASKAP from the breakaway. Great to see all 36 dishes constructed - congrats CSIRO.

The MWA core from the breakaway – looking good!

Kim with the MWA core in the distant background.

Kim with the MWA core in the distant background.

Sammy with an ASKAP dish in the background.

Sammy with an ASKAP dish in the background.

Emus hanging around the breakaway.

Emus hanging around the breakaway.

Tomorrow we are going to have a visitor from Perth, and hopefully finish everything off!  Looking forward to it.

Day 11 Summary

Antenna Count: 4096/4096
Completed MWA Tiles: 88/128
Beam formers installed: 60/128 (60 on site)

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About Kirsten Gottschalk

Outreach and Education Officer at The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR). I was lucky enough to join our engineers and 'student army' to build a good share of the Murchison Widefield Array, the low frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array on the future SKA site in WA. All images and content on this blog are copyright, unless otherwise attributed. If you'd like to use any of my photos, send me an email and I'd be happy to help - kirsten.gottschalk@icrar.org

6 responses to “On the home stretch

  1. Bob Steele

    Well done to you all 🙂 You Should be so proud and deservedly so 🙂 I know we thast have been watching certainly are 🙂

  2. Malcolm Davies

    The MWA… proudly sponsored by Toyota. Oh what a feeling. 😉

  3. Congrats from Canberra on doing so much, so quickly. I have watched your videos, envied your photo opportunities and enjoyed the explanations. To think that SKA-low will dwarf the MWA makes me think we need many, many more excited student armies.

    I have a question about the setup, polarisation and beamformers. Earlier in the blog you said that it’s important to have the N-S polarisation correct, as well as having all the antennas correctly marked and plugged into the beamformers. If someone’s made a mistake setting up a telescope like this (possible though unlikely here, but almost guaranteed once scales become massive) can it be corrected in software? Or does someone have to drive out and switch cables around?

    • Kirsten Gottschalk

      Thanks! We’ve been having a great time doing all the hard work. The SKA-low will certainly dwarf the MWA – an estimated 2.5 million antennas to our 4,100!

      Great question Greg, and the answer is fairly vague – for some mistakes, yes we can fix in software, and for others we need to go out and switch cables around. There are also some mistakes that can be fixed in the software, but it’s much easier to send someone out to fix a cable on this kind of scale.

      But that’s all in theory – the software we use for the MWA assumes the hardware is all set up correctly, so we can’t actually fix anything in the software without new software! What this means is that we’ve been careful to check everything as we’re going along, and as part of the engineering commissioning they’ll make sure everything is as it should be using a number of different tests.

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Copyright Notice

All images and content on this blog is copyright. I'd be happy to help you out if you want to use any text or images that I've produced, simply send me an email - kirsten.gottschalk@icrar.org - and we can chat about it.
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