Building Beamformers

Another busy day today, we got heaps done. But the first task of the day…

Dave makes a quick adjustment... to my belt! It needed a few more holes so I could make it small enough, and Dave was kind enough to oblige.

Dave makes a quick adjustment… to my belt! It needed a few more holes so I could make it small enough, and Dave was kind enough to oblige.

After that quick job we spent the rest of the morning adjusting all 60 beamformers that were already installed last trip.  This involved unscrewing and then rescrewing almost 2,000 screws to get the lids off and on again.

Sammy and Luke undoing all the screws on a beamformer to make an adjustment.

Sammy and Luke undoing all the screws on a beamformer to make an adjustment.

Luke and Sammy adjusting a beamformer. You can see the delay lines on the circuit board that add in the delays to the signals - that's what points the telescope.

Luke and Sammy adjusting a beamformer. You can see the delay lines on the circuit board that add in the delays to the signals – that’s what points the telescope.

While running around the core I spotted some more wildflowers.

Subtle purple wildflowers around the site.

Subtle purple wildflowers around the site.

The bush with this flower looks very sad for most of the year, something you wouldn't look twice at. Now it's got these really unusual waxy flowers.

The bush with this flower looks very sad for most of the year, something you wouldn’t look twice at. Now it’s got these really unusual waxy flowers.

Luke adjusting a beamformer in the background of some more lovely wildflowers.

Luke adjusting a beamformer in the background of some more lovely wildflowers.

Prabu working his magic again on the brains of a receiver.

Prabu working his magic again on the brains of a receiver.

After lunch we got to building the other 68 beamformers that have now arrived on site. They come semi-constructed in boxes and need to have their legs and raincovers put on (another 600 screws…).

Sammy and I building beamformers! Photo Tom Booler.

Sammy and I building beamformers! Photo Tom Booler.

After one or two we had our production line down pat and managed to build all 68 by this afternoon!

Overflow beamformers stacked up in the sunset. Tomorrow it's time to start installing them!

Overflow beamformers stacked up in the sunset. Tomorrow it’s time to start installing them.

The almost-full Moon looks over the dipole graveyard.

The almost-full Moon looks over the dipole graveyard.

We also thought you might like a quick peek into what it’s like staying at Boolardy Station, where all the astronomers, engineers and technicians usually stay when working at the MRO.

All the rooms are named after local stations and land marks, with a run down of the history within each room. Mine is 'Twin Peaks' a close by station that shares a border with Wooleen.

All the rooms are named after local stations and land marks, with a run down of the history within each room. Mine is ‘Twin Peaks’ a close by station that shares a border with Wooleen.

Looking in from the door you see the bed on the left, and a wardrobe on the right (out of view).

Looking in from the door you see the bed on the left, and a wardrobe on the right (out of view).

Next to the door is a little desk and fridge.

Next to the door is a little desk and fridge.

Finally, we have our own little bathroom with shower and toilet. It's lovely to not have to join a queue!

Finally, we have our own little bathroom with shower and toilet. It’s lovely to not have to join a queue!

And I’ll leave you with some scenes of Boolardy at sunset.

A magnificent eagles nest, with eagles come home for the night, at Boolardy. Photo Luke Horsley.

A magnificent eagles’ nest, with eagles come home for the night, at Boolardy. Photo Luke Horsley.

Life on Boolardy Station. Photo Luke Horsley.

Life on Boolardy Station. Photo Luke Horsley.

Trip 2 Day 2 Summary

Antenna Count: 4096/4096 – Completed last trip
Completed MWA Tiles: 128/128
Beam formers assembled: 128/128
Beam formers installed: 60/128 (128 on site)
Beam formers with bricks: 60/128
Receivers on pads 1/16

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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

2 responses to “Building Beamformers

  1. Dominique Ingala

    Well done guys. This is very impressive. Good luck for the next experiment.
    Dominique.

  2. Thanks Dominique, we’re hoping to finish installing all the beamformers in the next two days (we head home on Saturday).

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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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