Alpha, Beta, Gamma are good to go!

Day three started a bit more slowly with some admin in the office, and then reached frenzy pitch in the afternoon as we reached the countdown to home time.

Our task today was to start installing the beamformers we constructed yesterday. There were already 60 out and installed, which leaves 68 for us to put in in just two days. We were optimistic this morning and last night, and then the optimism fell away after lunch when we realised how long it was taking us – but we did manage to get all the beamformers for the Alpha, Beta and Gamma parts of the array complete – which only leaves Delta and Epsilon left (which are smaller than the rest.)

A very quick snap of the start of our day - laying out our final four beamformers in the core to complete the Beta array (Alpha was completed on trip 1 and fully adjusted on this trip.)

A very quick snap of the start of our day – laying out our final four beamformers in the core to complete the Beta array (Alpha was completed on trip 1 and fully adjusted on this trip.)

We got to visit some of my favourite tiles today. Yep, I have favourites – wouldn’t you with views like this at work?

Sammy and Luke installing a beamformer on the tile right near the breakaways.

Sammy and Luke installing a beamformer on the tile right near the breakaways.

We also had some further excitement today – Tom left in one of our cars for Geraldton before breakfast this morning to meet a light plane to take some aerial photographs of the site.

The tiny plane (circa 1972!) that circled overhead for about 3 hours with a photographer hanging out.

The tiny plane (circa 1972!) that circled overhead for about 3 hours with a photographer hanging out.

They took both stills and a movie while flying overhead – we’re all interested to see the results.

A shaky camera phone shot of the photographing plane. (Photo Luke Horsley)

A shaky camera phone shot of the photographing plane. (Photo Luke Horsley)

I was (of course) on the lookout for more wildflowers today, and the MRO provided. These little flowers almost looked like 'paper flowers' and I only saw them in one small patch of tiles near the airstrip.

I was (of course) on the lookout for more wildflowers today, and the MRO provided. These little flowers almost looked like ‘paper flowers’ and I only saw them in one small patch of tiles near the airstrip.

This tiny plant looks completely dead, except for the purple flower sprouting out of it. The ruler isn't intended for scale - it was holding the flower still in the wind for a photo!

This tiny plant looks completely dead, except for the purple flower sprouting out of it. The ruler isn’t intended for scale – it was holding the flower still in the wind for a photo!

I found some bright yellow wildflowers out near the breakaways. You can kind of see Sammy and Luke working hard in the background.

I found some bright yellow wildflowers out near the breakaways. You can kind of see Sammy and Luke working hard in the background.

Unfortunately the flowers and wildlife couldn’t distract us from realising the inevitable – we weren’t going to be able to install all the beamformers.  Dave has specifically said to us a number of times that there’s no pressure to finish but we really don’t want to leave another job incomplete. We were being pretty down about it (some of us still hopeful we could make it) when we learned we didn’t have to leave for our flight home first thing on Saturday morning, so we can hopefully finish up the job then.  That was the highlight of dinner for me tonight – knowing we’d have the chance to do them all!

Bring on tomorrow I say!

Continuing our tour of Boolardy, here’s a glimpse of the kitchen…

The kitchen and part of the dining room at Boolardy. That fridge contains lunch for tomorrow (including a box full of cakes!)

The kitchen and part of the dining room at Boolardy. That fridge contains lunch for tomorrow (including a box full of cakes!)

…and the tasty dinner that came out of it tonight!

Dinner tonight, the food is great here at Boolardy too, though I think Luke laments the lack of 'extra cheese'! (Food styling by Sammy.)

Dinner tonight, the food is great here at Boolardy too, though I think Luke laments the lack of ‘extra cheese’! (Food styling by Sammy.)

Come back and join us for our last full day tomorrow, where hopefully I can report all the beamformers getting installed.

While all our adventuring was happening today, I should add that Prabu and Dave got another of the 16 receivers on its pad and hooked up – great job guys.  They are planning on getting the third started, if not finished tomorrow. Lots of hard work going on out here!

Antenna Count: 4096/4096 – Completed last trip
Completed MWA Tiles: 128/128
Beam formers assembled: 128/128
Beam formers installed: 90/128 (128 on site)
Beam formers with bricks: 65/128
Receivers on pads 2/16

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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

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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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