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26 May 1998 Conversion of a 30-m former satellite communications antenna to a radio telescope
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Abstract
A class of large satellite communication antennas built in the mid-1970's comprise a potential set of large antennas available for use by radio astronomers upon upgrade. With the advent of low noise technology these facilities have been superseded in the communications industry by smaller, more manageable facilities. Although many have sat idle and decaying over the intervening years, these facilities remain a potential resource for research and education. A pair of such dishes has been acquired by Georgia Tech and one of the 30 meter antennas has been completely mechanically and electrically stripped and new mechanical, control, RF, and electrical systems installed. The antenna is now driven by four continuous-speed vector-controlled three-phase AC induction motors with variable frequency vector motor drives. Sixteen bit resolution optical absolute position encoders on each axis provide telescope pointing data. Sixteen bit resolution optical absolute position encoders on each axis provide telescope pointing data. A programmable logic controller provides interlock monitoring and control. The antenna is controllable both manually via a portable remote control unit and via a Pentium PC running control software on a real-time UNIX-based platform. The manual unit allows limited control at two user-selectable speeds while computer control allows full tracking capability with accuracies of better than 0.3 arcminutes. The facility can be remotely controlled via the internet, although currently only a dedicated line is used. The antenna has been refitted with an ultra-broadband feed system capable of operating from 1-7 GHz.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
David R. DeBoer, Paul G. Steffes, and John M. Glowacki "Conversion of a 30-m former satellite communications antenna to a radio telescope", Proc. SPIE 3351, Telescope Control Systems III, (26 May 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.308814; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.308814
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