Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tracking the Sun from Birr!

By lunch time on the second day we got the antenna into tracking mode. The photo shows the antenna pointing towards the Sun. The antenna pointing can be updated as often as every few seconds, therefore enabling us to continuously track the Sun from sunrise to sunset.

Setting up the control box

All the control and data-acquisition electronics are housed in a large weather proof metal box that is connected to the Rosse Observatory control room. In a few weeks time, we'll be able to communicated with this from the comfort of our offices in TCD.

Peter's interior decorating skills

Data, data everywhere ...

Following a good builder's breakfast (sausage, pudding, eggs and rashers all in the one bread roll!), we fired up the control PC and started testing communications with the antenna drive motor and Callisto receiver. After some minor crossed-wires, the electronics appeared to be working well.

The entrance to Birr Castle at midnight

The beer must have affected my camera focus!

Sunset and the antenna mounted on drive

After only 7 hours the antenna is in place. Nearly time for a beer ...

Where did I leave that screw driver?

Life as a grad student

Pietro and Eoin show off their mechano skills. The antenna is a 3m long log-periodic antenna that looks for all intensive purposes like an over-sized TV arial. The only difference is that we're using it to pick up signals from the inner Heliophere ... as opposed to RTE TV.


The first success of the day. Between the four of us, some rope and lots of heaving, the antenna drive motor was fixed to the top of the support post. The next step was to align it at right angles to the ground.

Colonel Joe

The main support for the antenna post was set aligned by the troops ...

New car

My new car was not meant to be used for cross-country driving and lugging heavy equipment across fields!

Placing the mount

We arrived in Birr on Monday morning, and began constructing the hexagonal mount. The most time-consuming processes was setting it up in a north-south orientation.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Antenna Motor Tracker

The drive and the drive software were successfully tested today. Further tests will be carried out during the remainder of the week to ensure that it is accurately tracking the Sun, from sunrise to sunset.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Control Room Upgrade

The radio observatory control room (aka the sheep shed!) has now been dry-lined, plastered and has electricity and broadband.

Pietro Zucca and Eoin Carley in the control room

Joe McCauley

The trench with electrical cables and phone line connected to the control room.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Test of the motor and Data control Unit

The traking system is tested.
Pietro Zucca connecting the motor to the control Unit.
In the left and right pictures the control unit tested with the control software.
A sreenshot of the software used to track the Sun.

Motor tracking the Sun

In order to maximize the capability to observe Solar radio Burst, the log-periodic antenna will be moved traking the Sun with a special motor designed for satellite tracking.

In the following picture the motor.

Birr Castle, Possible future location for LOFAR

In the following picture Eoin Carley in the area that will be probably designed for a LOFAR Station in the heart of Ireland.

Birr Castle in County Offaly is a very quiete Radio Area. Perfetc location for radio observatories.
The  Birr Caslte radio survey. In the upper picture. This location is a good radio quiet area.

The Site of e-Callisto Ireland

On wednesday the 28th of June we had a short visit of the Callisto future location.
Callisto will be moved at the and of August.
The control room (the building up-right on the picture) will be restored. In the upper picture the trench ready for the cable setting from the control room to the antenna basament.

3 AUG 2010. The builder is dry-lining the walls and putting in the ceiling - Skimming walls.

4 AUG 2010. Electrician is on-site today wiring the room.

                      Phone line will be housed in 2 inch Wavin piping.

6 AUG 2010  Room finished by Friday.

The control room. (was used as a sheep house) In the upper picture the room before the restoration with some sheep. (Miracles of Ireland)

The Antenna basament. In the picture Dr. McAteer taking GPS coordinates.

The upper picture shows the trench going from the control room to the antenna basament.

Moving Callisto at Birr Castle

Callisto will be soon moved in the new and definitive location in County Offaly in the heart of Ireland.

To follow a family important tradition of astronomers, Lord Ross gives to the College the possibility to install a radio observatory at Birr Castle near the Great Leviathan Telescope an astronomical telescope with a 183-cm (72 in) reflector. It was completed in 1845 and was used for several decades before the last observations were made in the first years of the 20th century. Its record size was not surpassed until the completion of the 254-cm (100-in) Hooker Telescope in 1917. It was dismantled in 1914, but was restored in the 1990s and is open to the public.

The scheme of the system: