Technical Operations News Items

Blackstone Trip, July 2018

By: ksterne  on: Wed., Sep. 26, 2018 01:46 PM EDT  (208 Reads)
With the visit of FHSU student intern Kelly Strecker and with the repairs of some transmitters from the May 2018 trip, this trip to the Blackstone radar introduced Kelly to more radar hardware and allowed the installation of the transmitters. The goal with the transmitters was to get all of them firing as all of the antennas were repaired earlier in the year. With the two recently repaired transmitters, the radar was left running on all antennas at the end of this trip. However, two additional transmitters were found to not be running so these were brought back to the Blacksburg lab for repairs. These transmitters will be spares at the site once repaired and returned.

In addition to these items, a check of the electrical lengths along the coax and inside in the electronics was performed as gathering correct elevation angle data has become an emphasis across SuperDARN. The time delay was found to be close to previous values, with some small differences. This new difference will be reflected in the hdw.dat file for Blackstone.

Wallops Island Antenna Overhaul Trip Part I, May 2018

By: ksterne  on: Mon., July 02, 2018 02:56 PM EDT  (616 Reads)
After a trip in March 2018, the next steps in making repairs to the antenna array would be the removal of the old reflector wires as well as the upper and lower horizontal guy wires. A trip was made to the site in mid-May as the availability of personnel and a lift from Wallops Island’s facilities coincided at this time. Thanks needs to be given to Philip Smith with NASA/Wallops Island for coordinating a lift for us. A majority of materials ordered following the March 2018 trip would also be on hand by this time which would facilitate the initial steps needed for the repairs.

Blackstone Antenna Repair Trip, May 2018

By: ksterne  on: Fri., June 29, 2018 02:44 PM EDT  (538 Reads)
Following the April 2018 overnight trip to Blackstone when many of the transmitters were repaired, a trip was needed to make some repairs to the antenna array. On leaving the radar during the April trip, there were more transmitters in working condition that there were antennas. A trip was organized in order to make repairs to the antenna array including antenna feeder cables, antenna wires, baluns, resistor boxes, and reflector wires. Dr. Mike Ruohoniemi, Paul Kennedy, and Kevin Sterne made 2-day trip to the site in order to make these repairs and investigate any other issues along the antenna arrays.

Blackstone Transmitter Repair Trip, April 2018

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Apr. 27, 2018 02:39 PM EDT  (1940 Reads)
Following the March 2018 day trip to Blackstone, it was noticed that about 5 to 6 transmitters were not on or running for various reasons. As time did not allow of any kind of electronics checks during the previous trip, this trip was made by Kevin Sterne and Dr. Mike Ruohoniemi to review and make repairs on the electronics inside of the building. It was hoped that any outdoor work on the antennas could be performed during this trip, but logistics did not allow for making it worth renting a high-lift. In addition, the newly installed wireless hop system would be re-checked to see about improving the connection as it was still experiencing some minor problems despite staying up for the majority of the time.

Blackstone Wireless Hop Upgrade Trip, March 2018

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Mar. 16, 2018 01:56 PM EDT  (845 Reads)
Following an extended period of problems with the network connection to the site, a trip was planned after some new equipment was purchased to replace the aging wireless bridge system. The network connection has been a problem since the site was constructed, and in particular since the installation of new radios in 2011. However, through late 2017 and early 2018, the network connection was mostly down leading to long backlogs of data. To resolve this problem, new antennas, mounting hardware, and Ethernet cable were taken out to the site along with replacement radios that were in the lab. This trip was made while Mike and Kevin were coming back from Wallops Island in the two days prior. Of course, upon arriving to the site, the network connection was working.

Wallops Island Antenna Assessment Trip, March 2018

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Mar. 16, 2018 01:07 PM EDT  (653 Reads)
After examining the condition of many of the radars, it was determined that a major effort should be put into repairing the antenna array at Wallops Island. This effort also follows work done by Mike and Ethan along with Rob Pfaff to get the grounds around the antenna arrays cleared out and maintained in late 2016 and 2017. During this trip, Mike and Kevin took stock of what exactly needed to be repaired on the antenna arrays and get some order sheets going. With additional time, the RF performance of the transmitters and antennas would be measured to quantify the amount of repairs needed. Dr. Ethan Miller and Dr. Patrick Dandenault from APL joined us for a day to review the antenna array repair project.

Fort Hays Reflector Rebuild Trip Part 2, Aug. 2017

By: ksterne  on: Wed., Oct. 04, 2017 11:16 AM EDT  (1627 Reads)
Following the May 2017 trip, the west main reflector array still needed to be rebuilt with a little over half of the wires still needing to be strung up. This trip would also serve as the last tune up of the radar prior to the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017.

Fort Hays Reflector Rebuild Trip, May 2017

By: ksterne  on: Tue., Oct. 03, 2017 04:06 PM EDT  (1355 Reads)
Following an ice storm in January 2017 and an assessment trip in Feb. 2017 a major trip was made to make repairs to the West main antenna array reflector so that the west radar was fully functional well prior to the August 2017 solar eclipse.

Blackstone Trip, March 2017

By: ksterne  on: Mon., Apr. 10, 2017 02:00 PM EDT  (2069 Reads)
Following the November 2016 trip, the correct size (5/8” rod) of CADweld mold was ordered in order to complete the grounding work that had been long overdue. However, winter cold and wet set in and so the work could not be completed until better temperatures arrived. In the month prior to this trip the internet connection to the site had been out for several days if not weeks at a time going on 3 to 4 weeks. So with these issues, a trip was planned to take care of these issues and make sure the radar was running fairly well (with known issues on the antennas).

Fort Hays Reflector Wire Repair Trip, Feb. 2017

By: ksterne  on: Mon., Feb. 27, 2017 01:38 PM EST  (2394 Reads)
Hays, KS sustained a major freezing rain and icing event in mid-January 2017. Following reports from FHSU student intern, Brett Chrisler, of significant damage to the West main antenna array a trip was made by engineer Kevin Sterne to assess the damage at the radar site. As well, this trip would be allow for preparations to be made for a future repair trip.

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