Fort Hays Antenna Array Trip - August 2015

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Aug. 28, 2015 01:05 PM EDT  (2477 Reads)
After a decrease in sensitivity on the Fort Hays radars, Kevin Sterne and Mike Ruohoniemi made a trip the week of August 16th to the 22nd 2015 to Hays, KS in order to assess parts needing repairs and perform what repairs could be completed. In the weeks prior to this trip, FHSU student intern Ryan White reported a few wires hanging down along the antenna arrays as well as problems with the antennas. Also, in the weeks or up to a month before the trip, one of the computers at the site began locking up.

Quick trip to Blackstone to install transmitters

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Apr. 10, 2015 09:44 AM EDT  (3159 Reads)
A quick day trip was made by Kevin Sterne and Deven Chheda on March 27th, 2015 in order to install some repaired transmitters and give a look at the site to see how things were going. This trip was originally planned after an extended network outage as well as a fear that one of the computers at the site had gone bad. However, in the days leading up to the trip the network connection as well as the issue with the computer were corrected. This left us with smaller but also important issues to complete during this trip. One of these was to install two of the four transmitters that were being worked on in the Blacksburg lab. These two had been repaired and were ready to be installed back at the site. As well, a range calibration was performed during this trip as it was noticed that sometime in mid-September, the radar's range appeared to be off. As well, this would be Deven's first trip to a SuperDARN site, so the operations and systems were explained to Deven.
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Wallops Island Transmitter Overhaul - March 2015

By: ksterne  on: Fri., Apr. 10, 2015 09:12 AM EDT  (3172 Reads)
Early in March 2015, Kevin Sterne and Mike Ruohoniemi of Virginia Tech and Drew Knuth and Ethan Miller of John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab met at the Wallops Island SuperDARN site to assess the electronics and the condition of the site. This trip would serve to prepare for a larger trip during the summer where more effort will be put into enabling elevation angle data to be collected by the radar. As well, this trip would take care of a few outstanding issues including a check of the transmitters and radar control electronics.

VT Crew makes repairs to the Kapuskasing Radar

By: miker  on: Thu., Oct. 16, 2014 10:40 PM EDT  (2593 Reads)
Kevin and Mike from Virginia Tech traveled to northern Ontario October 2 - 8 to visit the site of the Kapuskasing SuperDARN radar and make repairs. A number of technical issues were addressed including the performance of the interferometer array. By the conclusion of the trip all 15 available transmitters were functioning although a couple were out on receive owing to a lack of a needed spare part. The sensitivity of the radar has been significantly improved, in time for the first dark moon campaign period at the end of October. A slow internet connection continues to be worked on. This was the first meeting of the VT crew with the new site operator, Mr. Ghislain LeBouef. Ghislain participated in the repairs and arranged discussions with local vendors.

Photo: Kevin makes connections to the low-power T/R switch in a transmitter.
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Fort Hays Trip, May 2014

By: ksterne  on: Thu., July 03, 2014 10:33 AM EDT  (3071 Reads)
In early April, the returns from the Fort Hays radars changed drastically. The problem began on April 4th with very noise signals being recorded on both radars. The original problem seemed to begin with a blown fuse in the PTS160 synthesizer. However, in the process of replacing the fuse, some of the connections on the back of the QNX6 computer must have come loose. In phone and e-mail conversations with Ryan White, FHSU SuperDARN intern, it seemed as though something was wrong with the RXFE or the way the RXFE was being controlled. In the end, it seemed as though a touchy connection between one of the outputs of the QNX6 computer and the control cable was causing the RXFE to not keep the correct settings. A replacement for this connection was put together and a trip was made to the site to repair this connection as well as do an assessment of the site.

Blackstone Trips March/April 2014

By: ksterne  on: Tue., Apr. 15, 2014 04:01 PM EDT  (2758 Reads)
After the overhaul of electronics at the Blackstone site in 2011, a better way of controlling the phase beam steering was introduced with a modified version of what the University of Saskatchewan radars are using (Saskatoon, Inuviuk, Prince George, Ranken Inlet, and Clyde River). This design makes use of direct digital synthesis (DDS) chips and a micro-controller to create the phase shifts as well as the control signals that are needed to run the radar. The modified design was purchased from the University of Saskatchewan and assembled in the Virginia Tech lab between 2013 and 2014. During the end of March and a separate trip on April 8th, the modified Univ. of Saskatchewan design was installed at the Blackstone radar. Also during these trips, measurements and calibrations were done in order to reconfirm the tdiff to be used in the hdw.dat.bks file.

In the end these calculations did not result in a new line to the hdw.dat.bks file from the previous change on July 9, 2013. As well, the Blackstone radar began recording elevation angle data late in the day on March 27th, 2014.
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