Monday, December 14, 2009

Owain's Last LOFAR Chilbolton Status Update

Owain Davies (the STFC LOFAR Station Manager at Chilbolton) is leaving STFC at the end of December for a position in the Earth Stations Engineering Group within Inmarsat. In his last status report about LOFAR (edited version below, which is actually a combination of his Dec 7th and Nov 23rd reports found in full for the LOFAR-UK scientists on the LOFAR-UK Wiki) he says:

"It is with regret that I bid farewell to LOFAR at this stage, particularly as it was moving in to the phase that I was most looking forward to. Chilbolton LOFAR was the first project where STFC entrusted me with the role of project manager and the skills and experiences I have gained during this time have been of great benefit to my other areas of work at Chilbolton over this past year."

Owain has handed over his role to Mike Willis from STFC/RAL (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory). Mike has managed various radio wave propagation contracts from Ofcom and is also an active participant in the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). Prior to taking the role of LOFAR Station Manager, Mike had been investigating Recognised Spectrum Access (RSA) status for the Chilbolton site. Derek McKay, the SEPnet Commissioning Engineer, will also continue to shadow the LOFAR Station manager as well as working on SEPnet activities.


Two deliveries of the LOFAR kit have been accepted at the Chilbolton Observatory. In the car park there is now the LOFAR container, the LBA (low band antenna) ground planes and the weed suppressant foils. Inside the Chilbolton main building is the electronic equipment which will go inside the container, the LBA antennae, and the LBA and HBA (high band antenna) cables.

HBA Tiles: Delivery of these parts are tricky to organise, as they need to be stored carefully and they are quite large. ASTRON are keen to deliver some of the tiles over the winter, with the rest warehoused in the Netherlands. STFC/Chilbolton are keen to accept the tiles and possible storage solutions are being investigated.

In the below picture from the main LOFAR website, you can see HBAs in the foreground (and LBAs in the background) - obviously very different designs for the two wavenlength ranges for LOFAR.

Site Preparation

The STFC design specification for the Chilbolton LOFAR site is complete, and it is with the contractors for pricing and scheduling. Expect news on this in the next status update.

Chilbolton LOFAR Launch Event

The date of Thursday 1 July 2010 has been set for the Chilbolton LOFAR Launch Event, and while the exact details are still to be decided, the Intech Science Centre and Planetarium has been booked for the event, and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, will open the Chilbolton LOFAR Station.

Intech is a hands-on interactive science and technology centre, administered by the educational charity, The Hampshire Technology Centre Trust Ltd, with the specific purpose of promoting the knowledge and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It is located 20 minutes drive from Chilbolton and has good links to the M3 and Winchester train station. A Holiday Inn is being built next door to Intech and will be open in March 2010. The Intech planetarium will seat 170 and offers an excellent venue to enthuse an audience in the work that LOFAR-UK will do.

Current Projected Timeline

  • LBA + LOFAR container: Early spring 2010
  • Network Connection: 4 month lead time, LOFAR-UK to decide when order is placed
  • HBA: Spring 2010

    Owain ends:
    "LOFAR was the most challenging, yet rewarding project I have worked on during my 8 years at the Chilbolton Observatory. I wish you all well and the Chilbolton LOFAR Station every success. "

    Thanks Owain. We all wish you well at Inmarsat too.
  • No comments:

    Post a Comment