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A new clock system for the LOFAR core

Submitter: Peter Maat
Description: A few months ago, our scientific overlords expressed a desire for better clock accuracy between the stations of the LOFAR core (daily image 16/10/2012). Rising magnificently to the challenge, this upgrade has now been realized by our R&D lab with the development of a new clock distribution system by Gijs Schoonderbeek, Klaas Dijkstra and Peter Maat and its deployment in the field by Klaas Stuurwold and Henry Meulman.

In the original configuration, a rubidium clock and a GPS-based synchronization were employed. The improved system makes use of a central clock at the network Concentrator Node in Buinen (near Exloo), in combination with an optical distribution of the signal along the LOFAR fibre optic cable infrastructure. By using optical transmitters (lasers) at unoccupied wavelengths, in combination with wavelength multiplexing, it was not necessary to lay new fibres for this upgrade.

The pictures show (clockwise):
  • (1) system assembly by Gijs and Klaas
  • (2) a clock board, lasers and splice trays with the optical muxes in one of the transmitter boxes
  • (3) the transmitter system at the Concentrator Node
  • (4) fibre splicing during system assembly
  • Copyright: ASTRON
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