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APERTIF phased array prototype ready!

Submitter: Mark Ruiter on behalf of the APERTIF team
Description: The APERTIF phased array feed prototype is ready for installation in Westerbork.

On the mechanical side, the frontend incorporates several new design features. First the feedbox did get wheels to ease installation at 13 m heigth. Also a very nice alignment framework was designed to guide the feed to the correct plane for every dish. This framework uses a reference plate for initial alignment to ensure proper positioning. Furthermore it has locking mechanisms at both the top and bottom sides to keep the feed in place during operation.

The RF hardware was also updated. The noise figure of the current LNA was improved. Furthermore, a very low-loss filter has been added to remove some nearby radio interferers. Finally, the whole design has been made ready for Design For Manufacture (DFM). All frontend boards have been verified in a measurement setup, using our magic RF box to measure transmission. This ensures the performance for the complete phased array feed.

The few production issues that were identified will be solved in the next design. And to lower the noise figure even more a new low-noise amplifier will be used. More on this LNA later. In the coming weeks it will be mounted in Westerbork and tested to see how good it really is. Exciting times lie ahead!
Copyright: ASTRON (R&D)
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