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Celebrating 'Darkrai', the LOFAR2.0 test subrack

Submitter: Arno Schoenmakers
Description: LOFAR2.0 is the future system and will largely replace the current LOFAR system. In the LOFAR2.0 Station project we intend to create an updated station with more robustness against RFI and other strong signals, better performance and updated monitor and control software. This can only be achieved by a new system with many newly designed electronic components.

To meet the challenging requirements of LOFAR2.0, we have designed a completely new LOFAR subrack. And for the first time, we have now been able to integrate nearly all developed components and boards into a first functioning prototype subrack. The subrack contains the qualification models of all the new board designs for LOFAR2, among which the new Uniboard2C, the new RCU2 receivers for the low-band antenna, a new power distribution board and clock and control board. This test setup is called DTS-Lab-Lite, and nicknamed 'Darkrai' in the project; DTS is short for "Dwingeloo Test Station".

Our 'Darkrai' system does not have all the functionality of a full subrack. But it allows us to start measuring the efficiency of the cooling within the subrack, to further develop control and monitor functionality on nearly finished hardware and to set up a first (limited) signal chain. It is therefore a major step forward for the project and the team, and that achievement in itself is worthy of a celebration! On Tuesday, October 19th, we invited the team and the stakeholders to visit 'Darkrai' in the digital lab, and enjoy a piece of cake with each other. Especially the latter was nice, considering that we have not been able to do that in the last year and a half due to COVID restrictions. Gijs Schoonderbeek gave a wonderful tour of 'Darkrai' and left many people impressed by what has been built so far.
Copyright: ASTRON
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