Monitoring and Control of EMBRACE, a 4608 Element Phased Array for Radio Astronomy

Patrice Renaud (Observatoire de Paris), Taffoureau, Christophe (Observatoire de Paris)


EMBRACE is a technology demonstrator for the decimetre wavelength range of the Square Kilometre Array. Two arrays have been built with one at Westerbork in the Netherlands, and the other at Nancay. The array at Nancay currently has 64 tiles each with 72 antenna elements, making a phased array of 4608 elements. EMBRACE is capable of real-time analog beamforming in two independant directions using a LOFAR backend. Multiple digital beams can be formed inside each RF beam. As a demonstrator instrument, the primary goal is to test and verify its merits as an SKA candidate design. We have developped the control software for EMBRACE including both the real-time control software and the observation setup system.

We have reused and adapted the LOFAR C++ control software and implemeted a similar architecture on the LCU (Local Control Unit) computer. An extensive Python package library on the SCU (Station Control Unit) computer gives scripting functionnality for users to easily setup observation scripts for various targets and types of observation. Integrated statistics data are acquired from the LCU and saved into FITS files. Raw data (beamlets) are captured from LCU Ethernet 1Gbps outputs and saved into binary files. Future plans include the implementation of SDM (Scientific Data Model) to continue EMBRACE characterization.

Paper ID: P125

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