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Road to MeerKAT KAT-7 DBE. Alan Langman. meerKAT. Overview . Objectives of meerKAT Location Location Location MeerKAT Engineering Specification Prototypes to MeerKAT KAT-7 Mention Control Interface Other research Questions?. KAT/MeerKAT Objectives.

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Road to meerkat kat 7 dbe

Road to MeerKATKAT-7 DBE

Alan Langman


  • Objectives of meerKAT

  • Location LocationLocation

  • MeerKAT Engineering Specification

  • Prototypes to MeerKAT

  • KAT-7

  • Mention Control Interface

  • Other research

  • Questions?

KAT/MeerKAT Objectives

  • Build a world class radio telescope (up to 80 dishes)

  • Choose a frequency range that is likely to have high science impact.

  • Commission a 7 dish system from end of 2009, engineering risk mitigation and do some early science.

  • Train a new generation of scientists and engineers who are capable to participate in large international projects, such as the SKA.

  • Provide an excellent facility for local and international scientists.

  • Implement mission-driven innovation to mobilise industry, academia and research fraternity.

  • SKA pathfinder

Meerkat specifications
MeerKAT Specifications

Meerkat dbe functions
MeerKAT DBE Functions

  • Imaging (continuum + spectral line)

  • Beamforming(continuum + spectral line)

  • Pulsar Timing

  • Transient Detection

  • Baseband recording

  • VLBI

  • (and more … scope is still under revision)

What is the kat meerkat

Dishes and Feeds:

80 x 12 m dishes, each equipped with a single pixel prime focus feed

Key interfaces

Optical RF links:

80 x 2 optical links

(80 dishes, 2 polarisations)

Digital Receiver

Station Controller (Karoo)

Front end station processor

Station data:

High speed, large data volume, long distance data transfer Karoo Station to off-site data processing facility.

Back end station processor

Operations Centre

(Cape Town)

Station data:

Distribution internationally, typically over TCP/IP.

User (Scientist)

Internet access

What is the KAT/MeerKAT?

The prototyping phases
The prototyping phases

Same site in the Karoo – 2009 onwards

On the proposed SKA site in Karoo – 2008 onwards

MeerKAT roll-out & commissioning

KAT-7 construction & commissioning

Current – at HartRAO

Experimental development model (XDM)

Current – at SAAO


Phased Experimental Demonstrator (PED)

4x3x2 FPA

Meerkat dbe functions1
MeerKAT DBE Functions

  • Imaging (continuum + spectral line)

  • Beamforming(continuum + spectral line)

  • Pulsar Timing

  • Baseband recording

  • VLBI

Kat 7 physical architecure
KAT-7 Physical Architecure

Katadc requirements
katADC Requirements

  • The katADC shall include an E2PROM to store configuration information.

  • The katADC shall operate from 50MHz to 1GHz (goal 1.5GHz).

  • The katADC shall sample data with more than 6.5 ENOB over the full operating frequency range.

  • The katADC shall have a 50 ohm termination on the input, switchable via a suitable RF switch.

  • The katADC shall have 30dB RF gain control

  • The katADC shall have an onboard PLL clock generator.

  • The katADC shall have RFI shielding.

Gateware firmware

  • 100% CASPER tools

  • Developed Board Support Package for ROACH

  • Integrated into toolchain

  • U-boot port on board

  • Ready for ROACH

Control monitoring
Control / Monitoring

  • Control interface are lines of text

    • Similar to tinysh, but with two differences:

      • Syntax somewhat more formal, more amenable to machine parsing

      • Not only set and get commands – commands defined for application domain (eg: start a data capture)

  • In concept similar to a shell, but also SMTP, IMAP, POP, FTP


  • Runs out of FPGA blockrams on PPC

  • Control protocol runs over serial port

  • Multiple simultaneous data products over network interfaces (100Mbit, 10Gbit):

    • Histograms (2 * 256 bins)

    • Radiometers (2 * integrated power value)

    • Spectrometer (1024 channels, IQUV integrated)

    • Raw (2 * 1024 complex values)

Datastream control
Datastream control

  • Create and destroy streams

  • Set up parameters for data products

  • Start and stop data streams

  • Data transfer

    • High speed data products emitted autonomously by gateware over 10Gbit

    • Lower bandwidth data products transferred by processor via 100Mbit interface

Example command
Example Command

  • Broadcast histogram data for 15 seconds:

  • ?capture-create stream1

  • ?capture-source stream1 hist

  • ?capture-destination stream1 xdp1:

  • ?channel-dump-rate stream1 4

  • ?capture-start stream1 1194508376

  • ?capture-stop stream1 1194508391

  • ?capture-destroy stream1

Other control and monitoring
Other control and monitoring

  • Set time

  • Configure network interfaces

  • Dump and restore settings to survive reprogramming

  • Report log events

  • ...

Hibob m aitken
hiBOB (M. Aitken)

Hubbleadc j salkinder
hubbleADC (J. Salkinder)