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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?

Road to meerkat kat 7 dbe

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

Ska bid remote site

SKA Bid - Remote site

Road to meerkat kat 7 dbe

The SKA & KAT site

South african radio frequency measurement campaign

South African Radio Frequency Measurement Campaign

Radio frequency environment hartrao

Radio Frequency Environment HartRAO

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

Road to meerkat kat 7 dbe

11 April 2007

First extra galactic object recorded by xdm 17 07 2007

First extra-galactic object recorded by XDM – 17/07/2007

Drift scan across Cygnus A

Kat 7



Kat 7 specifications

KAT-7 Specifications

Meerkat dbe functions1

MeerKAT DBE Functions

  • Imaging (continuum + spectral line)

  • Beamforming(continuum + spectral line)

  • Pulsar Timing

  • Baseband recording

  • VLBI

Kat 7 functional view

KAT-7 Functional View

Kat 7 physical architecure

KAT-7 Physical Architecure

Dbe architecture for kat 7

DBE Architecture for KAT-7





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)

Road to meerkat kat 7 dbe

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