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Rapid Development of Radio Astronomy Instrumentation Using Open Source FPGA Boards, Tools and Libraries

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Title: Rapid Development of Radio Astronomy Instrumentation Using Open Source FPGA Boards, Tools and Libraries


1
Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and
Electronics Research
Rapid Development of Radio Astronomy
Instrumentation Using Open Source FPGA Boards,
Tools and Libraries
thirty
(how to build ten radio astronomy instruments in
two years)
2
CASPER The Friendly...
Group Helping Open-source Signal-Processing
Technology? (GHOST)
  • Goal is to Develop High Performance Signal
    Processing Infrastructure for the Astronomy
    Community and Beyond.
  • Open Source Everything.
  • Use Commodity Off-the-shelf Hardware Where
    Possible.
  • Provide Training and Tutorials (Wiki, Video
    Lectures, Workshops etc...)
  • Promote Collaboration (30 Universities and
    Observatories.
  • Do Not Necessarily Concentrate or Specialize in
    Turn-Key Instruments.

3
The Problem With The Current Hardware Development
Model
  • Takes Five to Ten Years
  • Cost Dominated by NRE Because of Custom Boards,
    Backplanes and Protocols
  • Antiquated by the Time of Release
  • Each Observatory Designs From Scratch

Conventional Radio Astronomy Instrument Rack
Conventional Radio Astronomy Compute Board
4
Solution
Modular Hardware
  • Low Number of Board Designs
  • Can be Upgraded Piecemeal or All Together
  • Reusable
  • Standard Signal Processing Model Consistent
    Between Upgrades

IBOB Board
Roach Board
BEE2 Board
5
A Beowulf Cluster for Radio Astronomy
6
What is an FPGA?
  • FPGAs are programmable logic elements -
    bread-boards on a chip that can have their
    circuits reconfigured to perform specific tasks
    very efficiently.
  • In addition to simple reconfigurable logic gates
    (AND, XOR, etc..) FPGAs often contain memory and
    dedicated multipliers.

7
Modular Gateware
Platform-Independent Parameterized Gateware
Transposer
ADC
PFB/FFT
  • Gateware is the Design Logic of FPGAs (Between
    Hardware and Software)
  • Signal Processing Libraries Which Do Not Need to
    be Rewritten Every Hardware Generation (FFTs,
    PFBs, DDC)
  • Implement Industry Standard Communication
    Protocols (10 Gb Ethernet, UDP)

Buffer
iBOB
Integrator
Pocket Spectrometer
8
4-input Pocket Correlators
VLBI Channelizers
High-Res Spectrometers
9
An 32-input Correlator 16 iBOBs 1 BEE2
10
An Arbitrary Sized Correlator Using a
commercial switch we can solve the interconnect
problem and enable highly scalable instruments.
11
How to Program?
12
Example a Digital Down Converter
13
The Flys Eye
A Search for Highly Energetic Dispersed Radio
Transients using the Allen Telescope Array
14
Flys Eye Motivation
Exciting Results From Lorimer et al.
  • Lorimer, et. al., A Bright Millisecond Radio
    Burst of Extragalactic Origin. Science, 318,
    2007.
  • Possible Sources of
  • Bright Short-Duration Radio Pulses
  • Evaporating primordial black holes
  • Coalescing massive objects (NS-NS, NS-BH merger
    events)
  • Emissions from cusps on cosmic strings
  • ET
  • RFI
  • Pulses of this type could serve as an invaluable
    cosmological probe of the intergalactic medium.

Frequency vs. Time Waterfall (Lorimer 2007)
15
Flys Eye Timeline
  • Lorimer, et. al., A Bright Millisecond Radio
    Burst of Extragalactic Origin. Science, 318,
    2007.
  • Flys Eye First Light

December 22, 2007
September 27, 2007
  • November 19, 2007 - Dan Werthimer and Geoff Bower
    have lunch to discuss transient search projects
    using the ATA.
  • November 20, 2007 - Dan Werthimer tasks a group
    of mostly undergraduate students to begin
    building a transient instrument.
  • December 22, 2007 - Flys Eye Team installs Flys
    Eye at ATA.
  • February, March 2008 - Conducted 500 hours of
    weekend observations.
  • April 2008 - Present - Data analysis underway

16
Flys Eye Basics
44 independent spectrometers - constructed using
a system of eleven iBOB/iADC quad
spectrometers Built using open-source CASPER
hardware and software libraries in about one
month.
Sky Coverage 22 - 42 beams 100-200 square
degrees Spectrometer Specifications (each) 208
MHz bandwidth, at 1430 MHz 128 spectral
channels 0.625 mS readout Distributions Spatial,
DM, Power, Pulse Width
Flys Eye Rack at ATA
17
Other Applications...
VLBI Mark 5B Data Recorder - Haystack,
NRAO Transient Searches - Flys Eye at ATA - UC
Berkeley and Cornell Beamforming ATA SMA -
Weintroub, Urry, Milgrome et al. Oxford -
Zarb-Adami et al. SETI Arecibo - Werthimer, et
al. JPL/UCB Deep Space Network - Levin et
al. Pulsar Timing and Searching NRAO, Berkeley,
Swinburne, Jodrell Bank et al. Correlators and
Imagers ATA - Wright et al. EOR - Backer,
Bradley, Parsons et al. CARMA Next Gen - Hawkins,
Wright et al. MeerKAT/SKA South Africa - Jonas,
Langman, et al. GMRT Next Gen Others....
18
Now its your turn!
CASPERs Hello World Blink-a-Light
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