EXTERNAL INSTRUMENT

The Engineering Development Array

The Engineering Development Array (EDA) is a separate telescope designed and built by Curtin University, in parallel with AAVS, described here: The Engineering Development Array: A low frequency radio telescope utilising SKA precursor technology by Wayth et al (2017). It is a single field-node of 256 antennas, replicating the proposed antenna layout of the SKA_LOW field nodes, but using MWA dipole antennas instead of SKALA antennas. Data taken from the EDA is compared and correlated against the MWA.

As the MWA antennas have already been thoroughly characterised, the EDA helps us understand how a larger group of randomly spread antennas can be expected to perform in the given layout.

The EDA is located near the core of the MWA. The MWA amplifiers were improved for use in the EDA, so that the frequency range of the EDA is 50MHz- 300MHz.

The EDA was conceived, constructed and commissioned in less than a year.

The current (deployed) version of the EDA, also called EDA-1, did not incorporate conversion of signal straight to fibre like AAVS; instead it uses 16 regular MWA beamformers on the ground-plane to transfer the signal data to a piece of equipment that acts like a receiver, called the Kaelus Beamformer.

The next stage, called EDA-2, will use one of the empty AAVS feld node locations. Like EDA-1, it will have 256 new MWA-style antennas with modifed amplifers on the ground-plane. However, instead of using beamformers, EDA-2 will have 16 ‘smart-boxes’, each of which will power 16 MWA-style antennas and convert the signals from those antennas to optical fibre.