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Murchison Widefield Array Tile

The MBO Radio Astronomy Group started off because MBO was gifted a prototype tile for the Murchison Widefield Array in late 2015. We proceeded to see if we could make it work, initially unaware that the donors hadn't considered that we would be quite that mad! :-)

The initial tile consisted of 16 antennas ("spiders") where each opposing pair of legs act as antennas for a different polarity and a beamformer which takes the signal from each pair of legs from each spider (16 cables per polarity, 2 cables from each spider, so 32 cables all up) and then can introduce a delay via a remote control system for each different path to form independent beams on the sky for each polarity. The one problem we had was to connect the legs to the cable you need a small "Low Noise Amplifier" (LNA) and (because the donors didn't think we'd be mad enough to try and make it work) there were none supplied with the system. Luckily they were very happy to supply us with the missing components. :-)

Lindsay then managed to hack a power supply into the beamformer and by the 2017 MBO Open Day we were able to demonstrate the complete system powered up and running. This let us show that the reason that MWA is the Murchison Widefield Array and not the Melbourne Widefield Array is because there's an awful lot of interference in the band it is looking in and so you need a very remote area for this to be useful.

MWA tile at 2017 open day MWA tile at ScienceWorks Planetarium Launch March 2016