Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Lego radio antennas — Part 1

Putting the KAIRA site together has been sometimes described as being akin to assembling flat-pack furniture or building Lego. Ah... if only it was that simple! Despite the failings of this analogy, it is a fun one. And it can certainly be a great way to demonstrate or explain concepts. So, in this article (the first of a little special series), we'll take a look a some examples of miniature radio antennas built from that famous Danish toy: Lego!

And, in order to be topical, our first example comes from the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) community. Although the SKA will have aperture arrays like KAIRA, it will also have sets of conventional radio dishes as well.

Currently, there are a variety of prototypes for antennas (both dishes and phased arrays), which are being considered for the two main site candidates of the final SKA project. At this stage, it has not been decided where the final telescope system will be located, but the list has been shortened to two strong candidates: Southern Africa and Australasia.

Our Lego model today is from the second of the two: the anzSKA project.

Here are the pieces...


And the build sequence...


And the result!


More models of other systems are to follow on this web log (including some stunning ones of KAIRA and LOFAR). We'll also be using them to show how they can be used to explain radio astronomy and engineering concepts to children. So stay in touch for our future instalments!

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