Day 2 Update

Another nice day at the radar! We started off with Evan returning to modifying the rest of the power monitor boards. I believe he is now a master of power monitor board modification. Do I smell a section in a thesis???

I started off the day by working on getting the radar running again. After figuring out last night on what scripts were necessary to start and stop the radar, we noticed the noise level to be very high without any returns at all. When we arrived, we also noted that none of the transmitters were making power. Eventually this was all tracked down to me not understanding that a 100 MHz signal needed to be connected back to the Interface Box (many thanks to Todd and Jef for their input on resolving this right before Jef was set to travel to King Salmon). I did gain some knowledge about connections on the DDS card and Interface Box though!

From here, I took over the soldering bench and finished modifications to the receiver front ends. There was some confusion on exactly what pins needed to be jumpered. After getting all the modifications done and plugging it back in, no returns were showing up on the real-time display. Relooking at the PCB files and the PCBs on the receiver front ends, I noticed I had still not jumpered the right pins that were necessary for the modification to work. Getting it plugged back in a second time revealed returns...and MUCH stronger returns at that! We observed some two hop ground scatter on some of the center beams of the West radar!!! Receiver front end modification, done.

I also had repaired the slightly damaged T/R distribution panel and installed it in the last TX rack. After doing more cable management, all the T/R distribution panels were installed and running. Task done. Evan and I took to finishing out the controller card modifications/repairs on the East radar and finished that task as well. With the light fading, we felt accomplished in crossing a few things off our list. Not to let the little bit of daylight left go to waste, we did do a quick walk around the west radar looking for the old tensioning bars. We found all 3 of the old ones laying just as they were. We did notice that the tensioning bar (pictured here) recently sent down is missing 2 mounting holes.

Tomorrow's weather forecast for Hays and central Kansas is much colder with 1-3" of snow predicted for tomorrow. This may or may not keep us inside, but will we look to do some prep work for the next trip to Hays that will involve the west main array reflector rebuild. Part of this may be as simple as collecting all the necessary pieces for this work, some of which is still at FHSU's receiving warehouse. We'll also break out the network analyzer to do some measurements on the ground coax as well as some possible time delay measurements. We'll also need to close things up and get ready for the travel back to Virginia...and just when we're getting the hang of opening and closing those gates too.

Day 1 Update

We quickly un-packed all of the supplies Evan and I had lugged out in our luggage. Everything was good and in-tacked except one of the T/R distribution panels. However, the damage to the panel was not major and should be fixed with a new capacitor from the local electronics store.

We spent a good bit of the day indoors working on various electronics. Evan spent all day working on modifying the power monitor boards for EVERY transmitter. This modification stems back to the fix for the T/R signal delay. I spent the morning installing the 3 good T/R distribution panels and the associated cables. After installing these, I noticed there were just too many wires in from of the transmitters and took to doing some cable management. In the picture, the left rack has been 'managed' while the right rack is before the tidying up.

In the afternoon, I continued some cable management of the other pictured rack and then worked with Mark Garrett (FHSU student) on the Interface Box. We did not find much of anything particularly wrong with the IC supplying the spare T/R signal. This fix may need a 20-pin socket, some soldering work, and a new IC...maybe. I also took to beginning modifications on the receiver front end in order to match the front end installed at Christmas Valley. This modification was not as easy and simple as thought due to a large-ish soldering tip and lots of wires and cables in the way of soldering.

The act of working on the Interface Box and receiver front end meant we stopped the radar this afternoon. Evan did some SWR measurements and determined that antennas 1 and 16 on the main array looked fine. Antennas 13 and 15 did not and need to be addressed in the future. After buttoning everything up, we tried restarting the radar, but found some confusion/errors in the process. Thanks goes to Jef Spatela for his quick fixing of the script that is used to start the radar!

Tomorrow we'll be doing more modifications to the power monitor board and controller cards, install the last T/R distribution panel, finish modifying the receiver front ends...and then who knows!

Travel Day Update: Made it in to Hays at about 1am CST (2am EST) and were ready to get some rest. We'll be meeting up with Mark to head out to the site and get to work.

Kevin and Evan are making a maintenance trip to the site of the FHSU radar facility.

Historical Note: General George A. Custer and the US 7th Calvary were stationed at Fort Hays prior to Custer's Last Stand. Had Custer had the tactical advantage of over-the-horizon radar prior to his attack, he may have fared better.

Weather delay: Departure on Sunday did not come off owing to weather in Chicago. They are now slated to get out of Roanoke at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon, arrive in Wichita by 9pm and Hays by midnight.