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The NAAPO Newsletter
Volume 19, No. 2; July 2003

Written by: Phil Barnhart, NAAPO Coordinator, 4655 Indian Ct., Westerville, OH 43082

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For information and timely notification of our friends, we have decided to issue a hard copy of SIGNALS this month. We will include this issue and future issues on our website: www.naapo.org.

Argus is Operational

June 24 marks the start-up of the Argus Array in serious operational mode. The event occurred in conjunction with the URSI Conference held that week in Columbus. It operated admirably to demonstrate its capability to tour participants from the conference.

For the past two years much effort has been expended in experiment and development of various components for the array. As a result the whole system has not operated in observational mode.

A concerted effort over the past two months to build and refurbish a total of 32 antennas, to build, test and install low noise amplifiers for each and fabricate and install cabling into the control room came to a conclusion just hours before the tour of the facility was to occur. In what seemed to be a miracle the system fired up and performed admirably.

Comments of surprise and admiration were expressed by those who attended the open house display. Sighs of relief were heard from the faithful volunteers who were in attendance to assure each component was doing its job.

Steve Ellingson, who was responsible for the hardware and software design and development expressed great pleasure in the success of the event. He particularly commended the volunteer staff, citing the physical construction of the antenna elements, the LNAs (low noise amplifiers), the outside stairway, the power/signal distribution system and the integration of the software into the control room and display rooms. Without the large commitments of time and effort on the part of the NAAPO volunteers, it is unlikely completion of the project in time for the tour would have occurred.

Special commendation is expressed for the contributions of Ange Campanella, Lee and Derek Edwards, Randy Bixler, Doug Needham, Tom Hanson, Jerry Ehman and Bob Dixon for their dedicated efforts during the eight or so weeks leading up to the open house. Other volunteers have contributed to the success of this endeavor and our deep-felt thanks go to them as well.

What is Argus Doing?

A full scale observing program is not yet in place. Issues of storage, archiving and display are still being addressed. New hardware to implement the evolving capabilities are being purchased and plans are developing for which problems to address first.

At present the techniques of utilizing geosynchronous satellites as beacons and the potential of observing what lies beyond them in the radio sky is being explored. The brightest sources are being observed and problems of calibration, tracking and transient source detection and identification are on the docket for investigation.

Remote access and operation of the Argus system is being developed. One of the great advantages of the concept is that multiple users and remote observers can simultaneously make use of the instrument and its output.

These and other projects have now become top priority for the Argus project. Development toward solutions of these problems will occupy the Argus team for the next several years.

Ellingson to Leave Central Ohio but Will Remain with Argus

Steve Ellingson announced at the last working session that he is leaving the ElectroScience Laboratory (ESL) at The Ohio State University (OSU) to accept a faculty position at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Virginia Tech is a part of the State University system in Virginia.

He will take to Virginia Tech a much needed radio astronomy component, as well as a strong research ability and commitment to teaching.

Steve began his affiliation with NAAPO while a student at OSU doing RFI (radio frequency interference) measurements at Big Ear. After graduation he sought employment out of state, but returned to work as a research employee at ESL while completing his doctorate. He again became interested in the Argus project and provided much needed expertise in RF electronics and antenna design. Much of the advanced development of the Argus system has been carried out by Steve and associates at ESL.

Though we will ultimately miss the immediacy of his presence in Columbus he will continue to have a hand in the further development of Argus. One of the features of the program from its inception has been the concept of remote operation and utilization of the telescope array. Steve will be in close contact with the observations and construction of the expanding Argus Array even though he resides in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Our best wishes go with Steve and we appreciate all he has done for the project. We look forward to his continued contributions and participation in the Argus program. We urge that he keep in mind the sage advice of Don Herold:

"The vanity of teaching doth oft temp a man to forget that he is a blockhead."
The Future of Argus

Now that Argus is actually a functioning radio telescope the time has come to plan for the future of the program. There are several different aspects of this program that have been moved to the background while developing its present capability.

Foremost among these is the question of the observational programs for the instrument. While we remain at a limited aperture and sensitivity we need to consider those tasks that can be (and certainly need to be) explored in preparation for the wider capability offered by more antenna elements and the accompanying increase in sensitivity. These include the problems associated with overall antenna pattern, calibration, discrete source detection, integration time, data storage, archiving and distribution.

Additionally, consideration must be given to construction of the next phase of antenna elements and electronics. The corps of volunteers are already gearing up for further construction/fabrication. Now that we know we are able to efficiently carry out these tasks we are ready to devote time and energy to getting them done in a timely fashion.

Though there remain certain logistical problems, we continue to face them with renewed vigor and confidence that they, too, can be solved with ingenuity and support of our friends and volunteers.

NAAPO Mail List Slips in Quality

Since our last mailing of a hard copy of Signals the mailing list fell into neglected disrepair. It will take some time to reconstruct it and there will of necessity be lost contact.

For those who read this on the web site who would like to be placed (or replaced) on the mailing list please send your name, address and other contact information to:

	Signals Editor, NAAPO
	4655 Indian Court
	Westerville,  OH  43082

or, send an e-mail to our webmaster at:

Coordinator's Corner    Phil Barnhart

June 24 marked not only the successful turn-on of the Argus Array, but also a revitalization of part of the operating system of your resident NAAPO Coordinator. At the same time Steve Ellingson and his cohort of NAAPO volunteers were displaying images of celestial events to visiting dignitaries, yours truly was undergoing a heart catheterization at a local hospital to correct a 95% blockage in one of his rather important coronary arteries. The fact of missing out on the important Argus event was not a particularly high priority at the time.

During my rather gradual recovery I have been quite gratified by the nearly miraculous pulling together of the efforts of the past three years on the part of our volunteers. One notable event I would like to highlight is the occurrence of the apparent overthrow of Murphy's Law: "If anything can possibly go wrong, it will!" Of 24 electronic components assembled hurriedly in the final days, only 22 worked up to expectation when tested. Grant Hampson, one of Steve's colleagues who assembled the circuits, said, since there was not time remaining to test and repair the two malfunctioning units to just plug them in and work around them if they didn't function. When the system was turned on ALL 24 UNITS worked! Murphy's Law is not universal!


We need financial support! If you are seeking an outlet for your tax-exempt contributions, NOW is the time to remember NAAPO. We have about exhausted our available funds and now need money to continue expanding Argus!

Send your tax deductible donation payable to:

   % Philip E. Barnhart
   4655 Indian Court
   Westerville, OH 43082

We gladly accept financial support as well as volunteers who hunger to get hands-on experience with an exciting new experiment in astronomy, radio technology and satellite tracking/identification.

If you want to volunteer, it is helpful if you live within an hour's driving time of Columbus, Ohio. We find it helpful to be able to work with you as you work with us!

To assist you in either making a financial contribution or else indicating an interest in volunteering, we have a special form that you may print out. Click here to view the sheet, then print it out, fill it in, and mail it to Phil Barnhart at the address given above.

Feedback: If you have questions or comments about anything said in this newsletter, then you may send our webmaster an e-mail. He will then either respond himself or forward your message to an appropriate person in our group. To start your default e-mail program, simply click on the underlined link below. Note that the Subject line will already be filled out for you. Just enter your message and send.

Questions/Comments About July 2003 Newsletter

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