MSc Dissertation: Peter McMahon


Adobe-PDF-downloadMcMahon, Peter Leonard. Adventures in Radio Astronomy Instrumentation and Signal Processing. MSc Dissertation. Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town, 2008.



This thesis describes the design and implementation of several instruments for digitizing and processing analogue astronomical signals collected using radio telescopes.

Modern radio telescopes have significant digital signal processing demands that are typically best met using custom processing engines implemented in Field Programmable Gate Arrays. These demands essentially stem from the ever-larger analogue bandwidths that astronomers wish to observe, resulting in large data volumes that need to be processed in real time.

We focused on the development of spectrometers for enabling improved pulsar2 science on the Allen Telescope Array, the Hartebeesthoek Radio Observatory telescope, the Nan¸cay Radio Telescope, and the Parkes Radio Telescope. We also present work that we conducted on the development of real-time pulsar timing instrumentation.

All the work described in this thesis was carried out using generic astronomy processing tools and hardware developed by the Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) at the University of California, Berkeley. We successfully deployed to several telescopes instruments that were built solely with CASPER technology, which has helped to validate the approach to developing radio
astronomy instruments that CASPER advocates.



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