DISH has made significant progress since last reporting in August with the consortium now in the process of preparing for and completing Detailed Design Reviews (DDRs) for all sub-elements.

September was a particularly busy month with preparations for LMC (local monitoring and control) delta DDR on September 28th, the Dish All Hands Engineering meeting September 29 & 30 and then the SKA All Hands Engineering meeting commencing October 1st, all in South Africa.

The LMC delta DDR was thankfully successful and as Consortium Leader, my sincere thanks must go to the review panel, Sonja Vrcic, Lize van de Heever and Andrea Cremonini and my thanks, of course, also go to the LMC team that responded to the first attempt in July at Edinburgh and convincingly closed out this important milestone review in September in Cape Town.

The Dish All Hands Engineering meeting was a very useful and successful gathering, again demonstrating the importance of face-to-face meetings and the enormous utility of a dynamically interactive team able to view and discuss information in real time both in the meeting and in the ‘corridors’. This meeting at very least illuminated the need for a better understanding of the assumptions surrounding the early construction phase activities.

There was no let up for the team when they returned to their home countries from South Africa as preparations continued in earnest for the remaining design sub element Detailed Design Reviews.

In early November, members of the team reconvened in Stellenbosch for the Single Pixel Feed DDR for Bands 1 and 2. It was a well organised and effective review by a very experienced review panel that included Australians Mark Bowen and Christophe Granet, our Max Planck colleague, Gundolf Wieching and was chaired by Wim van Cappellan from Astron. The review panel passed the Band 2 design but held up the Band 1 team for more clarification of their qualification details. The Band 1 team still need to do a bit of work so a minor but important delta DDR will be required to close off Band 1 issues. This is expected in February 2017 via a remote review because of the minor nature with full close-out anticipated by Q1/CY2017. Our sincere thanks go to the review panel, as well as the Band 1 and Band 2 teams from EMSS and Chalmers University for their hard work. Special thanks also to EMSS for organising this DDR and for taking care of the logistics in South Africa.

A breakthrough came for the Band 5 team in late October with the news that the SKAO finally approved ECP 160022 concerning the splitting of Band 5 from a single band of 4.6 to 13.8Ghz to a Band 5(a) 4.6 to 8.5Ghz and a Band 5(b) 8.3 to 15.3Ghz. This will improve feed sensitivity and reduce the cost and complexity of the Band 5 digitiser design and cost. Full details of the impact of this change are still to be assimilated into the project planning with a preliminary design review for the Band 5 feed and digitiser expected to occur in Manchester in March 2017. Thanks to the SPF Band 5 teams at Oxford University, EMSS in Stellenbosch and NRC, Canada for their hard work and patience.

There have been a number of changes within the Dish Management team. In early September, former Dish Consortium Leader and PAF sub-element lead, Mark Bowen, changed camps from the CSIRO to SKA Office in Manchester – a loss for CSIRO but a win for the SKAO. His former CSIRO associates all wish him well and hope for his successful insertion into the Office. The SKAO had repeatedly expressed concern that the Dish Consortium was the only consortium without a separate project manager. After taking on the role of temporary Dish Executive Officer, Susan Stopford also took on the role of acting Dish Project Manager and has successfully engaged sub element leads to determine and influence Dish Sub element schedules. George Smit of SKA-SA has taken on the role of Dish Infrastructure lead freeing Henk Neihaus to assist the Dish Structure team now lead by Lutz Stenvers of MTM, in collaboration with the JLRAT/ CETC-54 team and the SAM team in Italy.

Schedule remains the main DISH risk as the entire SKA1-mid Project segment depends upon the Dish Element completion, thus putting DISH upon the SKA critical path. Dish is different to most SKA design consortia in that it must not only design the dish system but also build a complete working prototype and perform qualification testing. This has required substantial capital investment by some DISH members and this fact has caused many difficulties and delays. DISH is grateful for the support of all partners but particularly CETC-54, MPG and the industry partner MTM who have made a substantial capital investment.

At the time of writing, the DISH team is fully focussed on preparations for the detailed design reviews for Dish Infrastructure and Dish Structure which will occur early December.


The SPF DDR Meeting Team Photo, Stellenbosch, South Africa

SPF Band 2 Horn and OMT test1

SPF Band 2 Horn and OMT – Photo courtesy of EMSS


SPF Band 1 Horn – Photo courtesy of Miroslav Pantaleev, Chalmers University

As we move into 2017, Dish will have one more DDR for the SPF Receivers and it will occur at the NRC facilities in Victoria Canada. By this time, the first dish structure will be well into manufacture and the first full SKA class dish structure system, SKA-P, will be erected in CETC-54 facilities in China by mid 2017 thus allowing initial mechanical testing to be performed. Immediately in series, the second SKA class antenna, SKA-MPI, will be manufactured, fit, checked and shipped to South Africa for erection at the SKA1-mid site in the Karoo. Planning has the SKA-MPI dish expected ready for handover to AIV by first week of December 2017.

Report provided by the DISH consortium