An upgrade to the very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) science receiver (VSR) — a radio receiver used in NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) — is currently being implemented. The current VSR samples standard DSN intermediate frequency (IF) signals at 256 MHz and after digital down-conversion records data from up to four 16-MHz baseband channels. Currently, IF signals are limited to the 265-to-375-MHz range, and recording rates are limited to less than 80 Mbps. The new digital front end, denoted the Wideband VSR, provides improvements to enable the receiver to process wider bandwidth signals and accommodate more data channels for recording. The Wideband VSR utilizes state-of-the-art commercial analog-to-digital converter and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) integrated circuits, and fiber-optic connections in a custom architecture. It accepts IF signals from 100 to 600 MHz, sampling the signal at 1.28 GHz. The sample data are sent to a digital processing module, using a fiber-optic link for isolation. The digital processing module includes boards designed around an Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) industry-standard backplane. Digital signal processing implemented in FPGAs down-convert the data signals in up to 16 baseband channels with programmable bandwidths from 1 kHz to 16 MHz. Baseband samples are transmitted to a computer via multiple Ethernet connections allowing recording to disk at rates of up to 1 Gbps.

This work was done by Andre Jongeling, Elliott Sigman, Robert Navarro, Charles Goodhart, Steve Rogstad, Kumar Chandra, Sue Finley, Joseph Trinh, Melissa Soriano, Les White, and Robert Proctor of Caltech and Benno Rayhrer (contractor) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Electronics/Computers category. NPO-41191