"Successful Installation in
the Land of the Midnight Sun"
There was plenty of daylight hours available at the start of the installation of the 26-M antenna control
system for the NOAA Fairbanks, Alaska site. It didn't get dark until well after midnight, and the sky became
bright again about 4 am.
NOAA contracted with DFM Engineering, Inc. to replace
the hydraulic drives on the Fairbanks antenna as detailed in the NOAA
article (dated 02/21/03).
The installation and the Alaskan experiences of the DFM Engineering crew are detailed below.
In stark contrast to the weather during the NOAA Virginia installation, the weather in Fairbanks,
Alaska was almost perfect.
The installation of the new servo motors, encoders, limit switches, cables, cable trays,
controls and computers went very smoothly.
The DFM Engineering crew was able to enjoy some true Alaskan food including Moose burgers,
Moose spaghetti, and Alaskan halibut all courtesy of the NOAA crew that often prepared these delicacies
for lunch on site.
The various restaurants in the Fairbanks area including
the famous Malamute Saloon ("A bunch of the boys were whooping it up at the Malamute Saloon,
... etc.), the Chena Pumphouse, and others also provided some very good gastronomic and entertaining
Hilltop Truck Stop outside of Fairbanks provided a whole new meaning to the size of portions
served. Alaskan food portions makes Texas sized servings look small just like the size of Alaska
compared to Texas (3 times larger!!).
The Chatanika Lodge also
cannot be forgotten for their food, Alaskan decor, and the beauty of the surrounding hills here in
the historic gold fields of the Fairbanks area.
The DFM Engineering crew had dinner with a scientist from the University
of Alaska at the lodge after touring the Poker
Flats Research Center
where they study the Northern Lights and launch sounding
rockets into the upper atmosphere.
The crew also visited Chena Hot Springs,
a small version of Colorado's Glenwood Springs.
Another trip that should be on every one's do not miss list was the Discovery
Riverboat trip down the Chena river and up the Tanana river.
The boat was a modern version of a stern wheeler river boat and visited Susan Butcher's kennel where
she discussed the breeding and training of the Alaskan huskies she has used to win the 1000+ mile Iditarod sled
dog race several times.
She demonstrated how huskies can pull by hitching up a team to an all terrain vehicle and driving
them around a small lake at 20 miles per hour.
The trip also provides a
good look into the lives of the Athabascan Indians and the other natives of Alaska.
A trip to the museum at the University
of Alaska campus was also very high on the enjoyment list of the DFM crew.
This work at the Fairbanks, Alaska site is built upon the expertise developed by DFM
Engineering when they provided new controls and motors for two similar antennas at the PARI (Pisgah
Astronomical Research Institute).
The installation of the antenna control system was completed and now NOAA has
their second 26-M antenna back in service to receive weather satellite data.
DFM's NOAA Original Project Description
DFM's NOAA Wallops, Virginia Project
DFM Control System Upgrade at PARI
DFM TCS (Telescope Control System)
PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute)
NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Wallops NOAA Station
Fairbanks NOAA Station