Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) final year Engineering students have re-created a 3D working 1:80 scale-model of Elfordstown Earthstations 32m antenna, built from the original plans using a rapid prototyping machine and metal fabrication.
The project was undertaken by CIT Engineering students Hugh-Egan O’Neil, Damien Dennehy and Edward Doyle as part of their final year degree project, with the objective of creating a scale model for display for educational purposes at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, featuring computerized visual representation of all the axes of operation of the 32m antenna.
To construct the model antenna, digital versions of each individual part were drawn up using measurements from the actual dish, together with the original plans on file at National Space Centre.
The new digital files were interpreted by a rapid prototyping machine at CIT, and ‘printed’ layer by layer in ABS polymer. 260 print hours later, the replica parts were ready for assembly with the metal motor and gear systems that drive the model.
The original dish was built in 1984 by Telecom Eireann to carry transatlantic telephone traffic, and was recommissioned in 2010 for use as a Deep Space Radio Telescope project for education in partnership with CIT.
The scale model is on display at Blackrock Castle Observatory.