The Aurora Alarm

Posted on Feb 4, 2014

To increase one`s chances of seeing the northern lights, the uncertainties of existing aurora prediction methods can be bypassed by sensing the light from the aurora directly. The Aurora Alarm is a device which accomplishes this objective through the use of a narrowband optical filter, a photomultiplier tube detector, and a flexible microprocessor system for high voltage control and alarm determination.

The Aurora Alarm
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It features a wide dynamic range, flexible alarm levels, serial interfacing to a PC or simplified direct hookup to an alarm, remote programmability, single-supply operation, and a built-in heater for operation in cold weather. A prototype incorporating a compact printed circuit board design and core software routines shows good performance with numerous possibilities for future applications. The successful completion of the Aurora Alarm reflects the contributions of many people. I would like to thank my project advisor, Professor Carlton Cross, for his guidance in every phase of this project. During the mechanical design and construction of the prototype, the practical suggestions and assistance provided by Professors Ralph Stirling, Don Riley, and Ryan Mowat, Jim Forsyth at Technical Support Services, and fellow student Andrew Depaula saved me countless hours. I also wish to thank Physics Professors Claude Barnett and Gordon Johnson for their willingness to answer my optics questions and provide lab space, and Robert Batten for his Mentor Graphics tutoring. A special thanks goes to Ray Muller at Hamamatsu Corp. for the generous donation of the photomultiplier tubes and high voltage power supplies used in this project. I am also indebted to Bill Grenier at the Andover Corp. and Calvin Grandy at Omega Optical Inc. for their donation of the optical filters. Without their support, this project would not have been possible. The...

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