A Fiber Optic Based High Voltage System for Stellar Intensity Interferometry Observations
2019 July 22
Beginning in Fall 2018, the VERITAS high energy gamma-ray observatory (Amado, AZ) was upgraded to enable Stellar Intensity Interferometry (SII) observations during bright moon conditions. The system potentially allows VERITAS to spatially characterize stellar objects at visible wavelengths with sub milliarcsecond angular resolution. This research project was on the construction of a high voltage power supply for the photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) used in the SII camera. The high voltage supply was designed to be electrically isolated from all other electronics (except for the PMT) to reduce noise pickup. The HV supply operates on a Li-Ion battery, and the high voltage level is remotely programmed using a pulse width modulation (PWM) signal that is generated by an Arduino Yun microcontroller and distributed through a fiber optic cable. The electrical isolation of the fiber optic control system suppresses the pickup of radio frequency interference through ground loops. A separate fiber optic transceiver pair is used for the on-off control of the high voltage power supply. Tests were performed that show the high voltage level is reproducible to within one volt for a given duty cycle of the PWM signal. Furthermore, the high voltage output level was shown to be stable with respect to variations in the input battery voltage used to power the high voltage supply. The high voltage system is currently being used in regular SII observations at VERITAS. This poster will describe the detailed design and performance of the system.