Portable Fast Sampler

Asteroid 1999 JM8 (PI: S. Ostro, image credit: J.L. Margot)

Example images obtained with the Portable Fast Sampler hardware and software. (Image credit: J.L. Margot).


The Portable Fast Sampler (PFS) is a hardware backend and a software suite that were developed to enable radar observations at a variety of locations during my postdoc years at Arecibo. The PFS has been used to acquire most of the radar echoes at Arecibo (2000-present), Goldstone (2001-2014), and Green Bank (2001-2017).

All the hardware schematics and programmable logic code were shared with the radar group at JPL, which cloned the hardware and fabricated a few additional units. I also shared the software for unpacking, downsampling, filtering, and fast Fourier transform with the radar groups at Arecibo and JPL.


PFS units have been installed at Arecibo (2 units), the Green Bank Telescope (2 units), and Goldstone (4 units). They have been available to anyone who wishes to use them and have been used in a wide variety of contexts.

The PFS is open source. Please contact me for instructions on downloading and installing the software from our software repository (this is generally not needed, unless you are installing a PFS system at a new location or performing system recovery).


Instructions for operating the PFS.

Instructions for assembling the hardware (not needed, unless you are installing a PFS system at a new location).


If you use the PFS, an acknowledgment would be appreciated. A general description of the data-taking system can be found in the following paper:

Margot, J. L., A portable fast sampling system for astronomical applications, Proceedings of the 2002 URSI General Assembly, Maastricht, 2002.

A 2001 memo describing the design and prototyping of a chirp system for planetary radar is available here.