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Breakthrough Listen Hackfest at the Allen Telescope Array

Schedule, Wiki, Repo


SigMF Specification Design

Description: We spent the majority of the hackfest working on the design of SigMF, both discussing current issues / gaps and working through new features and the direction of the effort. Major accomplishments include:

  • A plan for using JSON-LD to link data, provide schema crosswalks, and define machine-parseable extension namespaces.
  • The design of a top-level metafile that can be used to describe multi-sensor experiments, while still maintaining the independence of each recording.
  • The design of a path to describe the capture hardware for a recording and the experimental setup for a multi-sensor data corpus.
  • Numerous other bug fixes and "small" but important details of the specification.

This work is continuing, and we anticipate the next major release of SigMF to include some of these new developments!

Location: Work is occurring in the SigMF Github repository, and will continue there: https://github.com/gnuradio/SigMF



Wideband Signal Processing via ML

The ML Working Group page covers the work completed at the event. A processing pipeline was designed and a series of captures were made from the antenna in SigMF format that should allow such a pipeline to be tested. The captured data is available at the IEEE datastore (link pending upload).


  • Kyle Logue, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Andres Vila Casado, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Donna Branchevsky, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Nathan Whitehair, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Gerry Zhang, Breakthrough Listen Team

Telescope Array Streaming and Control Integration

Description: During the hackfest, the team focused on two primary areas:

  • Receiving data feeds directly from the beamformer into GNU Radio
  • Investigating a control interface (inside or external to GNU Radio) for array control

Receiving Data Feeds Into GNU Radio: There were a number of works from which these tasks could build upon. The gr-grnet and gr-baz UDP source blocks both had some core capabilities but were incomplete. There were also a number of IT challenges to overcome while on-site to ingest a 10 Gbps fiber feed with two 1.667 Gbps data feeds.

Work has continued after the hackfest and resulted in a complete code refactoring on the gr-grnet UDP source and sink blocks to account for two different potential beamformer packet headers (one new and one old), 4160 byte UDP jumbo frame packets, and a new PCAP UDP Source block was added to allow for tcpdump stream captures on the wire that could be played back in their original raw form at a later time. This has all been pushed to the current gr-grnet maint-3.7 branch and is available on github as well as via pybombs for GNU Radio 3.7. The new updates will be worked forward into the gr-grnet 3.8 master branch.

As part of this effort, a new gr-ata set of blocks was also created on github at https://github.com/SETIatHCRO/gr-ata.git. An ATA Stream block was created that provides a convenience wrapper around a gr-grnet UDP Source block with ATA-specific options.

Control Interface: The initial work began as a GNU Radio block in the gr-ata repo (ATA Control), however after further discussions array staff had a very comprehensive set of python functions already developed. Work is continuing in this area to make the library open source and then continue to integrate it into appropriate control interfaces.

People: Mike Piscopo Derek Kozel Elin Klaseen