9.2 Pipeline for the VLBA

VLBARUN is a procedure which uses the VLBA calibration procedures (from VLBAUTIL) and some logic to calibrate and image VLBA data. VLBARUN attempts to make intelligent decisions on defaults, so it can be run fairly automatically, if the names of the sources are known. In 31DEC19, VLBARUN was given options to flag data on elevation, to flag excessive fluxes with CLIP, and to apply auto-flagging with RFLAG. The option to clip out bad system temperatures, replacing them with good ones, with TYSMO was also added. If desired, VLBARUN will produce diagnostic plot files and write them to disk creating an HTML file to ease examination of these files. Images will be produced, optionally including self-calibration of the calibration sources. Since this is not particularly constrained, the images should be considered diagnostic in nature.

Sample inputs for procedure VLBARUN are:


to acquire the procedures used by VLBARUN.


to acquire VLBARUN.

> DATAIN /dirname/data.fits  C R

to set data file to load from disk.


to set disk for output.


to say this is a continuum data set.

> CLINT 0  C R

to use default.


to set reference antenna to Fort Davis.


to have VLBARUN determine a good instrumental delay calibration scan.

> INVER 0  C R

PC table to use, -1 if you want to force manual phase cal.


to list calibrators, bandpass calibrator must be first.


to list phase referencing and target pairs.

> CHINC -1  C R

to determine channel increment based on the data channel width.


set if you want to apply a zenith delay file produced by DELZN.


to use default.

> IMSIZE 512  C R

to make images and specify size of target images.


to make calibrator images 128x128.

> DOCLIP fp,fc  C R

to run CLIP to flag a sample when the parallel-hand flux is above |fp| or the cross-hand flux is above |fc|. If fp is positive, the clip is done after amplitude calibration; if negative, it is done before the bandpass and amplitude calibration. The values for fp and fc are different in these two cases.


to run RFLAG on each source individually.


to clip system temperatures above 100 K with median-window filtering at 10 K and replacing the clipped values with nearby good ones.


to flag out all data for which the elevation is < 15 degrees.

> BPASS5 -2  C R

to normalize bandpass scans before the fit. Default is +1 to normalize the bandpass functions themselves without normalization of the data.


to use FRING for the initial time series calibration but use CALIB for any self-cal. Other choices are CALIBand FRING (the default) to use the specified task for all time series calibrations.


to make some diagnostic plots; level 2 makes an awful lot of plots.

> OUTFILE /directory/name  C R

to specify directory for output plots. If this is set, plots are written out from AIPS and organized in an HTML file for easy viewing. The plots, HTML file, and message file contents are put in a dated subdirectory below the specified directory.

> OUTTEXT email@somewhere.edu  C R

to specify an e-mail address if the user wants to be notified when the pipeline is done.


to specify which disks to avoid for scratch.


to run the procedure.

VLBARUN will then run and produce the requested number of diagnostic plots. For details on the plots produced for each level of DOPLOT, see EXPLAIN VLBARUN. If an e-mail address is specified then a VLBARUN DONE or VLBARUN FAILED message will be sent. However, the VLBARUN FAILED message will only be sent if VLBARUN failed because of problems with the inputs, if VLBARUN failed because a task it was running failed this message is not sent. It is highly recommended that the user read the explain file for VLBARUN before use.

Note that editing with CLIP is always a good idea. RFLAG appears to work well at low frequencies but to be overly enthusiastic at C-band and above. Note that the flagging is done after all calibration steps, so you may examine your data with and without the new flags to determine their correctness. RFLAG is run using baseline-dependent clip levels and so should work with arrays containing high-sensitivity telescopes as well as the VLBA. You may wish to use VLBARUN without RFLAG (or to discard the flags produced by RFLAG) and then run SPFLG to flag the visibility data interactively. Then use VLBARUN over again applying the manually produced flags. Procedure P_RESTART will clear away all plot and calibration tables from your data set, leaving any flag tables. Do not delete version one of the CL and FG tables since they contain the initial calibration and on-line flagging information.

A similar RUN file named VLBAMPHC is available in 31DEC19 to calibrate, flag, and image data sets for secondary phase stopping centers when DiFX has been used to correlate multiple centers from a single pointing.

In 31DEC21, a similar pipeline was constructed to inspect autocorrelation data for RFI. VLBARFI reduces the data set using many of the steps of VLBARUN. After the amplitude calibration, the pipeline writes of the autocorrelation data with SPLAT and then runs VBRFI to analyze the statistics of the autocorrelations and to write then into a text file and optionally to plot them. Task PLRFI may be used later to plot one or more of these output text files. In 31DEC22, VLBARFI may be run with no calibration and statistics determined with medians using VLBRF rather than VBRFI.