In 2006 a group of staff members in the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) decided to build a small radio telescope. The purpose was to provide a real world platform for student project work. Situated in the city of Durban, South Africa, it was never an intention to do astronomy.
Working with a small budget the Indlebe Radio Telescope (IRT) was built entirely by students. The IRT is a transit telescope with a 5 m diameter parabolic reflector, working at 1420 MHz. First light was achieved on 28 July 2008 when Sagittarius A was detected.
Since then three more radio telescope instruments are being built.
The Indlebe Enkulu is a box configuration of 16 quad loop Yagi antennas also operating at 1420 MHz. This telescope is fully steerable.
The Phased Experimental Demonstrator (PED) 2 resulted from a donation of two 2,5 m parabolic reflectors from the South African SKA Project Office. The two are being refurbished to be used as a two element interferometer working at 1420 MHz.
The Multi-frequency Interferometer Telescope for Radio Astronomy (MITRA) is a joint venture between the University of Mauritius (UoM) and DUT. Initially it will consist of arrays of 16 dual polarised LPDA’s located in each country with the long term goal of doing VLBI over a 2400 km baseline. It is designed to operate in the frequency range from 200 MHz to 800 MHz.
At the end of 2012 the Radio Astronomy Technology (RAT) Centre was formed to oversee and coordinate the work on radio astronomy for the Department of Electronic Engineering at DUT.