Monday, February 21, 2011

CAMD Control System Upgrade

Louisiana State University CAMD (Center for Microstructures and Devices) began a project to upgrade the Linac control and storage ring systems. Control systems for the linac and storage ring were DEC VAX/VMS and VME/OS9 based system respectively. The aims were to utilize free software, inexpensive hardware, and provide a flexible architecture where new projects could be easily integrated. The storage ring control system has been replaced with a PLC/Linux system based system, and the VAXes removed. A superconducting wiggler from the Budker Institute has been integrated and commissioned into this system. Now CAMD is focusing on expanding the control system to include the linac and a second RF system, and reengineering subsystems to provide more reliable control. Automationdirect PLC hardware has been chosen as the hardware platform to upgrade while PL/Linux will provide the machine interface.

Several control upgrades are recently in progress:
1. The CGR-MeV linac recently runs on a VME/OS9 platform. Several of the cards were custom made for this project, and have large silicon components which we have are unable to identify. The equipment protection interlocks are in software, and the system is loaded to the point that if the system is “ping”ed via TCP/IP, the watchdog timer expire and the linac shuts down. The software documentation only exists at the source code level, so determining program flow is difficult.
2. New protein crystallography efforts at CAMD are driving the need for a second RF system. A major requirement is to have both RF systems use identical “off the shelf” components for ease of maintenance.
3. The kicker magnet controls are provided by Allen Bradley PLCs. The PC scanner card required to communicate with the PLC has two problems. First the scanner card has acknowledged firmware problems which can cause the bus to “hang”. Second, Linux software for the card is not available.
4. An upgrade is desired for the water control system. The current controllers have proven to be unreliable, and have presented interface difficulties.

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