The Danish company Danfysik mainly produces magnets, beam diagnostic tools, power supplies and other equipment for the big science industry. Recently they took up the development and manufacturing of entire ion accelerators, aiming at the market of material science projects around the world.
Danfysik were lacking a control system for their ion accelerator. They needed a system that can handle hundreds of signals and analyse and present large amount of data in a comprehensive but yet user friendly graphical user interface (GUI). To be able to meet different customer needs, with varying demand for hardware and software features, Danfysik required the control system to be flexible and modular. They decided to go for LabVIEW and contracted DVel for the job.
To cover all the competences required for the task, DVel put together a team of three consultants. Combined the team members could provide expertise within system architecture, instrumentation, physics, image processing and project lead.
An object oriented and well know architecture was used to make the system scalable and to enable for several developers to work in parallel. Standard functionality was reused from the LabQt framework, making the development cost effective with reduced test time and increased stability. With a modular design it was possible to test the different parts of the code independently and in an early stage of the project. This was important, since the hardware was developed in parallel with the software, and the time for commissioning of the final product was limited.
Much of the functionality, such as error handling, logging and sequence builder, could be reused from standard libraries within the LabQT framework. Other functionality, such as alarm handling required some modification in order to meet the specific requirement that comes with high voltage and radiation sources. However, most of the challenges were too project specific to be handled by standard libraries. Example of this was the beam analysing tool, which was developed in-house by Danfysik. It required both methods to filter out the relevant sections of the signal and to transform it to meaningful data for the operator.
Data from around 60 signals recorded at 10 Hz needed to be displayed with a history of several hours. In addition, some data recorded in the kHz range were also to be displayed with a large history. To be able to handle all these data without running into memory problems, a data decimation algorithm was developed, reducing the amount of data shown when the graphs are zoomed out.
In the end, Danfysik now owns a modular control system which they can easily modify as hardware is changed or added, and which they can tailor for their different customer demands.