Remote Control

14 11 2009

Now that our Fusor seems to be working, I must operate it from a safe distance. Last night I did the first successful remote run. I connected an iSight to the Fusor mac (G4 running OS X Tiger). Then I used VNC to remote control the Fusor mac from my laptop:


I made headway with the command line program to control the fusor and record data in mysql via ruby. It’s currently setup to record vacuum chamber pressure, voltage and current according to the Glassman, and the effective flow rate of the mass flow controller. Currently I can enter commands to turn the high voltage on/off and set the flowrate of the mass flow controller. Next I want to control the voltage and current on the Glassman.

I also got a geiger counter:


It takes two D batteries. There is a BNC connector for headphones. I have a BNC connector on order with mcmaster. In the meantime I improvised a connection to some computer speakers to test it out. Seems to be working. It picks up the expected background radiation producing that erie clicking sound. You can definitely hear an uptick in the clicks when I run the Fusor.

I’m working towards producing a comprehensive mapping of this device’s performance envelope using computer control to search the parameter space and record the results.

This is all so fun and exciting.

Reactor Controller / Data Acquisition

17 09 2009

Since the pump broke I’ve been working on the reactor controller / data acquisition system. This will allow us to record:

Voltage reading (via voltage dividers and ammeter shunts); low power voltage reading from magnetometer, thermocouple, pressure gauge, etc; on the output side: voltage control of power supplies, servos for needle valves, triggering IGBTs; Our ion gauge has the option of digital over RS485.

I purchased an NI USB-6008 (manual, driver):


Unfortunately the driver for this does not work with Snow Leopard yet. I’ve already upgraded my main laptop to Snow Leopard and I really don’t want to downgrade to Leopard so I dug up and old G4 running Tiger. Had to swap out a broken CD drive:


This G4 will be a challenge to upgrade to Leopard as it lacks a DVD drive, although it may be possible to install without DVD.

I was able to install the driver NI-DAQmx_Base. I opened up NIdatalogger and performed a successful grab of voltage data on the analog input:


I would like to get this ruby adapter working. So far I can’t get it to build on Tiger (it makes it further on Snow Leopard). I’m working with the creator to get it installed and working:

make -f Makefile.swig install
swig -ruby -Fstandard -I/Applications/National\ Instruments/NI-DAQmx\ Base/includes -o daqmxbase_wrap.c daqmxbase.i
make: swig: Command not found
make: *** [daqmxbase_wrap.c] Error 127
make -f Makefile.swig install
swig -ruby -Fstandard -I/Applications/National\ Instruments/NI-DAQmx\ Base/includes -o daqmxbase_wrap.c daqmxbase.i
make: swig: Command not found
make: *** [daqmxbase_wrap.c] Error 127
I just needed to install SWIG. Although this took roughly 6 hours! It installed without a problem.
I AM UP AND RUNNING with data acquisition in my native programming language ruby.

Gem Download Stats

8 05 2009

I’m a ruby/rails hacker and I like to keep up to date on the latest gems. This gem download stats page shows you what’s being used in the community. But it takes some effort to google each package individually.

So I hacked up a script which adds the first link/blurb from google. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than a static list. The excellent google-rest does the heavy lifting for my dirty hack. Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »


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