Development of intelligent instruments with embedded HTTP servers for control and data acquisition in a cryogenic setup--The hardware, firmware, and software implementation

Rev Sci Instrum. 2015 Dec;86(12):125003. doi: 10.1063/1.4937617.


The power of Ethernet for control and automation technology is being largely understood by the automation industry in recent times. Ethernet with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is one of the most widely accepted communication standards today. Ethernet is best known for being able to control through internet from anywhere in the globe. The Ethernet interface with built-in on-chip embedded servers ensures global connections for crate-less model of control and data acquisition systems which have several advantages over traditional crate-based control architectures for slow applications. This architecture will completely eliminate the use of any extra PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) or similar control hardware in any automation network as the control functions are firmware coded inside intelligent meters itself. Here, we describe the indigenously built project of a cryogenic control system built for linear accelerator at Inter University Accelerator Centre, known as "CADS," which stands for "Complete Automation of Distribution System." CADS deals with complete hardware, firmware, and software implementation of the automated linac cryogenic distribution system using many Ethernet based embedded cryogenic instruments developed in-house. Each instrument works as an intelligent meter called device-server which has the control functions and control loops built inside the firmware itself. Dedicated meters with built-in servers were designed out of ARM (Acorn RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) Machine) and ATMEL processors and COTS (Commercially Off-the-Shelf) SMD (Surface Mount Devices) components, with analog sensor front-end and a digital back-end web server implementing remote procedure call over HTTP for digital control and readout functions. At present, 24 instruments which run 58 embedded servers inside, each specific to a particular type of sensor-actuator combination for closed loop operations, are now deployed and distributed across control LAN (Local Area Network). A group of six categories of such instruments have been identified for all cryogenic applications required for linac operation which were designed to build this medium-scale cryogenic automation setup. These devices have special features like remote rebooters, daughter boards for PIDs (Proportional Integral Derivative), etc., to operate them remotely in radiation areas and also have emergency switches by which each device can be taken to emergency mode temporarily. Finally, all the data are monitored, logged, controlled, and analyzed online at a central control room which has a user-friendly control interface developed using LabVIEW(®). This paper discusses the overall hardware, firmware, software design, and implementation for the cryogenics setup.