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Proceedings Paper

Evolution of the VLT instrument control system toward industry standards
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Paper Abstract

The VLT control system is a large distributed system consisting of Linux Workstations providing the high level coordination and interfaces to the users, and VME-based Local Control Units (LCU's) running the VxWorks real-time operating system with commercial and proprietary boards acting as the interface to the instrument functions. After more than 10 years of VLT operations, some of the applied technologies used by the astronomical instruments are being discontinued making it difficult to find adequate hardware for future projects. In order to deal with this obsolescence, the VLT Instrumentation Framework is being extended to adopt well established Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components connected through industry standard fieldbuses. This ensures a flexible state of the art hardware configuration for the next generation VLT instruments allowing the access to instrument devices via more compact and simpler control units like PC-based Programmable Logical Controllers (PLC's). It also makes it possible to control devices directly from the Instrument Workstation through a normal Ethernet connection. This paper outlines the requirements that motivated this work, as well as the architecture and the design of the framework extension. In addition, it describes the preliminary results on a use case which is a VLTI visitor instrument used as a pilot project to validate the concepts and the suitability of some COTS products like a PC-based PLCs, EtherCAT8 and OPC UA6 as solutions for instrument control.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 July 2010
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7740, Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy, 77400T (19 July 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.857190
Show Author Affiliations
Mario J. Kiekebusch, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Gianluca Chiozzi, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Jens Knudstrup, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Dan Popovic, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Gerard Zins, Lab. d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble (France)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7740:
Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy
Nicole M. Radziwill; Alan Bridger, Editor(s)

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