Forum Rule: Always post complete source code & details to reproduce any issue!
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Smashing Atoms with a Teensy

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Bryan, Texas
    Posts
    4

    Smashing Atoms with a Teensy

    I'm on the operations staff of the Cyclotron Institute at Texas A&M University. We have two cyclotrons and a variety of ion sources, beam lines and auxiliary systems. A good deal of it is under computer control. The control system is my baby. It has a LabView front end control console and over 100 embedded controllers to handle power supplies, read vacuum, control valves, etc. etc etc. We currently use a Rabbit 3200 module for our embedded controller but we have no backup. I've been building and testing a Teensy 3.5 as a possible replacement. Our standard card has 6 serial ports, an SPI port to control relays and DACs, and a general digital I/O port ( 13 gpio bits ). The Teensy 3.5 is a good fit when combined with a Wiz850 network module. So far, there have been no serious issues while bench testing the prototype. I hope to place it in a high stress environment to test how it reacts to radiation, high energy sparking, and the heavy hand of scientists.

  2. #2
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    20,299
    Sounds good. Curious to hear how it goes, especially if you can share pictures?

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Bryan, Texas
    Posts
    4
    Pictures it is.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Teensy 3-5.jpg 
Views:	115 
Size:	180.2 KB 
ID:	16772
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Box.jpg 
Views:	99 
Size:	168.6 KB 
ID:	16771  

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Roma (IT, EU)
    Posts
    193
    Gorgeous!!!

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Bryan, Texas
    Posts
    4
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Teensy at Work.jpg 
Views:	58 
Size:	150.9 KB 
ID:	16890
    Teensy 3.5 off the bench and reading Ion Gauges (High Vacuum)
    Teensy on the left, Rabbit3200 on the right.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    602
    Looks great! I wasn't familiar with the Rabbit RCM3200 so I looked it up. Don't tell Paul how much it costs, or he might raise the price of the Teensy :-)

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    6
    Awesome looking unit Cowlander! Hope your commissioning goes well.

    Out of curiosity, do you use EPICS for a control system, or is it all Labview?

    I did the installation of a synchrotron storage ring RF system a few years ago, you picture is bringing back memories...

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Bryan, Texas
    Posts
    4
    So far, so good! It has been running for a couple of weeks with only minor teething problems.

    The front end is just Labview, but anything that connects to the network can send commands and receive data

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    14
    Funny I just came across this post -- we routinely use Teensy 3.2/3.6 (and soon 4) to operate devices being tested in the Texas A&M Cyclotron beamline (among several facilities we visit). They're convenient for us because they've got such a great combination of rapid development time, convenient footprint, and high performance. I'm happy to hear Cowlander is developing control routines for the facility using the same devices. Very cool!

    Here's a Teensy 3.6 being used to operate a multi-Tb flash memory chip under irradiation at Texas A&M:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_20180430_011447.jpg 
Views:	23 
Size:	114.2 KB 
ID:	17145
    (photo available for public posting)

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    6
    Very nice photo DukeBlue! Were you able to make any significant errors appear in the chip?

    You're reminded me of a quick experiment I did about a decade ago. At the time I was commissioning some large (from memory something like 100keV) industrial X-ray units, and we ended up having some free time while waiting for a colleague.
    I decided being unsupervised like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to find out if putting my electronics through airport scanners (of considerably less keV) was actually dangerous to my precious data.
    So I found an old SD card, and loaded it up with all the large files I could find, whilst noting both the CRC & MD5 hashes for them, so that I could later detect if the X-rays flipped even a single bit.
    Then I shut down the beam, and used a piece of paper to position the SD card carefully in the dead-centre of the collimated beam, before activating it again.

    I ran it for 30 seconds, then shut down and compared the data, no errors.
    I ran it for another 5 minutes and compared again, still nothing.
    I was about to run it for even longer, when my impromptu experiment was noticed by the machine's designers. I was worried that they'd wrap me over the knuckles for messing with it, but to my delight they also got interested in my experiment.

    They tapped in various arcane maintenance codes to the tube power supply, which overrode default tube current and voltage limits, as well as removing all attenuating filters. The lowly visitors (including myself) were made to stand far back*, and they opened the shutter and ran it for a few minutes at the herculean level they'd put it in.

    We shut down again, and I compared the data once more. *No changes!*

    That was maybe 2007, so flash technology has probably changed a lot since then. But I remember being much more at-ease walking though airport security with my laptop after that point.

    Cheers,
    Gavin


    * I sincerely doubt there was any real danger, even backscatter off the SD card would have been fairly minimal, and we all had dosimeters and survey meters. But ALARA dictates being overcautious just in case.

  11. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    14
    Quote Originally Posted by Gav View Post
    Very nice photo DukeBlue! Were you able to make any significant errors appear in the chip?
    Yes, especially with highly-scaled flash (planar flash from 2014 or 3D flash) it's pretty easy to do so. In fact they won't even operate error-free outside of the beam, so a heavy ion beam can easily turn a 0 into a 1. While we are characterizing all kinds of interesting effects in the error rates of 3D flash, we're primarily trying to make sure there aren't any destructive effects on a particular device that would preclude use in a space radiation environment. The bit errors are a lesser problem.

    You're reminded me of a quick experiment I did about a decade ago. At the time I was commissioning some large (from memory something like 100keV) industrial X-ray units, and we ended up having some free time while waiting for a colleague.
    I decided being unsupervised like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to find out if putting my electronics through airport scanners (of considerably less keV) was actually dangerous to my precious data.
    So I found an old SD card, and loaded it up with all the large files I could find, whilst noting both the CRC & MD5 hashes for them, so that I could later detect if the X-rays flipped even a single bit.
    Then I shut down the beam, and used a piece of paper to position the SD card carefully in the dead-centre of the collimated beam, before activating it again.

    I ran it for 30 seconds, then shut down and compared the data, no errors.
    I ran it for another 5 minutes and compared again, still nothing.
    I was about to run it for even longer, when my impromptu experiment was noticed by the machine's designers. I was worried that they'd wrap me over the knuckles for messing with it, but to my delight they also got interested in my experiment.

    They tapped in various arcane maintenance codes to the tube power supply, which overrode default tube current and voltage limits, as well as removing all attenuating filters. The lowly visitors (including myself) were made to stand far back*, and they opened the shutter and ran it for a few minutes at the herculean level they'd put it in.

    We shut down again, and I compared the data once more. *No changes!*

    That was maybe 2007, so flash technology has probably changed a lot since then. But I remember being much more at-ease walking though airport security with my laptop after that point.

    Cheers,
    Gavin


    * I sincerely doubt there was any real danger, even backscatter off the SD card would have been fairly minimal, and we all had dosimeters and survey meters. But ALARA dictates being overcautious just in case.
    I can't recall offhand what that energy level will do since we rarely do xrays, but its entirely possible you created huge numbers of errors in the memory that were handled by the ECC of the memory controller. Raw NAND testing is much easier since you have low level control without any ECC. Testing of an SSD or SD card is a pain because you can't see behind the ECC and thus is works until suddenly it just doesn't (when you have corrupted things so badly the controller can't figure it out).

  12. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by dukeblue219 View Post
    I can't recall offhand what that energy level will do since we rarely do xrays, but its entirely possible you created huge numbers of errors in the memory that were handled by the ECC of the memory controller. Raw NAND testing is much easier since you have low level control without any ECC. Testing of an SSD or SD card is a pain because you can't see behind the ECC and thus is works until suddenly it just doesn't (when you have corrupted things so badly the controller can't figure it out).
    Aah, good point.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •