A short description of the WAPP radar interface

The WAPP is the Wideband Arecibo Pulsar Processor. This device is a digital correlator which feeds data at high rates (up to 50mb/sec) into a PC. The PC is interfaced with a high speed parallel card.

The existing radar interface hardware is interfaced to an ancient VME system which writes its data to tape drives or 10base2 Ethernet. The hardware itself can go much faster than theses devices. (I'm told >10Mb/sec) So we got an idea to easily interface the VME system to the WAPP. Data is read from the radar interface hardware and sent over the VME bus to a MVME162 card. From the 162 card the data passes over the IP (Industry Pack) bus to a second high speed parallel card in the WAPP PC. Then the data is written to (LVD SCSI 160) hard drives. As a pulsar machine, the WAPP includes a host of tape drives and lots of disk space (~200 Gb). One 36GB hard drive is dedicated to the aeronomy group.

radariface diagram

The data rates of the various pieces are:

The radar interface consists of an interface gui screen in TCL which runs on the observer's console, and some software running in the WAPP computer.

To run the radar interface:

  1. Stop the radar observation, in the vxWorks window
  2. Kill the radar interface gui window
  3. Start the radar interface gui window by typing
  4. "radariface" in observer2.
  5. Type in the filename desired. A typical name might be, /share/aeronomy/11sept01 or something like that. Valid disks on the wapp are: Of course, when using disk space, please take care to cooporate with the pulsar and other radar users.
  6. Press New File and look at the green messages. It will tell you how much space is left on that disk and that it is ready to receive data.
  7. Start the radar interface vxWorks window, if not there
  8. Tell the radar interface to use the wapp: gio on/li>
  9. Start the radar observation, from the vxWorks window

When it is working normally, you should see green messages every ten seconds telling the data rate. Once started, the data taking will continue writing whatever data it receives until the filesystem is full. It will write one file until it is near 2GB in size and then switch to a new file with a filename extension. For example:

If you see red messages, the radar interface is definately not working. These errors generally occur if the hard drive selected is full or the radar observing is started before the wapp software.

Known Bugs