28 Sep 2017



IBEX Instrument Control Software




The objective of the IBEX project is to create a new control system for the neutron & muon instruments at ISIS. The new control system will employ a modern, layered and distributed architecture, enabling the development of loosely-coupled client and server applications. Device control and business logic will reside in the server applications. The new control system, called IBEX, will be based on EPICS and related technologies. IBEX coordinates the activities of a number of software components, each of which controls a separate aspect of an ISIS experiment :

(i) The Instrument Control Program (ICP) controls the Data Acquisition Electronics (DAE), informing it when to start and stop data collection, including automatically suspending data collection temporarily if certain conditions (e.g. sample temperature or pressure, or synchronisation of the chopper) are not within user-defined limits. The ICP is also responsible for transferring the final data from the DAE to the Nexus file, available via ICAT, along with the requested experiment and sample environment data.

(ii) the IBEX server is a collection of cooperating software components, based on the EPICS control-system framework. The primary components of the IBEX server are Input-Output Controllers (IOCs), and the Blockserver. The IOCs control sample environment equipment and beamline components such as motion control or magnets. The Blockserver coordinates the activities of IOCs and other components, including the ICP and a data archiver.

(iii) The IBEX client is a graphical user interface program, which communicates with IBEX server and provides the primary means by which the experimenter can interact with the components of the IBEX server and the ICP to monitor and control an experiment. The IBEX client also provides a simple scripting environment for running genie_python scripts.

(iv) LabVIEW (by National Instruments ) is a visual programming language designed to produce programs, called Virtual Instruments (VIs), for controlling hardware such as sample environment equipment and beamline components. VIs were used by the previous control system (SECI) and are still used to control equipment for which a full EPICS driver is not yet ​available. IBEX uses an in-house designed interface layer to communicate with VIs.

(v) genie_python is an in-house library of Python ​commands which permit the automation of an experiment, for example enabling unattended overnight data collection from a sample at a number of temperatures in a furnace or cryostat, or from a number of samples in a sample changer.

More details on using IBEX can be found in the IBEX User Manual .