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Starting the computer systems

The mechanisms of ISIS and the A&G box, and the detectors, are under the control of a number of microprocessors which communicate with each other and with the Vax 4000 system computer via the Utility network. The primary interface from the user is a command language called ICL which runs on the Vax 4000, and the primary source of information for the user is the Mimic display, which is a graphical process running on the Microvax 4000 but displaying on a Vaxstation, usually a Vaxstation 3100, which runs DECWINDOWS MOTIF, which is a variant of X-Windows. In order to display the data in real time, and in order to control the Autoguider and DMS, it is necessary to run the Sparcstation (called lpss3), which is located to the left of the Vaxstation. The Sparcstation also runs MOTIF, but this is a slightly different implementation from that on the Vaxstation. The other important interface for the user is the Detector Memory System (DMS), running Imageforth/68K, which provides a display of the data and a number of setup routines. This section describes how to check that all of the necessary systems are running and are communicating over the utility network, and to get the user interfaces running.

Because the DMS local control does not run through terminals, but through a window on the Sparcstation, the observer account on the Sparcstation should be started up first. On the Sparcstation (lpss3) logon as observer, the password will be known to local support staff. Note that the Sparcstation runs the UNIX operating system, which is case sensitive, and all commands typed in including usernames and passwords must be in the correct case. MOTIF will start automatically, but the application to control the DMS must be started individually from the Applications menu. From the Applications menu start the following applications:-

Next, it is important to check that the Vax 4000 and the DMS are running. The Vax 4000 is at the far end of the control room from the control desk, and is clearly labelled. The operator console for the Vax 4000 is near the computer, and it will be fairly clear from the paper output of this whether the computer is running. The DMS is in a VME rack in the second of the four blue cabinets to the left of the control desk. Its user interface consists of a terminal, mouse, and display screen towards the left hand end of the control desk. If the DMS appears not to be running, or to be running in a non-standard configuration, or you are unsure of the configuration, toggle the switch labelled RESET on the module labelled VMPU of the DMS. The display screen will refresh, and the control window on the Sparcstation will display a system message, then leave a standard Forth prompt (``ok'' and a carriage return).

When the DMS is running it is possible to check which other subsystems are communicating over the Utility Network. At the DMS control window type:--


The DMS will then attempt to communicate with each of the subsystems in turn, and after each attempt will report either:--



Acknowledgement received from <DEVICE>.

The devices are:--

If the DMS does not receive an acknowledgement even from itself there is most likely a fault with the Network Interface Unit (NIU) connecting the DMS to the Utility network, or with the cables between the DMS and the NIU. If the DMS receives acknowledgements only from those devices which are connected to the same NIU as the DMS, then there is most likely a fault in the connection between that NIU and the Utility network Ethernet cable.

If any of the 4ms or VME microprocessors fail to respond, then it is most likely that they are either not running, or are not correctly cabelled to the NIUs. If a group of devices on the same NIU fails to respond then there may be a fault with that NIU, or the cables between that NIU and the utility network. NIUs have a recessed reset button at the rear, which can be pressed with the sharp end of a pencil.

If the System Computer fails to respond, then it is possible to restart the Utility Network software running on the Microvax. At the Operator's console log in to the captive account UNET, the password should be available near the console. This will stop and restart the Utility Network software on the Vax 4000.

If these simple remedies do not work then technical assistance should be sought. To run the observing and data taking system the minimum configuration is DMS, AGCA, ISIS, SYS, FOS if it is to be used, and whichever detectors are to be used. It is also convenient to have AUT1 and ENGM communicating via the network.

Once it has been established that the relevant devices are communicating over the network the user interface to the System computer can be started. The user interface is usually run on the Vaxstation located on the control desk, though it can be run on a spare Vaxstation elsewhere in the control room, or the alphanumeric interface can be run on a terminal with the MIMIC being displayed on a Vaxstation.

If using a Vaxstation for alphanumeric input the user should first log on to this Vaxstation as OBSERVER. The password will be known to local staff. On the Vaxstation type:--


This is defined as SET HOST/LOG LPVF and a logon message from the Vax 4000 system computer will appear. The user should also log on to this computer as OBSERVER. The password is the same. If using a terminal for alphanumeric input the user should log straight onto this machine. The system computer will display various information about new software and about the system. Two items require particular attention:--

At the Vaxstation or terminal type:--


The ICL command language will start and the procedures and command definitions will be loaded. The user will then be invited to start the control tasks, to do this type:--


The user is then given the option of running up the tasks or not, the answer to this question is always YES. The user will also be asked which Vaxstation to run the MIMIC on, this is normally the same Vaxstation as is being used for alphanumeric input, although it can be the other one.

The user is then prompted for the configuration required; normally this will be one of the following options:--

The D-tasks will the be started and the various subsystems initialised. If the initialisation of one subsystem fails it is possible that other subsystems will not be initialised, if this appears to be the case the subsystems can be initialised explicitly with the commands ISIS_BEGIN; DMS_BEGIN; CAGB_BEGIN; DCT_BEGIN; FOS_BEGIN; AUT_BEGIN and CCDINIT <ccdname>.

Starting up ICL will also start up the telescope control system on the Microvax II telescope control computer.

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Fri Jan 7 15:34:48 GMT 1994