Data Collection and Control Computer

The data collection and control computer (figure 1) is responsible for overall system control and image acquisition. It has dual Intel Xeon processors to ensure the ability to run the system control logic and user interface, while still maintaining real-time image acquisition from the CMOS camera. Images are acquired from the CMOS camera over an IEEE1394 (Firewire) interface at the maximum rate the interface will allow (400 Mbits/sec). This results in the acquisition of a maximum of 30 frames per second.

The image data is stored, along with associated timing information from the embedded controller, on a RAID 5 disk array in the computer. This array consists of seven disks, each capable of storing 400 Gigabytes. RAID 5 reserves one disk for parity information in the RAID structure which results in over 2 Terabytes of total data storage. This amount of storage allows for more than eight hours of continuous data collection. A total of 21 disks will be available during the data acquisition campaign. A set of seven disks are available each day of data collection. Given they are filled each day, this provides for three days of data collection. The disks are hot-swappable and each set of seven will be removed at the end of the day and taken away for data processing that evening.

The flight computer is identical to the computer that will be used for data processing and analysis in the evenings between flights. The identical configuration makes this second computer available as a backup flight computer in the event of a hardware failure. The flight computer is connected to the embedded controller through an RS-232 serial interface. This interface is used to program the embedded controller and to begin the acquisition process. While in acquisition mode, the embedded controller passes back to the main computer timing information obtained from the onboard GPS which will be attached to the image data as it is captured and stored.

The major components of the flight and processing computers are:

  • 2 – Dual Xeon Motherboards with 4 Gigabytes of RAM
  • 23 – 400 Gigabyte Hard drives
  • 2 – Raid 5 Controller Cards
  • 2 – Video Cards
  • 2 – Firewire Cards
  • 2 – DVD RW Drives
  • 1 – 15 inch Touch Screen Monitor for flight operation
  • 1 – 17 inch Flat Panel
  • General Computer Accessories (Mouse, Keyboard, etc…)
  • 2 – 645W Power Supplies
  • 2 – Windows XP Pro
  • 2 – SuperMicro Server Cases with Rackmount Accessories

Data Collection and Control Computer
Figure 2:   Main data collection and control computer